I was asked recently, what did it take for me to seek help for my depression? There was the quick answer, and the. There’s this one, the one I’ve been mulling over for a few days: time.
It took time, and not because I was avoiding the issue. It took time, because I had no idea that I had a problem of any kind.
After a particularly difficult time at work, it was suggested that I use the employee assistance program and speak to a counselor. I kind of laughed off the need, but it meant a day off work, so I went. Chatted with a rather affable doctor and filled out a couple questionnaires. He asked me to describe my moods and sort of generally how things went for me. So I talked and anyone who knows me, knows that once I start talking, I can go. Here’s the Coles Notes of what I told him and talked about with him.
I was angry. All the time. It didn’t actually show much, but it was always there. It’d come out every so often, but I’d pass it off as a rough day at work or just a difficult moment. A lot of the time, it would be frustration. I’d get frustrated about how I was feeling and have no idea why I was feeling that way. The frustration would easily become anger, at myself, for not being able to figure it out. Or it’d be anger and frustration at others, usually those close to me, for not being able to understand how they were bothering me. It was always there, under the surface. My patience dropped to zero.
Sleep. Holy fuck could I sleep. Give me a semi-comfortable position and I’d doze off. I’d nap my way through my lunch breaks and fall asleep as soon as I got home from work. I couldn’t seem to get enough sleep, even if I had a full night’s sleep. With the sleep, came a kind of lethargy. I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t want to move. The more tired I felt, the less patient and more frustrated and the quicker if anger.
I started looking down the barrel of my upcoming day and get this sort of despair. Not feeling that I could even manage it. I started taking a couple days off a month. I passed it off as job stress. It slowly became almost a day a week. I’d feel great the moment I called in sick; then just as quickly feel like shit. I’d decide to make use of the day and try and get some stuff done around the house, be productive. And then I’d go to bed. I’d wake up just before the end of the work day. Having accomplished nothing and still not feeling rested. I’d be angry at myself for the waste of the day. That meant that I’d probably be short tempered with both wife and child. Not fair to them at all.
That kind of thing began to happen a lot more often and led to a lot of strife and difficulty at home. Neither of us able to undestand why we were fighting.
Despite all of that, most of the time, I felt pretty good. There were always days where I felt like myself and was in a good mood.
It wasn’t until I started having more bad days than good that I considered that there might be a problem. And it wasn’t until I actually laid it all out for a stranger, that I saw the pattern and the bigger picture.
He told me that I had low grade, chronic depression. He told me that it had probably always been there but the low grade nature of it, kept it under my radar. A smiling depressive, he called me.
Having something to call it was amazing. I was able to look at everything through that lens and sort of see how it all fit together. I got a prescription for an antidepressant. That really was amazing. After a few weeks of taking them, I rediscover my energy and my frustration level dropped dramatically. That meant that I was so much less angry and so much more able to cope. I had never liked the idea of being on meds, but I like being uneven and angry even less.