All of us have our ups and downs. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t function normally. Indeed, those that don’t, don’t. This can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the body, but it can be caused by mental factors too. What follows is my personal story of depression and how it affected me.
Some time ago my step-sister passed away. I regarded her as my sister [rather than step-sister] as we had known each other since we were 7 and over the years, more so the later years, had grown quite close. At the time I took her death on the chin. No real mourning, nothing. Perhaps that is the word to describe exactly how I felt at the time. Nothing. I was numb. With pain? Perhaps. Disbelief? Definitely. My sister was only 35 at the time. My parents had to bury their child, which is never nice. Cancer was the cause. (Hence why I get immense job satisfaction doing what I do – see article Pharmaceuticals overpriced? especially the conclusion on that article and the bottom of this article if you want to skip the boring parts).
Time passed, years in fact, and I still hadn’t really mourned the passing of my sister. Then it caught up with me. I didn’t care about life choices any longer. I didn’t care about consequence. I couldn’t see the point of doing anything. I asked my employer if I could take some time off the phones, as I worked in Customer Services at the time. I wasn’t really able to verbalize the reason why. They where unsympathetic at that point and told me I had to be on the phones or go sick. I went on sick that day. That’s when it all started.
I went to my doctor and did my best to explain how I felt, but not the reason why. My doctor was very understanding and prescribed me something for the chemical imbalance. I wasn’t convinced they would help, but tried them anyway.
In the meantime my employer started to take me seriously as my time was mounting up. They organised for me to visit their doctor. I went. Very posh it was too. It was like stepping into someones front room. It was in a more well-to-do area. The doctor was again very nice and asked me lots of questions.
After my visit, I was referred to a counsellor. I went. We didn’t really speak much. I asked her “Why would I speak to you, a stranger, if I don’t even feel I can talk about it to my own family?”
She had no answer. “I’m just another patient to you. I leave, the next one comes in. You don’t care about me.”
I went several times. It was the same each time. I didn’t feel like I wanted to tell her anything. What was the point? She wouldn’t understand. She might say she does, but she has no clue.
I was referred to an NHS psychiatrist. I went. I told her the same stuff. Her verdict – I’m normal. Yay!! It’s true.
I decided my son and I needed a holiday. Therapy. I think I even mentioned this to my NHS psychiatrist when I went. So I booked a trip to Kuala Lumpur. Two weeks. We saw the MotoGP. It was hot. One of the best holidays ever at that point. Whilst I was there, my mobile rang. It was work. They knew I was abroad by the ringtone. They wanted a meeting. I told them I was abroad and I would happily come in once I returned. A date was arranged.
I got back from my holiday and attended the meeting. They said they were happy for me to come back and do administrative work so I wasn’t on the phones. It took them almost six months to work this out. I was furious. I told them at this point, I no longer required that. I would be returning to my job in full in a few weeks time, once my doctor’s certificate had finished.
Long story short – I returned, had a Return to Work interview and all went well, so I thought. Then a week or so later, they sacked me for the amount of time I’d had off sick. (Sarcasm) A very sympathetic approach to someone who had just been off for depression. I should have taken them to tribunal, but I really couldn’t be bothered. Like most things at that time. So, unemployment. That long surreal cycle home jobless. Feeling relieved that it ended. Feeling free but penniless. A strange feeling indeed.
My brother couldn’t understand why I was like I was. “I couldn’t give a shit!” was my response for most things he asked or said. He was all “I don’t see what your problem is. She was my sister too.” Which whilst correct, they didn’t have the strongest relationship. He no help whatsoever. In fact, he was so unsympathetic it was worse than getting the sack from my job. Me and my brother never really did see eye-to-eye but this really pissed me off at the time. It made it worse because I was struggling financially – just to add to my woes at the time – and found out subsequently that he was in a position to help me out, but chose not too. For his own reasons. And of course, he’s family. If you can’t rely on family, who can you rely on?
Twelve long months or so later and I get a job. I applied for so many, it was almost beginning to get me down again. My depression subsided. I don’t know if the tablets helped or not. I don’t know if it was just a case of mind over matter. Time heals everything? I have no clue. But I felt much better.
My job? Helping to fight cancer. What better therapy than to fight back. This is my motivation for getting up in the morning and being the person I am. What more could I want? I have something that few attain. And for that I feel grateful. And in my mind, even if I do something different in the same company, I’ll still be winning.
Without all these difficult circumstances I would not be in the privileged position I find myself. I have fought back. I am at peace with myself.
That said, there are still some unanswered questions in my mind. Not the usual ones. The death of someone I can accept.
I still don’t understand why she didn’t tell me. She knew months before, but never told me. The first I knew was when I had to go hospital to see her because she was in a bad way.
I don’t understand why my brother took the stance he did with me. I mean, to be fair, he paid for her funeral and wake. He was able to and did. He never once asked anyone else for money. I never offered. I’m not really in a position to be able to.
I really have no clue why my then employer did what they did. They could have handled it so much better.
And still to this day, I have no clue why it took years for me to mourn my sister. It wasn’t denial. It wasn’t the way I imagined it. It just kind of happened that way.
I’m still not 100% fully recovered and I don’t think I ever will be. I don’t think you do recover 100% from things like that. I don’t hold any religious beliefs (Do you need religion?). But I do have hope.
I leave the name of my employer out of this story. Those that I have worked with will know who this is and you will now know the circumstances relating to my absence from work and my sacking. I hope you see that not everything you hear is true, depending on what you heard.
If you are depressed and/or need someone to talk to, call The Samaritans on 116 123 in the UK or visit http://www.samaritans.org/
In the United States of America call the Samaritans USA on 1 (800) 273-TALK or visit http://www.samaritansusa.org/contact.php