Depression is ruining my life.

DiscoDriveby wrote:
Atras wrote:

When I had to take a leave of absence because of my depression my boss literally said to me: "You never seem sad, I've seen you smiling". Clueless much?

Okay, so I have someone considering a leave of absence due to depression who is coming to talk with me later this week. What could your boss have said to make it easier for you? Aside from plainly giving the information she needs about the leave/HR process and working out options with her, do you have any advice for ways I can make this a more positive conversation for her?

If you're willing to welcome her back when she's ready, let her know that. Don't press for details that aren't necessary for the actual process of her going on leave. Wish her a speedy recovery. Basically, treat it as if she were going on leave for a physical illness.

sometimesdee wrote:
DiscoDriveby wrote:

Okay, so I have someone considering a leave of absence due to depression who is coming to talk with me later this week. What could your boss have said to make it easier for you? Aside from plainly giving the information she needs about the leave/HR process and working out options with her, do you have any advice for ways I can make this a more positive conversation for her?

. Basically, treat it as if she were going on leave for a physical illness.

Because she is.

With me, I was completely unable to concentrate, which for a software developer is sort of impossible to work around. This led to my work suffering, but I was so mired in a swirl of self-loathing and bitter apathy that I didn't see it until my boss got involved. As my supervisor, some notice before "you are in trouble" would have been nice, especially given my track record of being pretty damn good at what I do. Instead I get told that I should have just cheered up and sucked it up; be a man. When I had a doctor providing me the cover I needed to recover, an acceptance that this is a real problem and not just a guy pouting would have gone a long way. Brushing it off is never going to be helpful. Dee said it best. I was rushed back to work thanks to financial needs and insurance company shortages (doctor and therapist both wrote letters decrying the decision), but the damage was done. My boss had lost any respect for me, and me for him. It was not long before I left that job, and I have been much better since then.

Atras wrote:
sometimesdee wrote:
DiscoDriveby wrote:

Okay, so I have someone considering a leave of absence due to depression who is coming to talk with me later this week. What could your boss have said to make it easier for you? Aside from plainly giving the information she needs about the leave/HR process and working out options with her, do you have any advice for ways I can make this a more positive conversation for her?

. Basically, treat it as if she were going on leave for a physical illness.

Because she is.

With me, I was completely unable to concentrate, which for a software developer is sort of impossible to work around. This led to my work suffering, but I was so mired in a swirl of self-loathing and bitter apathy that I didn't see it until my boss got involved. As my supervisor, some notice before "you are in trouble" would have been nice, especially given my track record of being pretty damn good at what I do. Instead I get told that I should have just cheered up and sucked it up; be a man. When I had a doctor providing me the cover I needed to recover, an acceptance that this is a real problem and not just a guy pouting would have gone a long way. Brushing it off is never going to be helpful. Dee said it best. I was rushed back to work thanks to financial needs and insurance company shortages (doctor and therapist both wrote letters decrying the decision), but the damage was done. My boss had lost any respect for me, and me for him. It was not long before I left that job, and I have been much better since then.

Thanks! That's helpful. In this case it is one of my grad students (they're funded and they work as teachers in our department, so it is essentially a work leave). Luckily there is a lot of support in our department and recognition of this as a serious issue, so she'll have no problem there. I was just thinking that at work I tend to deal with these things so matter-of-factly and I was worried that doing more than communicating her options and the facts might make her uncomfortable. Considering your comments I'll at least say something encouraging about the support available.

The word "depression" is so underdetermining as a lingual model of behavior. An imprecise term. I don't see that changing, but people conflate "clinical" depression (I use quotes because it needn't be clinically diagnosed to be a real phenomenon) with "Something went wrong today and I'm not happy about for a little while."

