In every culture there are certain norms. Rules if you like. What type of food people eat, the structure of families and social networks, the kinds of things that people do, our attitudes to authority and among other things our attitude to work. In most western cultures the attitude is that you’re supposed to engage in it – but it’s also something to complain about. The idea is to have a lot of other things you’d rather be doing. Work, school all things regarded as ‘compulsory’ are often seen as restrictive.
I returned to work recently after a long absence from the workforce. The initial period was due to a nasty relapse of depression. Most of the months were while human resources were getting their act together pushing me through ‘independent’ doctors who were giving clearance for graded return to work plans all the while saying that the doctors had not said that I was not fully fit for duties. It reeked of them trying to get rid of me. Alas for HR, they failed. I got back in. What is more I got another job which I will start next week and was offered others while they were stuffing around – with disclosure about my depression. But enough on that.
My return to the workforce has brought one thing to my attention in a stunning way. I love going to work. Sure there are some tasks that I could do without. But on the whole, work is something that I need. While I was off, I had to work hard to manufacture work for myself in the form of projects and I enjoyed them a lot. But it feels good to be doing something productive. To see people and say “hello” to them and pass the time of day with them. And that’s before I’ve even gotten my first pay! And to be busy. I am enjoying being busy.
I am really fortunate this time too. My latest medication regime is leaving me non-drowsy. My attention is better in the morning than the afternoon – so I will have to gear my day around doing the close work that needs that kind of focus early, but otherwise things are looking good. I am well. The dog has gotten the message that he needs to stay at heel and not strain on the lead. At the moment I am tired at the end of the day. Very tired, but I am convinced that in the coming weeks this will pass. Some of this has been helped by the fact that I am not starting cold.
I am convinced that my determination to keep busy with projects that required concentration, busyness and maintenance of a routine while off work has helped enormously with this, because in this too the dog was given little space to roam free on my time and thoughts. He essentially had to stay out of the way.
People, let me say that I am a convert. I believe that people need work – not necessarily paid work – but productive activity of some description to keep them feeling like they are moving and breathing. I believe that work brings freedom with it. Sure there is a need to have support and watch your early warning signs. Sure there are unpleasant tasks. Sure there are jobs that you would prefer over others. But work – work is grand!
Having a meaningful occupation is very important for recovery from depression, I absolutely agree on that.
Personally, I’m not someone who needs a job to be happy (if I had enough money toget by without a job, I’d not miss it), but I need to feel like I’m doing something that matters.
Congratulations on returning to the work force; it sounds like you had to fight off some resistance for doing so, so it is even more of an achievement!