The Journey into Depression

Do you ever sit alone at night and wonder why the world doesn’t know you are alive?
Do you wonder if they would even care if they knew you were alive?
If only people really cared.
Do you put all the blame for your stress and anxiety on your job?
If only you could find a new job.
Do you find yourself becoming sick more often with all sorts of new diagnosis?
Maybe a few ‘sick days’ will help.
Do you experience only sadness and anger?
I know there used to be happiness.
Do you want to be isolated from the world?
Are you alone in a crowd?
Get help now.  
I went through depression last year.  When it came to a head, it was April 2009 and I couldn’t cope any more.  I was doing everything for everyone, I was active in work and community.  I held positions of authority in certain places.  I looked good to the public eye.  Inside though, I was crashing, and crashing hard.  Two emotions ran my life; sadness and anger.  I could hold it together for social gatherings, but they exhausted me and it wasn’t sincere.
I knew I needed to talk to a counsellor, so off I went to “talk about my problems.”  Within the first session, the counsellor tells me I have all the signs of depression.  I cry.  I go to my doctor, who agrees and writes me a prescription for anti-depressants.
I work in social services and I am a guy.  Guys don’t get depressed right?  I work with people who struggle with depression and take medication.  Now I am one.
I was told to be off work, which, if it was only up to the employer would have been fine.  Unfortunately, we have a third party carrier – SHEPELL FGI – that ‘manages’ all claims beyond ten days.  What should have been a time for healing and restoration became a time of further frustration and increased anger.  Anyone who has been through depression knows what happens to you.  
I was told after an initial claim denial (for time off work with pay) and two appeals that “just because you are depressed, why can’t you do your job?  Are you a risk to co-workers and clients?  Are you suicidal?”  Wow.  I try to get help before I am actively suicidal, but that isn’t enough.  I need to verbally cross that line.  I need to present as a risk to self and others.  Some caring system this is.  SHEPELL FGI did not care.  For them, it’s just about money.
It wasn’t until I completely broke down in my office on the phone with Rita from SHEPELL FGI that I was able to get anywhere.  I needed to be pushed almost to the edge of despair.  This was after SHEPELL FGI received a letter from my counsellor and two or three doctor’s notes supporting a leave of absence from work.  It was their doctor’s who had never met me or spoken to me that made their decision to send me back to work and deny any claim.  Rita finally noted from my break down on the phone that I was not in the condition to work and she was granting my leave.
Looking back, I see that I used activity to fill my void and try to find joy that furthered the symptoms of depression.  This journey of depression began long before my leave from work began.  It was probably a few years in the making, but I ignored all the signs by choice.  
When I accepted the diagnosis, and began medication, I steadily increased from a low dose, to the highest therapeutic dose that the doctor was comfortable recommending.  Combined with all other medications, I was up to seven medications a day.
In addition to trying to be a good dad and husband, I was involved in school, union, committees, politics, youth ministry, music ministry, board work, motorcycle ministry and missions work.  All noble, and all things that I enjoyed, all things that I was good at, but not what I needed.  I needed to have my own identity, instead of identifying myself with the activities that I was involved in.  When I began to give up these things, slowly and with reason, and began to speak more openly about my experience, my hurts, my past mistakes and opened myself up to receive wise counsel, I began to heal.
Going back to work after nearly three months off was not easy.  I faced a degree of anxiety, and continue to from time to time, but it isn’t the job.  Instead it’s my response to the job, and my choices in life.  I am now down to the low dose of anti-depressants once again.  I will be off them about one year after I began taking them.
Medication is not the answer.  Counselling is not the answer.  Time off work is not the answer.  Put them together and add a support network of friends and family and you can overcome depression.
If you are a guy, you truly are not alone.  I have found many other men who have faced depression as well, though most suffered alone.
If you find yourself on the same trip to the pit of depression that I took, get help now.  It could literally save your life.
Everyone has a story.  Make sure you tell someone yours.  Don’t go through it alone.
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8 thoughts on “The Journey into Depression

  1. It is important to tell our stories – they make a difference. So many young people tell me that just knowing that someone else has been through similar situations makes them feel connected and not alone – that's why I do what I do.www.sarawestbrook.com

  2. i am in shambles. i have been denied std support from shapell fgi as well. i had it go through the appeals committee and it was denied again. they pretty much told me that i am not sick. nothing is wrong at all. i cant do this anymore> my life is f(*ed with all this lost money and accumulated debt. 15 weeks spent agonizing of the outcome. 15 weeks with NO INCOME. my husband and i have to live with my parents. im more desperate and hopeless than ever>

  3. @ Anonymous – Thank you for speaking out about your battles. Depression causes you to feel like you are alone because no one really understands how it feels until they have been through it. Any third party carrier is doing a job, it's not personal, but it feels like a direct attack. They don't accept "mental health challenges" as a real reason form taking a leave. It's a losing battle with them which encourages honest people to lie. It's not the way to do it.It's positive to hear that you have family that you have been able to rely upon during your struggle, and that your husband is with you through this. Do you have children? May I ask, do you have a supportive and understanding family doctor and counsellor? Sometimes a family doctor doesn't cut it, no matter how kind and supportive they are. With the number of medications available it may be helpful to consult with a psychiatrist who can better diagnose and medicate effectively. Your employers EAP program should cover the appointments.Depression is debilitating, you and I know this. Don't allow yourself to push people away. Make the conscious choice to reach out to one or two people who you can trust and lean on. Reflect inward on your true value as a person, not your work or responsibilities for other people. This needs to be a time about you.There is so much more I could say but I hesitate to ramble. When I hear from you again, I will share more with you.Don't give up. Blessings.Todd