There's also the sense that it's a binary experience. Either I have depression or I don't. Except it's not that clear, and this thread is evidence. Do I have depression, and is it a matter of an intrinsic chemical imbalance or is there some stress throwing off the physiological processing of emotional stimuli? Or both? Or something else? I am not well schooled nor do I know anything about the DSM IV or V, so please excuse if I've ignorantly mischaracterized the issue, but I think those are the rough domains for inquiry. We use a shorthand for triage, e.g., "Have you been feeling down for more than two weeks?", to try to separate the ephemeral from the longer-term, and that's what I see and infer from a lot of the help in this thread.

The greater misfortune is that this is but one example of imprecise language and rough estimation begetting unintended ignorance. To the extent the popular culture relies on media representations of phenomena, it relies on those media's reliance on exaggeration to make a point. Actresses tend to be very thin to account for scale distortion in movies and TV. Comic artists draw bulky strong persons or lithe stealthers. Caricature is a prominent tool for visual storytelling, and has been for longer than any of us has been alive, and it's no different in representations of depression.

This is meandering and not quite novel, so thanks for humoring my wandering point. I think it's getting better, though, right? I mean, a generation or two ago I imagine depression being absent from the list of accepted reasons for a leave of absence. But maybe I'm just ill-informed.

DiscoDriveby ... bless you ! They are lucky to have you as a boss !

DiscoDriveby wrote:

Okay, so I have someone considering a leave of absence due to depression who is coming to talk with me later this week. What could your boss have said to make it easier for you? Aside from plainly giving the information she needs about the leave/HR process and working out options with her, do you have any advice for ways I can make this a more positive conversation for her?

I would also be clear about how far the reason for her absence will be kept confidential, who has to be informed and who won't etc.

Atras wrote:
sometimesdee wrote:
DiscoDriveby wrote:

Okay, so I have someone considering a leave of absence due to depression who is coming to talk with me later this week. What could your boss have said to make it easier for you? Aside from plainly giving the information she needs about the leave/HR process and working out options with her, do you have any advice for ways I can make this a more positive conversation for her?

. Basically, treat it as if she were going on leave for a physical illness.

Because she is.

Yeah, I need to be more careful with that. It's too easy to fall into the trap of considering mental health to be a separate thing, since that concept is so very much institutionalized (health insurance, anyone?)

DiscoDriveby wrote:

Luckily there is a lot of support in our department and recognition of this as a serious issue

I wish this was the norm, seriously, and...

pinkdino99 wrote:

DiscoDriveby ... bless you ! They are lucky to have you as a boss !

+1 to this. On behalf of every 'sick day' I had to lie about the reason for having, I am so in awe of this. My last period of extended leave I had with my last employer had to be 'masked' as a respiratory infection. Thankfully my Doctor was on board with the deception/situation within that workplace and gave me his full support.

It could use more recognition, for sure. Back in the day, I disappeared from my Pediatrics rotation for two weeks, which is a complete no-no given that interns had neither vacation nor sick leaves by tradition. My resident monitor said nothing negative. My group mates said nothing but positive stuff. They were all very supportive. "Take as much time as you need," was all anyone ever said. In retrospect, they were all MDs, and probably had the DSM criteria on hand.

This is a real thing. A strong show of support helps a lot, IMO.

For the few jobs I've had my policy has been to tell my line manager straight away, tell them how an episode will affect my work (lack of concentration, terrible memory, inability to cope with stress) and what I suggest we do to work around it (regularly check in on priorities to make sure stuff isn't getting missed).

It works well for me in as much as I'm not making it my employer's responsibility to figure out how to handle it, and it means they also know that I know what I'm doing when it comes to managing it. I give them the parameters of what to expect so they can know how to work around it like with any other illness. My boss knows when I'm having an episode that I'm working about 50% capacity and can't context-switch well so we work with it.

For someone coming back after being off with depression they'll need to know they're not in any trouble because of it - because they'll assume they are. They need to know that you're aware that they'll be easing back into things and you're expecting them to take it slowly - because they'll set themselves up to fail quite easily. They'll probably need short-term achievable goals and positive feedback - because their weasels will be telling them they can't do this and they need to be armed with proof to get their confidence back.

