Yesterday I did some fundraising work for an Australian suicide/crisis helpline. The work I did was based in quite an expensive store and people could choose to come to my stand and pay a couple of dollars to have their christmas presents wrapped.
It did not turn out how I thought it would.
Within the first half hour I was almost crying and was so tempted to just pack up and run.
For the entire three hours that I volunteered my time, I was shouted at, frowned at, talked down to and ignored.
It was actually horrible. The majority of people who donated only came over to get their gifts wrapped. They didn’t read any of the information on the table but rather chose to point out my errors in how I wrapped their gifts. “Could you get a fresh piece of paper? That one is really creased?” “Could you just tuck that corner in there? No THAT corner! Oh for Gods sake” “Could you redo that ribbon please? Actually you know what? Don’t worry about it I will do it myself!” These are just some of the comments I received. Some of the gifts were hundreds of dollars and the people who bought them were very well dressed and looked very well off. It really saddened me that these people couldn’t take 5 minutes to think of someone else for once.
A girl around my age (perhaps early 20’s) came in and asked me to wrap a gift that she had bought from a different store. I asked for her receipt but she did not have one. I then told her that although I did not suspect her, I could not wrap the gift because there was no proof of purchase. She was with one friend and her boyfriend. She then says “Oh what the hell, whatever then! F**ing forget it!” I was there volunteering my time. I was trying to raise money for people with depression like myself. I was trying to bring some hope for those of us with this debilitating illness. I cried for an hour last night because of that girl. The fact that she was so cold hearted. I don’t care that she didn’t even give money. I wish she could of just given a smile. It would have been enough for me.
I love this song right now. It expresses nearly all the emotions I feel.
I am really interested to hear about other people’s experiences with their own (or someone else’s) depression in the workplace. What I mean by this is:
– Does your depression affect how well you perform at work?
– Do you think you take more sick days than others? Is this because of your depression?
– Have you told anyone at your workplace about your depression? If so what was their reaction?
– Do you feel comfortable to talk about depression, not only personally but in general, at your workplace?
– Does your depression cause you to be late for work?
– Do you find it difficult to hold onto a job? If so why?
– What influence does your depression have on your work relationships?
– Have you ever had somebody at work not take you seriously about your depression? Perhaps they laughed, or they didn’t believe you, or they thought it was a “lame” excuse.
It would be so great to hear from others about any experiences you may have had at work with depression. I look forward to hearing from you and below is a personal experience that I have had:
Well, I am a 20 year old woman. You may not believe me but I have had 9 jobs. That’s right 9. I quit all of these jobs voluntarily. The reason I quit is because I started to feel that people were getting too close to me. They were starting to know more about me than I would like. I had always been the one to take more sick days than anyone else and I always felt such shame in doing so (and still do). Although I cannot help having depression I do feel at times that I wish I could do what my work expects me to do, that is, just pull my socks up. Having been “sick” so often I had to then explain my situation to management. Almost EVERY time I would get this reaction: “ohhh ok you have depression? I understand that things are difficult for you right now but you have to realise that work needs to be a top priority and you have to TRY and leave those other things at home.” Seriously. It made me feel like complete shit. I wanted to do better, I WAS trying to do better but I simply could not. Then they went and rubbed it in my face like that. I just feel that depression needs to be something unveiled in the workplace. People (especially HR and management) need to seriously learn more about it. Not everyone is the same and I cannot perform the same no matter how much I want to, it simply doesn’t happen. Tomorrow I have to go into my work (been there 2 weeks) and explain to my manager why I am constantly late by 5 minutes. 5 FUCKING MINUTES. I KNOW what he is going to say and how he will look at me from then on. I might even get fired. WHO KNOWS? I will be telling the truth which is this: “I have social anxiety and major depression. No matter how early I wake up I find it so hard to get out of bed. Once I am ready to go to work I then spend another 15 minutes in the toilet because I am so stressed about going out that I get stomach upsets and light headed.” This stigma around mental health is literally killing me.
I love this as it completely sums up how I feel.
This quote is also spot on: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
It helps me to put a stop to all my negative thinking about myself when I remember that everyone is different and everyone is special in their own way. Not all people feel the same things the same way. I love the fact that every single person brings something unique into the world.
