By Jessica Resnick
My depression has dragged on for months now.
I wonder what it would be like to feel the warmth of happiness. Does it feel like the warmth of the sun or a hug from a loved one? Is there a difference? I miss the heat of the sand between my toes and continue to have deep urges to get on a plane to a tropical island and never return. I’ve never considered leaving New Jersey so deeply.
After the lack of sympathy from my employer, I’m now conflicted with the fact that I’m just there as a tool in their box to be used and put away after a long day (and then the box opens again for the next day’s work). I arrived into the office and immediately began to catch up on work that had piled up from three days of my absence. No one asked how I was doing but instead everyone was concerned about the speed in which I could complete outstanding tasks. Only one individual who rents space from my firm emailed me to say that he wishes my family well. I’m beginning to realize that behaving and having the countenance of a private person will (I cry as I type this/start heaving – ugh) inevitably cause the behavior of others to also be uncompassionate.
I’ve been researching Asperger’s Syndrome for over a week now and have learned more about myself in the past week than the past several years.
I also bought a Bipolar manual back in November because I became obsessed with the idea that I had mood swings and irritability. I’ve done the same with Asperger’s, and bought a manual on the topic, hoping for long buried childhood difficulties to pop up on the page and scream at me with a response as to why my childhood is seeping into my adulthood. I just took my pulse and the oximeter reads “117.”
I keep telling myself to take deep breaths but it does nothing for my tears, which are now making my head pound with sinus pressure. I’m somewhat upset that I have a Bipolar II diagnosis, which worries me for the future. I don’t know what type of medical repercussions I could face in the future with that type of diagnosis. I wasn’t happy to hear about the Asperger’s either, which is now referred to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In addition, I really hate the term “aspie,” it sounds like demented child who cannot act for themselves.
I know there are autistic people who function well but I worked so damn hard in my life to avoid being labeled as disabled. Yes, maybe it has come about as … there goes my memory. I don’t recall what I was about to type there. Anyway, it’s strange to say I was hoping for a Bipolar II diagnosis, yet hate the outcome. I was not anticipating the Asperger’s (sorry – ASD) diagnosis but should welcome its manifestation in my life. Maybe manifestation isn’t the correct word as I’ve had learning disabilities, motor function issues, and speech impediments my whole life. I guess I meant “manifestation” as the childhood (now adulthood is included) issues finally have the defined term that can be put directly onto paper.
In just over 10 days, I will be having a neuropsychological assessment. I’ve had many of these before in my childhood but decided it was time to acknowledge that these disabilities of mine didn’t disappear with age. Another thing that didn’t disappear with age is my terrible genetic history. I’m going to a genetic counselor in a month to see if cancer has dripped down my family tree into my genes too. I already have familial hypercholesterolemia, which has required the addition of a cardiologist to my ever-growing repertoire of specialists. I have finally stopped crying and the oximeter reads “86.”
It never ceases to amaze me how many times I resist writing out my thoughts because I’m “not in the mood” or “feeling too lazy”. Before I sat down to write out this entry, I worked out for twenty minutes on my rowing machine and meditated briefly afterwards. I’ve found artists who have composed piano pieces of some of my favorite songs. Interestingly, I haven’t touched the TV since Sunday night after watching my Packers lose at home.
The following day my father tested positive for COVID-19, after contracting it from his brother. I had a serious breakdown that evening, even though I had a rapid test that implied I was negative. By the way, I had another test today that stated that I had yet to contract COVID-19 myself.
I can’t get a grip on anxiety, or what is it that makes me cry? I cried twice this week, and don’t recall the last time I had cried.
The anniversary of my grandmother’s death is coming up next week and I had almost forgotten until I glanced at a calendar just now. The past week has proven tumultuous, after receiving an injection in my back that still hasn’t shown improvement, I had an interview setup and somehow did well enough to have them relay to the recruiter that they liked me. However, I’m not exactly what they are looking for so it sounds like I’ll continue to be unappreciated for a little while longer at work. I don’t like to use the word “unappreciated” but as I had mentioned previously, I’m just a tool in their shed to be picked out again for the next day’s work. A year ago, when I had thought about fixing up my resume, I had merely wanted a new career for more money. Now, it is so much more about finding what I have passion for and how I can live my life as a solo traveler. I’ve grown frustrated enough to leave my online businesses in the dust while I try to pick through my depression like a spider unravels each trapped prey on her magnificent and intricate web.
I feel like I must pull apart each matter stuck in my mind like chewing gum under a desk and hopefully by then the desk will be clean enough for me to have a fresh slate.
I know these analogies must be annoying but I cannot find another way to describe the depression and anxiety that runs in my blood.
Again, I wonder what a happy mind feels like.
Am I working a 9-5 job making decent money or am I able to find a multi-million dollar idea so I can travel freely? Honestly, I hate the ball and chain to my cubicle. I keep circling back to the idea of how badly I want to run a charity, but I have no experience in that field. I did nothing with my Bachelor’s degree and became a paralegal out of abundance of caution. What other career would I be good at that requires being diligent and organized without going back to school for a postgraduate degree? I’m a horrendous test taker and still remember speaking to the admission’s office at Muhlenberg College about my deferred SAT/ACT scores. I had to release the results after I had been accepted and the woman’s voice is in my mind saying “oh these scores are terrible”.
