October 10, 2017

Blogger Carl writes that understanding from colleagues and working from home saved his life

A couple of months ago my depression came back with a real bang. A proper wallop right across the bonce.

For me, depression does not just bring a deep, seemingly irremovable sadness painted across the surface of everything I enjoy and love, it also brings with it a rage. A rage pointed directly at me. Me and my actions. My failings. My thoughts. My feelings. My response to others. And on and on and on and on until it culminates in me physically harming myself.

It’s rubbish.

During this recent bout, work was becoming a mountain that not only I was physically unable to climb, but one I just couldn’t be fudged to even strap up my boots for. And that was upsetting, because I love my job. I get to play with words and ideas and it varies from day to day.

I’m also very fortunate to work with passionate, intelligent people determined to produce good work, while not stepping on others in the process. And it was this compassionate side that helped me at my worst.

My line-manager started to notice I wasn’t doing too well – I tend to wear exhaustion quite visibly under my eyes! – and asked me how things were going. I chatted and he listened and I cried and he took me seriously. Eventually we spoke to my department’s head who instantly said: “We’ll do whatever we can to make things easier for you at work. Shall we have a think?”

Unbelievable. Not only was I being given the opportunity to alter my working day to make things easier, I was doing it as a part of a team. During a time when thinking clearly was the hardest thing in the world, my boss was sharing the responsibility of coming up with a solution and not leaving it up to me.

The solution we came to was me working from home on Tuesdays.

It might sound like a simple thing, but I think Tuesdays have saved my life.

It was suddenly no longer just the second day of the week. It was one day a week I didn’t have to ridicule myself for not being able to peel my lead-weight limbs off my bed at 7am. A day I could have poached eggs as I read my emails. A day I didn’t have to go and have a 10-minute talk to myself in the work loos after feeling inconsolable because I didn’t like the tone I used when speaking to someone. A day I didn’t have to speak to anyone! A day when if I was struggling to complete a project I didn’t have to pretend I was fine, I could swear and shout and huff and puff. A day when I could worry about myself, without worrying about others.

Sure my depression still comes and goes and sometimes it even appears on a Wednesday or a Thursday – Tuesdays are great, but not magic – however just knowing there’s a day that I can nurture my wellbeing and be a little selfish is so, so useful.

And the only way they’ve been possible is a simple case of a handful of people at work being understanding, compassionate and human. I might never become a manager in my career but if I do, I’ve got some wonderful examples to learn from.

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Comments

I see I can help

I feel that by reading these blogs from people who are telling their story, has encouraged me to take my retirement plans a little further. I am already speaking to others as a visitor to people associated with my church, and friends and family. I want to take this further by building up these visits to include a petting dog. I have been inspired by the men and women young and old to be there as a listener and hopefully someone who can bring a little calm, support, and uplift to bring a short spell of happiness that day.

Taking a workday at home

Carl's coping solution for working and managing his depression resonates with me. I, too, will never become a manager because of depression. But having kind coworkers and bosses helps relieve the pressure. I was wanted on my current team so much that I was asked what day off during the week worked best. Wednesday is the day when I stop to take care of myself, get my rest and activity, nurture myself by cooking soup and walking with a friend, and playing my violin or piano. I work 32 hours/week but I get benefits, and live a calm, quiet, healthy life. This is a first for me and it's working.

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