Hi friends! I know, I know: nine days since I last wrote a blog post. You all are probably wondering what I’ve been up to (as I have you) or you might have just found my blog and are wondering what happened 139 days ago. 139 days ago I left my husband, moved into an apartment and I am counting up the days since my exit. I still have 227 days until I can file for divorce in the State of North Carolina and I am looking forward to that day.
Prior to moving into my apartment I was largely miserable. I have a long history of severe depression that went untreated and also found myself trapped in a marriage that I could financially not escape from. We were “separated” (sleeping in separate bedrooms) for almost 6 years prior to my moving; we simply could not afford two households. Then, we discovered my husband’s old employer had given him stocks, which were now worth quite a bit of money, and this allowed us to go our separate ways.
To explain why I was so miserable is hard to explain. Throughout the course of this blog, and my previous one (which is now private), I have described in detail the difficulty of the last 16 years, particularly the last 6. A lot of the details about my relationship with my spouse I no longer feel is appropriate to share publicly, so I share in vague details.
One of the reoccurring themes in my marriage is my severe depression caused by my bipolar disorder and how I used my husband, even prior to my marriage, to try to make myself well. Our relationship was largely codependent, and my husband had his own struggles with depression and PTSD, and when he discovered he was not enough to “save” me it broke him.
About 6 years ago I started finally getting the proper treatment for my bipolar disorder in the form of therapy and medication. The healthier I got, the further I got emotionally from my husband, and also the further I got from my religion which I’d converted to as a teen. My losing my faith seemed like the last straw in our marriage, as it had been the primary draw that brought us together in our 20s. But, it was me that wanted to leave my marriage, because I associated it with everything unhealthy in me.
I was feeling nostalgic the other day and had read about what function my husband served in my life, and I realized that he had likely saved my life from suicide multiple times because of his love for me. But this alone is not a reason to stay in an unhealthy relationship, and once I become healthier and lost my faith I realized that he and I should have never married.
So, it’s been about 4 1/2 months since my departure and I feel like things are going in the right direction in my life, though I still find myself still deeply embarrassed and ashamed over multiple things. Depression and spiritual abuse led to years of agoraphobia and social anxiety, which led to a good DECADE+ without friends –with only my husband, my kids, and my in-laws–and a dysfunctional family life which affects my kids profoundly to this day.
I have my whole life (nearly 41 years) of bipolar depression, bad habits, unhealthy coping mechanisms, isolation, rollercoaster of employment/unemployment, and general despondency. I have been told by many people online that I am brave, and I suppose I am, because I am in my early-middle age trying to create a good life for myself. Not only for myself, but for my children.
My children are also miserable. They are teenagers and they seem to hate life, just skirting by with their online games and YouTube. My daughter has online friends, but non in person, and my son only has his teenaged cousins as friends, who live in another state. Neither of them are involved in any activities in school or with anything else.
My daughter has avoidant restrictive eating disorder and is now refusing supplemental drinks and eats entirely junk food now. It’s more than just picky eating — it’s an anxiety disorder/way of controlling her environment. We can’t take her out to eat. She hasn’t had a checkup since before the pandemic. Fortunately she wasn’t nutritionally deficient, as shown by her bloodwork, but she probably is now and I have just found her a therapist who specializes in her disorder. When we saw a nutritionist a couple years ago she shamed my daughter, and I have felt so much shame surrounding my parenthood that I have not as aggressively tackled this probably as much as I should have.
Because it means I have failed. My kids are not okay. What else can one conclude? But as a parent, I realize I need to be bigger than my shame, and I am trying. But perhaps not hard enough, the reason being that I can only cope so much.
Even with my therapy, meds, and being away from my spouse, I still struggle. Like, this month, my apartment has become gross. There is food on the counters, dust bunnies under the table and couch, rings in my toilet, and laundry on the floor. It’s not as bad as it has gotten in the past — I have made some progress — but I feel a measure of despondency like, Oh god, I thought I’d changed but here I am going back to my horrible habits.
