Depression is a Full Time Job.

I decided to take a break from this blog because over the last few months I haven’t been feeling great. Between going home for Christmas, leaving again, the stress of starting a new term and the New York winter things all started to get quite dark. But for the last three weeks I’ve been feeling better. And there are a few ways I know this. I smile more, I watch less TV and I don’t cry every time I see a picture of my cat. But the main reason I know I’ve been feeling better is I suddenly have a lot of free time. I have all this free time because I’ve had the last two weeks off, on holiday, finally taking a break from my unrelenting, full time, 24/7 job of being a person with depression.

Before coming to NYU I spent about a year and a half off school pretty much doing nothing except trying to get better and trying to watch as much Grey’s Anatomy as possible. Around this time a lot of my friends started to take gap years and every time I talked to them about how bored they were suddenly having all this free time off of school I would feel incredibly guilty and full of shame. I had been out of school for years, barely ever leaving my bedroom, and yet I never felt ‘bored’. I felt like I’d spent the last year of my life working harder and doing more than I had ever done and yet my actual, tangible achievements added up to baking a few cakes and a lot of therapy. I couldn’t figure out why I never had any time, why I was always ‘busy’, and yet why I never actually ended up doing anything. I would spend days just wishing I could ‘take a week off’  and have some time to focus and yet taking a week off was pretty much all I had been doing for 52 consecutive weeks.

I was the laziest person I knew, the least achieving one of all my siblings, there were sloth’s who had busier schedules than I did – and yet for an entire year I felt like I barely had a minute to catch my breath.

And I think it’s only now, now that I am feeling a lot better, now that I do have things to do, a (farely) busy life to lead, a schedule, plans, friends and classes, that I’ve finally been able to look back and realise that living with depression, fighting with anxiety, spending every day battling any kind of mental illness is a hellish, agonising, debilitating, full time, around the clock job.

When I was depressed I never got bored because I never had time to be bored. I never had time to do anything. I often talk about how un-motivated I am when I’m in a bad place but I think the reality of my lack of motivation was that I just didn’t have the time. My schedule was full; between panicking and self hating, trying to figure out a new recovery plan and trying to figure out how to avoid my therapists calls, painting my nails (because that was obviously the answer to all my problems) and ignoring my emails, I barely even had time to watch all the TV I needed to get through the day.

At the beginning of this term (I still refuse to call it a semester) I began to fall behind on my work. I would spend my days lying in bed or lying on the floor or just pretty much lying anywhere and then get to class and realise I just hadn’t had time to do my homework. But the last few weeks have been better, a lot better, better than the ‘better’ bits have ever been before. I think when you’ve been struggling with something for a long time you begin to get so tired and angry at the up and down cycle of it all that you just want to give up. But the truth is (and I never believe it until it’s actually happened) that every time I have another dark patch, the bit after it is brighter than any bit before it ever was.

I don’t really know what I’m trying to say. Except that I’m back. To blogging and writing and baking. And that if you are going through something like this, anything like this, or if you know anyone who is – remember that it’s not just a struggle – it’s work, really hard, gruelling work, but work that you need to focus on, and excuse yourself for. Depression and anxiety take time to heal and they take time to go through and they take up more of your time than you would ever wish something this horrible could. I never believed anyone when they told me things would get better. So I don’t know why anyone would believe me. But I think things will, and do, get better, for all of us. And if not, let’s all just be particularly grateful that Grey’s Anatomy hasn’t been cancelled and that Friends is on Netflix.

Speak soon.

Love Scarlett. x

Stock image photo of woman at work from here

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27 thoughts on “Depression is a Full Time Job.

