At the beginning of this year I stumbled into one of the most difficult bouts of depression I have ever had. My 3.5 year relationship ended, my job sucked, I was living in a city where I didn’t know many people, I was working graveyard shifts, and because of this I had terrible insomnia. I broke down. I stopped caring at work, and it showed. I was getting in shit every day, which because of the nature of my employment is actually kind of normal, but because I wasn’t sleeping I couldn’t handle the stress.
A couple months later, at the beginning of March, I was sitting at home with my roommate, who is my best friend, and I just lost it. I told him I needed to quit my job. I knew I was getting my yearly bonus and I was just going to walk out on that payday. He asked if that was a good idea, and I cried as I told him that no, it wasn’t. He then asked if I was going to have a nervous breakdown, and I continued to cry as I told him yes. And I did. Over the next week my boss was pressuring me to just quit if I didn’t care anymore. All of this stress with the lack of sleep broke me. I called my mom crying telling her what was going on, she and my dad hopped on a ferry within days to come and support me as I dealt with this.
I called in sick to work and went to the doctor, explained tearfully what was happening, and she listened, and it was cathartic to tell someone who could possibly help. Since I didn’t yet have a family GP she prescribed me some sleeping pills so I could get some rest and wrote me a note for a week off work. I then had to find a family doctor for more ongoing support.
I found a family doctor and she suggested I take 6 weeks off to regroup and tackle the depression. I was prescribed zoloft, and basically just slept, ate, and watched tv for the first couple of weeks. I made an effort to go outside at least once a day, and tried to at least complete simple tasks like doing the dishes, and making dinner. I wasn’t working, and my friend was working a lot, so I took on the ‘housewife’ role of our house. In the back of my mind I was still really worried about what to do about my career. I knew that I couldn’t go back to graveyards. Some people can handle it, and I have learned that I am not one of those people.
I started looking for part time work. Our expenses were low and I wanted more time off to get better, and I had a fair amount of savings in the bank. I ended up finding a very part time job, but the week before I was to start, my best friend had a very good career prospect back in the city we were originally from. He asked me to move back with him, so I quit before I started, and we quickly made plans to travel and look for a place, get things packed, get rid of junk, etc.
During this time I was too busy to feel sorry for myself. Spring had just arrived, and I was feeling pretty good. And then we moved. And then I ran out of money. And it got worse. And worse still. I had to find a new doctor. I had to find a job. I needed to buy dog food. My dog was sick and needed the vet. I had never been unemployed for more than a month as an adult. I didn’t have a car. I got stuck. I found a new doctor, and he was amazing. Even though he just works at the walk in he insists that I come and see him every two weeks. He upped my zoloft to the maximum dose. He can tell when I get there how I am doing.
One day I was skyping with my mom, and she asked how I was. She must have known I wasn’t doing well. I just started to cry. I was not well. She sent me some money, and I went to visit them, and my friends back in my hometown. This was an amazing reset for me. It really helped me to realize and remember that people love me and that I was once happy like they seem to be now. Sharing stories of our crazy youth. Remembering all those times I could have died because I was an idiot. I made it through some crazy stuff. I have to make it through this.
I went back home and fired off thirty or forty job applications. Luckily the field I specialize in, and want to continue my career in, almost always has availability where I live. I got calls back. I went to interviews. I got a job. And now six months, three and a half of which I was unemployed, I am sitting here telling you my story. I am not fully healed. I don’t think that you can be if you suffer from major depression. I think you learn to manage it, and sometimes you have some really good times, whether they be days, weeks, or years. When you are deep in the hole of the illness though, all you can remember is all those other dark times. The good times are gone. They never happened.
So what does make up have to do with all of this? Well, I love make up. I love how I feel when I look good. So my doctor had prescribed me tasks to do daily. Something that I enjoyed. I couldn’t think of anything but photography, cooking, and video games when I was talking to him, but I realized soon after that I love doing my hair and makeup.
So I did my make up every day. Sometimes it was just mascara and lip balm, but even that little bit made me feel more presentable. Even if I was sitting at home wearing pjs I did my make up. Doing my make up inspired me to dye my hair. I dyed some of my hair lavender, and continued to do my hair and make up almost everyday. I took shameless selfies to compare my techniques. I tried out new techniques. People liked them. People I had never met on the internet liked them. PEOPLE LIKED ME!
This routine of doing my make up is superficial, but it was one thing that I was doing that fulfilled three needs. 1. It was a routine. 2. It was a pleasure activity. 3. It was taking care of myself.
Doing your make up every day, requires you to wash your face every day. Doing your hair every day requires you to at least rinse it. That means getting in the shower. Anyone who has been depressed knows that this is a really hard thing to get yourself to do sometimes, but it often makes you feel much better. Getting in the shower, makes me feel new and fresh, like I am washing away the bad of yesterday.
A couple days ago I realized when and how my healing journey really got moving and made the connection to the vain and superficial task of painting my face. I do not dismiss the effects of my medication, or the immense help and support my friends and family have given me over the past six months, but it really is amazing how such a seemingly small thing can make such a big difference.
So I urge you internet friends, if you are still reading, find something small task to do for yourself. Make yourself do it. Give yourself xp every time you brush your teeth or shower. Paint your nails. Groom your beard. Find what the small task is that will get your ball of healing rolling, and do it every day.
I know at the bottom of the pit it is really dark, and it seems like the only thing you can do is keep digging, but call out for help, and maybe a friend will throw you a rope, so you can climb out and heal the wounds you sustained when you fell in.