This is kind of a dark entry.
Think of something you enjoy doing and how it makes you feel. Maybe you’re not particularly good at it but when you get something right, it feels amazing. Or maybe you are good at it and when you’re feeling blah you can take a break, do the thing you enjoy, and feel better about yourself.
Now think of something you dread doing and how that makes you feel. The sort of thing where you put it off as much as you can, and when you do finally get around to doing it, time drags on and on and you wish you could be doing anything else. You finish it and rather than feeling rewarded, you think “ugh, thank God that’s over.”
Now imagine that everything you do, including the things you thought you enjoyed, suddenly feels like the things you dread.
“Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I could never figure out what it meant to “find my passion” because every time I found something that seemed fun and engaging, after a while I would start to dread doing it. It’s happened with I-don’t-know-how-many hobbies, and then with grad school, and now with my job.
I thought it was just that I hadn’t found the thing I really loved, but now I’m wondering if it’s something more fundamental. What if my mechanism for determining what I enjoy is broken? What if trying to find what I like is like a blind person trying to pick their favorite color?
I’m starting to think that I’m bipolar, most likely Type II. There are times when I enjoy life, when I have laser-like focus on whatever I choose to do, when I get shit done and feel good for accomplishing it. The last time that happened to me was the whole month of July. Then begins a slow descent into “meh,” where I can still get things done, but I don’t have as much energy, and doubt starts creeping into my mind. That was August and September.
Then comes the really soul-crushing stuff, the lack of drive to do even basic tasks — the dishes pile up, the dust bunnies on the floor gain sentience, the laundry hamper overflows. Work and hobbies all but cease. Maybe there are a few glimmers of hope where you manage to get something done! But the next day you slide back down into the pit, staring at the same five websites over and over, watching the email pile up and the deadlines fly by.
I’ve been bumbling around in this pit since the end of September. I haven’t put in a full week of hours since July. I haven’t worked at all the past week and a half. Do you know how frustrating it is to want to do something but to be completely unable to? You try everything you can to get yourself to do it. You cut off all distractions. You set a time limit. You set up little rewards for when you finish. And then you sit there staring at your work for two hours and can’t even get started.
All I can do is wait. Eventually it’ll end. I’ve been dealing with this since the beginning of high school, but it’s increased greatly in frequency, duration, and severity. What used to be a week of feeling uninterested in my hobbies now lasts months and affects my ability to function even at a basic level.
I didn’t think it could be a form of depression because it’s not as severe as “true” clinical depression. I don’t have suicidal thoughts, I don’t stay in bed all day, I don’t starve myself, and I experience emotion and laughter. If depression is like drowning ten feet underwater, then what I experience is more like treading water near the surface of a rough sea. Sometimes I’m doing fine and and I can breathe! But other times I get washed underneath, struggle for air, maybe catch a gasp here or there. The waves keep getting bigger and bigger, and I’m tired of treading water. I want a fucking boat.
I feel so trapped and scared. I know I need to see someone but my insurance doesn’t cover it and my job’s benefits haven’t yet kicked in. I have no car and wonder how I’d even get around this godforsaken megalopolis to see someone. How would I pay for them? How would I pay for medication? Even if it’s through a government program, I still don’t have any means of getting around… what will this do for my job? I feel like I can’t get anything done and like I’m going to lose what I thought was my dream job only four months after I started. It’s a catch-22: I need to work to make the money to fight the disease that prevents me from working. There’s nobody nearby who I can turn to. My savings won’t last for long. So in the face of all these problems, what do I do?
I watch all this bullshit barrel at me like a train and I sit and do nothing. I see all the things that need to be done and do nothing. I see the life preserver floating nearby and rather than swimming towards it, I sink. I scream at myself in my head, “DO SOMETHING!” But it doesn’t work. I try to shut out the mountain of dread and put my head down and get some work done, and nothing happens. I get mad at myself for not seeing this sooner, for not taking advantage of the support I had when I was still in Pittsburgh, for letting my life sit in neutral for three fucking years and waiting until things got really bad before realizing I have to do something. But how could I have foreseen this?
I don’t know how to end this entry so: the end.