Sometimes I feel like the whole world is judging me. As if the whole world has some presumption, some opinion about me. As if everybody else around me sees me for who I really am. They see me but I can’t see me. Sometimes when I walk past people I keep my head down because I know from experience, that they will be staring at me. It’s very strange. I am an average looking woman with an average life and an average income. Actually, everything about me is average. However, I do feel that people stare at me sometimes. Maybe I’m just vain? I seem to get extremely nervous when around lots of people. It’s almost as if although I am firmly standing on the ground I have a birds eye view of everyone around me. I can see them in the highest detail. I notice their body language and it’s as if I can see deeper thoughts flickering in their eyes. I feel them. I know them. Yet I am isolated from them. I often wonder if other people have had this kind of ‘experience’. Sometimes in these situations I notice that my hands are shaking. I might drop something and as I go to pick it up my legs start wobbling and I have to force myself to keep bending down. I feel so vulnerable like this. I feel the hairs on my neck standing up. I know that it sounds cliche but I actually do get goosebumps. When I stand up I might blush or I might proceed to drop the item again. I wish at those times that I could fold outwards on myself. Outwards because then my face will always be facing outwards so that I can see around me but I am protected by me also. Sometimes when around other people I feel extremely angry. Furious would be an understatement. Inside me I am frightened by this anger. This wanting to lash out at others. I actually don’t want to upset anybody and I always try to put others before myself. This anger though. I am so afraid that one day it will completely consume me like a fire consumes dry grass. I have to monitor it daily and as a result I am hypersensitive to it. I react to it in different ways, the correct ways, in order to keep it under control. In a sense it is already controlling me. Sometimes I feel so afraid for no particular reason. It is fear without reigns. It is the kind of fear where I will be up in the middle of the night fully alert, sweating and shaking. Sometimes sobbing. Sometimes shrieking. My emotions are so strong that they intimidate me. They are so real to me and so vivid that I can almost picture them. I hope that somebody can understand. I do see a psychologist about my anxiety but even with her I feel that she still does not grasp the reality of my ‘situation’. When I feel afraid, I live afraid. When I feel angry, I see angry. When I feel small, I am small. Sometimes I feel as if I am living inside a glass box and the whole world walks around me freely, outside the box. It’s really strange because I see life this way. I actually see flashes of people’s faces and in an instant I know who they are inside. Time sometimes moves in flashes for me. I might be studying and all of a sudden I’m in bed two hours later. I might be walking around the shops and then I am suddenly in my house. I only have brief memories of the time between these periods. Quite often people quote to me what I previously said to them and I do not remember saying it at all. A lot of the time they are nasty things to say and I am shocked to hear that they came out of my mouth. This frightens me. This.. this loss of time. Loss of memory and thought. Loss of control and loss of myself. Who am I? What am I? Why does this happen to me? Sometimes I feel really sick inside, my head pounds and my heart skips and my stomach turns over. I really have to gasp for breath. At these times I will feel hopeless and incredibly sad. So sad, sadder than anything. I know that other people experience this too. This thing called ‘depression’. The sadness is so immense. It’s unfathomable. I struggle against it but I always, always fall victim to it. It is imminent. Sometimes I long to be free. ‘Free’. I do not even know what I mean when I say this. I just need to escape. Horrors chase me daily and I just want to fly away. I see crazy things, scary things. People would be quick to say I am schizophrenic. I have never been diagnosed as schizophrenic. Perhaps because I am so afraid that if I open up about it all to somebody then they too will have to live in this scary world of mine. Maybe I am not schizophrenic but rather I just see the world for what it really is? I do see strange things sometimes though. I hear people talking who are not there. I see frightening faces. It happens so much that I learn to live with it. I, what do they call it, oh yeah, I ‘get over it’. Ha. If only they knew hey? Sometimes I am afraid of myself. Sometimes. And by sometimes, I mean all the time.
Today I went to my regular basketball game. I only started playing recently but I enjoy it so much. It allows me to focus entirely on the present, on the ball under my hand, allows me to dodge the inner pain I feel every day. The only problem I have with it is socialising. Although I am proficient in small talk I still find it hard to read and react to other people’s responses. I am a master of acting and believe that I have great charisma, but on an inferential level I have no real connections with others. It’s so annoying. I wish that I could feel the feeling of true friendship. I try so hard but I just feel so detached from the world. It isn’t a fleeting feeling either. It’s been around for a long time now. The wholesome friendships I have had in my past have ended on bad terms and I believe this does cause me to distrust a lot of people. However, perhaps it is really me? Today in basketball a team mate of mine was shouting constructive criticism at me from the sidelines. I do not take well to being shouted at. Unfortunately as a result of my abusive upbringing I have an extremely low tolerance to being told what to do. This is as irritating for me as it is for others. I wish that I wasn’t like this but I am. I hate it about myself. I shouted back at my teammate with such ferocity and told her to shut up. Even when I was doing it I knew that it wasn’t nice and it wasn’t me. She was the one to apologise to me afterwards. She didn’t even do anything wrong. It is rash actions and anger that make being around me a chore. My teammates joked that I had bipolar. I pretended to laugh along with them. Although I do not have bipolar, I do have severe depression and it does influence my way of thinking. I have a simmering anger hidden away inside and sometimes I mistakenly allow it to bubble to the top. People don’t want to be around me because of it. I feel guilty and depressed because people don’t want to be around me. This in turn adds fuel to my angry fire. Sigh. It’s really hard sometimes but I go on. I won’t allow this darkness to envelop me entirely. I will push on every day. One day I believe that I will find true friendship. Friendship among others who focus on the deeper meanings of life and not all of its grandiosities and superficialities. Those are the people who will take one look at me and see me for who I truly am. They will not run away. Or pretend to not notice. They will smile at me and allow me to see their own inner weaknesses. For we all have them. Those are the type of people that make my life worthwhile.
Standing at the altar I looked at the man who was to become my husband. He smiled at me, somehow managing to show every one of those pearly whites. I shivered. Glancing away I looked over my shoulder, my eyes darting over the many faces. Some were crying tears of joy, others, genuine tears. I knew only half of these people and felt no real desire to get to know the rest. I sighed. My searching was in vain. The one face I wanted to see was not in this room. As the priest droned on I shot another glance at the shark.