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What do I say?

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

A friend sent this photo to me to show support for what has been happening lately. I guess the big question after a blog like the last one is, what do I say? I am seeing a therapist finally and we have made some good gains. While this is not the only reason why things are happening the way they are but I felt to put this out there in case if anyone else is having the same problem.

My shift work schedule has played a big role in my depression. It is predictable. I might be going along ok then my swing to night shift happens and pow, almost with Swiss watch dependability, I start having problems.

#1) I spend 7 days straight in total darkness either resting in a blacked out room or on the job.

#2) In an attempt to not mess up my sleep time because the times I CAN rest are so unpredictable, I dont interact very much with others, family etc...

#3) The disruption in my body's natural cycle throws everything out of sync.

If there is a time I am going to have an episode, its nights. If I am going to binge, Its nights or the weekend off after my nights where I am so happy to get off of it that everything gets tossed to the wind and I pick up the pieces come the start of afternoon shift. That is NO way to live much less try to live a healthy lifestyle. While there are other issues and forces at work, there are some very REAL physical problems that can be addressed that will help keep the depressive triggers to a manageable level.

After 5 years of shift rotation, I am finally running out of gas and need help coping. Quitting my job is not an option.

I have had a few sessions now and the therapist is pretty impressed with how organized I am and how well I have things documented so that we can get to the root causes quicker.

The one thing I have learned so far is that depression and anxiety is very REAL and I would take issue with anyone who would tell someone to just "get over it". I used to be one of those "get over it" types and would work through my own issues but some of this is very much a physical problem.

I have a hereditary history with others in my family who have it so the inclination is there to start with then add in the physical triggers caused by night shift and there is a potent mix that I can no longer "just deal with it". I can no longer "just deal with it" any more than someone can just deal with any other physical problem that requires an intervention.

I have gotten much better and have leveled off since getting off of nights. I am back to a regular routine of fitness again although it has been slow in coming. This last episode really knocked me to the ground but it is what it is.

I am not whining, just acknowledging the issue. Blogging about it helps me cope. I am not looking for sympathy or attention, just a sounding board and solidarity.

Far too many people try to play cool and act as if there isn't a problem. Why is it that in AA they stand up and introduce themselves by name then publically declare that THEY have a problem? I am not too cool to do that.

My name is Robert and I struggle with depression. I will come out of this strong, healthy and ready to tackle my issues head on and come out the other side a better man.

So say we all.

Link To My Public Blog... mailboxes2miles.blogspot
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Way to go Robert! I'm glad u r getting help. Thanks for being so honest. U now the ol' saying, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger"! Hang in there, I'll be thinking of u & sending positive energy your way!

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    1036 days ago
    I read your blog of the 22nd and then went back to read some of your other blogs leading up to it. The image at the top of this one went straight to my heart, and I am holding back tears as I type this. I was diagnosed with depression some time back in the 90's and took medication over a number of years. At the time I had health insurance and never imagined what that diagnosis would do to me if I changed jobs and lost my coverage. I had a chance to find out a little over 10 years ago. Ever since accepting a job working for a psychiatrist who does not offer group health insurance, I have been denied coverage because of that diagnosis. While that now means that I can get the federal option for Inclusive Health, the premiums are more than 50% of my take home pay, and therefore I cannot afford coverage. That has greatly affected what I can afford in terms of treatment.

    Still...sorry...that's not really where I wanted to go with this...I wanted to say that the ramifications of having depression and anxiety are complex and manifold. Having untreated depression affects how you feel mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It impacts your social relationships, your performance on the job, your ability to look positively and hopefully at life and at the future. (And, yes, it does impact one's ability to get insurance.)

    I am so glad you are sharing your story with other Sparkers. You are doing such a wonderful service by letting people know that being strong isn't always enough to counteract the symptoms of what is essentially an organic, physiologically-based disorder. Nor is depression anything to be ashamed of. Some of the most remarkable people in history have struggled with depression. I applaud you for taking being so pro-active in your own treatment, working with a counselor, trying to figure out how to deal with your changing shifts and how that affects your circadian rhythms (which, in turn, can affect your symptoms). You have my whole-hearted support. This is not an easy disorder to live with, but you and I and others like us can truly be overcomers!
    1283 days ago
    1285 days ago
    Hi Robert,

    I really enjoy reading your blog. I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to share. It is so hard to struggle alone, and that is one of the best things about SparkPeople, we're never alone, right? Your courage to come forward certainly helps many others.

