9th of July 2020
Dear whoever reads this
So weeks passed and I missed two letters. I have no excuse. I don’t even have a reason. I guess something had to give.
I’m back at work. One day a week. Starting this week. So I have been back one day and will keep that up until September, then I’ll make it two days. It was good to be back. I was supposed to just be there for 5 hours, but I stayed 6½. And in my way home on the train, I suddenly found myself thinking that I could do another day tomorrow. Before quickly pulling myself back and reminding myself why the deal is one day a week.
I have no internal stop button. I have nothing stopping me from doing more than I can. Mostly even common sense (like my mental health can’t take it) will hold me back. I would have stayed another hour at work the other day, if I hadn’t been told to home.
I do the same in so many other areas. My friends needing help and support, and I give that, even when I have nothing left to give. Even when I feel empty or when I am the one needing something.
I’ve known about my lack of ability to say stop when I need to, but the point hit me hard on the train the other day. The stop is important. It keeps us safe. It helps us not give more than we have. But I have no stop. I probably learned that from my mom. She doesn’t have one either. And she won’t listen to reason either when she goes beyond when she can to give and work. I think that is a dangerous thing to teach anyone. I value the stop and the taking good care of myself. And I work hard to develop it. I also value that ability in others. Both because I have felt on my own mind and body what happens when you don’t have it or don’t listen to it. But also because I have seen too many people I care about hurt themselves by not listening to the stop. It hurts to see the people I care about break.
What hurts the most is hearing them tell me they are spent, that they have reached the stop, that their minds and bodies are screaming stop, and then hear them say they are not going to listen to it, for reasons that are often too small to matter in the grand scheme of things.
I am getting better at hearing the stop and listening to it when it appears. But I am surprised by how often I don’t have the stop. I just keep going and going. And thought I am trying to build the skill to stop and listen and take it slow and give myself time, I too often find myself wanting to do so much more than I can and unwilling to slow down, because reason doesn’t sound like reason, when I do the things that matters to me.
I also worry I am not enough. Especially at work. I hope they’ll hire me for a part time job in the future. But I have a hard time understanding that no one expects me to do the work of a full time employee when I am only working one or two days a week. And right now the place doesn’t even pay me. And yet I keep feeling like I am failing by not doing more. When I first started out there I had more energy and was less affected by my depression, so I worked three (sometimes four) day a week. And I loved it. When I had to slow down (for several reasons, but mostly because of the school I had at the time) I was stressed out of my mind feeling like I no longer contributed with what was expected. Because I only worked one or maybe two days a week. But no one expected me to get the same work done. Only myself. I struggle with that still. And wanting to prove myself worth being hired isn’t helping me.
But I love being there because I know I am the only one expecting this. Everyone else is taking it slow and being kind and doing what they have time for. No one is stressing or asking me to do more. I am allowed to show up and get no work done if I am having a bad day. And the work I do is appreciated. I just have to learn to not ask myself to do the unreasonable. And asking myself to do three days worth work in one day was unreasonable. It was healthy for me to realise I was expecting this so I could check in with the people I work with and have adjust the expectations and realise that the expectations of everyone else were much more reasonable.
Being the friend who always speaks reason, the one who not only hears other people’s stop, but also tells them it’s okay to listen to it and how translate that into actions that will help relieve the pressure, can be hard. So can being the friend who gives great advice on every problem. Not because I don’t love being a source of advice and reason, or feeling like my experiences are useful to help others, but because I feel like I am giving a lot of time and energy to other people’s problems. I care a lot. And often that care means I can’t put the problem down when the conversations is over. I worry and try to think of ways I can help, when mostly I can’t help at all. I can just listen and give my thoughts. And the people I care about are still hurting and still not saying stop. And I take it all in, like there is no filter protecting me from all the feelings that other people are feeling when they come to me with problems.
Today is bad day. I feel so depressed nothing matters and I am a strange kind of tired that doesn’t seem to lift with rest of sleep. I feel empty and alone. I do not mean to complain. I have so many great friends and I consider it a privilege to have their confidence and being someone they trust with both their problems and to come up with helpful solutions. Today is just another day of feeling like I give more than I get, not because my friends doesn’t want to give, but because what I need isn’t something that have to offer. I feel empty, like I have given more of myself than I had to give. I am touch starved and feel a big need for care. I am good at offering and giving care. But not good at receiving it. And though my brain needs the chemicals it gets from a hug or cuddling, I can’t imagine being that close to anyone ever again. The mere idea of being that close to someone is a little repulsive to my mind. So the need goes unfulfilled. And I am sad and more than a little self-pitying today.
There are good things here. I am back at work. I have friends who trusts me and who think I am great source of support and advice. Those are big things. My depressed brain is just making this a bad day, not erasing the good things. And though I have no one who can give me the care I need there are plenty of people who care. I am allowed to feel sad and alone and empty. And I am allowed to have needs that are none standard and that cannot be fulfilled by the people who are currently in my life. But I also remind myself that I am not allowed to dismiss the genuine care of the people who would be there if they could. And I can feel both sad and lonely, and thankful because I know there are people who wants to be there.
Whoever you are, I hope you are having a better day than I am. Thank you for your time.