I graduated with a 3.0012 GPA or something like that, and was ranked very low in my class. I just got used to telling myself I would fail in a postgraduate program because there are always tests at the end of every stop before the hurdle into certification. I barely survived my paralegal studies program, and wept in my car after the first day because I couldn’t focus in class. I got the help I needed, with the sacrifice of sleep, and managed to pull through with a 3.44 GPA. One class screwed me up as I was out for several days due to illness and I promised myself I would never work in that field of law anyway (or my GPA would have been higher). I had to color code my notes as I am what they call a “visual learner”; I had to review the prior class notes every single day after each class. So, the last day of class I had the most reading to do and a rainbow would flash through my mind in a desperate attempt to pass a test.
I guess all these failures in my life have led me to become an overeater, maybe a binge or emotional overeater, who knows. I spent a fortune on an IOP program to treat my eating issues and it did not solve a thing for me. I do remember one person in the program who was maybe 16 or so. He (they? – I don’t remember his? preference) was explaining one day how his mother was suing his father for custody of him. He was an amazing artist and drew the most beautiful, colorful drawings. I was inspired by this child and even picked up my instruments again for a brief period. It also reminded me how I can’t draw or write.
I suppose the overeating stemmed from the idea that I am a failure and have been a failure for so long. However, now I hardly eat and come home from work with only the desire to work out and sleep. Or rest, I mean to say. I’m still considered obese due to the “BMI scale”, and am quickly going to be returning to the “overweight” range. It excites me that I’m getting closer to being in shape and hopefully will even look “fit”. I started Krav Maga to learn self-defense so I could travel safely as a solo female but now I’m actually considering getting a yellow belt in this program. If you would have asked me a year ago, I would have said that the comprehension of defending myself is good enough. I’ve tried to immerse myself in whatever fitness program is available to wash away as much doubt as possible. So far, I’ve grown more depressed because working out is not a purpose. It’s just a hobby.
Speaking of hobbies, I have some of my new piano artists playing as I type out this entry. In a way, I feel upset that hearing these amazing pianists play what I cannot is a confirmation of defeat. Every time I try to play the piano, my hand just cramps and I have to stop. Even if I were to take a break, I lose interest in trying again for fear that my hand will just cramp again. I used to be an expert flute player but don’t have any motivation to try it again. I can’t figure out why and it bothers me because that was the one thing I was good at. During my childhood, it was the only thing I could turn to, to remind me that I could be appreciated for bringing music to people’s lives. Maybe I’m so upset because I don’t feel appreciated, who knows?
Even with my group of friends, I rarely tell them about my life unless it is something serious. Most of them unload their life onto to me and I barely get in a whisper about my life. I’m used to being told “private is better” and not to discuss personal matters with people. Maybe that has done me a disservice throughout my life? Is that why my employer showed no sympathy to me? Possibly, that’s why my friends never bother to ask me how I’m doing?
I’ve been struggling with my social life, even before coronavirus. I’ve got no family to turn to when friends are busy so I’ve tried to find other means of socializing. My body knows I need it to thrive yet it feels so forced all the time. When I go out, I need to wear something nice that doesn’t even feel like a true representation of myself but when else will I get an opportunity to dress up? So, this makes me turn to another troublesome thought. I’m not great with my appearance but my job is business casual so I don’t go up and beyond to dress up. Is lack of desire to have a decent appearance a sign of depression or personality?
I’m exhausted from writing this and will be ending today with the suggestion that one play Frederic Chopin – Prelude in E Minor (Op. 28, No. 4) as the conclusion to this entry
I feel as though this piece describes the depth of despair in my head. A fun fact about this piece is that Chopin had this played at his own funeral.
Note: I’d like to apologize about the sporadic grammar throughout this piece. As I get older, I’ve struggled more and more with articulation and prose. Thankfully, you as the reader, don’t have to hear me read this piece out loud or it’d be a nightmare.
Jessica is a real estate paralegal with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. She currently serves on the Executive Board for a paralegal association and is also the Newsletter Editor for the association. Jessica enjoys listening to music and watching documentaries in her spare time. The author was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder) but has struggled with MDD, ADHD, and OCD for many years.
Thank you so much for sharing this lovely, honest piece Jessica. I know how difficult and real such a struggle is and I wish you a deep sense of your immense value as a human–even–especially– in the midst of difficulty. May you grant yourself much heart space and kindness as you navigate the challenges on your journey. Gaining insight to ourselves is often painful and exhausting but we benefit from this increased knowledge over time. Wishing you the goodness of that which sustains you. Keep writing and sharing your story! Jill
A lot of this seemed familiar from my own life. I also feel like a failure a lot of the time. For what it’s worth (coming from a random person on the internet), I don’t think you’re a failure. Sometimes just surviving is a success.
The intuitive vibes im getting here is that you need to accept yourself in most areas of your life to get anywhere. Im currently on this journey myself with understanding and liking my own autism, both the way i see it, experience life and how it is within my own spirituality. Much love for your journey, you deserve it all and more!
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