Working Through Depression

So this morning I missed my alarm (apparently I shut it off in my sleep) and I woke up late. Thankfully this was a work from home day, so I just had to add on some time at the end of the day to make up what I missed this morning.

Working from home is a blessing and a curse. Blessing because on days like today I don’t have a drive to get to work so even if I’m running behind, I can just slide in front of my computer and get going. A curse because when I am feeling really low, like today, it is hard to avoid the call of my nice warm bed that promises to snuggle me in and let me escape from the harshness of every day life. But once you are there, it places a strangle hold on your motivation and chokes it until it passed out.

Some people would say that you shouldn’t admit that you have a mental illness when you work in the field of social work or mental health. I say phooey! I think because of my experiences and my mental health challenges I am able to be more patient, empathetic, and passionate about what I do. I hang in there even when others have given up. I’m not saying I don’t have my bad days but most of the time I find a reason to have hope.

Working while depressed is kind of like trying to make your brain function at 110% but it only wants to operate at maybe 25%. You will get things done. You will accomplish some work but it is not as good as when your brain is at fully capacity. Thinking is harder and slower. It takes longer to make connections. Almost as if your neurons that fire messages are covered in some kind of molasses. You sometimes walk slower. You save all your energy for your meetings because it is going to take everything that you have to get through them. When you are done you are mentally and physically exhausted even though you have not really done anything physical. You want to crawl into bed even though it is only 6pm.

Currently I have a care load of 19 families. All of their children have special needs of some sort, 99% of them being Autistic. I love my job most days but other days I want to throw in the towel and quit because I feel like I am failing the families I am supposed to be helping. There are not enough resources, not enough money, not enough support to go around, and sometimes I am the sole supporter. So when it comes time to say goodbye, it is hard to go. I give all I can every day. But days like today it doesn’t feel like enough.

The accomplishments I see are small in comparison to working with neuro-typical kids. An accomplishment for one of my kids might be they can finally spear a piece of food on a fork. A huge accomplishment might be learning to have a conversation with a peer without help from an adult to guide the conversation. Big or small though, I love my kiddos so much. Even when they aren’t doing so good. Even when I want to shake every single person in the way of their progress. Most of my parents try so hard. Others can’t be bothered and just want to collect a check from their child’s disability. These are the parents you just want to kick in the shins. But instead, you try to educate and encourage them to follow through. Even when you know they won’t, because you always feel there is going to be that one magic word or phrase that is going to motivate them. One of my kiddos, for the first time ever, patted me on the shoulder in greeting today. Normally he is not even aware I am there. It was a beautiful moment that I tried to hang on to even as lousy as I felt.

I had pizza for dinner because I did not have the strength to cook. I sat around and watched movies, and then I came here to share. Tomorrow will be a better day. And if it is not, I will keep saying that until it is eventually true. There will always be at least one good thing about every day. Look hard for that every day.

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