Depression can rob you of your ability to even care―but don’t let it rob you of your livelihood, which is your ability to support yourself. You absolutely can work while being depressed, though it will be one of the most difficult things you will ever do. So, just do it.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
When you’re depressed, there may be days where it feels impossible to even crawl out of bed―sometimes for weeks or months at a time. But caving into that feeling can cost you your job, which can cost you your place to live, which is how mental illness can make people homeless.
If you’re truly so depressed, that you physically cannot function, you need to get help. But, if you’re not quite there yet, it’s better to gather all your strength and make it to work at the very least. It may feel like the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but if you can manage it at all, it will save you tons of trouble in the long run.
Seek Assistance from the HR
The first step is to talk to your HR to see what kind of mental health benefits you’re entitled to.
If you have your insurance paperwork on hand, give it a read-through first, to maybe save yourself the trouble of taking the time to meet with the HR. If it turns out that you do have to meet with them, don’t feel the need to be specific―just inquire about the benefits.
If you have them, great―set something up. If you don’t, look into therapy on your own. Community mental health centers offer low-cost therapy or a sliding scale, if you need it.
Doing this is important―depression is an illness, not a character flaw, and getting help is an absolute must.
Rally Team You
Dealing with depression requires a support network of people who care about you. Your network may include your therapist, your partner, your parents, and your best friend.
But at work, you need someone you can lean on, someone you’ve had a bit of a social connection with before, someone whose judgment and discretion you can trust. This person is not for you to cry on every day―save that for your real Team You. This person functions as more of a coach at work.
Confide what you’re going through, and ask the person to check in with you once or twice a day, just to see how you’re doing, and to maybe look over your work on bad days when you can’t quite get there mentally. This person also has his/her own work to do, so don’t be a burden, but feel okay accepting the help that he or she is willing to give.
Keep Up Appearances
Depression robs you of your ability to care about pretty much anything, and what little care you can muster, is better spent on work quality rather than on whether your eyeliner is smudged.
On the other hand, you cannot go into work wearing sweatpants and a dirty pajama shirt―you have to at least meet the minimum guidelines of whatever ‘professional’ means in your field. This doesn’t mean it has to be difficult.
Ask a friend to come over and help you put together a section of your closet that contains only easy-wear work clothes. These should be outfits that are simple to put on, and don’t require adjustment and upkeep throughout the day. The fewer accessories the better.
If you can get away with not wearing makeup to work, now is a great time to take advantage of it. If you can’t, streamline your routine to the bare bones basics―maybe eyeliner, mascara, and lip balm. The idea is to make it really easy to get out of the house in the morning, so all you have to worry about is getting out of bed and doing it.
Take Care of Yourself
Maybe now is not the time to take on that extra project. It is important to be aware of your own limitations. Don’t feel guilty about not staying late. Make time to get some form of exercise, because the endorphin’s are sure to help.
Get some sleep. It’s harder than it sounds, but sometimes, getting better is half the battle won. The more you slow down now, the sooner you’ll be back to your old self. If your boss asks about the changes, you don’t have to divulge everything―just say you’re dealing with some health issues, and you appreciate the patience.
Depression is awful, especially when you’re the one in the midst of it. But it’s not uncommon, and chances are, at least some of the people around you have been there. Allow them to help you. So, accept that sometimes, things have to be about you for once, but they won’t be forever. Team You understands, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.