If you’re anything like me, then you’re shown as a very personable and happy individual who is more than amazing at working with people. Honest. I am very good when it comes to communication and public relations in the workplace. It’s a part of my job and hopefully my long-term career in conservation.
However, what do you do when that deep-set depression that you forget about periodically wells back up and overflows until you feel like you’re literally drowning in unknown sadness? And what happens when this occurs when you’re supposed to be your old chipper self at work? What if your attitude and your mood determines your performance at work? I’ll tell you now, this absolutely sucks.
It sucks solely because you have no idea why you’re upset and sad and throughout trying to sort out your own emotions, your coworkers begin to notice. And then your boss notices and thinks you’re unhappy due to your job and then it escalates to, “Do you even want to be here anymore?” “Are you unhappy with your job?” “Can you perform like you did when you started? You seem unhappy.”
All of these I have faced, and I have no answer except to try and explain that my depression specifically is seasonal. It pops up in the winter and latches onto me until I feel so tired and exhausted that it begins to show in my work performance. This winter was particularly the worst in terms of work performance and depression due to a lot of external events.
An unexpected break up sent my December into a really unpleasant state of mind. Then the one-year anniversary of my grandmother’s death came soon after making the holidays less than pleasant. And then my depression hit an all-time low while I was working doubles weeks in a row with no break just to pay my way. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. And how does my brain respond to all of this? I have a flight response. I have the yearning to escape and get as far away from my current situation as possible.
Now, through all this, you may be wondering how I dealt with it all. Well, I talk to my mom openly about my depression even if she doesn’t fully understand it. Saying it out loud works wonders. I sat down with my director at work and tried to explain my mood change and why it has nothing to do with work in general and it’s something I will and have been working on. I talk with my best friend and set goals and little stepping stones in order to avoid delving back into my flight response. I make myself busy with healthy hobbies like swimming and working out which has done wonders for my self-esteem. I make sure I am aware when my depression is occurring and to not hide it just to save face.
Depression is a real thing and even the happiest of people have it. Don’t be afraid of it. Learn how to cope and move through it as it comes. It passes if it’s seasonal. I promise. The world is beautiful and full of amazing things. Don’t let something like depression keep you from experiencing the good out there.