Starting the New Job
To say I was nervous about my first day at work is an understatement. There was no formal training program, but there was an office where everyone was more than willing to help me learn. I was encountering new situations daily, and all I had to do was ask and someone would take the time to explain everything to me. If didn’t take me long to start to be comfortable and fell like part of the “Family”.
I say “Family” because that is exactly what this company is like. There are only around 15 people who work in the Nashville office, and I can count on each and every one of them to have my back, as I have theirs. I was starting out on small projects, and as I became more proficient, they gave me increasingly difficult ones. I learned quickly, and received a promotion to a mid level project manager. One day I was fortunate enough to be given a lead to a prospective client. I called him and set up a meeting to talk about what he wanted to develop. After a few meetings, and with the help of one of the partners, we signed a contract to develop a very big project which involved a website, and an iPhone and Android App. This project involved developing things that I had no experience with, but I, and the partners, believed that I would be able keep up with it.
Depression Rears its Ugly Head
Things started fairly slow, and I was very comfortable with what I was doing, but the project ramped up rather quickly and I was beginning to get a little overwhelmed. At this same time I got a notice from the IRS that I owed them approximately $62,000 for back payroll taxes from the third quarter, 2008, for one of the sub shops. I knew this was a mistake because my entire payroll for that store for one quarter was only approximately $48,000. I made an appointment with the IRS to get this straightened out. The problem had to be with the W-2’s. The IRS asked me if I had copies of the W-2’s, but I didn’t. They were destroyed in 2010 when my garage flooded. I asked if they could get a copy of the W-2’s, and they told me no, and that without the W-2’s I had to pay the $62,000. This was the time that the depression really kicked in. Even if they seized my house and sold it, I didn’t have enough equity in the house to pay this off. I would be paying for this the rest of my life. Life wasn’t worth living anymore. I had worked so hard, going back to school, to finally get a chance to get back on my feet when I had the rug pulled out from under me.
This really started to affect my work. It was hard trying to stay ahead of the curve at work. I couldn’t concentrate and I forgot things. At this point I had no idea I was suffering from depression. I though it was just the stress from work. To make up for my shortcomings at work, I tried to work harder and longer. I would work from home every night during the week, and would work on Saturdays and Sundays from home also. Although exhausted, I refused to slow down. I had no idea how miserable I was acting at work until one evening I got an e-mail from a colleague at work saying he wanted to take me to lunch the next day. I don’t want to reveal actual names, so I will call him Data.
Apparently, everyone at work had noticed how miserable I was, and they were concerned. One of the partners had wanted to take me to lunch to talk with me, but Data said he wanted to do it. He is an absolutely fantastic guy and is one of the smartest people I know. I love him to death (as does everyone else!). We went to a small restaurant around the corner from work. Data asked me what was going on, and I told him everything. He told me that everyone at work was worried about me, that I was important to the team, and they needed me. Data explained that he knew from personal experience that working so many hours hurts more than it helps. I needed time to relax. He was absolutely on point there. I began not even thinking about work at night, or week-ends, and it helped quite a bit. I was very grateful that we had that talk. Then Data told me to just get over it.
There is no way to explain to someone who has never experienced depression that it is impossible to just get over it. As I said, Data is a very smart guy. I’m sure there is no problem that he encounters that he can’t work through. He believes that others should be able to do the same thing if they work at it. My wife didn’t understand the depression at first either. She would tell me to not let things bother me, just brush it off. Whether the depression is caused by a Traumatic Brain Injury like mine, or through a chemical imbalance in the brain, people who are depressed are the same as anyone else who is afflicted with a disease. We can’t choose to ignore it, just as someone who is diagnosed with cancer can’t just decide the cancer isn’t there anymore. Treatment is required.
At this point I had been in therapy for a while. Veterans rated at 50% disability or more get all of their medical care free from the Veteran’s Administration. I had requested to change my Primary Care Physician. At my first appointment with her she asked me, “Have you ever thought of committing suicide?”. I don’t know why, but I told her the truth. I said, “Yes, every day of my life.” She asked me if I wanted to speak with someone about it, and I politely declined. She did talk me into letting a therapist come in after the appointment was over. The therapist and I chatted for a while. She convinced me to enter and initial outpatient therapy with her. Six 1/2 hour sessions. It turns out I loved talking with her. It was nice being able to tell someone everything.
Continued in Part 3…..