I was just catching up on PixieMama’s blog, where I came across a post she wrote on how she manages to raise 4 children, one of whom has (at this point in her story) a brain tumor which is regrowing after surgery and one of whom has high functioning autism, be married, and hold two jobs from home, in which she says this:
sometimes I hate my life. I love my children, I love my husband, I like my work. But I hate my life. It is too much. I want to curl up on the floor of a garage, behind a lawn chair with my hands clutched over my ears. I want it all to stop.
And that just completely, 1,000% resonated with me. Made me feel like I was not alone.
Yesterday I broke down at work. Completely lost it, crying at my computer, trying desperately to not be audible to the office where I am one of two female engineers. Total. The few times someone has caught me crying it has almost caused a panic in them..guys don’t know how to deal with crying women, especially at work!
I was typing to my hubby, frantically, because I just did not know how I could go on. My job is killing me. Don’t get me wrong. I love structural engineering. The work is interesting, the people are awesome, and the mathematical/problem solving way of thinking is stimulating and perfect for me. I recognize I am lucky to have a job in this economy. But I cannot figure out how to work full time, with just a normal amount of sick leave, with such a high stress job where responsibility for everything is on the individual, and stay in control. Especially with an hour commute on both ends.
I am tired. I work and work and work and get home and collapse. I do nothing except work and dog training. And dog training, while a big commitment that in some ways makes things harder by taking more energy and time, in some ways makes them easier in being so fulfilling and rewarding. But on normal days, I stagger home (often literally), collapse on the couch, and do not move until I crawl (also often literally) into bed and sleep. Weekends I desperately try to catch up on rest and relaxation so I can make it through another week. Last night I slept over 14 1/2 hours. I tried to get up twice and fell back asleep. That is how tired I am. There are often happy hours or work functions after work. I almost never go because I do not have the energy to keep it together for such events. I rarely hang out with friends for similar reasons. A few months ago, at the last birthday party I attended, I had to suddenly run out of the bowling alley to try to hide my tears, because I flat out could not keep them back anymore. And I am a master at hiding emotion. It wasn’t because anyone did anything wrong. The night was fun. It was just because I was so tired I didn’t have the energy to pretend to be normal for one. More. Minute. And someone insisting I be in a picture where I would have to smile was the straw that broke the camels back. I physically could not make myself smile. When I tried, I lost all control.
I don’t know how to keep going. I love my husband. I love my puppy. I love dog training. I like the actual work of my job. But I am to the point where I am living every day like I was at that birthday party, using every ounce of energy I have to just keep control of myself and not completely break down. It feels like my mind is going to give out. It feels like it is going to shut off, and leave me rocking in place, unable to move or think or live.
And sometimes it feels like that might be an improvement.
And then, I feel weak. Why is working full time so hard for me? Everyone does it. Most people don’t like their job, to some extent. But people do it. They go on. They don’t break down. They don’t shut off every other part of their life to keep going. They don’t put every ounce of energy they have into just going on. They can go to work, work hard for 8 hours, and then come home and relax and be OK. So why can’t I? Am I just weak? Is this what everyone goes through, and I’m just not strong enough to handle it?
I know I have CFS. I know that means my energy is not always there for me. I know that the best way to deal with that is to budget energy – do tasks which require more energy when I have it and intersperse with tasks that require less energy so I don’t run out. When I have less energy, do less demanding tasks. And I know that at work I can’t do that. I have to be working hard, all the time, and I have to be able to account for every hour to my boss. I know that it’s a higher level of accountability and stress than many jobs, including any of the places I worked before. But is it that different? The other people in my office handle it. Other people work for small consulting firms. They aren’t having breakdowns.
I know I have dysthemic disorder. I know that means that on a low day, even more energy is drained just so I can do little things, like get out of bed. But everyone has “bad days.” What makes mine so special? Are they really harder, or am I just less able to handle them?
Are these disorders even real? Or are they just me making up excuses for why I can’t deal with what everyone else goes through?
When I was breaking down and writing my hubby frantically in multiple e-mails yesterday, telling him how much I want to quit and just get my life back in order, he wrote back.
Sweetheart, I’m your husband. I promised I’d love you through whatever comes, and I do! Part of that is, for whatever reason, you’re not able to handle working full time. I don’t call this weakness, Eileen, anymore than I call it weakness that somebody with pneumonia can’t run a couple miles with me. I’m not sure what it is, Eileen, but you’re sick, we both know it, and it affects you. It sucks, but it affects you. Not enough to get Social Security benefits, sadly (wouldn’t that be nice! lol) but it does affect you. I’m your husband and I don’t mind supporting you! :)
You are NOT BEING SELFISH, you are NOT weak, you are not doing anything wrong. Eileen, I have day to day frustrations but I don’t have to fight to keep it together so I can go to work. Most people don’t. We get in a routine and it’s not a big deal. My heart aches for you. I can’t imagine how hard it must be. I have a little taste of how desperate and helpless you feel because of how what you’re going through affects me, and that’s just secondary! :P I can’t imagine how hard it must be, and I empathize. It’s NOT YOUR FAULT.
I am so lucky. Just reading that again makes me cry. OK, I was already crying..makes me cry harder :-P I feel so very fortunate to have a hubby who supports me, who believes me, who loves to take care of me, and who puts up with all the crazy that comes with me.
Now I just need to reread that every day. And maybe eventually, I’ll believe it.
Until then, I have to find a way to get my life back.