Enduring a Depressive Episode and Returning to Work

This time I had my parents with me and didn’t have the extra responsibilities like the last time I tried living somewhere new. That is probably what kept me from dipping into suicidal territory again. I discovered a funny internet radio show. I started laughing again and I passed the hours by listening to it every day. That was my routine for many months. I jumped at the first opportunity to go back and visit my hometown when I went to see my uncle and aunt. For one week I got to enjoy the familiarity of my hometown again. That definitely helped relieve some fear and depression, but only for a short time. Moving back there was not a possibility, so I had no other choice but to make it work in my new home or be housebound the rest of my life. That was a very frightening thought. But, what you strive to do and what you actually do don’t always agree. My depression worsened.

My therapist referred me for intensive outpatient therapy, which included 15 to 20 hours of group psychotherapy per week. After a few weeks of intensive outpatient therapy I began to bounce back. But, something was different now. My mood improved to a certain extent, but some things that were not a problem for me before suddenly were. I was much more fearful of things that used to cause me only mild apprehension. Public places were a bit scarier in general. I still pursued a career as a dog trainer, but gave up on it more easily than other career paths I had previously sought. I tried to start my own dog training business. I got advice from other trainers and practiced training dogs at a local animal shelter. However, I didn’t have the resources or the knowledge to grow a business from scratch. After several months of few to no clients and in need of money, I decided to hang it up. I was at a loss for direction. What would I do now?

That’s when I was directed to seek out vocational rehabilitation. I did. I spent several months training and redeveloping skills needed to acquire and hold onto a job. But, when it came time to reenter the job market, I decided I had much fewer options as far as jobs in which I could carry out every duty of the job without fear overwhelming me to a breaking point. I had developed a great fear of jobs that include interaction with the public. Even communicating with customers or potential customers on the phone was too daunting. Any job that required me to persuade people to buy things was off limits now. That fear, combined with my lack of credentials needed to perform a great many specialized jobs, put around 95% of all jobs out of my reach. The people at vocational rehab got me a job with a label making company. I lasted all of one day. That night I became overwhelmed with fear, anxiety, and panic over returning to that job. What exactly caused this reaction is still not completely understood by me, but part of it may have been due to the extra-long hours and lack of any breaks, despite it being a laborious job. Never having done anything close to that before, and my mental state being as fragile as it was, I had all the inspiration I needed to never return there.

The next job I thought I could handle was being a blood testing laboratory assistant. Because there was no interaction except with other employees and it did not require extroverted qualities, I believed this would be a great job for me. I was wrong. The level of perfection required due to the seriousness of any mistakes caused me to work at a slower rate to avoid those mistakes. However, the speed at which the work needed to be done did not allow for that. So, many times my heart dropped when I learned of a mistake or when I was falling very behind in the work. After a while I began to dread going into work. I said a lot of prayers to help me get through each shift without causing any drastic, irreversible problems. Normally after you’ve been at a job for a while you get the hang of it and are able to complete the tasks faster. Unfortunately, I never got to a point where I could keep up with the work, so I had to resign to avoid being let go. As a result, my fear of not being able to keep up with fast-paced work caused me to eliminate even more categories from the list of jobs I could perform. Now, whenever a job description mentioned ‘multi-tasking in a fast paced environment,’ I needed no other reason to pass on it. My options were continuing to dwindle, which elevated my fear at the thought of not being able to do any job.

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2 thoughts on “Enduring a Depressive Episode and Returning to Work

  1. I would have hired you as a dog trainer 🙂

    I totally get the fear with interacting with others. I can handle it better when I am “acting”– and part of my acting is my teaching personality. So give me a group and I can talk to them all day. But put me in a one on one type setting, and I just collapse.

    Liked by 1 person

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