Thursday, July 21, 2005

My first week back at work.

So far, so good. And I can tell that this is not just first week honeymoon syndrome. It was almost as if I had never left, but something happened to me over this break time. Something lifted. I can physically feel the change as well. I'm more upbeat, energetic, and I know I'm jinxing myself, but for once I'm not viewing myself as a depressed person trying to catch a wind in the sea of the doldrums. Because of that, I'm not "Depressed Girl Working."

I'm just Anne.

Being depressed in the workforce can make you feel like less of a person. You feel obvious, like a sign is blinking over your head advertising that everything isn't right with you, that you are less together and therefore a target. Your focus is just making it through the day so you can get to that wonderful moment when you exit through those doors to go home. In my case, I could function, but inside I was angry and depressed.

When I started this job last year, I was spent. Not only spent, but perturbed. Up until then, I'd gotten the booby prize in the Baltimore raffle. I'd come here for space, but instead got an assault of the senses. So, when I started the "cool job," I didn't feel inside my skin, but somewhere else. My mind was filled with things that I could be doing, not on what I was doing. As a result, I felt very put upon. I didn't act put upon, but I sure as hell felt it. In the secrecy of my mind, I gave as little as possible, resisting people, things, places, experiences, and didn't budge. I worked hard to keep that to a minimum show on the outside, but for a few times when the pressure inside was just too much to bear and I closed up entirely.

I was still in protection mode from the shock of that booby prize, and nursing disappointment. I wasn't in a frame of mind to let anything in, good or bad. Despite having a great job and liking my coworkers, I couldn't appreciate it emotionally. I just came to work everyday, only hoping to walk out the door at the earliest time possible so that I could have my space. When the mind is somewhere else, it's only natural for the body to want to follow. And that was the pull I was feeling every day, that flight impulse.

Finally, after the season ended, I got that space. There was no daily assault or time taken from me. I was able to expand and work on my own projects and live my life quietly and on my terms. I read a lot, wrote a lot, met lots of interesting people and expanded, like a vice was slowly releasing its grip around me. Soon, when enough space allowed, I slipped out of it, shook it off, and though wobbly legged, got up and walked away. For the first time in a long time, I was able to fill my lungs to full capacity and breathe.

Now afforded that space, I walk around with it like a force field, and when I'm at work, I'm here. I don't care when I leave, nor think about doing it. I don't worry about the time spent at a desk. I can tell that I'm going to give more to this job this time around, and therefore get more. Not just in a work sense, as I did work hard, but a mind sense. Last year, I worked hard against myself but somehow still managed to perform well. I was "Depressed Girl Working" constantly on alert for signs of a crash, bracing for the day that everyone would burst in the door to point their fingers at me, saying that I was a fraud.

There was one day that they burst in the door, but it wasn't to call me a fraud. It was to surprise me with a birthday cake.

This year, I know I'm not a fraud and never was. It's easy to know that intellectually, but emotionally is a whole different ball game. What I was, was a facade that tried hard to show no cracks so that I could convince myself and other people that I was feeling okay, or that I understood the incredible opportunity that I'd been given. Now, I know.

I wasn't sure how I'd feel about returning until I walked in on Monday, and there it was. Like a blooming flower, I saw its emerging beauty. I'm relaxed, positive, ready for anything, and more open. I look forward to seeing where that leads. And, I'm grateful. I'm out of the way of myself and ready to take it on.

Most important, I'm ready to take me on.

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