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To the Person I Least Expected to Help Me Through Depression

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It was February, 2016. My psychiatrist of over 10 years had just moved to another state. The “new guy,” a wonderfully kind and patient psychiatrist whom I have grown to love, was stuck with me in my depressed and anxious state. I explained to him that certain types of antidepressants can make me more depressed and even suicidal.

My depression was well controlled at that time and I was a bright and bubbly person. But, in an attempt to control my overwhelming anxiety, my new psychiatrist put me on a new antidepressant similar to the ones I have previously reacted poorly to, certain there would not be a problem.

After three days on this new medication, I paged a doctor for the first time in my life. I felt horrible. I was confused, anxious, worried, depressed and yes, suicidal. But not in a “serious” way, yet. He felt certain the medication dosage was too low and so he doubled it. Over the next two weeks, my world felt like it was beginning to crumble. I wanted the medication to work. I wanted to give it time. But mostly, I didn’t want to complain.

It reached a point to where I was lying on the floor and watching the seconds tick by on my watch because I couldn’t conceive of how I would survive another full minute of life. I was surviving by the second. It hurt. Living, hurt. All the while I was putting on a happy face at work, but it was wearing thin.

And one day, I broke. I have always considered my boss a friend. He’s supportive and caring, and always there for everyone. I had reached the point where I no longer knew what else to do, so I emailed him. I told him I had depression and anxiety. I told him I take medication. I told him the world was spinning, and I told him I wasn’t sure I could come to work. His response blew my mind.

“No worries at all, I understand completely. If you need any time at all, take it. You have earned a lot of trust and can take time if you need it………you have my full support if you need to recalibrate…….we are all here for each other. — JD”

Could this be real? Did someone just give me unconditional nonjudgmental support? Did my boss just understand?

It was like someone reached their hand out and said, “Hold on.” It gave me strength, and somehow I ended up making it to work. Although I was terribly embarrassed I would now have to face the very boss I just confessed my secrets to, I walked in, he gave me a hug and said, “How you doing kiddo?” I wanted to bawl my eyes out and tell him I probably would have done something drastic that day if it wasn’t for him. He had unknowingly given me another day of life.

I didn’t know how far gone I was until that day. I didn’t realize how deep down the rabbit hole that medication had taken me. But when he asked how I was doing, I realized how frighteningly bad the honest answer to that question was.

I ended up getting off that medication, and after several weeks, I was back to my happy, wonderful self. My new psychiatrist soon realized I had to stay away from that medication. He has since gotten to know me, and I am glad we stuck together through it, because he is actually great. My boss is still my boss, and he knows when I’m having bad days, or weeks. He knows I will push through it. He knows I will work hard. He knows I don’t give up. But in the end, he also knows that somewhere in me is a very dark place. A place I rarely go, but that exists nonetheless. And if for some reason I am in that place again, I know I can tell him, and he will understand.

Because with one email, one hug, one question — he was able to keep me going when I thought I didn’t have the strength.

Sometimes it’s the people you least expect who are there when you need it most — if you just have the courage to let them.

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.

Thinkstock photo via Marjan_Apostolovic

Originally published: August 1, 2017
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