Mermaidpirate wrote:
DiscoDriveby wrote:

Okay, so I have someone considering a leave of absence due to depression who is coming to talk with me later this week. What could your boss have said to make it easier for you? Aside from plainly giving the information she needs about the leave/HR process and working out options with her, do you have any advice for ways I can make this a more positive conversation for her?

I would also be clear about how far the reason for her absence will be kept confidential, who has to be informed and who won't etc.

Also this. You should also ask her, however, if she's comfortable with anyone knowing. I've found it invaluable not to hide my condition from my colleagues. I laugh about it as often as possible so they know it's okay to laugh too.

Example: We were discussing some good company social activities and I mentioned we should try Artemis Bridge Simulator. Everyone looked it up and thought it was a great idea. One colleague said "See? We should make you the morale officer". To which I replied "Yes. Great idea. Make the Clinical Depressive the morale officer. I thought you had a masters degree".

Maq wrote:
Mermaidpirate wrote:
DiscoDriveby wrote:

Okay, so I have someone considering a leave of absence due to depression who is coming to talk with me later this week. What could your boss have said to make it easier for you? Aside from plainly giving the information she needs about the leave/HR process and working out options with her, do you have any advice for ways I can make this a more positive conversation for her?

I would also be clear about how far the reason for her absence will be kept confidential, who has to be informed and who won't etc.

Also this. You should also ask her, however, if she's comfortable with anyone knowing. I've found it invaluable not to hide my condition from my colleagues. I laugh about it as often as possible so they know it's okay to laugh too.

Example: We were discussing some good company social activities and I mentioned we should try Artemis Bridge Simulator. Everyone looked it up and thought it was a great idea. One colleague said "See? We should make you the morale officer". To which I replied "Yes. Great idea. Make the Clinical Depressive the morale officer. I thought you had a masters degree".

Thanks all!

Since our situation is a bit unique (she's a grad student in my department and I'm their student services staff contact -- sadly I'm nobody's boss ) she'll know that she's protected by student confidentiality rules which is nice, but I can mention that I only have to notify the graduate school of her reasons -- not the other faculty in our department (her advisors already know). What's sad about that is that I have a lot of students receiving accommodations for depression and I'm not sure they know that one another are struggling, which would be nice (though of course I can't tell any of them that, just that they're not alone).

I imagine it would be really hard to make it well known because of the stigma attached, but as you say Maq perhaps helpful to be able to fully share (and joke about) that part of who you are.

Maq wrote:

I just want to remind myself of a few things cos I'm struggling today.

I'm getting better.

But it doesn't mean there isn't a struggle. Hang tight, keep at it, etc.

I always find the first steps to be the hardest, but sometimes keeping at things can be much tougher when it takes longer than we'd like.

Around 10 years of hard work now. Hard to notice on days like this that I've come that far.

Maq wrote:

Around 10 years of hard work now. Hard to notice on days like this that I've come that far.

Three/four years into my own enlightened battle (as opposed to un-enlightened self loathing and denial) and I can say you are one of my 'guiding lights' for inspiration, and what can be accomplished.

Add that as a very important (to me) plus one to this one in particular.

Maq wrote:

I used to feel there wasn't much point me being alive and that everyone would be better off without me. I don't feel that anymore.

I'm getting better.

Maq wrote:

I'm getting better.

There's the takeaway. Hang in there, chief. Rough days will pass. {{hugs}}

Maq wrote:

I'm getting better.

That's excellent. Glad to hear it. (((hugs)))

Kind of in a similar place myself lately, in that I have to remind myself that things are better than they were.

Maq wrote:

I just want to remind myself of a few things cos I'm struggling today.
.
.
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I'm getting better.

