As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I recently took about 5 weeks off work due to a severe depressive episode. I returned to work last Monday, and when I did, I moved to a new team. This means new coworkers, a new supervisor, and new kids to work with (I work with toddlers with ASD). I’m also learning a new intervention model, so there’s that. For now I’m working 30 hours a week instead of 40 so I can take the transition slowly.
When I went to work last Monday I felt anxious and fragile, but also happy and excited. I missed work while I was gone, and I was looking forward to learning the new treatment method (for those interested, I switched from a model centered on discrete trial teaching to the Early Start Denver Model). My bosses are incredibly patient and understanding. They didn’t pressure me to switch teams and they have always done as much as they can to work with me and my situation. I knew they wouldn’t just toss me into the deep end and expect me to know the new model and new kids within a few days.
Then last Tuesday during a tornado my boyfriend’s cat escaped and ran away. My boyfriend has had his cat for five years, since the cat was weaned as a kitten. He is heartbroken. We’ve posted on social media, put up fliers, gone to the animal shelter, searched for him on foot, everything we can think of. It hurts me to see him in pain and I want to do anything I can to make him feel better (contrary to popular belief, a lot of borderlines are extremely empathetic). I’m trying to be positive and strong for both of us.
So now stress is starting to build up. I need a root canal but had to do a round of antibiotics first. Now I’m too broke to get it done until I get paid. My tooth stopped hurting during the antibiotics but now the pain is coming back even though I’ve been extremely careful about my dental hygiene. Someone I was very close to moved a couple of months ago and isn’t responding to my attempts to contact her. It’s been bugging me for a while, but the past 10 days or so it’s been making me feel awful (if you have BPD you understand anxiety surrounding abandonment). I don’t understand why she won’t talk to me. I don’t know what I did to make her not want to know me anymore. I feel like our entire connection before was false. I’ve cried at least once a day over this for the past week.
Until yesterday morning, I felt like I was holding up pretty well despite all this stuff. I woke up to a text from the project manager saying that one of my coworkers was sick and asking if I felt okay running a session on my own. I said yes. I was pretty excited about it and I felt like it went well. My new supervisor is very encouraging and supportive. I had a break in the middle of the day that I spent going to the bank and checking the animal shelter for our lost cat.
Then I started getting extremely anxious. I think part of it was caused by taking immediate release buproprion on an empty stomach. When I start to experience anxiety I have racing thoughts about pretty much everything that could possibly go wrong in my life, so it is sometimes difficult to identify what originally triggers the anxiety. I forced myself to go to my afternoon session anyway, and I made it through it, even though my head, hands, and feet were tingling from fear the whole time.
I spent the time between work and bed comforting my boyfriend and using distraction techniques. I really don’t want to subject him to my emotions right now since he’s already down. I tried a couple of DBT worksheets but got frustrated and stopped. I barely slept.
This morning I woke up to a text saying there was another schedule change. This is a typical part of my job and when I’m feeling well it doesn’t bother me. Today it did. I’m doing the last bit of weaning off escitalopram and I was feeling a buzz in my head when I got up. Then I spilled a bottle of pills and the button came off my pants so I had to change. When I opened my car door my bag of toys fell out and blocks, puzzle pieces, plastic animals, and about 87 other things went rolling down the driveway. On the way to my first session someone in a huge truck with no muffler followed too closely behind me (this makes me quite tense), then I made a wrong turn. There was a constant stream of negative self-talk going in my head. Do other people call themselves things like stupid/idiot/loser 12 times before they even get to work?
Of course the kid’s mom was extremely nice and didn’t mind at all that I was 2 whole minutes late and my supervisor wasn’t irritated that it took me a few minutes to get the session set up and get online for remote supervision (or if he was irritated, he didn’t show it). But you guys know how anxiety is. You know how self-loathing works. I’d convinced myself that everyone hated me because I was running a couple minutes behind. My heart didn’t stop pounding until about 20 minutes into the session. I felt light-headed and jittery the entire time.
On my lunch break I saw my boyfriend. He was sad and having a rough day at work. I did my best to be there for him and then did some lesson planning. I had a pretty bad stomach ache and had to take my second dose of buproprion without eating again (I take it 3 times a day). I ended up having to cancel my afternoon session because my stomach got worse and I had a sort of prolonged anxiety attack. The project manager was understanding, of course, but I felt guilty and weak.
Tonight has been a lot like last night, only I’ve been sinking lower and lower all night. I want to be strong for my boyfriend and be there for him. He is always there for me when I need him. But it’s been hard the past two days. It’s hard to be animated and focused at work and then be upbeat and comforting at home while hiding my feelings and trying to be a good listener/supporter. I feel like such an asshole for thinking that; I’d fall apart if I lost one of my cats. But I am struggling.
The online work schedule showed my day ending at noon tomorrow, so I planned to hang out with my best friend and her son tomorrow afternoon. We don’t get to see each other very often because she lives an hour away. I checked the work schedule again at 9:25 pm and now it shows that I am doing a session in the afternoon. My best friend can’t hang out in the evening because it’s her husband’s birthday and they have plans.
When I saw the schedule my mood plummeted. I’m disappointed about not getting to see my best friend. For one thing I miss her and want to spend time with her. For another thing, I thought it would be good for my mental/emotional state to spend time with someone I truly connect with. Also the unexpected change is frustrating.
So now I am very discouraged. I felt like I was doing all right, and now I am back to feeling overwhelmed by my emotions. Cancelling a session because of anxiety was what I was doing before I took time off and was in the partial program. That’s not where I should be now. When I started this job three years ago, my training was more high-stress than the situation I’m in now and I handled it just fine. Why am I having so much trouble this time? I don’t want to go back to the way I felt 6 weeks ago. I don’t want to be depressed and anxious, dreading waking up in the morning, dreading every human interacting, dreading trying to sleep at night.
Sorry for what is essentially a giant pile of whining. I’m scared and I don’t know how to keep myself from falling apart again.