Saturday, November 18, 2017

Major Rewrite, part 1

I have been unwell. 

After the depression treatment last year, I thought I'd be golden. 

I was wrong. 

Deprived of that outlet for my misery, I grew physically ill.  Sinus infections, persistent coughs, daily headaches that grew to near-constant migraines until I spent most of my waking hours in profound pain. 

I took a walk one day, taking each agonizing breath and trying to settle as I felt the depression gleefully attack my brain with sharpened claws.  I moved through the parking lot, feeling the aches in my joints, cramps in my muscles, clots in my synapses.

"I can do this," I muttered to myself, pressing on my chest to try to ease the ache there.  "You have to help me do this," I prayed to God.  "Give me strength to battle through these stupid arguments with some grace and kindness.  Let me get something - anything - done today.  Please let it be even slightly less futile."

And having finished my loop of the parking lot, I paused to watch the wild turkey prance across the western expanse of the property and plodded back to my desk.

"I'm disappointed," my boss would say before he stopped making eye contact.  "I need you here.  Engaged.  Happy.  You don't act like Katie anymore."

As I repeated that to Mom on our way to church, I admitted I don't feel like myself anymore.  The woman who writhed on the bed in the Emergency Room, terrified of the restlessness triggered by one of the drugs they'd given me bore little resemblance to the person I once was.  And even as I met a neurologist and took different drugs that eased the pain but ate holes in my short-term memory, work felt like such a struggle. 

"I'm so unhappy," I admitted to both Mom and manager.  "I don't think it's supposed to be like this.  We need to find another option."

I remember clicking that option in LinkedIn that opened my profile to recruiters.  I tried to rally at work, prioritizing carefully and giving the team as much of my best self as I could possibly muster. 

And - for a small number of scattered days - it started to get easier to breathe.  I stopped missing meetings.  Worked my way through my lists.  Adjusted to the medication so that I could recall both to whom I'd talked and what we discussed!  The white matter changes on my MRI were nothing to worry about, my neurologist assured me.  My psychiatrist was also positive about me pulling through that depressive episode. 

But I met with my closest colleague and held whispered conversations about upcoming layoffs. 

"I think it's me," I'd say and she'd argue that it was her who'd be let go.  "We're ridiculously paranoid," I finally decided after we'd exchanged counts of leaders who wouldn't look at us in the hallway.  "They need us here."

But when a recruiter reached out to assess my interest, I happily handed over my CV.  Unfortunately, it was a draft CV, littered with red text and "XXX" where I meant to write something suitably impressive.  She kindly asked for "a more detailed copy" and I glanced through the document and winced, wondering if I should just ignore the whole opportunity in my embarrassment. 

Instead, I shrugged, cleaned up the mistakes and sent off a better draft.  And then waited over the next 3 weeks to see what my current and future employers would do.

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