Coming out about my depression

I have been thinking of writing this post for some time. I’m still not convinced of the wisdom of writing it, but I have been suffering from depression for some time and been taking anti-depressants for the past year. Most of the time I am able to cope, but occasionally I enter periods of what I can only describe as deep darkness. Those who know me or follow my blog will know that that work has been difficult over the past couple of years. The closure of the subject centres, being re-interviewed for my job, and having my hours reduced have taken their toll, but my struggles with depression pre-date these events. I’ve told very few people about my struggles. I think I’m actually quite good at hiding my depression. The medication I am taking is actually for anxiety rather than depression – my doctor even said to me “I don’t think you’re depressed”.

I am fortunate to have a very loving wife and family as I go through this process. I am grateful for my job and enjoy my work. As far as I know I am performing well at work. I have been keeping very busy and am working on some interesting projects. I am fortunate to work with really nice people. I have a strong Christian faith. Working four days a week has enabled me to set up my open access research website and take on some freelance work, which has been very enjoyable. It all sounds very nice and it is, but as anyone who has suffered from depression knows none of these things guarantee good mental health, and many face depression without any help.

There seems to be a lot of talk about depression on the radio and TV at the moment. I’m not sure whether this is due to the recession, heightened awareness of the condition or whether it is just heightened awareness on my own part. I’m not sure what the consequences of ‘coming out’ will be, but I feel that it is time to stop hiding what I am going through.

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3 thoughts on “Coming out about my depression

  1. John, you are not alone in this. 12+ years on the little tablets. If it gets you through, what the heck. Don't be ashamed of it, you are doing what is right and good - looking after yourself so that you can look after those you need to look after, ie Samuel, Elijah and Michelle. Talking to people generally helps me, but everyone is different, find your coping mechanism and don't push yourself too hard. Or be too hard on yourself.

    See you soon hopefully,

  2. John, it's tempting to throw oneself into many kinds of activities as this helps defer the effects, but that can't go on forever. I think you're doing the right thing, and being brave to open up about this. I have a feeling from informal data collection (well, OK, just talking to many academics over the years) that there are a large number of people in the academic system, perhaps more concentrated than other areas of employment, as it tends to attract the more thoughtful, introspective and aware type of person. And when these people get exposed to some of the deep uncertainties that are now happening, the cut and thrust of naked competition between universities for students, and similarly of academics for job security/promotion, this will bring more people like you to the surface. Personally, I have removed myself from the UK system as it clearly wasn't working out for me. In the US, with public money (state funding) being cut, there isn't so much exposure to market forces because of huge endowments and other historical sources of income - it's a more robust system. But the job market out here is awful, and there is huge anxiety amongst graduate students that tenure track jobs are like gold dust. Not a great recipe for mental health.

    Oh, and what is that thing doctors do about refusing that we have depression? Years ago in Bristol I had the same experience as you - was told that it was anxiety rather than depression, don't know why...

    From an (old old old) ex housemate who wishes you and the family well.

  3. You have taken a positive step towards dealing with this condition in telling the world about it. I pray that God will continue to strengthen you and your family in controlling your depression, and that he will, in time and by His grace, cure you from it. Great to hear from you on twitter periodically, and that you are enjoying your life.

    P.S. You were always a great source of encouragement to me during those summer camps in North Wales and you made a BIG impression on my Christian walk. May God bless you and your family.

    Give my regards to Michelle.

    Ian, Rachel, David & James.

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