I’ve had more than a little problem putting this together – I intended letting this out on Saturday and I’ve had to put it back.
I knew it might be a bit difficult, and it has been. I ended up writing a lot more than I intended to, and now I’ve put all that to one side and started again as I’m sure you don’t want to see something the size of War and Peace.
I’ll get right to the heart of it.
In late 2002 (around about this time of the year), I was diagnosed with severe depression bought on by job related stress.
I know some people reading this will think that depression is just another way of saying you’re feeling a bit down. And that’s exactly how I used to think of it until it was my turn.
We all say it don’t we? “I’m depressed…”
But feeling a bit down doesn’t even get anywhere near what depression is really all about. And no, you can’t “shake yourself out of it” in much the same way that you can’t shake yourself out of any other life threatening illness, like cancer for example. I know that one might be a hard one to swallow for some, but it’s true.
I sincerly hope depression never touches you.
Anyway. I won’t bore you with the details, but I ended up being off work for two years and then finally leaving the company I was working for. I later found out that at the time long term illness (due mainly to depression) within my business group was running at an incredible SIX percent – I think the industry standard is something like a quarter of a percent for ALL reasons.
The company had gone bad, and taken me (and a lot of other people) down with it. I was in a bad way, and it’s left its mark on me.
So I left. But I wasn’t idle for the two years I was off work. You might say I was lucky enough to be able to spend that time researching and learning how to run my own business – under doctor’s orders I hasten to add. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) helps a LOT with depression. For me it means “Keep yourself too busy to get any worse and hope you start to get better.”
Following that period, there were some rough times but we still did okay, and eventually I moved away from selling physical goods and into my first love of software.
And here I am today.
The depression *has* changed me. I can’t say for good or bad, I’m just different.
I’m almost back to the fun loving and very sociable person I was over ten years ago, but it’s taken a long time to get here, and there have been ups and downs. (I still have my grumpy days, but I don’t think I’m any different to most people in that respect.)
One of the changes now is I’m a VERY positive person, and I’ve also become a bit of a workaholic. Although I still like to kick back and enjoy myself as a reward for my hard work.
The positive aspect of my nature is part of my defensive shield against future “issues” and it’s a good thing to have, but means I can’t and won’t tolerate any negativity or negative vibes from people. My attitude is a little bit of “If you want to bring yourself down, that’s YOUR choice, now get out of my face.”
It means that although I’m a much kinder more empathatic person, I will no longer “Put up with fools gladly.” I now say if you want someone to blame for all your problems, go look in the mirror.
And that’s exactly how I lead my own life now.
If I have a problem, it’s my problem and I caused it. Something I did, some choice I made means it happened. And by accepting responsibility for everything in my life (the good things too) I don’t dwell on why things work out the way they do. I already know it’s because of me and the effect I have on the world around me, even when it’s a bit unexpected.
And conversely, I no longer even try to accept responsibility for what other people do, and who then try to lay it at my door. (I teach this to my children.)
They did “this”, then “this other thing” happened as a result, even if it was an accident or a freak occurrence – THEY made the initial decision, the responsibility is theirs.
“Don’t try to blame anyone else except yourself” has become a lifestyle for me. And it’s both liberating and exhilarating.
So why the heck am I telling you all this for?
It’s important. But this is already long enough, and so I’ll tell you in the next post.