You know it’s a bad day when you’re asking yourself, “Is this day over yet???” and it’s only 8 am.
You know it’s a bad day when the coworker who doesn’t know you well mentions that “You’re pale as a ghost! Are you OK?”
You know it’s a bad day when you’re mentally paralyzed; immobile not from a physical cause, but from a mental and emotional exhaustion so profound that it brings with it a physical inertia.
Almost imperceptibly, these isolated days melt into weeks, and before you know it, your boss is telling you, “You’ve been miserable for like, the last three months.”
But here’s the paradox: Despite the fact that some notice your “misery” they still expect you to function normally, if not exceptionally well.
When you feel like you’ve emptied yourself of tears, when you feel like an enervated slave to the system, cornered in a terrifyingly complex trap, fear begins to reign – an irrational, terroristic dictator. The cycle repeats itself over and over until you begin to question your sanity. You tell yourself you just need a break, a chance to regroup and get yourself together. But there is no break in sight, not even on the far horizon. Working for a corporate giant that views its employees as pawns, emotionless drones that will feel nothing and continue to perform above expectations regardless of whatever upheavals the powers that be decide to cause takes a serious toll – especially when the day-to-day tasks require interaction with the rude public. Add to that living arrangements under the domain of a hapless, careless landlord that operates with a set of double standards; dealing with rude, irresponsible neighbors on a daily basis, and you have a recipe for Basket Case Extraordinaire.
The above effects are intensified by the fact that in each situation, you’re trapped. With the job market in the toilet, there are no other options for employment, even if you’re searching. The income is necessary – not to keep up a luxurious lifestyle, but simply to pay the bills. So, if you’re “lucky” enough to currently have a job, you’d better keep it! So what if you’re miserable? Suck it up, it’s not that bad! If you lose your job, you’ll be on the street. Which brings me to the other issue: a place to live. Because of financial issues, moving out and away from the frustrations of apartment life is impossible. So both sources of misery are inescapable. You need a place to live, so you need a job to pay for it. But you hate where you live. But you can’t afford to live anywhere else. And you can’t find another job. The end result is a painful state of desperation as you find yourself struggling to preserve two situations that bring misery; questioning why you are prolonging the agony. The only answer is that you are a responsible person. You hold yourself to a code of doing the right and responsible thing – even if it is to your own detriment. The only question that remains is: How long can this continue before you break down completely?
Mental illness runs in my family. A victim of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), I fear ending up like some relatives who suffer from bipolar disorder or severe depression. A state of mental inertia sets in – a seeming inability to perform even simple tasks, a lack of motivation, a neglect of even basic personal care – that is incomprehensible to others not suffering from the disease. This inertia frightens me more than anything else. As a person who tries to remain active and responsibly fulfill all of my obligations even despite my current emotional state, the thought that my anguish could escalate to the point of this dreaded inertia is truly terrifying. Considering the fact that I experienced it for the first time ever – this week – the fear is intensified. Questioning myself at every turn and fighting an emotional battle each day is exhausting.
I am blessed to have some wonderful people in my life. Yet I still have these awful feelings and my ability to cope has dwindled to naught – despite the love and support I receive in other areas of my life. These two major areas of life – work and residence – are taking an unspeakable toll on me.