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How My Boss Saved My Life in the Storm of My Depression

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On February 13, 2017, I started a new job at a fully remote marketing agency. It was a job that allowed me to do the type of work I was passionate about – like copywriting, project management and marketing strategy – and it was the job I’d been hoping for since I lost my dream job at another agency eight months prior.

When I got the job offer, I’d been out of work for four months. My savings account was almost drained, I was in a deep depression and I felt like a useless, worthless human being because I couldn’t keep a steady job. But I had hope that this position would turn things around and my mood would go back to normal.

As the weeks went by, I fell in love with my role, clients, coworkers and boss. I truly believed that in time, this would take over the title of “best job I’ve ever had.” (And for what it’s worth, six months later, it has.)

But despite how much I loved my job, I couldn’t help but feel sad, anxious and on-edge all the time. I had a hard time focusing during the day, and I found myself crying for no apparent reason.

 

I saw my passion for my work start to fade. It wasn’t an overnight shift, but the work I used to love started to become overwhelming.

Soon after, I stopped sleeping. I’d stay up until 2 or 3 a.m. and be awake again by 5 or 6 a.m. And despite how tired I was throughout the day, I just couldn’t fall asleep.

I was first diagnosed with depression (now re-diagnosed as bipolar 2 disorder) and anxiety when I was 14. Although my ultimate goal when I was a teenager was to be cured of my mental illnesses, I quickly learned it doesn’t work this way. My depression would come and go in waves throughout my life, and finding ways to cope with these feelings would be critical to my recovery.

Because of this, I should’ve recognized the signs I was experiencing a depression relapse. But on their own, these symptoms – being sad and anxious, not sleeping, feeling exhausted, losing interest in activities, having a hard time focusing at work – didn’t seem like a big deal.

Together, they were a sign that my depression was back – and in full force.

It wasn’t long until these symptoms started affecting my work. I went from being able to put in a full day’s worth of work to logging anywhere from two to four hours of work a day. I’d sit at my computer for 8, 9, even 10+ hours, but I couldn’t get anything done. And since we’re a small agency of five people, my boss quickly took notice.

I never planned on telling my boss about my struggles with mental illness, mostly because I was afraid of losing my job. But things had gotten to the point where I couldn’t hide it anymore. Putting on a happy face while falling apart inside was wearing me thin. I was tired, and I felt like I was going to break at any moment.

Although I was scared, I let my boss in. I let her know I have depression and anxiety, I’m not currently taking medications but I’ve been considering reaching out to a psychiatrist to seek help because it had gotten so bad.

I braced myself for the worst – for her to tell me I could no longer work for the agency or to simply say nothing at all – but her response was nothing short of positive, supportive and understanding.

And just like that, I gained the greatest support system I didn’t even know I needed.

Of all the people in this world, I never imagined it would be my boss who would be there holding my hand through the darkness. She’s watched as I bawled my eyes out when life felt too overwhelming. She’s seen me doubt myself and hate myself.

My boss has seen me at my best, but mostly, she’s seen me at my absolute worst. And not once has she ever made me feel guilty for it.

It was my boss who first pushed me to call a psychiatrist – even though I was scared and didn’t think I could do it. It was my boss who stood by my side when I started taking medications and experienced the worst possible side effects. It was my boss who encouraged me to call my psychiatrist again when it was clear the meds weren’t working.

She was there for me the day I hit rock bottom – the day I decided I couldn’t keep living anymore. And instead of walking away (which so many people do), she sat on a video call with me for two hours to make sure I was OK.

She listened when I said I couldn’t keep living because I wasn’t strong enough. She listened when I said I’m a terrible person with nothing to offer the world. She listened when I said how tired and scared I was. And although I know it wasn’t easy for her, she listened without judgment and did her best to help me through.

She reminded me of how amazing I am and repeated all of my best qualities (even though I didn’t believe it at the time). She kept telling me, “You matter. People would miss you if you were gone. I’d miss you. You’re not going to feel like this forever.”

She saved my life that day, and she’s done it many days since then. I’m alive today because my boss – someone I’ve only known six months and someone who didn’t owe me a thing – stood by me when I didn’t think I had anything left to give.

I wasn’t meant to carry the weight of my struggles alone, and every single day, my boss reminds me of that. Whether it’s through a simple “I’m thinking about you today” text message or giving me the afternoon to go to an emergency psychiatrist appointment, my boss continues to hold my hand and push me through the tough times. Because even though all I see is darkness, she sees the light within me. And if there’s anything I’ve learned through all this, it’s sometimes the people you least expect who are there for you when you need it most. You just need to have the courage to let them in.