    I work in Human Resources, and your comment about the night shift triggering your depression and not being able to quit your job struck a chord with me. Have you done any research on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) [note - I'm assuming you live in the US - I know many Sparkers do not, so this might not apply]? The ADA requires employers to make "reasonable accommodations" to employees with disabilities in order to "perform the essential functions of the job". Although we normally think of the ADA as being for people in wheelchairs, etc., it is for all kinds of disabilities, including depression. Your depression caused by the night shift may qualify, and switching you to a day schedule, or at least fewer nights in a row could be an accommodation. What is considered "reasonable" depends on the employer and the type of work, etc. (for example, if you work for a small firm and are the only one doing your job, taking you off nights would be a hardship for the company, but if you work for a larger firm it might be reasonable to accommodate).

    I would suspect your therapist knows more about ADA as well, or can help you do some research. Definitely something to look into if you are looking for a way to get off of nights, without giving up your job.

    Good luck with everything!

    1290 days ago
  • v BMCKEOW1
    It sounds like maybe you are getting back to a better place. That is so great. Just keep with it, it won't get better quickly, but it will get better. You are strong and this won't stop you.
    1290 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1291 days ago
  • v IMAGINE46
    I think it takes a very strong person to admit they have a problem and seek the help they need. emoticon
    1291 days ago
    While some of it can be situational, there is a strong biochemical component to depression for sure. I "gave in" and started taking antidepressants 2 years ago, and it has helped so much. It does not change relationship issues, stresses, my weight and other things that contribute to my depression, but it does take the edge off in terms of my short temper and overreacting to things that happens when I don't take my Cipralex. I hope not to take it my whole life, but for now, it helps get me through and function better, to be able to address those other factors
    1292 days ago
    Thank you for your courage to share! I am proud of you for taking this important step in your health journey. I struggle with depression as well. It's important to get help just like you would if something else was hurting or broke in your body. You would go to the doctor and let them take x-rays, give medicine, and do what is necessary to heal. I hope the best for you in 2013! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1293 days ago
    I'm praying for you Robert. I have found faith to be useful in every situation. emoticon
    1294 days ago
  • v LIZRUNS22
    I've said it before and I will say it again. I think you are very courageous.
    1294 days ago
    Excellent post!
    1294 days ago
    We fall down, but we get up. Thanks for sharing. emoticon
    1294 days ago
  • v JIBBIE49
    Wonderful to see your blog featured in the Spark Mail. What an honor. emoticon
    1294 days ago
    Robert, please to meet you. Yes you are strong and yes you will come out at the end a stronger person. Thanks for sharing this. I now have food for thought, things to mull over in my head.
    1294 days ago
  • v ACTIVE_AT_60
    On behalf of the many who don't have the opportunity to read your blog and who are suffering from depression and anxiety - I thank you for being as open as you are. I think people need to understand it is OK to talk about. It is OK to seek treatement. Because you are on medication for these conditions and if you see a councellor - it doesn't mean you are weak or a loser.

    As you and I have talked about in the past there is a lot more to gaining weight and living unhealthy than overuse of knife and fork or bad food choices. I think way too much focus on websites on weight loss. Much more attention should be paid to emotional balance and well being. Health is not only freedom from disease and physical limitation but also emotional wellness (modified from WHO - since I can't remember the exact wording).

    I hope (and I am sure they do) your blogs and your open discussions make fellow sparkers look in the mirror and say I changed my outside - now it is time to look at the inside. 'we' have no problems spending money on a trainer for our bodies- but look at a councellor as a trainer for our mind. It may even make us come out stronger than ever ... perhaps that is what we are scared of!

