Every morning when I first wake up before I fully open my eyes, I remember how it used to be, life as it used to be. Some how I can still see it; a time where there were no masks, no political turmoil; a time where I had a purpose, a job, that gave me a reason to get up.
6 months later, and that remembrance of how life used to be has sailed away on the last gust of wind. In what seems like years, we as a nation can agree that these last 6 months have been depleting.
My routine was forever changed on April 1st, 2020 when I found out my last day at work would be the following day. I was devastated. The first couple of weeks after finding out I fell back into a deep depressive state that involved several episodes of self-harm. All I thought was how I was laid off because I was a horrible employee. Somewhere during the last 5 1/2 years, I did something that made me a top candidate to be let go. Only a small piece of me realized that this mass lay off was due to Covid-19.
After meeting via Telehealth with both my psychiatrist and therapist, they thought it best if I created a schedule and stuck to it. So, with the help of my very wise teen daughter, I did just that. Then I took it to another level and decided to turn this huge negative of being laid off into a positive and am pursuing an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. This is a field I know very well sitting in the front row seat as the client. Now I want to return the favor and give back help to those like me.
With this renewed hope, I was smiling again. I was happy.
And then it all changed.
I think it started with an acquaintance of mine who posted something on Facebook about all the people collecting unemployment and how we are abusing the system for the extra $600 (this was prior to the end of the Federal funding). Within this shared post was how it was unfair to the essential workers (which I fully agree with) who got nothing and they are on the front lines being more exposed (*Side note… not all essential workers were in danger of being exposed like the men and women who work the hospitals. But I digress). Also within this dialogue was how we on unemployment were lazy and not looking for jobs because we are just living off the state and the federal government and how if we weren’t lazy, we would look for a job, any job, even if it meant minimum wage.
I was offended. I responded to this person’s post and said that I was not lazy and was looking and had applied to jobs even though we weren’t required to at the moment because of Covid-19. The return response was something to the effect of “Well, if it doesn’t concern you, stay out of it”. This was a person I at one time considered to be a best friend. A friend who knew my work ethic from the beginning. To call all of us on unemployment lazy did in fact concern me. I was defending myself as well as others like myself.
I think more than anything, it broke my heart to know that no matter what this person knew of me and about me, this is how they viewed me. I had long ago realized our friendship would never be as strong as it once was (and I mourned it then), but now I knew I had to cut the ties of whatever was left.
Because I live with chronic depression, I sat with this situation and started questioning myself to see if I was this “lazy” person. I had applied to several jobs. That being said, I was not running out and applying for minimum wage jobs as I was receiving a good income where I was, and yes, my unemployment was far more than any minimum wage job would pay me. I think the main problem with the job hunt for me was the narrow field I had placed myself into. There were not many openings for architectural project managers or cad operators. If an opening popped up, I applied.
6 months later, where has it gotten me?
Sinking into a deeper depressive hole that is rapidly circling the drain.
I’ve applied to 20-25 jobs. Most of them are cad positions where all the employer has to do is take a look at my 18 years of experience and throw my application out. No employer wants to pay for someone with that experience when they can pay someone with 2+ years for a lot less. I have had many views on my applications, but only 3 bites. As I like to call it, I have had the planes, trains, and automobiles of interviews: 1 phone, 1 Zoom, and 1 in-person.
So far, nothing. Yes, I understand, we are still head deep in the mess that is Covid-19, but what you, my reader, might not understand is that I have NEVER been unemployed before. Ever. After 6 months, I feel like I never will be employed again. And I am almost as depressed as I was during all of 2019, and that is not good.
I have not harmed myself since June, but it plays out in my head often as well as intrusive thoughts such as trucks hitting my car while I’m driving and my yearning for it. And yet, I have not spoken with my therapist since July. Family members have asked me why I would not talk with him. There are a few reasons: I despise Telehealth, I want to physically sit face-to-face; with being unemployed there is a lack of funds; and lastly, what new would he tell me that I haven’t heard before through the decades of therapy I’ve had?
I told my psychiatrist all this during my ‘appointment’ with her over the phone and she expressed to me that maybe I needed a change of therapy type, that CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) didn’t sound like it was working for me anymore. She brought up DBT (Dialectal Behavioral Therapy) again, along with ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). She had brought these up to me about a year ago as well. Couple that fact with the medication I’m on not alleviating my symptoms, and I know I am in trouble.
It’s funny really, how on December 31st, 2019 I shed my major depression by saying “2020 is my year to take me back!”. My inner bitch is laughing about it now. It started out that way. Now, with this deepening depression, I am being cautious to not jinx 2021; I need to see the script before I commit to you!
I really just want to be okay.
*To note: I am not suicidal. Yes, I have self-harming and intrusive thoughts, but I am under the care of a psychiatrist. I have sought out a therapist in the area who specializes in DBT and ACT and will be seeing him in-person (yes, with masks) this Thursday. I want to get better; I am just so tired of fighting.