To my boss:

I could say “thank you” a million times, and it would never be enough. But from the bottom of my heart, thank you for holding my hand through the storms, forgiving me when I can’t forgive myself, being my rock and never giving up on me.

And most importantly, thank you for saving my life over and over again. I love you more than words could ever explain, and I’m so grateful to have you in my life. Not just as my boss – but as a friend, too.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by chronicler101

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Just Because I Don’t ‘Look Sad,’ Doesn’t Mean I’m Not Still Struggling

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I pause my state of gloomy television watching (or meaningless staring) to pick up my phone, which had just buzzed. I had a text from my friend. I opened it to find an essay of words that gave me that unsafe feeling once again. “I am a bad friend. I don’t deserve to live because I am a bad friend. Do I deserve to live?”

While this seems vague and arbitrary to most, it’s happened to me more than once. I’ll get blamed for my successes and their impacts on my friends. Now it’s easy to say, “Yeah, well what if she’s a braggart?” I’ll tell you straight away, I am not. The things other people consider great feats for someone in high school, I merely consider to be the outcome of something I worked for, so I don’t advertise them. Do you know that typical story, where the child gets a 100 percent on a test and the father or mother say, “Great, that’s what you should be getting,” in an unimpressed manner? That’s what it feels like being me. I am permanently unimpressed with myself.

Naturally, this can bring on a lot of dysphoria, but it’s even worse when someone you care about tells you that they feel horrible because of it. It’s almost like it’s my fault for working and accomplishing things that frankly, I don’t even consider to be a big deal. I guess my problem is I look at the big picture too much. I don’t see a girl who gets a role in a show, or the admiration of her teachers. I see a girl who comes from a broken home (or two), growing up alone as an only child, feeling even more alone because nobody is there for me to talk to.

I see a girl that has an undeniable resentment toward her father, who moved two hours away from her. I see a girl that has panic attacks over lots of small mistakes. I see a girl that can lay in her room, staring at the ceiling for hours, punishing herself for minuscule things. I see a girl who comes home and tries to write music, but can’t finish it because her thoughts get in the way. I see a girl who goes to school with a mask on and comes home, ready to fling that mask across the room and reveal her face — the face that aches from crying sometimes.

None of my friends take my depression seriously. “How is she depressed? She has so much. I don’t understand. She just wants attention.” These are the things said behind my back amongst my friends. But things get back to people in high school. I go to school and plaster on a smile, I laugh and joke with my acquaintances and I let others vent to me while I listen to their obstacles, but nobody does that for me. It feels like I’m doing things for everyone, but nobody’s doing those things for me.

The thing is, nobody feels like they need to do things for me because they think I am not saddened by my father’s calls. They think I don’t go home and cry, eat junk food, watch some pointless YouTube videos (mainly Shane Dawson) about life hacks to try to cheer me up. They think I don’t have thoughts of ending my own life when things are looking particularly grim.

Most of them don’t know I go to therapy weekly. The ones who do know are just jealous of me for it because they wish they could go to therapy. That’s always the problem — jealousy. I blame myself for it because I care too much about others and not enough about myself.

Why am I writing this story, you ask? Because I would like everyone reading this to know that depression doesn’t have a face, name or situation. It is a mental illness that can affect anyone. Even the people you think you’re close to. The thing about depression is, you don’t have to talk about it. Some people don’t want to talk about it. That’s why my friends don’t understand, because I don’t talk about it.

Depression is never an easy topic. I bet some people will read this and go, “She doesn’t have depression, she’s just in high school.” But like I said, depression is an illness that can affect absolutely anyone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people romanticize and overuse the word “depression,” and make it seem like they’re calling for help and automatically feel better when people give them their pity. That’s actually how I knew I wasn’t just having normal attention cravings. I began to see that no matter how many people I talked to, I didn’t feel better. So I stopped talking about it. And now the only person that hears about it is my therapist and very occasionally, my mother.

Society needs to realize that the misuse of “depression” needs to stop, because the people who are struggling with depression are being pushed aside. Just because I don’t look sad doesn’t mean I am not sad. I am an actress, after all.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Mushika 

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A Self-Care Post for People Who Have Been Told to 'Just Meditate'

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I think everyone with a chronic or mental illness has seen self-care posts on social media. Or has been told by someone how they should “just exercise” or “start meditating.” This is not one of those posts. This post is for the people who just hope they can move from their bed in the morning. The ones who can barely show up for life but do their best anyway. The ones like me.

I usually try to prioritize self-care in my life. Doing my hair, my makeup, showering, changing the sheets, reading, etc. But when things start to get out of control with my addiction or eating or both, all of that goes out the window. I can’t shower because I don’t want to see or feel or deal with my body. I can’t bother doing my hair because it’s probably gross anyway. I don’t change my sheets because that takes so much physical and mental energy I will probably need later. I exercise, but not out of love for my body. Out of hatred. If I put makeup on it’s because otherwise I won’t be able to look in the mirror the rest of the day.

