Depression -- rock bottom and trying to claw my way back out

(Ron Burke) #1

I’ve rewritten this multiple times, deleted it, rewrote it again, and deleted it again. In the end, I think it’s only fair to reach out to this community and explain why I’ve all but dropped off the radar for the past few months, why I’ve declined a few play requests from some of you, and why I’ve generally been less than engaged with my responsibilities here.

I’ve been diagnosed with severe clinical depression.

It’s hard to even write that out. I’ve always been the person people lean on when they need help, and now I find myself more than a bit lost. I’m getting help for it, but my therapist has on more than one occasion tried to drive into my thick skull that I need to vent and talk to other people about this outside of therapy.

My last two jobs have been absolutely brutal. I worked for GoDaddy while they were going public, watching the company lay people off, destroy careers, shuffle people like so many cards, and generally slice as deep as possible all to turn a profit. At that point I bottomed out and on my way to work nearly died on the freeway as I started passing out while driving. Thankfully I was able to pull over before I crashed. I got my breathing under control, limped the last few miles to work, and had one of my team take me to a hospital. I had suffered a “stress-induced cardiac event”. I left GoDaddy shortly thereafter.

My current job is working in municipal government. I’ve been doing that coming up on four years. Put simply, my boss has to be on the Autism spectrum. He has no capacity for human empathy. I’m not being hyperbolic – I’ve never seen him express a human emotion. Not once. He is also ill-equipped to provide guidance or anything resembling leadership. In the last four years we’ve had two suicide attempts, one successful. The one who didn’t succeed died a few months later from a heart condition. We’ve had half a dozen people leave on a stretcher for stress-induced cardiac events. I’ve done my best to help the team members cope, I’ve spoken to my team about getting help and employed every suicide prevention technique I know. Meanwhile, my robo-boss (despite asking very directly more than two dozen times) has not conducted a single 1:1 with me. I have no idea what he wants, if he’s happy with my work, or on the verge of firing me. He doesn’t communicate, so I’m isolated. I literally only get the most vague of feedback once every six months when he is obligated to give me a bi-annual review. These are mostly filled with platitudes and surface-level things that he did not research before providing the feedback.

The other two people at my level are little better. One (the irrepressible racist) talks until people pray to go deaf, and the other likes to invade people’s personal space and has struck an employee. The overt and covert racism were investigated by HR, as was the striking of an employee…nothing was done.

Over the last four months, my boss decided he wanted to kill off one of our managers. He wasn’t doing anything worthy of termination – he simply had a different perspective than my boss. When I was advised to write him up, I argued for a simple memo of correction as ‘middle ground’. This was insufficient, apparently, as that person was placed on leave and then terminated using the flimsiest charges I’ve seen in my entire career. As I wouldn’t “tow the line”, I found myself on leave.

Up to this point, I had been telling my boss and my coworkers that I’ve not felt well lately. I’ve been having a lot of migraines, I’ve felt sick to my stomach all the time, my stress level was pegged out and my fuse was the shortest it had ever been. I talked to a doctor and my blood pressure was high again. As my boss was placing me on leave, I followed up with my doctor and she placed me on FMLA. That was January 10th.

I can’t honestly recall much of the last two months. It’s been a haze of trips to the VA, a smattering of different drugs to get my head straight. A ton of exercise to get my body healthy. Some games here and there. I feel like I’m coming out of this slowly but surely. My FMLA runs out on the 5th of next month. At this point, I don’t know what to do. I moved out to Texas where I have no family or support beyond my wife (who has been awesome – truly) and the job prospects in this podunk cow town are close to zero.

On the positive…I did have a very good interview with a massive defense contractor yesterday. I’m hopeful that I can secure a job there. Everything I’ve read on GlassDoor, and all the feedback I get from my neighbors (my entire hood all works there) is that it’s a fantastic place with great work/life balance. In a “week or two” I’ll know if that’ll become a reality. I also have a potential job opening back in Phoenix, though that means packing this house and moving right back to where I was 4 years ago. I hate moving, but I’d be close to family again.

If you read this far, thanks for hearing me out and letting me vent. I feel like I was all over the place, but I needed to get some of this out. I never thought I’d be facing depression in my life. I always believed I was “stronger” than this, and that it couldn’t happen to me. It turns out that depression is stronger than any of us. My hope is that it’s not as strong as all of us, together.

Here’s a dog tax to help pay for you having to read all this.

Choices choices choices from r/AnimalsBeingDerps
#2

No job is worth your health. I’m sure your wife would rather have you around than the life insurance payout.

I sought therapy last summer, and am on head meds. I was in a bad place that was affecting my marriage and was likely to impact my job if things didn’t change. I was coming off a high water mark, and didn’t want to lose that ground. But something had to change.

Hit me up to talk, dinner, a trip to a barcade, whatever you need.

#3

It took a lot of courage to vent. I give you so much credit for that. It’s not my place to give you a lot of advice because really for something as life altering as what you are going through, advice should come from professionals. I do agree that no job is worth your health. Your current work situation sounds more toxic than any I’ve ever heard about and if moving away would improve your situation, do it. Sure it might be inconvenient to move but if it benefits your health, you have to do what is good for you.

As a longtime member of this board, I’ll be here if you ever need to vent or talk about what you are going through. I’m sure other members would feel the same. It’s so much more than just gaming now. I’m pulling for you to get healthy. Keep us in the loop, and if there is anything I can do, just let me know.