    Thank you Robert!
    1294 days ago
    You are very smart and wise! Keep up the personal awareness and doing what you are doing! What a success you are! Life is a journey not a destination... I appreciate your candor and honesty. emoticon it inspires me.
    1294 days ago
    wish there was some magic pill I could recommend or advice i could give you to make things better, but as you can see before me, a lot of people are affected with depression. It may be temporary or more long lasting. You are on the right path and believe me you have all our prayers and good thoughts with you. emoticon
    1295 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    1295 days ago
  • v SPAQUEEN2012
    As you can tell by the comments, you are not alone! I have chronic depressive disorder and been on medication for over 30 years. Meds are so much better now than they were years ago. I am not ashamed of being who I am - - if I had diabetes no one would think I was weak if I took insulin.

    Thank you for your blog!
    1295 days ago
    I went through a similar struggle, with working nights for 5 years. Mine manifested more on the anxiety and digestive side. I definitely feel ya, it's not easy, but you gotta do what you gotta do. It's so good you're doing something about it and talking with someone, that's important! Hoping the best for you :)
    1295 days ago
    Hi Robert - congratulations for your honesty in talking about your struggle with depression. As I wrote you when you posted your last blog, I suffer from depression as well. Once I admitted to myself that I had a problem, found a good psychiatrist, went on medication and went through a course of cognitive behavioural therapy, I have been so much better.

    I was off work for a month, and when I went back, the first thing I did at a staff meeting was tell my colleagues about the problem, and what I was doing to deal with it. After the meeting, two people thanked me, and one asked for the name of my therapist.

    I hope that you will keep us posted on your progress.

    1295 days ago
    Glad to hear you are making gains with a professional. Maybe a job change is in order.
    1295 days ago
    Robert my name is Marcia. I too worked night shift and finally jad to get on a dayshift due to the Physical and mental changes that affected me. I am so glad you are working on getting healthy. so keep doing what you need to get better.
    Marcia emoticon
    1295 days ago
  • v DOGDOC76
    My mom spent 8 days in the psych ward when I was 13 for severe clinical depression and panic attacks. It took years before she got this bad and my oblivious father FINALLY recognized how sick she was- she was admitted through the ER one night. She got better with the help of a wonderful doctor and medication, which she is still on over 20 years later. Mental illness is a physical illness just like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, ect. There is also a genetic predipostion- one of the questions her doctor asked my mom when he first started treatment was who else in her family has this ( her aunt did). For some reason, people like to separate the brain from the rest of the body- this is why mental illness has the stigma that it does, and this is sooo wrong, and prevents many sick people from getting the help they so desperately need. Good for you for standing up and being a wonderful example that depression is nothing to be ashamed of, and something that CAN be treated. I know you will be fine and will continue to achieve all your goals!!
    1295 days ago
    1295 days ago
    Use this to add fuel to your fire!!!!
    1295 days ago
    Look at all your problems as an opportunity for changes! emoticon
    1295 days ago
    In reality, I think we all suffer from some form of depression but some of us are not willing to admit it. Anyone can achieve a goal if they minds are put to it and with the right support. Keep up the good work and keep going and keep pushing. We all pushing together. emoticon
    1295 days ago
  • v JANETTEB553
    In winter I use a Light Therapy light and this seems tomake a difference. Used it last winter for the first time and was not as low asI can get. emoticon
    1295 days ago
    Hi Yes, you will. With an attitude like that you will face it, and come out a better man. I faced it after almost killing myself literally. I am on medication and probably will be the rest of my life. I see a therapist 2x a month and that is an improvement. It was once a week. She wanted once a month, I don't feel ready for that. I am Bonnie. I suffer from chronic depression.
    1295 days ago
  • v MIRANDA1115
    I'll stand up with you. My name is Miranda and I suffer from Depression. I take medication to manage it now, but I hope that druing my journey I learn how to manage it on my own. Thank you for sharing!
    1295 days ago
  • v *RENEAT*
    WOW! Thanks Robert! I needed that! I was always the one who figured it was mind over matter until I got hit with depression and anxiety attacks. I feel it takes a stronger person to admit they have a problem and seek help of any kind for it (much like AA I guess). I recently started to see a counselor who said after my first session "wow - what took you so long to seek help?" Thank you for sharing! Good luck with counseling. My counselor reminds me that each time I speak about a fear or stessor out loud I take back the power I gave it to begin with. Hope that helps you. Renea
    1295 days ago
    Good for you for realizing there's an issue & taking the intitave to work through it. I have anxiety issues & panic disorder. I was in therapy for several years and it did help alot. I was also on klonopin for almost years due to severe anxiety & many panic attacks- I was finally able to come off it almost a year ago- i'm on a small dose of zoloft & i can truly say i am more at peace with myself than ever and the anxiety has greatly subsided. I was finally able to hit my goal range & maintain over the last 6 months or so. I still have down days and the anxiety can start to peek through- but it's soooo much easier to recognize the signs early and deal with it before it gets out of hand. For me, zoloft has been a Godsend.
    Hoping & praying you find ways to work through your issues and you start to feel better soon!