This is the self-care post for the people sitting where I am. Where I just showered for the first time in a week. And I only mustered up the energy because I reached a point where I physically couldn’t stand how I felt. And I showered in the dark, as quickly as humanly possible.

Step 1: Do not feel bad about not being able to do things for yourself. It won’t help.

Step 2: If you can, try and shower. If not, baby wipes are amazing and will, at the very least, help you feel like a human again.

Step 3: Send a text. Ask someone how they’re doing. Listen. Allow yourself a break from the in your head.

Step 4: Eat something. Anything. Because often when we don’t feel like we deserve nourishment is when we need it the most.

Step 5: Try and go outside. Just sit outside. Or open a window. See the world out there.

Step 6: Most importantly, even if you can’t do any of those things, try to remember you are still a worthwhile human being with thoughts and feelings and struggles. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to push through.

Self-care is not all yoga and smoothies. It just isn’t. Self-care is doing whatever it takes to remember you’re a person.

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Thinkstock photo via ARTQU.

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Becoming a Christian Changed How I View My Depression

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During an episode of depression, I often find it very difficult to see the end of it. I often feel as if I will be stuck in this state forever. The darkness becomes very overwhelming and the light of a future dims. Each day gets harder and harder — simple tasks such as showering or eating feel like climbing a mountain. Isolation becomes the easiest thing to do. I start to think, What’s the point in talking to anyone when no one understands?

Depression is the darkest and loneliest place I have ever experienced, and I genuinely believed I would die in that place. I could not see any relief. I could not see a future. All I saw was darkness.

However, I did find relief. I found comfort. I found love. I found healing in my faith and belief in God. The major change was I now had hope. Hope that I could overcome, that I don’t have to die from depression — I can get out of the hole. The light was shining brighter.

I started to see things from a different perspective, I started to imagine a future where I finished my degree, got married, had children. I started to see my struggle as temporary and believing there would be an end. I found so much comfort in the love of Christ that I didn’t find anywhere else.

I began to find strength and motivation to fight the darkness I was feeling. I began reaching out to those around me about what I was experiencing — I found community. This was amazing as for once, I realized I wasn’t alone, there were people who cared even if they didn’t fully understand how I was feeling.

I’m grateful for this transition of perspective because without it, I don’t know if I would still be alive today. Though there are sometimes the periods of time when I do still experience depression, I am much stronger and able to fight and overcome it.

To anyone who may be struggling to see a way out of depression, I encourage you to keep fighting. There is a way out — keep hope alive.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Unsplash photo via Jacob Meyers.

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Dating With Depression: A Male Perspective on Rejection

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Dating today has transformed from an enjoyable process into a nerve-racking activity. It becomes that much harder when one is living with a type of mental illness, which echoes irrational thoughts as an inner voice. Depression can make dating a horrifying part of life by combining one’s fear of being alone with the idea of not being worthy or good enough for another’s love. Each gender and sexual orientation faces their own set of difficulties with this concept, and one does not have it easier than the other. Since I classify myself as a straight male, it is only proper for me to describe the male perspective, or my experiences revolving around how difficult it can be to date with depression.

The first objective is to get out of your house and venture off into some type of social setting. Let’s imagine for a moment that you have completed this step and are in whichever social setting you feel most comfortable. My environment of choice has been a bar; my inner voice became quieter as my alcohol levels became higher. Although I don’t recommend this method, as a male in his early 20s with a fraternity background, a bar is still one of the few social settings I can mentally endure. Sometimes new environments induce sensory overload, which can cause meeting a new person to be the last thing on my mind. It seems that as I get older, my ability to meet new people and socialize has diminished a great amount.

After finding someone, what do you do now? We live in a society where it is the norm for a guy to make the first move. This can be challenging to do because, in my mind, you have rejected me before I have even said hello to you. I immediately think of all the reasons as to why it wouldn’t work. These include the assumption that you are “out of my league,” and the common thought of, “Why would you even like me?” In situations such as these, the inner voice of depression can be very persuasive.

However, the inner voice only wins if you don’t take that chance. These thoughts are common and that’s OK, but you can’t listen to them. I can only advise for you to take that risk, which involves 5 minutes of pure courage. After all, you have nothing to lose; you didn’t know that person before you tried to spark a conversation, but you could walk away with a new friend and the possibility of more.

There are also times where rejection can be a learning experience. If they can’t accept you at face value, then they won’t be able to give you what you need after learning what’s beneath the surface. In that case, it is their loss; you don’t need more negativity in your life. By now you must be wondering if I have ever been rejected, and the answer is yes. The sad reality is that I have probably been rejected more times than not.

