Going back to work is exhilarating and terrifying. You feel like you are being parachuted into a whole other universe, in which all of the staff are confident and smiling, and you are all nervous and insecure. As I said, I went down the route of honesty so I have brief conversations with colleagues about mental illness.Its all politeness. I don't feel ready to share the stripped back truth - they might run away, or change desks.To my joy and surprise, most of them are really interested and genuinely supportive. The other thing is that they already seem to accept that I'm a bit "Touched" and are surprised that I'm the last one to know. Oh my God! My keeping up a front was obviously no front at all. I'm not sure if I'm happy about this or not.
I "Phase" back into work, phase being the right word as everyone is busy and full of direction, and I just sit about looking dazed and confused. I have no idea how to start my computer and when I finally get into it, it uploads changes for 6 hours as I've been away so long. I really need someone to tell me what to do. I'm all lost. Sometimes I wish work was more like "Charlie and the chocolate factory" with little oompa loompas running about being helpful, and music and dance. Although I have adult company, its a bit dull really and I wonder why I was so excited about coming back. I make busy, making my desk look pretty.
I chat to my boss over coffee, who assures me I will be all normal and in the groove before I know it. I discuss with her what answer to give when less well know colleagues ask me where I've been. I consider the, "I've just been very ill" response, and let people conjure up all kinds of hideous illnesses and feel all sorry for me, or, tell them I'm a bit on the mental side and see what happens. When I say, "I've been a little mental" everyone laughs and thinks I'm making a joke. Its followed up by comments of, "Keep taking the tablets, Ha, Ha!!". Most normal folk do not talk about mental illness so assume that you are making a politically incorrect joke and play along. I'm never quite sure how far to take it, and when I say, "No, really, I've have a serious mental condition" they're still not sure if I'm still taking the mick.
I begin to realise that Joe public are polarised in their response to mental illness. It's either humour or demonisation. You're either a bit cracked but eccentric and interesting, or an axe wielding pedophile psycho freak. There is no sensible middle ground where you are a bit ill but it doesn't define your whole being. There are also a lot of twats about that bandy around phrases like schizo, psycho, mental case. You know the ones. Stupid people. These are the ones who make the world a miserable place for those of us that have to live with a condition of mental illness, and will be made to feel like a pariah if we own up to the truth. There are some lovely people, but you have to seek them out.
Its difficult trying to project which type of person you might be dealing with on any given day. Stupidity and ignorance are egalitarian characteristics. Everyone is prone to the weakness, and the suit you wear or your posh accent can hide the most archaic mentality. If I'm going to be honest I realise I have to survive the onslaught and see it for what it is. Ignornace. I need to toughen up, accept myself and all the quirks and knuckle down. Bollocks to the idiots. I'll crack on regardless.I will be a whole person, and not characterise myself but the demon of depression. I will try to be the real me.