  4. It is s encouraging to know I am not alone in this illness. I don't know when it exactly started but I have been spinning downward for way over a year I would say. I have a great job, two wonderful grown daughters, two baby grandsons and a great boyfriend. My family was not understanding because they had never dealt with depression. So when depression hit me, I refused to believe I had a problem. How could I, with a good life feel so self desructive? My once family gatherings became less and less until they were non excistent….and everyone was angry at me for not participating.I didnt want to do anything anymore. I was lucky I made it to work. But could only think of how good my bed sounded when I did get home. I would lay in my bed for hours, no TV or radio on….just my intrusive thoughts to keep me in my agony.I may have gotten 2 or 3 hours asleep a night if that. I began fighting with my boyfriend over the phone over stupid minor things. I wthdrew so deep into my own world that I had no one else but him to talk to. I knew something was wrong but I refused to admit i needed help. I was gonna "fix me" just like I had fixed everything else on my own before. I began getting irritated easily, not wanting to go anywhere….just lay in bed and turn a simple thought into an enourmous problem.Before I knew it i had the biggest problems I had created on my own, in my own head. I didn't even want to do Christmas last year and I had 2 new grandsons. My sister got to the point when she told me one day after I told her i think I am depressed or something cause i don't feel right. She said.."I am so sick and tired of you using your depression and anxiety as an excuse…i'm done with you". Those are the last words we spoke. That was a couple months ago. about 3 weeks ago I was talking on the phone to my boyfriend and again i had to start an arguement…or blame him for something. He finally had enough and ended it with me. Thats when I could no longer take anymore.I layed in bed all night, no sleep and just wanted the pain to go away. Not only because of a man but because he was the only one I felt was left to talk to and now he was gone. I had ran him off too just like I did everyone else, including my family.Thoughts of suicide ran through my head….but I didnt know how. so He text me and said "You better get your shit together and go to work" I got up…made it to work and imediatley I got ahold of my boss and told him what I was feeling….he had me call EAP at my job and the lady on the other line talked me into going to the emergency room. I thought what the hell is the hospital gonna do for me? I just need some couseling. Well, they did send in a counselor which after I talked to her she refused to let me go home. I ended up going to a Hospital that dealt with depression and other illnesses that i refused to admit I had. I was scared and felt alone until I got there. It was the best 4 days I had ever spent.I thought it was gonna be like "One flew over the Coo Coos nest" and still on my way there was in denial thats where I needed to be.I got there late at night and when I awoke was scared to death. But right away "normal" people were in there just like me….with simulair issues. Friendly, caring and fun people. I learned alot in group therapy. got on medication and found out I wasnt alone….I had finally surrendered to the idea that I could not do this alone anymore. I made it to a place where I got help….I feel so much better. I can smile now, I have a purpose in life….my grandsons are a part of me now. My interest in life is hopeful. I go back to work Monday and I am a bit overwhelmed at that but I know I can do it. I apoligized to my sister for my illness but still no response and my doctor says thats okay. just let it go for now. My boyfriend is back and helping me, my mom and I got books on depression and are reading it daily. There is a life out there that I had buried so deep in my darkness….thank you.

  5. @ Cathy – I am happy for you! It is therapeutic to tell your story. Something cathartic happens – depression no longer owns you…You Own the Depression! Family members often struggle to fully appreciate the battle that depression is. It is seen as a bad mood, or laziness, but it's not. It's real and you know that! Don't allow anyone to lead you into questioning whether depression is real.I learned more about my depression from a book that my counsellor at the time gave. Bruce Bradford was my therapist and he gave "Save Your Husband" by Scott Forbes ( http://www.amazon.com/Save-Your-Husband-Scott-Forbes/dp/0557010527 ). Written by a man who went through his own journey with depression, it serves as a valuable asset for other family members, and those who are struggling. It helped me make sense of what I was feeling.You are welcome to post notes about your journey here on my blog. People from around the world read it, and maybe through your testimony to life, you too will help others.Be blessed! Todd

  6. @Todd…Thank you for responding so quickly to my story. yes, it was very theraputic to write it all down. It was my very first time doing it. I am reading some books now but will surely get the book you recommend. Just to know there are others out there dealing with this is helpful.I hope I am able to help someone through my testimony to life, because yours sure helped me. One person at a time is all it takes and you succeded to help me. I read you were a biker and this weekend where I live was the biker run in Laughlin, Nevada. It felt good to get out last night and mingle with everyone…something I hadn't done in a long time.Nice to run into friends and see some nice bikes, as well as some pretty crazy stuff. Have you ever heard of our bike run? It did make the news a few years back with a big gang fight @ Harrahs Casino…It made CNN. Thanks again Todd, you helped more than you know…..Cathy

  7. I'm so glad somebody else has gone through this with Shepell. My GP wanted me to take time off work for at least six weeks due to gastritis and depression. Sheppell the third party. I was ordered back to work after 2 weeks. My doctor wants to know why they are trying to kill me. I am appealing but was ordered to return to work during my appeal. I have lost 30 pounds in since the last week of January, and can't eat. My job requires me to be mentally alert for 15 to 17 hour shifts at at time. My doctor wants me to just quit but I am the main breadwinner for our family but the company I work for has started to take 25% of my pay for my sick leave time that I was off before I was denied. I have worked for this company for 20 years and this is the way they treat me. I am scared and can't stop crying. I go into work and then crawl back into bed. Knowing somebody else has gone through this has helped.Just knowing som

  8. Pingback: Attitude of (In)Gratitude | Everyone has a story

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