(Richard) #4

Hey Ron, so sorry to hear about this but thanks for opening up and sharing! As someone who has over the years dealt with anxiety, depression and most recently a prolonged “midlife crisis,” I can certainly identify with much of what you’ve talked about, and please know I am always ready to lend an ear if you need to vent.

You didn’t mention if you were on any meds; if not, I’d definitely recommend to talk to your doctor and at least look into the possibilities. I know a lot of people are against them for one reason or another or afraid of stigma or side effects, but I also have had enough experience of my own (and with other friends) to know that they can really help, especially when combined with therapy. Just for your reference, my friends and I (just coincidentally) have all had good results with Zoloft (sertraline). For me, it kind of takes the edge off, for lack of a better expression, really helps me to not take things too seriously. I was afraid it would suck the emotion out of me and make me a robot, but I still cry every episode of “This is Us” so I think I’m still OK lol.

Also agree with the guys that no job is worth your health, mental or physical. Seriously you have a lot of years left to live, and it doesn’t sound like the place you’re at is worth your time and energy. Of course I understand that finding an alternative is not an easy endeavor (I just went through a really painful job rejection recently), but just try to be patient and keep at it. I hope one of your opportunities pans out, but always keep in mind it’s JUST A JOB. It doesn’t have to define or control your life. And note every job comes with its ups and downs, and unfortunately often enough you just have to ride the waves. My last two jobs I had some of the best times of my career followed by the most depressing times within a span of 5 years. My current job (which I tried to leave and failed), I have literally had nothing solid to work on for 3 months. But it ended up being a blessing in disguise. You just never really know or control some things, no matter how much you analyze or anticipate.

Last thing I’ll leave you with is this article ostensibly about early retirement, which I’ve been recommending to a lot of my friends. Not so much for some of the more zen-ish stuff or whatever it is they are trying to sell lol, but just a lot of the general philosophy about a person’s life and career I think is worth thinking about sooner rather than later. I suspect you are quite a bit younger than me and maybe a while away from retiring, but I still think some of the things in the article apply to anyone at any age who is in the working world.

(Chris) #5

Shit man. Thanks for sharing, and I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through this. Depression is a nasty bitch at the best of times, and I can’t even imagine trying to manage it in the midst of that work situation. I would echo others in the sentiment that no job is worth destroying yourself over. With the recognition that it’s really easy to say that…until the mortgage check comes due. Fingers crossed that the new gig or the move works out in your favor, as it sounds like a change of scenery would be a godsend.

It may be not mean much coming from some random internet dude you’ve never actually met, but please know that all of us here truly appreciate and value you. If you ever need a sounding board or a voice of support, please let us know and we’ll be available in an instant.

(Ron Burke) #6

Thank you everyone for your kind words and suggestions. I think the forums imploding isn’t helping, but I’m still trying to get that resolved. In the mean time, I’ve started a new med (citalopram) that is supposed to help. I’m slowly getting back into writing. I’ve got a one month Anthem update (a BIG thanks to the folks who took the time to write in telling me to “kill myself” because you didn’t like the review score! That’s always nice…). I’m working on Tropico 6 and The Division 2. One is good quiet time, and the other is time with friends (There is a “Gaming Trend” clan! Join us. :slight_smile: ), both of which seem to help in different ways.

Still waiting to hear back from one job interview I did last Monday, and hoping to schedule a promising one this week or next. I’m nervous as I need my head clear to be successful at either one.

Sorry for dropping off the radar after writing this last post. That took more out of me to admit all of that than I anticipated, but I think it’s for the better. Again, thanks to all of you for your kind words and help. It means the world to me.

#7

Good lord, are you serious? I swear to god, some people need to re-evaluate their place in society. The internet, and social media in particular, is such a shit hole sometimes.

#8

People suck. They have always sucked, they suck now, and they will continue to suck.

Some people were never taught, never learned, or do not have the capacity for empathy. Any weakness identified is merely a new weapon to wield.

(Chris) #9

For whatever it’s worth, I think you’ve done a stellar job of getting things back up and running. The new forum format is really great.

Now I just need to start playing something new so I can actually talk about a game again…

(Mike Dunn) #10

So recently I kind of lucked into a semi-retirement- namely, I no longer have to work. Which is a good thing because my design career was spiraling down the toilet (at my age if you aren’t already in a leadership role, wrote a book, or speaking at conventions or all of the above, you are basically done, apparently). Ageism and commoditization of design on the web effected a slow painful death which has lasted about 5+ years.
Anyway, now I’m on what I consider “phase 2”. I’m returning back to my artistic roots, I’m embracing tabletop games again (recently took over as lead editor of tabletop, in fact), let D&D back into my heart, planning a move to Colorado this summer, and contemplating business plans for the future. I don’t miss tech AT ALL.
This article is super cool, btw. I would have scoffed at it a few years ago, but it is on the money for me right now.

(Steve ) #11

It’s never too late to get help. I was diagnosed with ADHD at 56, and after being put on adderol, I was pleasantly surprised to have my emotional rollercoaster flattened out. I was also diagnosed with comorbid severe depression and an anxiety disorder, so you aren’t alone.

1 Like
(Ron Burke) #13

Thanks for everyone for their kind words. It’s been extremely helpful. I should be around a little bit more from now on, and that’s due in large part to knowing that I’ve got good friends here to help keep me going. virtual fist bump