When Depression is a full time job
It’s 7:00 am and my partner’s alarm is going off. I groggily ask what day it is as if it matters. It’s Wednesday, he tells me as he crawls out of bed to get ready for work.
I fall back asleep. I’m so exhausted.
I wake up again when he comes to my side of the bed to kiss me goodbye. He smells leathery and sweet, the familiar scent of his cologne. The smell is comforting. I wrap my arms around him, not wanting him to go. Not wanting to face the day alone. He asks what my plans are for the day. I promise him I’ll apply for jobs. He says that’s a good idea and leaves.
Now I’m alone. I should get up.
I check the time it’s nearly 8:00. I open my phone, promising I’ll only be on it for ten minutes. Then I’ll get up. An hour passes, I’m still scrolling. It’s my first broken promise of the day. I know it won’t be my last.
Finally, the urge to pee forces me up. It’s now 9:00. I make the bed, not wanting to tempt myself back in. It’s time to make breakfast: a cereal bar and a cappuccino made from a powdered mix. Maybe this will help me focus. I realize it’s the last packet.
I should go to the store.
It’ll take ten minutes, tops. I could walk there right now. But I don’t. I was supposed to go Sunday, now it’s Wednesday. Shit, I haven’t left the house in three days. I promise myself I’ll go to the store later — if only to get outside for a bit.
I go upstairs to my computer and check my email to see if there are any updates on the job applications I’ve sent out. I see one. While your application was impressive, we regret to inform you… Then another. The high volume of candidates meant we had a tough decision process and unfortunately… Great. I delete the emails. It gives me a morsel of control again.
I sigh and pull up the job site. There are no writing jobs. Or creative jobs. Apparently, those aren’t posted on sites like these. So instead I search for marketing and admin roles. I even search for café jobs, the last thing I want to do. I read the description of dozens of positions. They all sound the same. And they all sound miserable. But I’m already miserable, so I should at least get paid for it.
I send off my generic CV and resume to one place. I don’t even bother editing it. What’s the point?
I come across one job that sounds good. Or better than the others at least. Sustainability Writer. I like the sound of that. My mood lifts, ever so slightly. But they need samples. I spend a while reading through my articles. They all suck. I close out of the job description. Maybe I’ll apply tomorrow.
Now it’s 11:00. What have I even done with my morning? Shit. I check my email again. Another rejection — this time from an online publication. I knew my writing sucked. I want to throw my laptop on the ground. But I don’t, I don’t have the energy.
I decide to go back to bed. Just for five minutes, I tell myself. Five minutes pass. Then ten. Then fifteen. I want to cry but can’t, so instead I stare at the ceiling. I can hear the birds chirping outside. They sound peaceful. It’s annoying me. And it’s annoying me that it’s annoying me. If I could just cry, then I’ll feel better. I try to force the tears, but I can’t even do that right.
I look at my phone. It’s noon. Fuck. This is why I can’t get a job. Lazy ass.
My stomach rumbles, but I don’t feel hungry. I need to eat though. My partner will ask if I ate. He always does. I drag myself from my cocoon to the kitchen. I open the pantry.
I still need to go to the store.
I look outside, it looks like it might rain. Maybe I can go tomorrow.
The pantry looks bare. Not that it matters anyway, I don’t even want to eat. I grab the last slice of bread, peanut butter, and jelly. I make myself half a sandwich. That will do.
I take my lunch upstairs.
I just need to relax. I’ll watch one YouTube video while I eat, then get back to work — whatever that means. I watch a video about food waste, which reminds me I need to turn my compost. I add it to the list. I watch another video about companies trying to solve the food waste crisis.
I suddenly feel hopeful. I could write about this. I start digging through the trenches of the internet, trying to stay focused. I find a couple of companies I could reach out to interview. Yes, this is good, I can pitch to bigger publications. Then everything will be back on track.
It’s now close to 2:00. I have an outline. I’ll start writing tomorrow, I’m exhausted again. Maybe I have cancer. I google if exhaustion is a symptom. It’s a symptom of everything, I guess. I see an article about tiredness and depression. I click on it. It’s long and I try to focus, but my mind wanders. Why can’t I focus?
I go back to bed. My head hurts and I want to nap, but I can’t. I need to be productive. I’ve done nothing all day. Why haven’t I been writing? I’ll never be a writer if I can’t do the one thing I need to do to make it.
I grab my computer; I’ll write from bed. I end up on Reddit and now it’s after 3:00. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
I still haven’t gone to the store.
I go back to the job site. I look at the listings despairingly. Most of the jobs have over 100 applicants. This is hopeless.
I apply for a few more — a few that sound okay. At least I can say I kept that promise when my partner asks what I did today.
I can barely keep my eyes open. I should shower. That will wake me up. I’ll wash my hair — it’s been a while. And shave my legs. Yes. That will help. I’ll feel good after that.
I get in the shower, turning the tap to near scalding levels. I stand under the cascading water, watching it drip onto the white acrylic below. The shower is dirty. I should clean it. When did I last clean it? I’ll add it to the list. Maybe tomorrow. Now I’m disheartened. I don’t want to wash my hair now. Or shave my legs. So I just stand there in the grimy shower.
My skin has turned bright red from the water, and I feel lightheaded. How long have I been in here? I get out. It’s 4:05.
I debate getting dressed, but the day is almost over now. So, I put back on my pajamas. Lazy.
