For those who follow my blog, would know that I went back to work on Dec 1st, 2020 after being away for most of the year, recuperating from a concussion and then a major depressive episode. The whole idea of being in a depressive episode gives the impression that depression starts at one point and ends at another. But, really, does it really ends or does it just retreat into the background as one tries to go back to some normality?
Normality for me is when I default back to my usual coping mechanism: I numb myself and throw myself into the task at hand. I become achievement oriented. I have had decades of perfecting this mechanism. There is no conscious effort on my part to numb myself in order to put all my attention to doing the best work, be it tasks at work or doing studies for psychology papers that I am doing at the moment.
The first three weeks of being back at work, felt like I was moving along an alternate universe. I feel like I am in the wrong place at the wrong time. I had a flat affect and I was withdrawn. Feelings of anxiousness, sluggishness and disorientation bombarded me constantly and the inner chatter in my brain that “everyone is talking about me, saying that I am no longer good enough to work here” dictated my need to hide away behind my desk located at the corner of the office. My desk is also beside the door and when it is left open, I become hidden from view. The door provided me a safe space where I can avoid needing to engage socially with my colleagues. I was really just going through the motions. Completing one task after another, avoiding eye contact as much as I could with anyone, and counting the minutes until I could leave work.
At the time of writing this, I have been working for 6 weeks. I am still on a three day work week and I have gotten into my default coping style in order to function. I have blocked out all my feelings of anxiety, confusion and inner chatter. I feel and look almost ‘normal’. But, really, I am just barely managing. I am merely surviving.
I stop myself from thinking about how it would be like to start a four day work week by the start of February. I start my work week by thinking about when it is going to end. On Sundays, there is a constant dread deep within me as the hours passes by, inching closer to bed time, where when I wake the next morning, I will have to be at work. This is definitely not how I should think and feel about work, but it is exactly what work is to me at this current moment. So, I continue to numb myself, drowning myself in task after task, heading out for runs daily and spending hours writing for this blog, which, if I stop procrastinating when I write, it should not take the whole day to write a blog post.