It’s been a rough month or so. May 30 was the first time we had to recognize my dad’s birthday without him. A week and a day later, we remembered him on the first anniversary of his death. I have been in a perpetual state of depression for so long. I thought I might start to come out of it, but my motivation remained sapped, along with my energy levels.
And then we were blindsided when Tom lost his job. I’m convinced they made up a reason to get rid of him because it was much cheaper to replace him with a young, single new hire who doesn’t have 10 years of seniority, the requisite raises for performance, and a family to insure. At least one of his former coworkers concurs.
I believe in my husband.
I believe he’s been taken advantage of by his former employer for years, but he stayed there because it was a comfortable situation – a five-minute commute, all of his accrued vacation time, access to free VOIP service and Web hosting, etc. I believe this is a short-term problem, although a fairly momentous one. I believe he will find a much better job with a company that treats him with at least a modicum of respect – and with better salary and benefits. With 20 years of customer service experience, including management, training, and most aspects of the business, it’s mostly a matter of waiting for the right job to become available. He has a few prospects, including a potential dream job. I believe that he had to be let go from this last job in order to make him pay attention to when the job he’s supposed to have becomes available.
While we wait for the pieces to fall into place, at least we know he’s been approved for unemployment benefits at a rate higher than what he’d be paid for working 40 hours at minimum wage, and we’ve applied for state health coverage. So he doesn’t have to accept a minimum wage job just to bring money in, giving him an opportunity to look for an employer that respects their employees enough to pay a more livable wage. He has a prospect for that, too, something not quite on par with what he was making before, but would pay more of the bills than unemployment – and with a local company known for being very good to their employees with generous benefits, lots of opportunity for growth, and even profit sharing. It’s the sort of thing he could take for now and still feel good about himself while waiting for the better fit to come along…or choose to stay with the company and work his way up the ladder because they actually recognize when their employees are deserving.
I’ve been trying to help Tom keep his spirits up. I’ve never been on the other side of the depression equation. What I do have is firsthand knowledge of all of the horrible things his mind is trying to tell him, all of the lies that nip away at those feelings of self-worth. I keep reminding him that he’s a good person, a hard worker, and that I believe in him. This has kept my depression-related meltdowns to a minimum – only one so far. It hasn’t helped my motivation of energy, but I’ll take what I can get.
I have to get myself better.
I’ve been trying to do this for months – getting better. I have made very little progress. I can’t even do a single load of laundry from start to finish in a single day. I’ve timed each of the steps in the process and monitored my heart rate with my Fitbit Charge HR. It takes 5-7 minutes to gather and sort the laundry – since I’m perpetually behind – and the squatting/kneeling/sitting on the floor required to do so makes my legs too weak to move on to the next step. I’ve tried to sort the laundry and then toss it into the washing machine. Loading the washer takes about 5 minutes as well, but each time I’ve tried to do it after sorting recently, my legs have shaken and given out on me. The first time, I had to have Tom get my cane for me before I could get up out of the dining room chair I’d managed to collapse onto. The second time, no one else was home, and I made it out to the sofa in the living room before I couldn’t go any further. I had to sit for several minutes before I could get the strength to stand again, and I made it back upstairs very slowly and very carefully, using the railing to help pull me up. And we won’t even discuss folding laundry. That’s harder on my body than either of the other parts. I try to do what I can, but I can’t keep up. Tom helps, but he does literally all of the other housework around here. Including the part I skipped over, switching the laundry from the washer to the dryer. It’s so heavy when it’s wet that I can’t manage heaving it up into the dryer (they stack) so he does it for me. Every time.
It is maddening to be this useless to my family.
My current health goal right now is to be able to do a single load of laundry – start to finish – in one day. It would require starting when I first get up in the morning so I could allow the appropriate rest periods in between steps, likely finishing up the folding not long before bedtime. But dammit, if I could do that, that would make me healthier than I’ve been in over a year. And if I can manage to keep up with the laundry so it’s not always overflowing, I could try to accomplish other physical tasks.
And I need to be able to take care of myself no matter what type of employment Tom ends up with. He probably won’t be 5 minutes from home, able to come to the rescue on my bad days. I need to be able to make lunch for myself. (He’s been coming home on his lunch breaks to make me lunch for the last year or so.) I need to be able to make dinner for TJ and myself if he ends up working evenings. I need to be able to drive to run errands and take TJ where he needs to go. This is going to be difficult, as leaving the house just once is often enough to take me off my feet for the rest of the day. If I need to be out for any extended period of time, it could take me down for days.
As I get ready to publish this, I’m experiencing an epic CFS crash, a delayed reaction from spending all day Saturday with friends at Six Flags Great Escape. With more than 11,000 steps, 5 miles walked, and the equivalent of 17 flights of stairs climbed in one day – pretty much the daily goal for healthy people, according to FitBit – I was amazed that I felt normal (for me) on Sunday and Monday. But this afternoon, the post-exertional malaise hit with a vengeance. This is fairly common with CFS; PEM isn’t always immediate.
I’m grateful that I have a job that doesn’t require physical labor or even leaving the house. My mental acuity can suffer in the midst of a crash; that means avoiding the writing and editing duties when I’m not clear-headed, but I can still do the more mundane behind-the-scenes business tasks I dislike. (That’s the biggest downside of working for yourself. Not having support staff.)
So that’s where I am right now. Muddled, hoping this crash only lasts for a day or two, and praying that one of Tom’s job prospects pans out. I appreciate all prayers, virtual hugs, and positive vibes.