I don’t want to be that person whom depression robs me of life, but here I am. I do have one shining light in my life — which are my budding friendships and social engagements. There has not been a single time in the last couple months that I have not dreaded going out and being social. Conversely, there has not been a single time going out has not been worth it. There has not been a single time it has not lightened me and made the effort worth it. Every. single. time.
So I go, even with the dread, and I come back realizing it’s going to be okay and this is what life is all about.
Because, my children aren’t doing well and I hate my new job and those things suck the life out of me. “My children aren’t doing well” implies that things have worsened –which is not true– they are doing the same as they have for years but as I’m trying to lead a better life I realize how much their dad and I’s lives by example has made them not really want to live it. And that is really eating at me.
So I made a plan that when they are with me on a Saturday (I get 2 weeks/weekends with them a month) we are going to go out for 2 hours and do an activity. Well, last weekend I utterly failed in that attempt. It was so much for me to go grocery shopping — I was dreading it so much — that I could not will myself to force one of them to go with me, much less force them to go out with me, which was simply going to the park.
And I feel like I’m trying to make a better life for myself, but what does it matter if my children are slipping into adulthood without the tools to live a healthy life. It feels like all the burden is on me to do this because their dad does not seem capable of it.
This low-grade depression/despondency/anxiety has come from this disconnect between what I thought my life would be like in my new apartment and what it actually is. I have not decorated my apartment, mostly because I have never decorated a home I’ve been in, since my childhood, and do not know, nor have the desire to do so, but I feel like I am failing in this regard, as it is something I should do to make our residence more homey but I can’t seem to will myself to do it.
There is something about the shopping and the deciding that is overwhelming to me. I wish someone would do it for me. To be honest, I wish I had a friend or partner, to go with me to help me decide. It seems I should be able to do this by myself, but I haven’t been able to, and it makes me feel I’m failing in living independently. It seems simple — like what “normal’ people would do, and even look forward to, but I cannot seem to do it myself.
As I’ve mentioned before, in addition to not decorating, and I am barely cleaning. I am also not going to the gym I am paying for, and I am not taking my children out of the apartment to do activities like I had planned on it.
At first this was happening because my loneliness from spending 2 weeks from my children, alone in my apartment, made me depressed and I couldn’t bother to put in the effort, but since we moved to switching off every week this has helped my depression, but in the past month I feel I am back to survival mode. That is, most of my waking hours have spent devoted to recovering from my new job.
I’ve been working at my new job for 5 weeks now, and this past week I’ve made some progress in going from hating it to disliking it, which is progress indeed. I had found other job postings at the hospital that I was going to apply to but I held out to see how things went this last week at the orthopedic hospital and I found once I was with the therapists (physical, occupational, and speech) alone with the patients without a mentor looking over my shoulder it wasn’t as bad as there was no one looking out for all the things I was doing wrong.
At first I was scared of acute care (with all the tubes and lines and leads coming out of the patient), and uncomfortable with not knowing the job enough to make sure I’m not hurting anyone, but now it’s becoming less of a confidence issue and more of a Wow, I really don’t like the job duties itself. Since the stress of my job has robbed other aspects of my life I am going to write here what I dislike and like about the job to better sort my mind:
- Being on-call: therapists texting/calling me whenever they need help
- Changing schedules, periodically working weekend shift/different hours
- Lot’s of different personalities to adjust to
- Every situation being different, having to think on my toes
- Fumbling with equipment while the therapists impatiently wait
- Knowing I could do serious harm to the patient if I don’t get things right
- Physically being close to patient/touching them
- Communicable diseases — I could get sick or get other people in my life sick
- Lack of intellectual work — it’s all physical
- Pay is still too low to pay my expenses
- At 40 (almost 41) I’m doing an entry-level position (not professional)
- Working for a large organization
- I feel like there are no moments of satisfaction or I got things right/accomplished something
Okay, so the likes
- Helping people
- Flexibility with kids’ appointments
- Health insurance
- Interesting personalities
- Lack of boredom, keeping busy
I told myself this week that I’d give myself 90 days (my probationary period) and see how I do once I am more on my own and the therapists get more comfortable with me, and me with them, but I suspect, very strongly that I just won’t like the job.