  1. Thanks for this. Have you read REASONS TO STAY ALIVE by Matt Haig? It’s really good, has just come out in the UK and Matt was nice enough to get me an advance copy when I was having a tough time. It’s not all the answers to all the problems but it’s a good read, a reassuring one. xx

  2. Scarlett,
    I was just thinking about you the other day and wondering why we hadn’t heard from you.
    I root for you and you uplift me when I read your posts.
    Keep doing well sweetheart!
    Love from Linda

  3. Scarlett, from the moment your Mum told me about your blog, before I’d even met you, I idolised you. You were my teen idol. I was so impressed with everything you were doing for someone your age. When I was 16 I hadn’t even thought about starting a blog let alone a knitting circle to raise cash for charity. Even after meeting you for the first time at my bookbinding workshop with your Mum I had no reason to think that you were going through a struggle. You were both so jolly. It was a joy to teach you. The next time I saw you, you were teaching a room full of people to knit!! When I asked you how it was going you said it was scary. But you were there and doing it and people were learning and having a great time. My point is, you’re stronger than you think and you’ve achieved so much already. Bloody heck, you got into NYU and you’re basically living the Gossip Girl dream! Thanks for writing this. I’m sure every person reading this who has ever suffered with depression (like I have) will be able to relate. Keep fighting, it does get better. You’re proof of that. I have this little card with a picture of a pretty bike, which says, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To stay balanced you need to keep going.” Or something like that..it makes sense though. Thanks for sharing this with us Scarlett. When you’re feeling down, just remember, you’re in New York. Go outside, look around and prove it to yourself. Enjoy every moment! Daisy x

  4. Your writing on living with depression is really inspiring, I find it encouraging to hear that I’m not the only one who is tired by the relentless ups and downs of fighting this. Thanks for the post. I hope you have a great day.

  5. Gosh you’re a lovely soul! I hope ‘the black dog’ stops following you around. Mine left some years ago but I remember the dark days, here’s to your creativity guiding you through. I love your blogs, thank you.

  6. Hi S, it was good to read your blog again, I had wondered how things would be after your Christmas holidays and thought it would have been a hard time for you. I’m glad things are getting better. I think I know what you mean about being too busy fighting your depression to do anything. It must be so tiring for you. I hope the future is full of good times and your down times are just little annoying and short chapters of an ever healthier life.
    Keep up with your positive outlook and thoughts. All the best, George 🙂

  7. So glad to see that you are seeing sunshine more than cloud. It is hard work, and exhausting fighting this illness. I tell my daughter about you (she is VI so reading is a struggle) and she is inspired as she doesn’t feel like the only one. Like you she struggled going back to uni after the break but realised she was doing so much better than she thought when she didn’t go into meltdown over her course having to be extended for another year – that would be 6 years- as the assessment process would be too much over one year as it had been changed. She just said I want the degree and the exams have to be double time so why not the entire course….
    So glad to hear from you wise woman 😀

  8. Keep on, keeping on. One day you will see why it was worth doing that. You have lots of invisible support carrying you along, even though it probably doesn’t feel like it sometimes. Remember everyone who reads your blog, would be there in an instant to support you if you needed them.

    Consider yourself invisibly supported by us all!

  9. Thank you for your post, Scarlett 🙂 I enjoy reading your blog and can definitely relate to feeling low over the last few months, and to things starting to feel better just recently. I wondered if it’s SAD related this time. I especially love your line about every time you have another dark patch, the bit after it is brighter than any bit before it ever was 🙂 I am involved in local mental health promotion initiatives and set up a local branch of The Depressed Cake Shop a year ago. I have just pasted that line and a link to your blog on the FB page (“The Depressed Cake Shop – Medway”). as I am sure others will resonate with it 🙂 Keep writing, you’re helping more people than you realise 🙂

  10. Dear Scarlett,
    I have thought of you lots here in nyc. So glad to hear you are doing better. Thank you so much for explaining exactly why depression is exhausting, I think this insight will help a lot of people who don’t know, and in turn make it easier for them to help others. You did a beautiful thing. Keep up the good fight. And, Spring is almost here!
    Love,
    Maria

  11. Hi Scarlett,

    I find so much comfort in everything that you write because you’re the first person whose experiences properly resonate with me. I’ve read bits where people have anxiety and depression but who manage to get by, to go to school or have a job but when I was trapped in my room for 18 months, I couldn’t find any support from what they were saying. Thank you so much for writing so honestly about your anxiety and depression and I hope that it helps you in the way that writing about my experiences helps me. I don’t know if you’re affected by seasonal affective disorder but this winter I bought a Lumie light to help me wake up and go to sleep and along with higher antidepressants I think it’s really helped, I would definitely recommend a Lumie light if SAD affects you during the winter.

