In my previous post I was giving a bit of an update on how I see things have gone for me lately, how I’m feeling better and generally less angry and frustrated. I think I’m coming out of this tunnel called Depression. I believe I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not an oncoming train (I hope).
I discussed some of my symptoms, the treatments and path I took to deal with it, the meds and my visits with a counselor. I left off with the discussion about if the death of my sons had any role in my depression.
One thing my counselor Gloria and I discussed infrequently was the loss of my son. She would sometimes ask me if I thought it had an impact on my situation, if it caused or contributed in some way to how I felt or how I saw things. I had to answer that I honestly didn’t believe it did. Sure, it certainly impacted my life but did it contribute to how I dealt with depression, or did it cause or contribute to the depression itself, I think not.
Our son was 17 when he died suddenly, for no apparent reason, in his drama class in high school. It was his grad year. He was a popular and well-liked kid, a young man with his whole life ahead of him.
Now losing a child has to be one of the most difficult things one could ever deal with, I can certainly attest to that. The sense of loss, the feeling of grief that is so far outside ones normal circle of experiences that it dwarfs and redefines normal “sad” days. Imagine being present for that loss, being witness to your child’s untimely death, in fact trying to save your loved ones life and being unsuccessful. That was the situation, not mine but of my wife’s. She had the unfortunate role of being the first aid attendant “on call” the day of our loss.
When our son collapsed in his class my wife was called, both as the school’s first aid responder and as his mother. She had no idea of what she was about to be thrust into, she didn’t know it was our son who had fallen, nor the circumstances of the call. Upon finding him lying on the floor, not breathing, she tried in vain to perform CPR. She did all she could but without success. Paramedics soon arrived and took over, he was rushed to the hospital where doctors struggled for over an hour to bring him back. He was gone, they were also unsuccessful.
After an autopsy, and multiple specialists and cardiac doctors were consulted, it was determined he had died either of Uhl anomoly or ARVD (Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia). At that point I didn’t really care which. He was gone, my wife was devastated and emotionally distraught. We both took part in counseling to get our lives back in order, and successfully so I believe.
The reason I mention all of this, other than for background info, is to show that while the events were significantly traumatic they were also in the past. While the loss will never be forgotten it has been dealt with and we have both learned to live with it. Perhaps “moving on” is too simplistic, moving ahead my be more appropriate. Did it impact us, certainly, did it cause my depression, I don’t believe so.
Flash forward to the recent past. My treatments or visits with the counselor continued and while I did feel there were some successes I did not feel like my life was improving as I expected. Perhaps my expectations were naive, maybe it would take more time, but every day I had to work or even think about going to work I would become anxious and depressed. I had to make some kind of significant change, and that change was to leave work and retire.
My wife and I had many discussions about what that might mean, the lower income and likely a significant change in lifestyle. I talked to financial advisers, I talked to my banker, I talked to others who had retired before me, I committed to retiring and pulled the trigger at 55 years old. Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead. I may be broke but I will be happy (I hope).
I had been there 38 years and over the last 2 or 3 felt the work was mundane and brainless. I’m too smart to kept in a pen like cattle, I felt that there was little support to change that, I saw no future in that organization. I believe that the management felt that I had reached the limit to any further advancement even though I honestly think I had much more room to grow, and like a tree given light and food I could flourish. I’m a bright guy but for whatever reason they and I could not connect, it was like a square peg in a round hole. But, alas, any improvement was not to be. I made the only decision I felt I could and took early retirement.
The point is that now that I’ve retired I feel much better. I sleep like a log (although I’m still on the meds) and I’m quite convinced that my depressive issues were more situational than psychological/mental. Where I do believe that other factors such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and lack of exercise contributed to my illness it was more the work environment, the lack of direction, support, and certainly lack of challenge in my job that had the biggest impact.
My next goal, other than completing the multitude of self selected tasks around home, is to get off the meds and see where the chips fall. Personally I believe it will be a non-event, I’ll likely not even notice and will continue to go about my life like nobody’s business. Or that’s my hope, and my prayer.
I hope this has shed some life on what’s in my head, or the lack thereof. I had promised early on in this blogging exercise to fill in some of the blanks so this should cover most of them. Any stones left unturned can be dealt with another day. Thanks for your patience and support, wish me luck,