Dr. A called me early on the Sunday morning following my last day of work. I was sitting on the couch, wrapped in blankets and anxiety about what to do next. I had so many questions for her. What were people going to think of me? How was I ever going to go back to work, and face my boss and co-workers? Was I ever going to be employable after this? Why isn’t my brain functioning the way that it used to? How do I get through this? How come I’m not better yet?
She told me to imagine that I had broke my leg, and that I was standing at the bottom of my staircase. Would I look up at all those stairs and berate myself for not being able to climb them yet? No. I would understand that I needed some time to heal, and that after some time I would be able to climb those stairs once again. My IQ didn’t just suddenly drop. I wasn’t incapable of participating in challenging conversations. I wasn’t lazy. Those were just temporary symptoms of my depression. But when it’s your brain that’s injured, and when that injury isn’t visible to you or to other people, it can be challenging to be patient with the healing process.
My brain was on crutches.
My brain was on crutches. I needed to give it time to recover before I could walk up those stairs again. And when the internal dialogue in my head started to beat me up about being lazy, stupid, and incompetent, Dr. A told me to remember that it was just the depression talking.
My depression was doing a lot of talking, but I was starting to talk back.