That’s what I said to my sister when she told me Mom was asking about how my day went.
“Tell Mom today was good.”
Because it was. I woke up this morning and ate breakfast and put makeup on and walked to the clinic where I work as a transcriptionist. I sat at my desk and listened to patient after patient talk about their struggles with addiction and recovery. I listened as people talked about anxiety and depression. I listened to them talk about medications and side effects and trying to stop and trying to start and trying to live with a mind constantly telling them they need something that ultimately wants to destroy them. I listened, silently, and I wrote notes.
It’s weird, sometimes, being the one listening to these stories. It’s weird being the person on the other side. I’ve never battled an addiction to a substance, but I am familiar with the emptiness that leads a person to anything which might fill the darkness, even temporarily. Even with something they know will hurt them. I understand how a person gets to that place.
I was in a similar place not very long ago. Just this summer I got to take another trip to the ER (this time with a personal police escort) because I had told someone on a hotline that I was contemplating ending my life. That was in August.
Now, just a few months later, I’m sitting on the other side.
Sometimes it’s hard. I hear a guy talk about the anxiety that’s clawing at his skin and worrying his fingernails and I want to say, “Oh, yes! I get that! I understand! Me too!” But I can’t say that because I’m supposed to be transcribing and I’m supposed to be professional and I’m supposed to be on the other side.
Maybe I’m not on the other side 100%, though.
I woke up this morning and ate breakfast and put on my makeup and walked to work. But I hit snooze too many times and was running late, and I only ate some of my cereal because I didn’t feel very good. I had a knot in my stomach the whole time I was walking and I had to keep shoving aside thoughts like, “I hate my life” and “I wish I was dead.” I’m not actively suicidal but suicidal thoughts have been part of my brain’s daily routine for so long, they’ve developed shortcuts to the forefront and now pop up any time I forget to transfer my laundry or the weather is too cold. This morning, they were hanging around because I was worried today would be the day everyone would find out how incompetent I am and that I’m actually faking my ability to handle the responsibilities of my position and that I don’t have what it takes to do this job and that I would be fired.
I transcribed notes as patients told the doctor about their struggles, but I felt like I should be the one sitting in front of his desk, talking about the way my brain was freezing up because it felt like too much was coming at me at once. At one point later in the day, I had to ask our accountant a question three times because I kept forgetting what it was I needed to do regarding a certain note. After the second repeat of the same question, I could feel the accountant despising me (hello, projection) so I wrote the word “idiot” on my wrist.
“Tell Mom today was good.” Now maybe you’re wondering why I said this. Here’s why:
All I did was write on my wrist. I used a pen; not a blade. I didn’t scratch at my skin or dig my fingernails in. After I wrote the word, I covered it up and got back to work. I didn’t sit and stare at it. I kept asking questions because I know that’s the way to learn and get better, even though I feel dull and awkward every single time I have to ask anyone anything. I completed more notes than I did during my last shift. I reminded myself over and over (and over and over and over) again that I’m still learning. I don’t have to be perfect yet. I don’t have to be perfect, ever. Over and over and over.
Today was good. It wasn’t all good and it didn’t feel good all the time but, overall, I made progress. I fought the Depression and Anxiety and today I came out ahead. I am going into tomorrow with fewer knots and more confidence than I had yesterday. That’s a victory. If you look at my track record, it’s a huge victory.
When I got home this evening, I washed the word “idiot” off my wrist.