Surely it had to be my job. It had to be the reason I had hung up my running shoes, sobbed every Sunday night, and secretly stuffed my face with chocolate chips every chance I got. Surely the job was the reason I could barely peel myself away from my comforter every morning, and generally saw life through an unfortunate haze that became more noticeable to my family and friends with each passing year. Surely it was the job…why wouldn’t it be? It demanded that I brought work home every night, worked through most of each weekend, and barely had lunch breaks. The expectations were getting lofty, the government was mandating more, and I was surrounded by people who embraced the workaholic life. I was being set up to fail. We all were. I just happened to wear it on my sleeve more. I mean, everyone was slogging through the muck of adult life the same way I was. Right? It was nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a tall glass of wine, endless episodes of Sex and the City, and hour-long venting sessions with my husband. When that stopped working, I decided I just hadn’t found my niche in my field yet. Perhaps a higher degree, a different building, a smaller group to manage, or a specialty to focus on would be the relief I so badly needed.
No. Life felt endlessly uphill.
Fortunately, my husband and a few compassionate colleagues intervened after several years when they realized what I was going through. It started with some gentle nudging: “Not that you need counseling, but here is a number in case you ever decide talking things out would be helpful.” Over time, the message became loud and clear: “You shouldn’t have to feel this way. Have you considered that medication might help you feel better, live your best life, and be the best version of yourself?”
That hill—those feelings—had a name. Depression.
I never knew that life shouldn’t feel that way. It took a little bit of time, but after finding the right combination of talk therapy and medication, it felt like the proverbial light switch had been flipped. That’s not to say that depression completely disappeared, but it eased to the point that my self-talk became overwhelmingly positive. I’ll never forget the day I stopped beating myself up so much and started marveling at my newfound life.
Sunday nights? No problem.
Option A didn’t work? Let me try options B, C, and D.
I still can’t figure this out? It’s okay. I can find some help here…
Train for a marathon? Yes, I Can!
It felt like meeting myself, my true self, for the very first time at age 26.
In the end, it surely wasn’t the job. Although I was hopeful that being in remission for several years would put me at peace with my career, after 11 years and with a clear mind I have decided to resign. It simply isn’t the best fit for me, especially since my wildest dreams recently came true—becoming a mom.
I’m saying goodbye to paralyzing self-doubt, mistaking my symptoms for my true self, and a job that wasn’t a match for my strengths. At the same time, I’m grateful that my first career revealed my illness sooner rather than later. It placed me in the company of others who could see through my symptoms and help me grow into a better person and parent. I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. It all led me here, to a place where life with and beyond depression isn’t just possible—it’s beautiful.
Did you know that in 2015, an estimated 16.1 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year? (National Institute of Mental Health). Knowing the signs can help you or someone you know find a way toward wellness. You can find more information, next steps, as well as a free and confidential depression screener on the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance website: http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=education_depression