Hot, sticky, and depressing: that’s been my week. I have been unwell, not physically, although I noticed a tan spot under one of my toenails and googled for info, fully expecting to get suggested treatments for what’s probably the start of a fungal infection. Instead, Google coughed up:
Melanoma? UNDER MY TOENAIL? I don’t wear open-toed shoes. MY TOES HAVE NEVER SEEN THE SUNLIGHT.
Fine, I’ll keep an eye on my gross feet. What made me cry, though, was my brain. The organ that controls me began to override my ability to think and behave rationally. I found myself in a conflict on Wednesday night and lost sleep over re-framing and re-interpreting the situation, trying to look at it from many different perspectives, second-guessing my emotions, and questioning my sanity.
“It’s not me, it’s them. Wait, maybe it’s me? No, it’s definitely them. Am I overreacting? Just go to sleep, there’s nothing you can do about it now. Ok, here’s what I could do… No. Go to sleep. My eyes have been shut for the past three hours; settle down, emotions. Wtf…”
I showed up to work on Thursday morning feeling like garbage.
A familiar piece of advice is, “Think before you speak.” For me, that could take hours or even days. In the 20 or so years since I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, I’ve learned that the best course of action is to retreat from the public until I can function somewhat normally again.
When I told my boss two hours before my shift was over that I had to hightail it, he thankfully didn’t question my need to leave. Sure enough, as soon as my mirrored sunglasses went on and I unlocked my bike, I started sobbing.
I did not go to work yesterday nor today. The problem with social media is that they often make others feel inadequate about their life since nobody posts a picture of their red face smushed into a tear-soaked pillow. If I still had my Insta account and decided to make it a true reflection of my life, that’s what Thursday’s photo would have shown.
I may have escaped work before anyone saw me break down, but now that I am well enough to write about it, perhaps this post will help those who also have those occasional bouts of out-of-proportion sadness feel less alone. Perhaps by writing about it, I will help those who haven’t experienced depressive episodes understand that it is akin to overcoming a physical illness. Much like how you can’t tell someone sick with Bronchitis to stop coughing, nor would you advise them to toughen up and go to work.
YES, I KNOW I NEED TO PUT ON MY BIG GIRL PANTS AND FULFILL MY ADULT RESPONSIBILITIES.
BUT SOMETIMES I CAN’T.
It doesn’t help that there has been a mass exodus of long-time employees where I work. These old-timers have been replaced by a bunch of mostly appallingly young people. I don’t mean Maggie and Davy young (mid/late twenties); I mean people born AFTER I graduated high school young. They’re practically fresh out of the womb, dripping with afterbirth young.
Now, my fellow deaf people, young and old (and moldy), will know that more often than not, we have to approach hearing individuals as if they’re a small frightened animal. While interacting with hearing people isn’t new to us, they’re often nervous about the communication barrier, so deaf people usually have to be the ones to break the ice.
I’ve thought about making a cheeky “How to Interact With Me” booklet to distribute to those who show any discomfort in my presence, all because I have a bad case of The Deaf. By discomfort I mean, avoiding eye contact or going out of their way to ask another co-worker for help even though I am RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM.
Fear not: Among the squirrely ones, several new hires appear unfazed by my deafness, and I love them. They don’t know it yet.
So, that’s another reason I need to stay away from work until my peppy side returns. I don’t need my depression to be their first impression.
One of the long-time employees who are on their way out is my cherished friend, Tammy. We first met at this job thirteen years ago: A love story for the ages! We’ve laughed and cried together. She’s peed on my sunglasses, and I’ve slammed a door on her hand. She’s also been my biggest ally at work. She’s been the one who has schooled people on the dos and don’ts of interacting with deaf people. Without her, well, I may have to seriously consider the booklet idea. I could do it in the style of Hyperbole and a Half and incorporate crude MS Paint drawings, like this one:
The selfish part of me is sad to see Tammy leave, but the rational part is happy that she’s secured a lucrative job where she’ll be a 9-5 gal, excelling at Excel. Good luck finding another co-worker charming enough to slam a door on your hand and get away with it, though.
And because you fine readers are surely wondering about my piss-soaked sunglasses…
Sometimes, much like Allie and that rogue ear of corn under the fridge (refer to Part Two), it’s the tiniest, most random thing that snaps you out of your sadness for a moment. For me, it was when Tammy and my conversation about sunglasses pivoted to the memory of camping in Port Renfrew, where this pit toilet stood across from our campsite:
Someone brought a can of spray paint to a campground and made sure anybody wishing to take a dump in this outhouse would understand their rage towards Katie. That’s… reasonable?
Within a few hours of setting up our campsite, I went to use this outhouse, and as I reached to close the toilet seat, the sunglasses that were resting on the top of my hat shot in the toilet. So, from that point on, every time one of us had to enter this anti-Katie shitting shed, we’d say, “Be right back, I’m gonna pee on your/my sunglasses.”
Sunglasses: they’re good for blocking out the sun, hiding tears, and turning into a piss-tainted funny memory.