I’ve watched this video before, where the narrator compares his depression to a black dog who follows him around.

Mine feels more like an estranged relative who decides to drop by for a visit even when they know they’re unwelcome.

I thought I was just stressed and overworked.

But yesterday I had a complete meltdown when I couldn’t get the window tint sheets to stick properly on my car windows. I ended up having to throw probably a third of the sheeting away when it stuck to itself, and only one window is covered – and badly at that. I gave up while I still have enough left for someone to help me with the rest of the side windows, even if the rear window doesn’t get covered.

I also ended up losing the plastic card I’m supposed to smooth the bubbles out of the sheets with inside my car door. The rubber bit at the bottom of my car window got folded in on itself when I was scraping the tint sheet, and in trying to fix that, the plastic card slipped out of my hand and down inside my car door.

Yes, I used a portion of my birthday money to buy the kit, and yes I’m broke and can’t afford more.

But I’m not quite sure the despair I felt as I sobbed on my couch reflects the experience.

Depression makes everything feel extremely hard, futile, and hopeless.

I felt like all I was trying to do was do something nice for myself, and I couldn’t even do that. My car gets unbearably hot in the afternoon, but I have to go to or from work in the heat of the day, so there’s no way around driving it then, no matter how miserable it feels.

I had hoped the window tint kit would help make the rest of this Texas summer a bit more bearable. And I felt like an incompetent failure for not being able to follow the directions in the kit like the smiling woman pictured there. It felt like the opposite of those commercials which try to convince you to buy their kitchen gadget since boiling spaghetti is clearly just impossible.

Part of the reason I decided to try to work part-time is because I have learned I cannot work 40-hours a week due to my mental health.

Only now, I’m stuck with several part-time jobs and no sick leave, which means no chance of taking a mental health day. Which is what I’d normally do in a case like this.

My main part-time job has super variable hours. Sometimes, I only work 20 hours a week. But recently, we had two conferences, and I ended up working 40. But I can’t just stop doing the other work I have to do to make ends meet in the slow times when it’s busy, because it’s not going to be busy forever.

I sent my boss a message, and hopefully things will get better in that regard.

Because I’m doing my best to never work over 35 hours in a week.

I never know how to broach the subject of mental health with an employer. I want them to understand my needs and limitations, but I don’t want to say, “I suffer from anxiety and depression,” and have them hear, “I can’t do the job you hired me for.”

If I broke my leg and a doctor put me on bedrest or restricted movement, an employer would legally have to work around that. But if I can’t get out of bed in the morning due to depression, for some reason it’s not treated the same way.

I have to be so careful about the amount of stress I’m under, the amount of hours I work, the amount and type of food I eat, the amount and quality of sleep I get, maintaining an adequate self-care regimin….

People who don’t have to worry about a black dog or an estranged relative coming to visit don’t have to be quite as careful.

Maintaining my mental health is work. It takes time and energy. But it’s not like I could ever get disability for it – I know people with physical disabilities who can’t get on disability.

I’m doing the best I can to try to work less and still get by.

I’m not sure how well it’s working.

I need a way to keep the flexibile schedule and the potential for creativity and the ethical underpinnings of my current job, while making more money.

I need someone to pay me what my time is actually worth.

But then, doesn’t everyone?

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