Awesome, inspirational post Maq. Thanks for sharing and hang in there. We're rooting for you!

clover wrote:

To me, depression is similar to alcoholism in the sense that you're never completely done with it... even when it's been years since you've gone there, it's still important to take care of yourself and keep up the mental housekeeping. Hungry Angry Lonely Tired, etc.

Had a weird bump in the road today. A simple response I posted in the self indulgent parent thread sent me on weird melancholic mental tangent, and I'm having trouble shrugging it off.

Surrounded by sunlight, but finding it hard not to see storm clouds. Oh well, I was due for a 'reality' check.

Ride it out, then get back on the 'happily distracted' train I guess.

I just want to remind myself of a few things cos I'm struggling today.

Things used to be really bad.

I would often have to walk out of work to sit behind the building to smoke a cigarette and cry. I don't do that anymore.

I would imbue the slightest thing on an internet forum with unbelievable import and go down a crazy rabbit-hole of second guessing, hatred and self-loathing. I don't do that anymore.

I used to assume that the way I felt was someone's fault: my boss, my colleagues, my friends, my wife. I'd take things out on them. I'd cut them out of my life like it would somehow cut the pain out of me. I don't do that anymore.

I used to look forward to nothing more in the day than to be tired enough to be able to go to sleep and be swallowed by unfeeling unconsciousness. I don't feel that anymore.

I used to feel there wasn't much point me being alive and that everyone would be better off without me. I don't feel that anymore.

I'm getting better.

m0nk3yboy wrote:
clover wrote:

To me, depression is similar to alcoholism in the sense that you're never completely done with it... even when it's been years since you've gone there, it's still important to take care of yourself and keep up the mental housekeeping. Hungry Angry Lonely Tired, etc.

Had a weird bump in the road today. A simple response I posted in the self indulgent parent thread sent me on weird melancholic mental tangent, and I'm having trouble shrugging it off.

I find it useful to take the time to backtrack my train of thought in those situations so I can short-circuit it next time. Therapy helped a lot with that.

I had a bump this week as well.
My depression starts as paranoia, self loathing and then gets really HULK angry.
Had a really busy and productive week at work. One of my colleagues doesn't like me. We are at parallel levels of seniority and have to work side by side on various contracts. Communications from her side are at best direct, at worst snide and snippy.
During this really heavy week, a snippy email of hers really cut me to the bone and I lost my rag. If I take it home with me then that's my night torpedoed.
It's so difficult because the depression makes me an easy target, and inside there's this glimmer of self worth that is screaming at me all the platitudes that I need to listen to, and follow to climb back out of the pit.
Thanks to Maq and m0nk3yboy for sharing. It helps to recognise again that this is a condition. It does get better. I have to keep fighting.

Maq wrote:
m0nk3yboy wrote:
clover wrote:

To me, depression is similar to alcoholism in the sense that you're never completely done with it... even when it's been years since you've gone there, it's still important to take care of yourself and keep up the mental housekeeping. Hungry Angry Lonely Tired, etc.

Had a weird bump in the road today. A simple response I posted in the self indulgent parent thread sent me on weird melancholic mental tangent, and I'm having trouble shrugging it off.

I find it useful to take the time to backtrack my train of thought in those situations so I can short-circuit it next time. Therapy helped a lot with that.

Tiredness I think was the root cause of the destabilisation, but also the realization that one day my children will be old enough to leave me, and right now, given that they are so much of my life, I was overcome with feelings of loss, abandonment, and fear.

Three of the Four Brain Weasel Riders of my own personal Depressionpocalypse...

pinkdino99 wrote:

It's so difficult because the depression makes me an easy target, and inside there's this glimmer of self worth that is screaming at me all the platitudes that I need to listen to, and follow to climb back out of the pit.

A good voice to listen too, and you're lucky to have it, for sure.

pinkdino99 wrote:

It helps to recognise again that this is a condition. It does get better. I have to keep fighting.

We've got your back, if you need it.

MechaSlinky wrote:

I also went to see a therapist who spent the entire time lecturing me.

