Let me start this off by saying that yes, this sounds like a #firstworldproblem. Hold on, I hate that expression. A few good articles here, here, and here do a good job of explaining why. I guess the reason I use the expression is that is the only way I know to demonstrate that I understand my privilege. It is also an instinct to say it after the words have been ingrained in our culture. Anyways, I was recently reflecting upon the time when a few years ago, I was so depressed that I took a taxi every day to work. I couldn’t afford this, but I just charged my credit card and decided to worry about it later. I built up a decent sized ball of debt, but luckily, I was able to scrimp enough to pay it off.
It started off one morning when it took me too long to get in the shower. (Here is an article I wrote about my anxiety around showering!) Time was passing by and I was still stuck in bed. I knew I needed to shower to be presentable so I finally gathered the energy to do it. By the time I got out of the shower, it was past the time to leave and catch the bus that would get me to work on time. So I called a cab and got there on time. In fact, a few minutes early. So the next day, when I was having trouble getting out of bed, a little voice in my head said: “You can spend more time in bed if you take another cab.” And so I listened to that voice. You see, it’s not that I didn’t love my job, I really did. But my depression and anxiety were so bad that I knew that they would interfere with my work and I was scared of the day when somebody might notice.
Each day passed, and I kept waiting until it was too late and I would have to call a cab. And then it just became a habit that I couldn’t stop from happening. I would see my debt piling up and I would tell myself, “Tomorrow, you are walking or taking the bus. End of story.” Each morning, I would be so occupied with my mental health issues, with my negative self-talk, with my crumbling self-esteem, with my lack of energy and apathy, that I had no other choice than to take a taxi if I wanted to be on time. My mental health was consuming every aspect of my life and I was feeling completely overwhelmed by the smallest task.
I want to say that I found a solution to my taxi problem, but the truth is, I actually started working somewhere else where it would cost way too much money to even cab once, let alone every day. So I was forced to stop and take the bus.
I was so lucky that this episode of depression didn’t interfere with my work and that I was able to show up, be punctual and take care of my responsibilities. It took a lot of effort and I was exhausted by the end of the day, but I did it. However, sometimes my mental health issues and my bipolar disorder have been so severe that I couldn’t make it to my workplace. I couldn’t get out of bed at all, not to shower, not to take a taxi.
What are the lessons that I take from this? I learned that I need to be gentle with myself and engage in self-care whenever possible. If that means spending a bit of money now and worrying about it later, then I’m going to do it. I realize that some people don’t have that flexibility or luxury because they’ve already maxed out their credit card and they don’t have another paycheck coming. However, even if you don’t have enough financial resources, we need to learn to take advantage of whatever resources we have available to us and to not feel guilty about it. If possible, we need to create a lifestyle for ourselves that fits our needs and makes sense with our symptoms.
Have you ever done anything like this because of a mental health issue? I really hope I am not the only one who might have spent a little too much money than they had in the bank account for the sake of convenience. I’d love to hear your stories! Comment below and let me know your thoughts.