Forty Hours

This past week, I logged a full 40 hours of work for the first time since starting at WP Buffs in April.

Putting in 40 hours a week for most people is a chore, not necessarily an accomplishment.

But for me, it’s something worth celebrating. I’m finally in a place where my mental health will allow me to relish in my work and spend the time and focus that I need to. As a result, I feel a deep mixture of warm pride and searing hot shame.

Not being able to work full time cut me off at the knees in so many ways. It wasn’t just about losing time and money, but about the inability to focus and perform quality work. It made me feel like a burden on my teammates. It cost me the respect of others and respect for myself. It made me feel weak and childish and handicapped. It was just plain embarrassing.

Every week I looked at that number – the number of hours I logged that week – and felt mingled shame and self-hatred. Every month I saw that number inch upwards, but not fast enough. And at the end of last week, when I finally saw that number… 40… I felt like I had slain a dragon.

I’m writing this because it’s therapeutic. While I feel that deep shame in admitting it took me so long to accomplish something so basic, I also feel the need to encourage anyone else not putting in 40 hour work weeks to hang in there. It’s possible to get better, to be better, to feel better.

In April when I started at WP Buffs, I was able to start speaking to a psychiatrist. Through those conversations, I was properly diagnosed. I received medication which helped for a time but eventually began having side effects that I could not deal with. I am currently trying to connect with a new doctor so I can maintain this progress.

I’m writing this because I want it to be okay to talk about our mental health struggles. I have been struggling with depression for twenty years, almost a third of my life. I was taught not to talk about it, not to let it show, and not to let it affect my work or the people around me. But I do want to talk about it, I need to let it show, and I cannot always prevent it from affecting others. It’s time to stop punishing myself for that.

I’m writing this because I exist in a community now. This community has supported me through some pretty awful stuff. Primarily, the team at WP Buffs has supported me with patience and empathy as I struggled to catch up. When numbers swam in front of my eyes and I could barely answer tickets through tears and slept 18 hour days while my teammates kept at it, I felt nothing but helpful hands on my shoulders.

(Prepare to roll your eyes.) We’re going through some tough times right now. Whether your depression has been plaguing you for years or months or weeks or days… it’s all valid. Give yourself a break, but also don’t stop pushing. Find help if you can. If you can’t, talk to a friend. As a dear friend said to me just today: “You have survived 100%of your worst days. Make today your bitch.”

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