Managing Depression in Your Life and Career

The voice on the clock radio is an annoying mumble and you are dragged awake in the morning after yet another awful night’s sleep. With eyes still closed, lying there, the feeling of dread for the upcoming day descends on you mixed with a blanket of apathy. It is so palpable, it might suffocate you, and you don’t even care. You think about just staying there, who will care if you do? You have so much to do, but nothing that can’t wait another day. You feel so unmotivated. You wish you could stay there in bed and hide from the world, but you literally drag yourself out of bed and unwillingly start your day. As you walk to work, you look at other people going to work too. Some are happy, some sad, maybe some are feeling nothing like you are, but they are going through the motions because they have to. Like unfeeling robots. You try to remember the last time you felt anything and it is too much effort, so you let it go. You hear chatter in your head and it is not saying anything that makes you feel good about yourself, but that is not unusual these days. 

Depression is a silent epidemic. It is normal to experience feelings of sadness, apathy or being overwhelmed sometimes in your day-to-day life, but should such feelings persist over a period of time or this is your experience most of the time in your daily living, there are many ways to find help.

You arrive at work and force yourself into auto-pilot. You greet people, and lie when they ask how you are, not that they care about the reply anyway. Imagine if you really told them how you were feeling? You wear your mask of pretense all day, watching the clock and can’t wait for the end of the day. On the way home you stop at the grocery store and make bad decisions about what goes in your cart. The words of self-loathing about this are loud, but you just ignore them, hoping to find some relief from your mood in the comfort of processed sugar, fat and carbohydrates as you pay for your “food”. You arrive home, throw more unopened bills on top of the other unopened bills by the door. You think about going to the gym or for a run, but decide you are too tired. You turn on the TV and channel surf while you heat up your dinner in the microwave. You don’t even know or care about what you are watching while you eat your microwaved processed dinner. For dessert, you eat a pint of ice cream out of the container. The comfort you hoped would come from consuming such bad food is not forthcoming.

People often see their work as a source of career dissatisfaction, but do not realize that they are experiencing depression. A job or career that is not congruent with your values, skills and interests can certainly cause unhappiness and additional stress, and there are ways to deal with that too, but if you explore further and find that you are depressed, the first step to healing is to be aware that depression could be a contributing factor. Poor eating habits and lack of exercise could also be making your depression worse as you the lack energy and motivation to be able participate in activities that may have interested you in the past.

With the TV on, you sit at your kitchen counter on your laptop and start checking emails and surfing the internet for no reason other than it is habit. You look at Facebook and feel like a voyeur into other people’s lives. What do people see when they look at your life? Who cares? No one. You close your laptop, turn off the TV and just sit on the sofa with a blanket over your knees and just stare at nothing. You start crying, for no reason, just because you feel so overwhelmed you can’t think of what else to do. You wake up on the sofa in the middle of the night a bit disoriented. You go to the bathroom and out of habit, brush your teeth and fall into bed. You feel exhausted, but lie awake for most of the night. You can’t stop thinking, but not about anything in particular. More about everything in your life or more what is not in your life. You must have finally fallen asleep because the annoying mumble of the clock radio is waking you up again.

If there are parts of this post that resonate with you or you notice any of these behaviours in someone you care about, I urge you to seek help. It is important to realize that the setting of this particular depressive experience is one of many different ways that depression can manifest and it can vary according to sex, age and demographics.

The feeling of hopelessness can also be a symptom of depression, but there are a multitude of resources available to help overcome and manage depression.

One way that can help to alleviate your depression includes reaching out to family and/or friends if you are lucky enough to have a social network to support you. Isolation is also another symptom of depression, and while it can be difficult to ask for help and share your experience with someone else, you may be surprised to find out that you are not alone and others have had similar experiences or know someone who has or had depression. This is because of the fact that many people who suffer depression do so in silence. There is nothing to be ashamed of. If you had a serious physical ailment, you would likely seek help from a doctor and/or let your friends and family know what was happening to you. Even though you cannot see depression, you know the feelings you are experiencing and they are very real. If you do not have a social network to turn to, there are a multitude of free community services to assist you such as help lines and support groups. Some local examples in Metro Vancouver and BC are the Crisis Centre or 311Crisis Centres or UBC Life and Career Directions. The trained personnel at these services can listen to your story and help you find resources in your area for further support.

In addition to reaching out to your social and/or community network, it can help you if you can improve:

There is information available to help with all these areas on the Internet or in books, using your local library as a resource. If you have the financial capability, perhaps you might use such resources as a personal trainer to help with your activity level or a nutritional coach to help with dietary needs? Stress management may include relaxation and/or meditation techniques.

Becoming aware of how you handle stress at difficult times such as grief or loss and increasing the level of your personal resilience is another way to help overcome depression. Having the tools available to navigate the emotional roller coaster in times of adversity can help you feel more in control of your emotions rather than succumbing to them. There are many self-help resources on the Internet and in books to assist with developing tools to build resilience.

If the above suggestions to help you overcome depression are not adequate, you may need to seek professional advice. Your family doctor may be able to refer you to a mental health professional or you could ask for a referral from your local community resources or online directories such as Psychology Today, the Canadian Professional Counsellors Association or the BC Association of Clincial Counsellors or Counselling BC. Depression affects people in different ways, so it is important to find a method working with a professional where you feel comfortable and have a rapport with the person helping you. In some cases, talk therapy will be adequate, while other professionals will also offer tools and techniques to help stress management, challenging negative thinking and helping build resilience. For some people, medication may be necessary in which case a referral to a psychiatrist would be appropriate. Finding the appropriate professional help for your situation can be the key to the healing you need to begin overcoming and managing your depression and begin living your life and career to its full potential.


Today’s post: Managing Depression in Your Life and Career was inspired an blogger called Allie and by my wonderful past and present clients who have entrusted me to help them learn how to control their depression while working on their respective career transitions.

Allie authors the blog Hyperbole and a Half and you will find links to a set of relevant blog posts below. I found her insights helped further my understanding of depression and it had a profound impact on me. One of my clients recently referred me to Allie’s blog. I sincerely agree with my client’s observation as follows about Allie’s blog posts. The words in quotation marks are from my client to me regarding Allie’s blog:

“I wanted to share this with you, as it might be something you could share with some of your clients. It won’t speak to everyone but this is the best depiction of depression I’ve ever seen:”

Adventures in Depression

Pre-Post Transition Post

Depression Part Two

*If you find that you are unable to work through your depression using your own resources, I strongly urge you to seek professional assistance. Please let me know if I may be of assistance or can refer you to other support resources.