I got a new job.
I was offered it this past Monday, and while I had been going back in forth in my mind about whether or not I would actually take it upon being offered it, I rationalized that as comfortable as I am in my current job, there were certain aspects of the new one that outweighed the apparent downfalls of it.
I’m a creature of comfort, of course, and having only started my current job a little over a year ago, there
was is a huge part of me that felt like a year in one place wasn’t a long enough time to “settle in.” I moved around a lot as a kid, and was so tired of the constant up-rooting and starting over at a new school, that as an adult I find myself unable to move onto new things because I’m so afraid of the turmoil I associate with change.
But the opportunity came up to give me significantly more financial stability (to the point where I may just be able to start saving like I once did out of desperation to find my own hole in the ground in this world) and stable hours.
In an attempt to bribe me with puppy dog eyes and what it well-meaning reason, one of the people I work for left a note on my desk.
1 1/2 hour commute there
1 1/2 hour commut home
15 hours a week
60 hours a month
3 days a month lost on your Better schedule
I thought of what to say in response – I knew she had left it because she’ll miss me when I’m gone and because they appreciate me being here, but it brought a pain to me that I wanted to verbalize.
Yes, the commute is longer. I’m going from a 20 minute car-ride (due to traffic) to a 1 hour and 10 minute commute via train and bus.
Yes, that’s over 2 hours a day I’ll be spending on a train and a bus.
To some, that may seem like time lost.
To someone more “stable” than me, that’s time lost that I could otherwise spend what?
But that’s to the people who don’t see me when I go home.
The people who see me at work see a smiling, happy person who always says hello to them, and is patient with difficult clients. They see a person who is always willing to go the extra step to make things easier for everyone else.
What they don’t see is the person who goes into the bathroom for five minutes to let out a few sobs and wash my face with cold water. What they don’t see is the person who offers to do those things because I want people to like me and to think nice things about me.
What they don’t see is the person who has lost the last two years of my life.
I work because I have to. I’m “high functioning.” I work so that my pets have a home and because I signed a contract that says I have to pay rent. If I don’t pay rent, I’m screwing someone else over, and risking my pets ending up homeless. So I have to work. It’s necessary so as to not put others in a situation because I messed up.
But once I’m home, in the Hobbit Hole? As much as I want to say I often can be found sipping tea and flipping through a book, or excitedly exploring my imagination, the reality is this:
I get home. My cats run up to me, expecting their loving owner of days past to play with them and coo at them. I do for a moment, usually making my way to their food bowl to check that it’s full and refilling their water. I let my ferret out after giving him a few kisses.
I think “I should open my laptop.”
Occasionally I do. Occasionally I’ll work on a drawing. In the past year I’ve finished three. I’ve started maybe seven, which I end up deleting after 30 minutes because my brain isn’t matching what I’m seeing on screen, and I’m disappointed in myself.
Occasionally I open my word document. I typically reread the last few lines of what I was working on. In the last year, I’ve written less than 1 completed chapter. I’ve edited less than one complete chapter. I’ve written maybe half a page.
Occasionally I’ll cook dinner. But more than half of my food spoils in the fridge, or simply never gets bought at the next paycheck.
Occasionally I’ll clean and re-organize. It used to be nearly once a week because nothing bothered me more than a dirty house. But the eight months or so? I am living in my standards of squalor. Cleaner, still, than most homes I go to. But dishes in the sink? Trash still in the bin? Day-old cat-puke that I’m too lazy to pick up?
Mostly? Mostly, I take care of my pets, take off my clothes, lay in bed, and go to sleep. I’ll wake from this slumber to answer texts or the phone, maybe to guzzle water because I find my throat so think I can’t swallow.
Mostly, I am consumed in sadness, and am trying not to have to feel it.
Mostly, I have been losing two years of my life to my depression.
“But how can you say that?” I’m sure some would ask. “You have a boyfriend now, which you didn’t have a year ago. You go out on the weekends. You put on makeup nearly every day.”
I would say “I say that because I know what manic depression really is.”
Because there are some small moments of relief from the depression. There are some days where I don’t feel like it’s controlling me. There are some days where I can write about it, like today, without feeling like it’s pulling me down.
But it’s the mostly that I’m concerned with.
And the mostly is lost to sleep.
Sleep not because I’m tired, but because I’m so sad I can’t function if I don’t absolutely have to.
So how do I stop losing time?
Part is with the new schedule. Right now, I have to wake up for work at 7 AM, 430 AM, 6 AM, 8 AM (if I manage to sleep in) and 530 AM. I work a 7 hour shift, and then an 11 hour shift, and then an 9 hour shift, another 9 hour shift, and then a 7 hour shift. My psychiatrist, upon hearing my schedule, was baffled. “That’s a terrible schedule. You know, a schedule like that, that doesn’t permit the body to get used to a routine, can disturb your circadian rhythm which of course, you know, can cause mood inbalances.”
Essentially, my body isn’t able to predict how tired it’s going to be, so it causes my depression to worsen. Which, I think has worsened since I started this new schedule. I don’t remember being quite so immobile, even though my anhedonia was still present.
And that 1 hour and 10 minute commute in either way?
That is not time lost.
That is time gained.
That is an hour and ten minutes in the morning that I can read a book. That I will be forced to entertain myself because I’ll have nothing else to do now that I’m avoiding time-suckers like Facebook and Imgur.
That is an hour and ten minutes in the evening where I can decompress before I get home, so that by the time I get home I’m actually decompressed and maybe have had time to gaze out the window and think up some new idea.
That 3 days not lost, but gained.
3 days where I am not so incredibly tired physically that I can do things I miss doing, because I loved doing.
And I don’t know how to tell that to someone who functions much more highly than I do. I don’t know how to tell that to someone who considered working out relaxing and socializing with others energizing.
I don’t know how to tell that to someone who wants the best for me and sees that time alone as something sad for me, because they don’t see that all of my time alone is sad for me.
But I know.
I know that maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a little less time lost this next year.