I Removed 'Functioning' From My 'Functioning Depression'

My brain is completely mush.

  • Jennifer M. Wilson

Written on Mar 13, 2024

sad woman who is lost in her depression Daniel Martinez | Unsplash

I was laid off last week. The last time I was laid off, I was in my early twenties. That was over twenty years ago. I didn’t have a mortgage and I didn’t have children. My depression took the form of an extreme eating disorder; I went from 120 pounds to 83 pounds in four months.

My depression has taken the form of Olympic sleeping. Even with functioning depression, I could form a semblance of someone who has her life together: The laundry was done, the sheets were clean, and my kitchen was orderly. Routine and structure provided sanity.


Those days are gone. My home looks like Day 70 after the zombie apocalypse. I’m surprised cockroaches haven’t taken over. I used to abhor leaving things on the floor; now, my floor looks like a tornado blew through the house. I’ve got clothes, brushes, boxes, screwdrivers, and other random crap everywhere.



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My calf muscles are getting a workout from the tiptoeing I do around the hazardous minefield. Speaking of, working out is well outside the realm of my abilities. I went for a walk today with a friend (I still force myself to be social if someone asks me) and within twenty minutes of the walk, my lungs felt like they were going to explode.

The biggest problem is my sleeping.

Sleeping is my only escape. I understand drug addicts. When there is no light on the horizon, all you can do is create a new reality. I’m not me in my dreams. I’m a generic nobody going through nonsensical scenes until I’m cruelly awoken by an alarm or an annoying bird chirping. That doesn’t stop me from falling asleep five minutes later. Today, I crawled out of bed at 9:50 a.m. to walk with my friend. At 11:45 a.m., I got home and went back to bed. I willed myself out of bed at 5:30 p.m. After eating cookies for (lunch? or dinner?), I sat on the floor next to my bed and played mobile games until 7:30 p.m.

This long weekend was supposed to be the weekend where I finally caught up on tasks related to finding work. I need to build a writing portfolio and that’s going to take a lot of time. Before Covid, applying for a job meant I was competing with local people. Maybe thirty-ish other candidates would vy for the same position. I could easily get an interview within a week and a job offer after two weeks.


Now, I’m competing against the entire United States.

That’s hundreds and thousands of people for one single job. The tech industry is bleeding jobs daily. As I’ve learned from all of the rejections, I’m not even in the top ten candidates eligible for an interview. My self-esteem is shattered. I can’t help but think how this further reinforces that my divorce was a bad idea. If I had another income, I wouldn’t panic. We’d also have higher savings.

Without the need to get health insurance on my own, I could take freelance and contract jobs. I wiped out twenty years of life growth with my divorce. My quality of life has plummeted. My extreme misery has shifted from one area to another and with this version, I don’t see my kids every day. The loneliness is eating at my soul. I was lonely in my marriage but I had my kids. Now it’s just me and my piles of floor garbage.

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I know I’ll get inundated with You-Should-Get-Therapy comments. I agree. But at $150/hour, it’ll cost me $600 per month for months on end. I didn’t have money for that before I lost my job, I am sure not going to miss a mortgage payment for therapy. Also, I’ve done therapy for decades; I’m not new to it. I don’t have the mental bandwidth to begin the process of explaining my life story in short increments so that after three months we can finally tackle my problems.

Yes, I’m on anti-depressants. But I’m cutting those back because my next refill requires an appointment with the psychiatrist. On my insurance plan, that’s $127. While I’m unemployed, I don’t have that kind of dough. That’s a month of groceries for me and my kids (since I survive on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches).

I cycle writing a gratitude journal. In the past, it was usually the same entries. I’m grateful I have a job. I’m grateful my kids are healthy. I’m grateful I’m not homeless. I’m grateful for my kids.

I don’t have much to write other than my kids’ health. I guess I’m grateful that I’ve got savings to tap into when I file for unemployment. But “grateful” implies thanking the universe for luck. The universe didn’t do anything — my savings are from my sheer determination and extreme frugality because I want to buy a home closer to my kids’ future high school. I’m not thanking the universe for my work.


But if I tap into those savings because I can’t find a job (or one that pays decently, since I’m in California applying to jobs with Ohio budgets), that goal goes out the window.

I’m in survival mode and I’m failing. The only thing keeping me alive is my kids. Which is a tough motivator when I don’t see them half the time. Right now they’re with my ex-husband and his girlfriend at her cabin in the mountains. He’s living his best life.

It’s hard to believe that if I’m not on this earth, only my kids will feel the lasting impact. It’s the most important reason and I’m not going to do the unthinkable. But it’s an awful feeling to know that people might cry for a few weeks and then I’m an occasional memory because I’m not significant enough to anyone other than my kids.

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Thinking hurts too much. It’s why I sleep or doomscroll on TikTok. Writing is my therapy but there’s only so much it can achieve when I’m not solving my problems or having epiphanies. I’m insignificant. I’m a screw-up. I will never go back to the same quality of life. I will never find a partner.

When things are going well, I have depression. I don’t know what I’m experiencing now.

Even the Depression Beast that lives deep within is hiding behind a door telling me, “I’m scared of your feelings.” Everything hurts with deep intensity. I paused this writing to move an iPad off my desk. I opened it to see my daughter’s chat threads and saw she was using her dad’s phone to message her friends. She sent her friends videos of herself in my ex-husband’s car on the way to his girlfriend’s cabin.


My son told me they usually take two separate cars. It seems this weekend, they drove all together. My ex-husband and his girlfriend were chatting in the front. Her dogs were with my daughter and my son in the back. All of them living their best lives. Time to crawl back into bed.

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Jennifer M. Wilson writes because in real life her humor is allegedly too sarcastic and inappropriate.