One time, I worked up the courage to talk to a woman who was seated across from me at the bar. We talked and I bought her a drink, moving to a smaller area of the bar to continue our conversation. When I took off my coat, she noticed my crest of hope and semicolon tattoo with self-harm scars surrounding it. The tone of the conversation instantly shifted. In actuality, the only part of that conversation I remember is what she said next. She pointed to my tattoo and said, “I can’t do that, I don’t mess with that.” I was puzzled at first, but she went on to explain that she doesn’t deal or like to mess with depression and mental illness. I preceded to take back the untouched drink I had bought her, but instead, she poured it on me and called me rude for trying to do so. I left the bar after that altercation and thought about how I could have gone about things differently.

I continued to overthink until I got home and realized that I wasn’t the problem — she was. If she can’t handle the fact that I am proud of being a survivor, then she couldn’t possibly handle me at my worst. Those people don’t deserve to see the raw parts of our personality.

These types of rejection are a blessing in disguise. If any of you are full of love like I am, then you must realize that someone will come along and love you. They won’t just love you on your good days, but every day you have. They will try to understand and do the best they can to help silence the inner echoes of depression and the inner voice that gnaws at you. Don’t think of rejection as a bad thing. Sometimes it is saving you from making the wrong choice.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Thinkstock photo via demaerre

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3 Things You Shouldn't Say to Someone With Depression

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I have noticed over the past couple months that people in general seem to have no problem invalidating people with depression. Just because it wasn’t “on purpose” or you “didn’t know,” doesn’t mean these comments don’t cause painful results. It can be hard to know what is OK and not OK to say when you have never experienced depression. As someone with depression who has been mocked and insulted, I understand most of the time people don’t mean what they say. Despite that, here are some comments that can really hurt a friend or loved one struggling with depression:

1. “I get sad sometimes, too.”

First of all, everyone gets sad. It’s a part of life. I truly hate that sadness exists in the world and I wish I could alleviate it for everyone, however, depression isn’t simply being sad. It’s self-hatred, lack of motivation and a lack of desire to do anything. It’s as if your whole world exists in the moment. Every comment or mean look feels like the end of the world. It’s not simply having a bad day or even a bad week. By saying the above comment, you are minimizing the pain people who struggle with this mental illness go through every minute of every day. I’m terribly sorry that you are sad, but this remark does no good for anyone.

2.”Focus on the positives.”

This comment is so easy to throw out. I mean, who shouldn’t focus on the positives, right? Surprisingly yes, I agree everyone in any circumstance should look to the good in life. The problem is, depression can take that away. Not the actual experience, but the feeling of joy and accomplishment. Picture depression as a foot and an amazing day as an ant. The foot overpowers the ant every single time. People with depression are often aware life is a gift. That does not mean we need to be told every second. In fact, it inflicts guilt. If I have blessings, what right do I have to lock myself in my room or cry for days at a time? In my experience, the worst part of depression isn’t the days when I can’t get out of bed, it’s the times when I feel I don’t deserve to feel the way I do. I understand you mean good by saying this, but all it does is make me feel worse about myself. Feelings are feelings. We shouldn’t have to justify them to ourselves or anyone else.

3.”Stop associating yourself with the label and the people that surround it.”

Let me tell you something, there is nothing wrong with the word depression. It affects millions of people every day. You aren’t crazy, or weird, or weak. “Labeling” yourself with depression isn’t a bad thing. In a lot of cases, depression can be scary. It’s a big word with even bigger meaning. When I was diagnosed, I was looking for anything to help me understand what was going on. I read books, articles and testimonies. None of them gave me the why. Why was this happening? Why did it start and how could it end? Understanding finally came one day. I don’t really know what happened. I just woke up, looked in the mirror and said the phrase I had been too scared to say for months: “I am depressed. I can’t fix it.” There’s no glue or tape for your brain. The only hope I have in recovery comes from myself. From the point on, I started to slowly get better. A couple months later, it’s still a daily struggle but it’s not embarrassing. I didn’t cause it. I shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Next time you start to tell someone their label doesn’t matter, think about it as a life raft. For some people with depression, they are desperate to cling on to something, anything. Unsure of who they are and what the purpose of life is. While it may seem to you like a huge step backwards, it can definitely be a step in the right direction for many people.

At the end of the day, everyone is different, so the response from these words will vary. Just remember words matter more than you will ever understand. What may seem to you like a joke or something helpful, might not be. The good news is, the fact that you say anything is a comfort. Most people run from me like I am contagious. Sticking around is so important and I appreciate it more than you can comprehend.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure.

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