I need to write. My stomach is clawing at me. I haven’t done a single productive thing today. Fuck. I get on my computer and open up a word document. And stare.
I type the word “My.” Then stop. What am I even doing? Why do I think I have anything to say that people want to read? This is stupid.
I write a few more sentences. I delete it all. I start again. And delete again. This isn’t working. I open another document. Another article I had started long ago and read over it. It’s trash. I edit a grammar error I spot. That feels productive. I save it.
It’s now 5:00 and I should start dinner. It’s the least I can do for my partner since I don’t have a job.
But I still haven’t gone to the store.
I go downstairs. Maybe I can scrounge something up. Pasta. Yes. I pull out the shells and open the fridge. Mushrooms. Good. I pull them out. Nope, bad. I toss them in the compost. The fridge is empty.
I guess I have to go to the store. I put on pants. I’m uncomfortable.
My partner texts asking if we need anything for dinner.
Mind Reader. But I don’t want to admit I couldn’t even do the simple fucking task of going to the store. So instead, I respond: How about Pizza Night? 😉
He responds: Sure.
Crap. He’s annoyed. I know it. I order Dominos for us. That much I guess I can manage.
The pizza arrives right at 6:00, shortly before my partner. I take it to bed. Pizza night in bed is a tradition we never break. My partner gets home.
He kisses me and asks how my day was. Okay, I say, I applied for some jobs. He smiles, Goooooood. He always says it like this, for emphasis. I smile back. Maybe he’s not annoyed.
He flips off his shoes and sits on the bed. We watch Netflix while we eat. I only have a couple of slices. I’m still not hungry.
Now it’s 7:00. He takes the leftover pizza to the fridge. I stay in bed. He rejoins me and asks me what I did today. I repeat applied for jobs.
He asked if I went to the store.
So that’s why we ordered pizza? He asks.
I can go to the store tomorrow, he offers.
He’s annoyed now. I know it.
No, I’ll go. I’m the one home all day, I should go.
You don’t have to go.
I want to.
You don’t. You just think you should because you’re home playing housewife all day.
I’m not playing housewife. My voice shakes.
He sighs, I know. I’m sorry.
He apologized. I should drop it. But I can’t. You think I want to be here all day, feeling worthless and not being able to get a single interview. You think I like not working. You think I like me right now. Because I don’t.
And just like that, I’m crying. Uncontrollable sobs. My chest heaves as I try to apologize to him. He pulls me into his arms. He’s confused. And maybe annoyed. I bet he’s annoyed. This thought only makes me sob harder.
Maybe you should think about seeing someone. He suggests.
I don’t respond, I don’t need help. I just need a job. Then everything will be fine. Well, everything will be better. I think. I hope. It has to be.
I wipe my face on his t-shirt. Slowly, I calm down. I lay on his chest for a bit while he strokes my hair. Eventually, I have to get up to blow my nose. I check my phone. It’s 8:00.
I’m sorry, I whisper, afraid if I speak louder the tears will come back.
You don’t have to be sorry, he says.
Are you annoyed with me? I ask.
No. Of course not.
I don’t believe him. I never do.
Are you sure? I ask again.
Yes, now stop asking. He says.
He’s definitely annoyed, but I drop it. Because now he’s hugging me again and caressing my leg.
He suggests we watch something together. Maybe a comedy? It seems like a genuine suggestion, but I know he wants to play his PS4. I don’t want to annoy him more by making him watch something with me.
I turn him down. I should write. Maybe I’ll be more productive now that I got that cry out of me. He starts up his PS4. I go to my desk. Now I’m anxious. Is he annoyed that I was sobbing? I think it’s too much for him, I tell myself for the 50th time. This time is going to be the time that sends him over the edge.
But it never is. He always stays. At least for now.
I go back to the blank word document. I type a few lines out. They suck. But I leave them. It’s something, at least. I glance at the clock on my screen: 9:00.
Is it too early to go to sleep? Probably. I desperately want to be in bed, asleep. I long for a dreamless slumber where I don’t have to think or feel. But I know that won’t happen. My dreams will be vivid and nightmarish. They’ve been that way for months.
I try to keep writing. If I tire myself out enough, maybe I will sleep with no dreams. I write a few more sentences. Suddenly it’s 10:00. I look at the page in front of me. Two hours of writing and barely anything to show for it. I read it. It’s gibberish. 600 words of gibberish. I go to delete but stop myself. All writing was gibberish at one time, right? I convince myself this is true.
At least now it’s an acceptable time to go to bed. I go to the bathroom and brush my teeth. I didn’t brush them this morning, I realize. Gross, I’m disgusting. I brush them extra hard to make up for it. When I spit there is blood in the sink.
I crawl into bed. He offers his arm and I gladly accept. My eyes blur as I watch him battle demons on the TV. My mind wanders. Another day, wasted. Why didn’t I work harder today? Why couldn’t I get anything done? It shouldn’t be hard, but the day feels impossible.
It’s almost 11:00 now. He’s turning off his game. He holds me close and kisses me goodnight. Te amo, he whispers.
I love you too. Please don’t leave me, I want to add. But I don’t, I would sound too needy.
The darkened ceiling now looms over me. I can’t hear the birds now. They must all be asleep. That must be nice. Tomorrow will be better, I think. Tomorrow I won’t sob uncontrollably. Tomorrow, I’ll go to the store. I promise.