“what do you do when you don’t go to work?”

Today I’m not feeling that depressed as yesterday but it’s not behind me either. Like I wrote in my past writing, I’m not continiously in a borderline crisis. I’m not engaging in disfunctional coping skills all of the time. However, I’m still feeling empty, disconnected and I’m still that socially awkward, odd one out person.. and so aware of it.

Often when people ask me what I do in life, I tell them that I work at a bio food store and then recieve another question; why do you still work there at your age? Are you studying as well? Do you have another job? And actually it’s difficult for me to answer those questions. Is that this internalized shame that psychologists talk about? I don’t know. Last summer I could say that I’m also a model but I quit doing that after the usual mental crash. Usually I answer: “nothing” because explaining in a few words what I do isn’t possible.

Which only leads to more questions: why are you working only a few hours a week? Why? Why, why why why why why why..

Because I have a very stigmatized mental disorder that usually scares the hell out of people because of the horrible image that they have from seeing movies like Fatal Attraction or Single White Female…

No, that’s not my reply to their questions. It’s my internal reply at the moment. But at times I do answer them saying that I do have a mental disorder. Which often leads to more confusion: “You don’t look like someone who has a mental disorder”.

Okay so I’m a bit older now and have learned how to keep everything inside. Because usually people are okay with me having a mental disorder, until I actually show symptoms. So I keep it all inside or make sure that I’m alone. How I experience most people is: “everyone should be able to be themselves!” but don’t do xyz.. Sadly enough I’m the xyz kind of person.

Can you imagine that this different behavior, these questions and confusion makes me feel unwelcome, misunderstood and unsafe around people in general? This mainly makes me want to stay inside, safe at home or at least inside my own bubble when I am around others.

To the question: what do you, when you have a mental disorder which makes it difficult to work the same hours as those around you?

Often I hear people say to me: you have so much time off! I’m so jealous! You recieve money from the state and you have so much time! I wish I had that too.

If you have so much time off then there is no difference between “working days” and weekends, also you never feel you have vacation. That all loses the feeling of being something special. Especially when you don’t have kids that go to school. The only special thing about those weekends and holidays is that you actually can hang out with other people sometimes.. On the other days off other people aren’t available, since they are at work and you are not. However they often have cramped plannings for the weekends so they are busy most of the time so you still don’t see anyone. Another difference.. when other people have vacation they ususally go somewhere. So you still don’t see them because you cannot afford going on a holiday trip. So: you don’t see holiday, or the summer season in general as a special time anymore and you also don’t see people more during these times because they travel when they have time off work.

To me summer is a time of chaos and when it’s over everything finally goes back to normal. When I am not working during summer I can go do things other people wish they had time for: like going to the beach, into nature, or do things that they have money for because of working a lot. I can do those first things too: by myself. But that’s not special either because I am by myself most of the time. And when I spend money on things that I want I feel guilty about it because I probably should have used it to fix something at home or safe it for later. Which I never do, thank you impulsivity!

Years ago I used to somehow find other people who weren’t able to work, because of psychological problems and spend days and days and more days smoking, drinking coffee, talking about problems, watching tv, or engaging in more unhelpfull activities… But now I really don’t want that anymore.

“What do you do when you don’t go to work?”

When I don’t go work at the store I am:

  • working on maintaining or getting back into a healthy mindset (actually I also do this when I am at work)
  • managing unhealthy thought patterns and behavior patterns
  • trying to stick to a daily routine as best as possible (eating, sleeping, balancing rest and activities)
  • taking care of the physical, which means: myself, my cat and my livingspace
  • trying to find meaning into the little things in life (because there’s only so much I can do)
  • trying to be as comfortable with being alone as possible (these last two go hand in hand)

If you feel like you are doing something meaningfull then it doesn’t matter that you are working on it by yourself, your time alone still is usefull and meaningfull. However the things you do often have meaning because you are doing them to help someone else.

But often I am so busy maintaining a healthy mind and lifestyle to manage my mental disorder that I don’t have much left to give to others, which makes me feel useless and my life meaningless.

Luckely I have started pre-DGT therapy since last week. So I have a conversation every week until the group therapy starts as well and I’ll be learning more skills to manage my disorder so hopefully I do get some time to do something meaningfull with my personal skills (although I do not know yet what those skills are.)

What is it that I love to do, what am I passionate about? What is it that I am good at? How can I help others with that skill? How do their lives change because of that?

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