To Work or Not To Work…

That is the question.

I’m on long term disability for mental health issues.

To put it bluntly… I lost my mind when my husband got sick, and now it’s so far gone I don’t know that I would recognize it if it came back.

Signs and symptoms of depression:

  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness and worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or recurrent thoughts of death
  • Sleep disturbances (sleeping more or sleeping less
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of energy and fatigue

Out of those 8 symptoms… I have 7.   At least 5 of them are severe.

On the long weekend, I decided I was going to stave off the grief and spend the entire weekend mostly inebriated.

As a side note – I’ve been told that alcohol is a depressant, and that it will only exasberate the depression.

So anyhow… I spent the majority of the weekend in a constant state of buzz.   Started my morning with Bailey’s and coffee, switched to Palm Bay or wine in the evening.

By Monday morning  I was done with drinking.   Monday evening resulted in headaches… water & tylenol took care of that.

Tuesday morning I had trouble getting out of bed.  I forced myself to take the kids to the river Tuesday afternoon, but I think we were all relieved when it was time to go home.   At 2.30 Tuesday afternoon – I was done.  I crashed.  I could no longer get off the couch.  I slept for almost 4 hours.

The thoughts I had were frightening.  I was scared for my mental health.  I was scared for the depth of my depression.  I was frightened for my children and frightened for myself.

By Wednesday night, I managed to get in to see my doctor, and had a conversation about my depression & grief.  Between that and a conversation I had with another widow… I started to realize that I was ok.  I would be ok.

So back to the original question… to work, or not to work…

I’m driven. I’m ambitious.  I can see how this may be hindering my career goals & plans.   With that in mind, I have an internal pressure to go back to work.  Get things going again.  I’ve been off the job for 8 months now.  That’s a long time.

But if I go back too soon – I may relapse.  I may put myself in that deep dark place I was on Tuesday.

A friend of mine wrote this blog about depression. On Tuesday – I was at what she described as “Agony Attack”  Usually I bounce between “The Cave” and “Lost in Quicksand”

While I have moments where I feel normal, where I feel good, where I feel productive… I invariably end up back in the Cave or the Quicksand.    Those good moments are fleeting.  They last an hour or so.  And then I’m down again.

So could I go back to work?  Probably.  I could probably force myself, much like the weekend, to disassociate from the grief and from the pain while I’m there.  It may mean that I bawl on my drive home… it may mean that I end up in the Quicksand moving towards the Agony each night when I get home.

Or it may be exactly what I need to get myself together.

I’m not willing to risk myself or my family to find out, just yet.    Maybe in another month.  But not yet.

I miss my job though.  I miss my clients and I miss my co-workers.  I miss my professional life.

I want to be awesome at it when I go back.   I want to be able to put behind me the depression and grief and focus on my family and my career when it’s time to go back.

But I’m torn.  I’m unfocused at home.  I can’t concentrate for more than 5 minutes.  I go start something, and then forget I was doing it. This has caused more than one burnt dinner.   This morning I turned on the oven to make cookies, and realized it was still on when the kids got home and they asked if the cookies were ready.

I’m not sure I should be trying to protect people’s financial futures with that lack of brain power…

Damn ambition.  Damn needing to take care of me.  *sigh*

I’m grateful for being able to stay home right now.   This gives me the time I need to heal.

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3 thoughts on “To Work or Not To Work…

  1. InstantWidow says:

    I was never able to take a formal “LOA”, but my boss was very flexible and understanding. After the funeral I started back to work on my regular schedule. I did that for 5 weeks and then crashed. I had to take a week off. I started back working 4 hrs a day. About a month later, after I started taking meds to help me sleep, I went up to 6 hrs a day. I go in between 9:30 or 10:00 am and I leave at 4pm.

    I’ve had to take so much time for appointments … car repair, Dr. Visits, eye Dr., my roof situation, my grandfather who was passing away, my dog who had to have surgery and vet appointments, and days I had to take off when I have migraines, etc. But I keep going to the office even if its just for a couple of hours.

    Your Dr. Can write you back to work with “conditions” to protect your employment until you can transition to full time. Having a reason to get up each morning, take a shower, and go out into the world has been helpful. Of course I need the money so I can take care of myself. My husband left me nothing but a mess and no life insurance so I am self-supporting thru my own contributions.

    Talk it over with your Dr. If it doesn’t work you can go back to LTD. It’s worth a try.

  2. June says:

    Jane – I think the reply above is better than I can say. Alcohol is okay in moderation to relax. Just remember that you have children that NEED you. I hope you’re able to get into some kind of routine even if it’s only for an hour a day. My heart aches for you! Hugs, June

  3. Hadassah Hannah says:

    I heartily agree with the previous advice to ease back into work — both for your own health’s sake, your company’s sake and because there are doubtless many things you still need to take care of during business hours. And … if you’re unsure (as you are),please wait.

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