Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Donald has been depressed. I'm not sure how long. It came on gradually, as the stress and frustration and rejection piled on.

Before his depression, Donald tended to procrastinate, but always got things done on time and with quality. He performs well under pressure and putting things off certainly didn't hold him back from success and good grades in college and grad school. When something needed to get done around the house, I didn't usually have to ask him more than once or twice as long as he had a sense of when it needed to be completed.

I probably first started to notice that Donald seemed depressed when I'd come home from work and the shades were still drawn and he hadn't gotten dressed or showered and had spent all day playing video games. The first couple of times it didn't bother me. I've certainly had my lazy days and they can be quite enjoyable once in a while. But it started to turn into a pattern. I'd ask him to take care of things and they wouldn't get done. I started to assume that he wasn't even job searching, that he was doing absolutely nothing to make the situation better. I increased my controlling factor by ten. It backfired. I asked for progress reports daily. I felt like I had become a task master or his parent. Not good.

After we moved in with his parents, I relaxed a bit. I knew his parents would provide some level of motivation simply through the fact that there were three of us now who would ask Donald questions, make suggestions, and otherwise expect progress. Some days were good and some were bad. Some days Donald would hole up in the basement (where our office is) and wouldn't come out all day, content to stay in the dark, solitary coolness. I knew that I needed to be his safe place, his sounding board, and I focused on being available to listen rather than demand results.

I mentioned in passing to his parents several times that Donald was depressed. They were slow to accept it. They thought he was just having a string of bad days. They didn't have the benefit of the observations I had made. They eventually accepted it, especially after Donald sat them down and told them. He asked for help. He found a psychologist that he sees almost weekly.

Lately, he has seemed better from day to day. He has pulled himself out of the darkest places where he used to spend a lot of time. He gets responses from job applications at least once a week. People are interested in him. His spirits are up. But his motivation (beyond applying for jobs and following up, which should be applauded) has not returned. Maybe it is because there are no deadlines, there is no structure in his daily life, and maybe it will improve once he returns to regular employment.

His doctor offered to give him a short-term prescription of anti-depressants to help him get through this rough patch. I don't know what kind or what dose or what the side effects might be. He'll be responsible for finding all of that out and deciding whether it's worth a try. He and I normally are hesitant about any medication and anti-depressants have quite the media coverage. But handled correctly, perhaps this is a tool to help Donald regain the last bit of confidence and give him a boost to remember who he is and that he can surmount any challenge before him.

Members of my family have also dealt with depression, and I believe it runs in my family. I have dealt with it before, but was never really diagnosed. I know that dealing with depression might be something we address for the rest of our lives. I just want to be prepared and informed and open. It's too bad it's such a stigmatized condition.


  1. The good thing - is that you're being supportive and understanding. That's what counts

  2. Thank you, booshy, I appreciate that.


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