“Bereavement and low mood.”
That’s what Dr B wrote on my doctor’s note after signing me off work. He said he didn’t want to put depression, despite prescribing me anti-depressants, because he didn’t think I was clinically depressed and also because of the stigma attached to the word. In his words, I’m just in a “shit situation” – bored, stifled and scared at work, hating my houseshare but unable to afford my own place, struggling to cope with the loss of a longtime friend, reeling from the sudden death of my grandma, and recovering from the recent breakdown of a relationship that, at the second time of asking, I can’t seem to get over. He said any one of those things would be good reason to lose it. To have them all occur in the space of a month is more than anyone should be expected to deal with.
So, I’ve become a what I think is a cliché. Signed off work and prescribed anti-depressants and sleeping tablets, at the age of 26, when I’m in the prime of my life, when I should be enjoying every opportunity afforded to me, embracing the future and not wallowing needlessly in the past. What on earth is wrong with me?
Stupidly I now feel guilty for any kind of happiness I feel; I went to a football match today, which was fun, yet I felt like I somehow had to act like I wasn’t enjoying myself as otherwise I didn’t deserve to be signed off. Bullshit. When you’re contemplating driving off the motorway into the embankment (whilst your little sister is in the car) then you have a problem, and you shouldn’t have to justify any kind of pleasure you take from life when generally it all seems overwhelmingly hopeless.
Dr B said I needed two months off. I refused, because of what my boss would say, because of how it would affect my future job prospects, none of which are things I would give a damn about if I had broken my leg or was undergoing treatment for a physical disease. I agreed to a week initially, and said I would see how it went. So far it feels like weakness, it feels like defeat, it feels like scamming a week off work for no good reason. But I’m at home, and I’m eating, and I’ve got my parents with me and I’m no longer sobbing in my car in case my housemates hear me in my bedroom. Things are far from perfect and I’m still agonising over whether to take the anti-depressants or not (the sleeping tablets seemed less scary and have sort of helped). But I can try and think here. I can try and visualise the future. I can try and make a plan and see where it takes me.