Anyway, point is my girlfriend found this pretty funny comic/story that I think a lot of us can relate to.

Part 1: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.ca...
Part 2: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.ca...

Awesome posts/comics.

I had a shrink who lectured me. Shrink=psychiatrist=the guy who prescribes drugs. They aren't always the best therapists.

He asked what I did after coming home from the job I hated. I said I played World of Warcraft for 3-4 hours. (Cue necessary explanation of WoW.) He says, "Widdeo games are a children's t'ing." (Dark H.P. thought: "Hey, I'm not the guy with a shrine to an elephant in his office.") He suggests using that time to work a part-time job instead. (Dark H.P.: "I already have a full-time job—that's why I need to come to you.")

Shrink can frankly suck your balls. Useless. Find someone else.

Agreed. Find someone else.

Or he can stick to drug peddling and leave the therapy to the therapist.

Today has been the worst day in about 30 years and that is saying something. My youngest daughter had a son about 8 months ago. Her boyfriend is literally the definition of the word bum. He has never held a regular job more than a week. Regardless, I have loved my grandson. Monday, my daughter calls me at 7:00 in the morning and announces they are getting married Friday (today). Of course I question what is the hurry, etc. She knows my position on him as we have had many discussions. If having a son doesn't wake up the integrity and responsibility in you, nothing will. He just wants to smoke weed, play video games all night and sleep all day. He lives with her and my ex-wife of course. Long ago I let them know they could not ask for money from me since they were willing to have a perfectly able-bodied young man not contributing anything at all. About 2 weeks ago, she asked for money for groceries, I invited her and the baby over for dinner. But no money changed hands. I will not support this kid and his smoking habit (he smokes both regular cigarettes like a chimney and weed which she admits to.)

Anyway, she was looking for nothing less than a blanket acceptance from me as far as the wedding goes. I could not give it. She said if I didn't not only approve, but apologize to him, then I was not invited to the wedding and my grandson would be a whole lot older the next time I saw him.I told her I could not sacrifice what I know is right and in her best interest because of my love for her as my daughter, even if it were at great cost to me. She walked out.

True to her word, the ceremony was today. She has vowed to never talk to me again I have heard from my other older daughter. My youngest is incredibly stubborn and holds a grudge a very long time. I believe she means her words.

When my girls were younger, I used to dream about their wedding days and walking them down the aisles. I prayed for the young men that would steal their hearts. I knew it would be a happy day as well as a sad day. I never fathomed this kind of total heartbreak. The sun is shining outside, but I would swear it was pouring down rain. I just want to take my pain meds, crawl into bed all weekend and pull the covers over my head.

f*ck me

That's rough man. I hope I never have to go through that with my kids, but the fact that she's blackmailing you with her love and your grandkid, I don't see what else you can really do. Pretty sh*tty of her, really.

Well that is unfortunate. No common ground can be found? Remember there is a difference between lazy and evil. You don't have to sleep with the guy. Sounds like this guy makes your daughter happy, maybe you can focus on that. Maybe instead of saying your guy wont amount to anything say your guy could be doing much much more if he applied himself more. If your daughter is as unreasonable as you make her sound they will be broken up sooner or later. Swallow some pride and wait for things to work themselves out for your daughter and grandchild sake. Or are things so far gone that isn't possible?

What I read in your post is that you invited your daughter and grandchild over for dinner but not the husband. You said he is basically a lazy bum that doesn't do anything. That doesn't sound bad enough to not invite him over with your daughter and creating ill will. Does he hit her, does he steal crap, does he have anger management problems? If he doesn't she could be doing far far worse than a lazy bum.

I'm not saying she is right and you are wrong, it is just that your chosen coarse doesn't seem to have gain you anything. Even if she breaks up with the guy it doesn't sound like she is the type to say "Dad you were right all along". She might even blame you for the added stress.

Well whatever you do I hope it works out.