    1295 days ago
    Stay strong Robert. I'm so glad you are seeing a therapist and addressing the root of your depression. You will come out a stronger person in the end, both mentally AND physically.
    1295 days ago
    1295 days ago
    Good luck. I hope your therapist can get you going strong again. Depression isn't easy, it isn't fun, and it really is a problem that can't be ignored until it goes away.
    1295 days ago
    This was a great blog thank-you for sharing, I have tears in my eyes, I have had depression , and am very prone to it. I understand what you're saying and it is not in your mind and get over it doesn't happen. You need support and it looks like you're on the right track. People treat mental disorder with a stigma, it's the same as any other disease and sometimes even worse. So carry on and keep us posted!

    1295 days ago
    Thanks for sharing! I know myself how easy it is to go down and how hard it is to pick yourself up. Hope you will feel better soon.
    1295 days ago
    Great attitude.
    1295 days ago
  • v JKSJEN
    It sounds ironic but you have a great attitude about depression. By that I mean you have acknowledged it and are dealing with it. You know it may be a long road but you know it will be worth it. Kudos to you for having the strength and realize that many people may read this and realize they are not alone. I did.
    1295 days ago
    I admire your commitment to success and your willingness to do whatever it takes to get there.
    1295 days ago
    I'm glad you have found a therapist to work with. It's a shame another job is not possible at this time as your current one sound bad for your health (and everyone else who has to jump shifts). I've read a bit of your blogs and seen your transformation. You are an absolute inspiration! I wish you well
    1295 days ago
  • v FARIS71
    You are strong and mighty and helping many others!!
    1295 days ago
  • v HFAYE81
    You aren't the only one!!! I suffer from seasonal affective disorder, and every year when the days get shorter and I see less sunlight, I start a steep slide into severe depression. I have to take meds for it. For so many years I wouldn't get help, because I had always been told that it was "weak".

    I am so glad that I know better now. The days aren't only easier to get through, but now I feel like I enjoy more of them. You are so strong to share this with us, and we are with you!! emoticon
    1295 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/11/2013 11:14:00 AM
    I am a therapist and almost fell off my chair when I heard a colleague say that it was good that a client's mother told her to "just get over it" and that "it's in your mind, so just change your mind." As you can imagine, she received quite an education from me. I've had anxiety, OCD obsessions (no rituals), depression and panic disorder for 10 years (in varying intensities). I honestly believe that people cannot understand the debilitating and incapacitating nature of mental illness until they have experienced it for themselves. It is so important to tune out the noise of others and go inward to give yourself what you need. It certainly sounds like you are seeking various avenues for healing and taking good care of you. I've tried everything from antidepressants to acupuncture, massage, chinese herbs and spiritual healing. I've noticed a very strong connection between panic attacks and my diet. When I eliminate coffee, diet soda, dairy, junk food and candy, my anxiety is completely diminished. Best of luck to you & I will send you well wishes from Boston.
    1295 days ago
  • v LEANIE64
    Thanks so much for being a advocated for those of us who struggle with depression..
    1295 days ago
  • v DISP715
    I also work night shifts. I am one of the lucky ones, since I actually enjoy it and have little trouble adjusting. What kind of work do you do? If quitting is not an option, what about transferring to another department (easy if you are in health care)? I guess you can tell from all the posts that you are not alone and have a ton of support. Hang in there, sounds like you are doing all the right things.
    1295 days ago
  • v YANKEEFAN1996
    you can do have a very strong soul............
    1295 days ago
  • v NEWMOM20121
    Well said. Working the night shift was the hardest thing I ever did.

    Thought and prayers for you and your family as you work on things.
    1295 days ago
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