    Keep getting better and I look forward to more blog posts, love from Jasmine x

  12. Amen to this! My own dear therapist once said ‘some days, being upright is an achievement’. I’m glad there is light at the end of the tunnel for you. You’re fabulous.

  13. Spring in NYC is wonderful & it does come even after a ridiculous winter like we have had. I am glad you are feeling better. I am in the mood for gingerbread. Maybe gingerbread cupcakes if there is such a thing. I am, however, on a diet after being snowed in with food all this NY winter. I need to think of something gluten free for son #3 who lives in the city for when he comes up to visit. Ideas? He works with healthy food stuff as a job as a result of his having had depression. It can bring you down some wonderful paths as well as the not so wonderful. I send you a big hug.

  14. Brilliant blog. I go through stages like this too as I’ve had depression for years. I think it’s gone then wham! It hits me again. Keep going . So glad you’re blogging again, we’ve missed you.x

  15. Hi Scarlett
    You are an inspiration and I wish that I had had your strength, insight and determination when I was 19. You are right, depression is a full time job and when you have a work job/caring job too the overload makes it even more difficult due to the conflict caused. However every time we come out the other side you are right it is brighter but more importantly we are in control. There are many of us that have trod this path before you and there are many that will come after you but you are a shining light to all of us because you have the courage and confidence to write about it. Thank you.

  16. Hi Scarlet. As a person who has been struggling with depression for only God knows how many years, I wish someone, anyone, would have told me: “It’s ok to be depressed, it’s Ok to not wanting to separate from your bed, It’s ok my darling it’s ok”. Since the moment I was diagnosed everyone just started to just tell “just be happy, it’s not that hard”.
    I know the normal thing (whatever that means) it’s to be happy and cheerful. But honey, it’s not a crime, at least no where I live, to be sad.
    Every emotion is important and meaningful in this travel through life.

    P.S: Love your blog!! Keep going 🙂

  17. God it really is time consuming isn’t it? I am not sure I had ever looked at it like that. I (like many others it seems) have been thinking of you and wishing you well.
    I am not sure the cakes you baked (burger cake in particular) could ever be brushed aside as unimportant!!! Especially as I am a sworn non-cake eater but have drooled over some of yours!

  18. I’m going through a difficult time myself right now, so to read this is encouraging and comforting. And it also reminds me to let myself off the hook – I can’t do all of the things all at once. It is tough to have the energy when depression (and grief – my Gran died recently) are taking up your time. So thank you – and I’m glad that things are better for you 🙂

  19. I feel like you do everyday, but the difference is that you have done something about it and started to live. I am so proud of you. Keep going Scarlett, cos you’re fab. xxx

  20. Thank you Scarlett, that was just what I needed to hear today! It’s so true that every time I go through a ‘dark patch’, when I come out of it I always feel even better than I did before. I get really frustrated with myself sometimes when I feel like I’ve been really busy but then have nothing to show for it because the work has all been in my mind! We need to remember that the work we do mentally is just as important and valid as any physical work, thanks for reminding me of that! xx

  21. Thanks so much for sharing that. It’s a beautifully written piece that really hit home with me. It is so hard living with depression, I am on meds, getting regular CBT and manage to hold down a job and for the most part, don’t let people see that after a year of depression, I am still depressed. I am constantly tired and physically exhausted by the end of each day, some days not even having done that much. But you are right, it takes so much energy being this miserable! And so much energy maintaining a good facade so everyone thinks you are fine. I recently took a 2 week break from work, just me, with no kids and all I did was sleep. Lovely at the time but quickly followed by guilt and not having done more. Am glad that you are doing better and reminding us things can and will get better x

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