Naturally, my repeated absences had consequences at work. I was demoted from a managerial position and my hours were reduced. At first I was happier, having a lighter work load and more time for myself, but soon after the novelty wore off, I was back to the same routine. When the alarm went off, I would hit snooze over and over until I either decided to call in sick or jump in the shower and hurry out the door before I was late.
Logically, I could see myself spiraling down. The next consequence at work would be a further reduction of hours and a loss of benefits such as health insurance. No matter how much I tried to reason with myself, I always felt like I was losing. To make matters worse, on the days that I would stay home, I would feel guilty about it all day long. So, in the end, I would just end up feeling worse than if I had just gotten up and gone to work.
That was life pre-overdose and promised to continue if I didn't do something about it. I went to work my first 4 days back, but then missed the 5th day. I felt like shit. Everyone around me was concerned and for the first time I felt like I wasn't just letting myself down, I was letting everyone else down.
That night, my girlfriend gave me some tough love advice and pointed out to me that I needed to not just exist, but that I needed to participate in life. It's not enough to just get up and go through the motions every day, or else my depression will just persist. I have to want to get better. Not just think it, but to do something about it. She also helped me examine the mental gymnastics that I go through every morning and to identify that there is no reason to not get up.
With that kick in the ass, I went home and wrote a letter to myself that I could read each morning. I had to word it so that even if I were in the deepest, darkest place, that it would still pierce the blackness and bring me to a place where I could at least start my day. The letter that I wrote to myself went a little like this:
Today I will get up and do what I need to do because:
- Sleeping all day doesn't make me feel better. It actually makes me feel worse.
- Going to work never makes me feel worse and has the potential to make me feel better.
- I enjoy interacting with colleagues, friends and family
- I want to enjoy life.
- I deserve it.
Sure, it's a small step, the first in a long line of steps I need to take to get my life on track, but at least it's a step in the right direction. Next up, learning to value myself.