Saturday 3 October 2015


I woke up from a nap, curled up in front of the fire, on the floor. I was completely disoriented. What day was it? What time? What had happened?

I slowly sat up and looked around. My head felt fuzzy, my mouth was dry, and my right leg had fallen asleep and tingled uncomfortably. It was dark except for the fire and one small light I must have turned on earlier. With some difficulty I scrambled to my feet and made my way into the kitchen for a glass of water. One look at the clock told me it was 6:30 pm. I sipped my water, and it all came back to me. 

I had collapsed in front of the fireplace after work, bone-tired and deeply exhausted. It was more than simple tiredness though: My mental energies had been completely drained by the day.    

Several hours earlier. 

I'm at work, and I'm on fire. Not only x-raying my every-10-minutes scheduled patients, but also working on the newsletter I bring out once a month, interviewing a co-worker, brainstorming ideas for the Halloween costume contest with some people, and trying to get everybody's opinion about finding a date for the Christmas party. Why did I even get involved in the Christmas party? I usually stay well clear of everything that involves planning and organizing, because I'm not good at it.
Also, I don't want to.

But today is different: I feel like I have caffeine instead of blood in my veins. I'm literally unable to sit still, flitting around between three departments, almost hopping up and down with too much energy.
Then there is the talking. So.much.talking. I'm throwing myself into conversations today, with everybody from my patients to ten different co-workers and superiors. I'm a social butterfly, maniacally talking, laughing, writing, planning and scheming.

Usually I take my breaks as an opportunity to read and be by myself, to get my inner balance back, but not today. Oh no, today I'm having lunch with seven different people, and we laugh and talk and it is fun. It really is. I'm having a great time!

But it comes at a cost. At 2:30 pm, I suddenly feel like I have been hit by a ton of bricks. I can barely keep my eyes open, and getting through the rest of my shift requires an herculean effort. I have to close my eyes and send up a silent prayer before every exam, telling myself over and over again: "You can do this. You can do this. You can do this." My energy reserves are empty, I'm running on fumes.

Finally, finally I'm done. I walk towards my car, eager to get away but simultaneously so worn out that my usual speed-walk has slowed down to a snail's pace. Once inside my car, I breathe a sigh of relief, whispering to myself: "You silly girl, why did you do that?"

Arriving at home, my husband asks me for a favour. It's a small favour, something that can be done in 10 minutes, and no big deal. But I almost burst into tears. I can't deal with anything else now! Miraculously though, instead of throwing a tantrum, I agree to do it. This would not have been possible without the happy pills, that's for damn sure.

I drudge up the stairs, being as grateful as I ever was that I don't have kids I have to tend to now. I simply couldn't do it. I get the things my husband asked me for and bring them out to him. A friend is there, and I exchange a few words, but then I simply can't. I explain that I'm tired, apologize to him and go back inside the house, desperate for sleep. Since I'm also freezing, I turn on the fireplace, make a makeshift bed out of blankets on the floor, and collapse on it in front of the fire. I'm out in seconds.

What I have learnt in many painful lessons over the years is that I need alone-time. My particular blend of being an introvert/having depression demands me-time to recharge. I love people, and I am grateful for having a job that forces me to interact with them. Left to my own devices, I would always be in danger of hiding in the house, talking to the dogs and not wanting to deal with others. Once I'm out and about, I enjoy it tremendously.

But what can happen is that I go too far. I will use up all my energy reserves, no holds barred, until I'm literally empty.
I have come to accept this about myself. I tried fighting it for years, but it's like fighting your eye colour - no matter how much you don't like it, you can't change it.

Thanks to this blog and openly talking about my depression, I have met many others who have some sort of mental illness as well. The overwhelming consensus is that once you know you are not the only one, that it's not your "fault", it's about a million times easier to accept.

Looking at me in one of my "social butterfly"-moments, you would never guess that just an hour later I'm curled into a ball on the floor, unable to move. That side is well hidden, only witnessed by the ones closest to me. But I don't want to keep it that way.

I want all you wonderful people struggling with depression, anxiety, shyness, social awkwardness, or whatever else there may be to know that many of us end up on the floor once in a while. Don't feel bad about it. Accept that this may be part of who you are, but it doesn't define you. You are not alone. We are all in this together!



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