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.