When Depression Comes to the Workplace

Screenshot from the email I sent to my manager and director when I tried to quit my job while suffering severe depression

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Everybody, just get away
I’m gonna boil over inside today
Depression’s got a hold of me
Depression! I gotta break free
— Black Flag, Depression

Before you read this, read:

When the Nightmares Began
Grief is a Fire, Smoldering

On January 29, 2010, eight months after my dad died from leukemia, my depression reached its peak and I attempted to quit my job. At the time, I was employed as a communications analyst in the health care industry. That morning in an email to my manager and director, I wrote:

I would like to resign from my position effective immediately. I am a very depressed person and can no longer fulfill the tasks assigned. I apologize. I just haven’t been the same person since my dad got sick. I don’t know how to balance the highs and lows anymore, and the lows are just too much and too frequent. I feel like I exist in a state of perpetual nothingness. This affects my work weekly and leaves me unable to function to the best of my ability.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to work with and for you all. I’m sorry for having my phone turned off. I just hit a brick wall and didn’t know what to do.

I just realized this probably sounds suicidal. I’m not. I would never do that. I just need to find myself again. I feel like that person has been lost for almost ten months now.

“Attempted to quit my job” because my manager and director would not accept my resignation. Instead, they reached out as friends.

When my depression latched onto anger

January 19, 2010

Ten days before on January 19, 2010, is when the anger exploded within me. The impetus for my anger arising was rooted in a terrible event in Appomattox, Virginia, that happened to my brother-in-law’s family. That evening while I was at work, my wife sent a series of texts to me, then a phone call. Something unspeakable was happening.

My brother-in-law lost his mom, sister, and stepdad in a matter of hours. Five others were also murdered before the killer turned himself in following a manhunt. He was armed wearing a bullet proof vest and carrying a rifle when he approached police.

That someone could take away my brother-in-law’s family in the way that it was done made a violent storm surge within me.

At the time, I was already suffering severe depression—a deep wound within me that had never been cleaned and dressed, and was now festering. My depression now latched onto anger and pain.

Matt’s loss was not my loss, personally, but I hurt for him just the same.

Please call me

“Please, please call me,” David, my director wrote. “As a friend, I’d like to talk with you. I can meet you for lunch today or any time in the near future.”

“Please seriously reconsider your resignation; nobody wants that,” my manager then responded. “Take all the time you need, but speaking purely for the women in this department (insert David’s vomit noise here), we all love you and want you to do what you need to do to feel better about your life and your state of mind.”

The thing about depression is you can’t go at it alone. Alone is exactly what depression wants.

You need friends.

After you read this, read “Where My Father Once Stood

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6 Comments

    • I don’t always get this feeling, but there are times when what I’m writing can be felt deep down in my stomach. This was one such piece. I’m glad you liked it.

  1. Your honesty about your depression is so empowering to those of us who feel powerless and unable to be as honest. Thank you!

    • Keeping it real since 1981 🙂

      On a serious note, writing about my emotions helps me better understand them. It also allows escape from their confines. I’m glad what I write is helpful for you and others. I know it’s not easy — depression. Fortunately I don’t suffer from depression on an ongoing basis like some, but I have indeed been there and know how terrible it can be.

  2. I appreciate your willingness to express what others cannot about depression. I can relate as depression has been with me for years and it’s a daily struggle. I am managing but I wonder if I will ever be free of it.

    • I think managing it is key. My great affliction is anxiety more so than depression, but having an “anxiety toolbox,” as I like to call it, always comes in handy. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never get rid of my chronic anxiety or my occasional bouts with depression, and so, what I do, is take a different perspective now. Anxiety is my friend as much as foe. It spurs creativity and my ability to troubleshoot complex issues among other things. Depression, I believe works in a similar way. Perhaps it’s the ability of deep introspection. Perhaps something else.

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