That’s how I am beginning to feel.
As I get a better understanding of depression and my responsibilities for keeping it under control, I am slowing down. This is new to me. Being very competitive, I am always measuring things. How many steps to the top entrance to the building, how many tiles on the wall in the men’s room. How much are sales up year over year?
So, hearing from more than one person that I need to slow down is disturbing. Yet it seems like it is a necessary part of my self-care. A necessary part of understanding how to be aware of, and ahead of depression. And a necessary part of my life going forward.
I can’t help but think about the story my Uncle told me.
My Uncle was a foot soldier in World War II. He fought on the islands in the Pacific. After the war was over, he and his buddies were waiting to get on a ship that was to bring them back to the United States. Before they boarded, the Army had prepared a steak dinner for the troops.
As my Uncle’s unit was getting near enough to the mess hall that they could smell the steaks, someone yelled “Their loading the ship. We need to go NOW.” The majority of my Uncle’s unit took off running down the hill to the dock.
Not phased by the announcement, my Uncle waited in line and got his steak.
He sat down at a table, tucked in his napkin, opened the wrapper with his silverware in it and enjoyed his steak. Then he walked slowly down to the dock. There, standing in the heat, hungry and disappointed, stood the rest of his unit. They and my Uncle stood another hour before they boarded the ship.
Hurry up and wait.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard my Uncle tell that story as I was growing up. And I guess it has stuck with me. That memory of him eating his steak makes me smile.
But my hurry up and wait is not making me smile.
There is no steak, no satisfying walk down to the docks. There are tedious days and “why am I not doing something” moments. To understand that not doing something IS doing something is a big deal. And I don’t have that down quite yet.
Using my new skills, I did have success in recognizing unhelpful thinking that was pushing me into a decision that felt right. Going back to a full-time job seems normal on the surface. Get out, meet people, have some interactions. But it turns out for me, that is the easy way out.
I am very comfortable as a manager, in charge, making decisions. In that role, I have value. I feel I am valuable to myself and others. But that’s my safety net, my feel-good spot. I guess you could say it is my drug. Without that, I am just me. Not me, the General Manager, not me, the dad, the brother, the son, the husband, but just me.
When I don’t have a title in front of my name, I’m not sure that I am enough.
So, I’m back to hurry up and wait.
The depression wanted to get me back into a full-time job. It wanted to stack that on top of my current home business. And then it would start to navigate its way into the next big crisis. It may have been years away but saying yes to the job offer would have been disastrous for me and my family.
Until I learn how to be enough just as myself, I can’t go back to my old habits. And taking that job would have been running down to the dock before I got my steak. I have a retirement and a home-based business. I need to let that be enough until I get more experience being just me.
I am grateful that I have a solid support network in the making. I was able to share my ideas with many different groups and individuals. This helped me form a better answer to whether I should take the job. And everyone, in all the groups, said I was going too fast.
Going too fast is how the depression likes it.
I read a quote that said, “if you feel in control, you aren’t going fast enough.” My life has been lived with that quote seemingly tattooed on my brain. This has led to impulsive behavior and disastrous consequences. But it has also led to some wonderful experiences and fond memories for not only me but my family, too. And that only makes going slow harder.
I am told it won’t take years to get this figured out. But right now, going slow is making it seem like an eternity. The sad part is that it has only been seven weeks since I was in the hospital. Compared to the 40+ years I have had depression, that is like a Saturday afternoon. I need to step back and take a bigger look.
Facing myself and my own self-esteem is uncomfortable.
It is foreign because I have always thought of myself in the context of something, a manager, a father. This gave my self-worth context. I still am not even sure how to begin thinking about just me, by myself.
Thankfully, I have a growing support group. I also have a therapist appointment at the end of the week. The list of things to talk about gets longer with each passing day. I will continue to slow and work on my self-care. Maybe soon, I will be enough.
Join me on my journey and please leave me your comments.