And so, you may be asking, So what — I don’t necessarily like my job but it’s something I do because I have to. To which I say, Yeah, but I’m too old to be miserable in a job when there are other options out there. The thing is while this job pays more than my last job, it’s still not enough to pay my bills. And that’s the kicker, if it met all my needs I might grin and bear it for a while. Or maybe not, because, ultimately my life has sucked so long, and I’ve been miserable for so long, I don’t want to stay at that place.
I’m not going to up and quit — my family NEEDS health insurance — we simply cannot go without it, but I want to look for a new job. Yet, I feel a tremendous amount of shame for job hoping.
Sometimes I remind myself that 60% of people with my specific mental illness are unemployed, so by that standard I’m doing great. And I keep improving in my life. But I feel so much shame that I’m nearly 41 (next week) and I have nothing to show for it career wise. I’m smart; I’m creative; I’m resourceful; I’m good with people but yet here I am in this position. I also remind myself that the studies (hopefully I’ll find a link later) show that people with bipolar disorder with college degrees like myself are usually in positions that do not require a college degree, but I want better for myself.
My last job wasn’t also intellectually stimulating, and there were some really stressful moments when I worked by myself, but overall it was really good for me: I could go in at 8:30, eat my breakfast, chat for hours with my coworker; there were moments where there wasn’t a lot going on — it was laid back. Compared to my job now which is entirely stressful situations. I’m trying to not let it bleed into my home life, yet it totally is.
My therapist and my mom both think I should stick with my job for as long as possible — they think it’s a confidence issue — and that things will get better. That’s all a psychological barrier I can overcome. I just wish I didn’t hate it so much; that it didn’t bleed into my home life, and that it was something that actually paid enough for me to live off of.
So, even though I’m being brave and moving out on my own, and doing a job that scares me, and forming new relationships within my new Meetup groups, I just don’t feel like things are doing well enough. My therapist tells me that I’ve “levelled up,” like life is a game and I’m advancing through the levels. This metaphor helps me because even though I’m not where I want to be, it is true that I am going in the right direction.
But the shame, the depression, the despondency, the anxiety, the disappointment — it all gets to me, ya know? I want things to be good in my life and I no longer want to live a life that makes me unhappy.
Going out and meeting new people makes me happy. I never thought I’d say that — 8 years ago I couldn’t even leave the house my agorophobia and social anxiety was so bad. Here I am, meeting new people who no anxiety, only a little dread. Feeling energized after.
For example, today I went to a new book club. I was scared because the book we read was an intelligent book. It was very good, but I was afraid I’d have nothing to contribute. Compared to my other book club, I actually enjoyed the book, and I actually contributed. The people were very interesting and there were a lot of different perspectives. I enjoyed that.
Had I not had the book club meeting I would have spent my whole weekend holed up in my messy apartment, sleeping away the day. I’ve had this bad habit of sleeping through my entire weekends which has given me headaches and made me depressed and feel like all life is about a job I don’t like. But, because I went out I was able to go to the library (where I am now) and actually get out of the house. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rest of my day, but at least I know I did something this weeked.
Well, there you have it — this was very long-winded but it’s everything that’s been on my mind lately. Hopefully you were able to get something out of it. My hope for you to find some bit of light or courage or inspiration to help you keep going or go in the direction of what you want you life to look like. To do things that make you feel alive and to make going around this earth worth it. To feel like someone understands you and that you are not alone.
Thanks for reading, friends.