Depressed For a Living- “Every day I woke up and I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was depressed, hopeless that anything would change, this was my life at 24 years old.”
Sarah Fader’s story
Trigger warning- graphic imagery of near-death experience
Depressed for a living – 24 years old – New York City 2004.
In 2004 I was working as an admin at this technology company in New York City making $24,000 a year. My boss sat 50 feet away from me and emailed me my tasks. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t talk to me since I was literally sitting in the next room. I felt like I was annoying every time I entered his office to ask a question using my human voice. His moods were unpredictable and he was a volatile person. One day he was kind and the next day he was angry at me and said things that were cruel, talking about the detrimental mistakes I was making. His criticism was so brutal that he made me question my self-worth. Maybe I was a bad person? He seemed to believe that I was incompetent, lazy, and ungrateful. The way he treated me made me feel devalued, belittled and insignificant.
I didn’t want to go to work
Every day I woke up and I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was depressed, hopeless that anything would change, this was my life at 24 years old. Then, one day, a day much like any of the other ones, I woke up and I had no desire to go to work. It was freezing in my apartment, despite the fact that technically it was springtime. I remembered that the window was open and forced my body to get up to close it. Before I started on that endeavor, I spotted a package of brownie bites sitting on the window sill. Quickly, I shoved a handful of them into my mouth, because I needed fuel for this task. When I approached the window I was already irritated. My apartment had these beautiful old casement windows that opened and closed using an antiquated crank you turned around and around. I attempted to turn the crank and close the window but it was old and rusty, so the window wasn’t budging. I leaned my left wrist against the window pane and pushed as hard as I could hoping that the window would open, not thinking about the fact that I was pressing my skin against a piece of glass. Without warning, I heard a cracking sound, looked down and saw to my horror that the window pane was broken and my wrist was cut open and bleeding. I panicked and grabbed my cell phone because I wasn’t thinking I tried to call my parents first, not 911, but my parents! Meanwhile, I am profusely bleeding all over my wooden floor. When the call doesn’t go through, I scream, call 911 quickly and run next door, handed the phone to my neighbor, who actually saved my life. She ran to her kitchen, grabbed a white dishcloth, and wrapped my wrist in it while she told the police where to send the ambulance.
When the EMT workers arrived, minutes later, I made them call my boss (even though it was 6:30 am) and leave him a voicemail saying I wouldn’t be coming to work today. Wait…what?! Here I was, nearly bleeding to death and all I could think about was getting fired. I truly believed that my boss would think I was lying, I wasn’t having a near-death experience. I was trying to fake sick and get out of work.
These thoughts show how depressed I was at my job.
I couldn’t see straight emotionally. I stayed at that job until that day, because I wanted to pay rent and support myself. At the time it was just me. I didn’t want to go back to that job. I also didn’t want to die. It was weird because there were other times in my life (not this one) where I didn’t want to exist anymore. But this was like any other day in the brisk springtime of New York City. I didn’t die. I made it to the hospital and had hand surgery. The doctor who repaired my left tendon was hot. I’m not sure if his hotness had anything to do with his surgeon skills or not, but that’s not the point. The point is that I almost died. The glass pierced my skin dangerously close, but not close enough, to an artery. I am alive, miraculously, and I am grateful to God and whatever else kept me here.
Once I realized that I was not going to die, I decided it was time to live. I didn’t want to go back to that office. I couldn’t bear the thought of getting yelled at for doing more email assignments “wrong.” So I took the opportunity of almost bleeding to death and used it to quit my job. I needed to go to occupational therapy for my hand. During the accident, I severed my left tendon. When I got to the hospital, I had emergency hand surgery, which included tendon repair. When I woke up from general anesthesia the surgeon told me that my hand was stiff and I noticed that I couldn’t bend my fingers. It freaked me out, but he reassured me with occupational therapy sessions and time, I would be able to use my left hand again.
Breaking the news to my boss
Somehow I knew my boss wasn’t going to understand. I was in the process fo applying for temporary disability, which already made me feel depressed. However, I still had to break the news to my boss that I wasn’t coming back to work. When I attempted to tell him that, he said “But it’s your left hand, you’re right-handed. Can’t you just type with the right hand?” When I heard this question it confirmed the fact that I needed to quit this job immediately. Before the accident, I had no idea how I was going to leave this job. After nearly died, I had an escape plan. I had the hand surgery, started occupational therapy, collected temporary disability to support myself financially while I looked for another job. Eventually, I decided to go back to school, at the time I planned to become a veterinarian. I found a job as a vet tech that was part-time and it was a much healthier environment than that tech company.
After my hand surgery, I got a tattoo of the word “chai,” in Hebrew over the scar on my wrist. It reminds me of the fact that I survived, I’m still here and my life is valuable. I will always struggle with depression, however, I know that my environment plays a significant role in stabilizing my mood. If I’m unhappy at work, depression will come out and sucker punch me in the face. That’s why I need to make sure that I am not depressed for a living. From the day I quit that tech job, I made a promise to myself that I would only pursue jobs that made me feel fulfilled and that is what I’ve done. I’ll never go back to being depressed for a living again.
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