Three weeks ago I was in a dark place. It wasn’t the first time. I had a decent job that I should have been good at, but I stopped caring. I would sit at my desk with a series of easy tasks in front of me and struggle to start any of them. I would sit in conference rooms while co-workers discussed projects and all I could think was, “who gives a shit?” The short answer, it turned out, was everyone. Everyone but me very much gave a shit. Apparently, I was the only member of the marketing organization fighting back tears every morning on the elevator or starring at my computer in a haze of shame and depression, wondering how I ended up living a life of such inconsequential corporate fuckery.
I hated my job, and I hated myself for continuing to show up, afraid to bet on myself and pursue something that mattered to me. I came home emotionally drained and unhappy. I was not the husband or father I needed (and wanted) to be, and that made me hate myself even more. I started to wonder if there was any reason for me to be around at all.
Sometimes the advice we give is the hardest to take ourselves. If someone came to me in the shape I was in and said they were feeling such deep depression, I would tell them to seek professional help because life is short and there are no do-overs.
When I finally told my wife that my detachment was more than a temporary funk, she convinced me to seek help and scheduled an appointment with our family doctor.
“So what are you here for?” the doctor asked.
“Well, uh, my wife scheduled an appointment to talk about some depression I’ve been feeling lately,” I said.
My wife scheduled… Even in that office, I couldn’t just say the words, “I need help.” Many men have a hard time talking about mental issues like depression and anxiety. I am no different. It’s not that I was afraid to find out I had a problem, or even that I could be medicated. I was afraid the doctor would give me a screening and tell me nothing was wrong.
“I see the problem here. You suffer from moderate to severe Being a Pussy. Suck it up and stop wasting everyone’s time being such a bitch all the time. That’ll be $200. Pay at the desk and never come back.”
Luckily, that didn’t happen. After talking about what I was dealing with, I was prescribed an anti-depressant to take daily for one month, at which point we’ll regroup and see how things are going.
For the first time in a year, I felt a slight wind at my back. With the support of my wife, I decided to take another step I had been too afraid to take. I walked into my manager’s office and handed in my resignation.
After you give a two-week notice at an office job that most people consider a career, everyone asks the same thing: “so where are you going?” I answered as honestly as I could. I told them I didn’t know, but I was going to smile more.
Then everyone says nice things to your face, and other things when you’re not standing in front of them because that’s what passive-aggressive corporate people do. And you can’t really blame them. What are you supposed to do when someone tells you they would rather be unemployed than continue working with you?
So what now?
I want to make an impact. I want to show up for a job when, even on the toughest days, there is a chance to make a difference. In the coming weeks I’ll figure exactly what that looks like and how to get there, but in the meantime, one part of my plan has already worked out. I smile more.
I’m 33 years old, unemployed, taking prescription anti-depressants, and I don’t know what the future holds. But I feel better than I have in years.
I don’t know much, but I know this – I’d rather be happy and uncertain, than certain and unhappy.