New, confused, unsure - am I depressed?

Hi to whoever might be reading this.

I'm very confused about my feelings at the moment and increasingly worried that I may be suffering from depression.

Over the last few years, I've been prone to the odd bout of feeling 'down' about things, mostly triggered by my job which though not physically demanding can be quite high pressured. However, in the last six months/year these feelings have become more and more frequent. I am happily married with kids but I sometimes feel under enormous pressure to support my family, and when I feel my job is not going well this leaves me feeling guilty and inadequate about not working as hard as I can to support them.

On a day to day basis I now feel I'm spending more time and energy worrying about the state I'm in than focusing on my work....this in turn makes it hard for me to get things done, my mind drifts all over the place and I can't concentrate or motivate myself to do the tasks that need doing....in turn this leads to me procrastinating, creating more pressure for myself, making the 'work' situation worse, and the whole thing starts to spiral.

Whilst the thought of this being depression has increasingly occurred to me over the last few months, I usually end up 'telling myself off'...thinking that I'm just being lazy and useless, need to get a grip and focus on getting some work done, what would my wife and kids think if they knew I was wasting all this time and putting my job/their security at risk, etc.

I have various 'escape' strategies/habits which I spend too much time doing, I think to stop me thinking about my feelings or the pressures of work, but which in actual fact just make things worse...this could be wasting hours playing solitaire or I'm sorry to say other less innocent web-based activity which I'm really very ashamed of (don't worry nothing illegal, standard guy's stuff I suppose, but too often/too much I think for a married man my age).

I get anxious when the phone rings or I receive a new e-mail in case it's some issue that I'm going to struggle to deal with.

I suppose this has all crept up on me and I haven't really been functioning properly for a year or so. I feel very isolated and have never felt able to discuss this with anyone, even my wife due to my feelings of inadequacy/guilt. Also I'm pretty good at hiding things - I'm in quite a senior position at work and still come across fine at meetings etc, and at home I always make an effort to be the dependable husband and father.

There are also times when I genuinely feel OK - I can have a positive meeting with my boss for example which makes me think "what was I worried about" and away from work I genuinely do enjoy some aspects of my life, particularly with my family. But the feelings of inadequacy and worry are never far away and always seem to return quite quickly.

Sometimes I think if I just changed my job to something slightly less pressured that would solve the problem...then I worry about the loss of income for me and my family and I think it's impossible to consider, so I just feel very trapped.

I don't know whether I'm in real trouble mentally, or whether I just need to change my job (or would this just lead to me throwing away a perfectly good career and still not solving the problem).

I'm sorry this has been a bit of a ramble. I know nobody here will be able to wave a magic wand and solve my problems. This is the first time I've tried to articulate the way I feel and I hope in some ways represents the start of a process for me of putting things right. I know the first step is probably to have an honest discussion with my wife and take things from there but I'm struggling to build up the courage at the moment. We love each other very much and I know when I think rationally she will react OK but I just feel I am letting her and the kids down terribly.

I just wonder whether anybody has gone through/is going through similar feelings to these and any advice/experiences would be really welcome.

thanks

8 Replies

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  • Hi Johnnyboy,

    A lot of your symptoms resonate with current issues of my own. I know it can be difficult, sometimes impossible, to keep positive thoughts in your head when things get to this point, but by the sounds of it you have been successful in your place of work - something worth lauding, certainly. You also have a wife and family who love you for exactly who you are, and I am sure would be supportive through thick and thin.

    It can be exceptionally hard to face these problems and admit them to people, especially your loved ones. I think you have certainly taken the first step by telling the people on this forum of how you are feeling. As with many issues perhaps a good way to tackle this is through a series of smaller steps. You could consider talking to us on here as the first one, then conceive or even draw up a plan of action on how to move things forward.

    I wish there was more advice I can offer you. The people here are attentive, understanding and helpful, so I am sure together we can offer some sort of guidance that may help you figure out what to do next. In the meantime, try to bear in mind that you are not alone!

  • I understand where you're coming from. I set myself completely unrealiaric goals in work and I thrive on being able to control my ability to achieve them. I live a double life in that none of my colleagues know the daily struggles I have. I'd love to retrain and earn the same money doing a less stressful job, but like you, I have a family who rely in my income. Reading your post, I'm half wondering if we do the same job ....

  • My partner went through all this in silence, He finally talked to me and with help from other agencies and the G.P giving him anti depressants he is slowly coming through the pain and stress. Talking makes you powerful.

  • Thanks all for your replies. It makes a real difference that there are people who understand the way I am feeling and that maybe it's not just me being useless.

    I'm going to try my best to tell my wife about these problems. I had thought of doing it last night but she had been away with the kids seeing family for a couple of days, I was pleased to have them all back again and it didn't seem like the right time - so as usual I just acted like everything is fine and she wouldn't have guessed I had a care in the world.

    But I've taken some strength already from the replies above and these I think will help me build towards the next step - thanks for taking the time to read and post a reply, it really does make a difference.

  • Hi

    I totally empathise with your post and its genuine attempt to articulate what are very difficult issues to comprehend - let alone deal with.

    The fact that you have joined this forum and are seeking support shows that you are coming to terms with your situation and that's the best start you can make.

    Zoo stresses the importance of talking to your partner, I can only agree that getting it out and talking is a positive step for you both. But I do believe that overcoming depression is a personal battle, after all - they are our demons!

    I have drawn tremendous help from "Undoing Depression" by Richard O Conner, and finally for the third time of trying I feel actually that there is a way out of this. Good luck.

  • Hi

    I'm sorry you have been struggling with your feelings, you are clearly feeling stressed and there is a direct causal relationship between stress and depression. I wouldn't worry about the escapist stuff per se, we all do it in some form or other, but the only issue about it is the way it doesn't give you the kind of supports that might be able to reduce your stress, so while not harmful you are missing out on better things. Opting out seems to be something you desire as if everything else feels almost too much at times which is a clear indication of high levels of stress.

    You say you are happily married with kids which is a real positive but you don't say whether you are able to really share your concerns with your wife. It is possible to love someone and be happy with them yet still not feel able to share some feelings with them. I'm wondering whether you perhaps feel you have to be the strong coping one, perhaps seeing not coping as a sign of weakness, or whether you feel your wife might see it like that, or perhaps you feel that if you shared your feelings they would become more real and that would create anxiety either just for you or for your wife as well. I do think that if you love your wife then it is important that you find a way to share your concerns with her otherwise it will create an increasing unspoken gulf between you. She must have noticed that you spend a lot of time preoccupied on the computer or elsewhere and I'm wondering how she responds to that, does she think you're working, try to bring you out of it, or leave you alone. Each of those will indicate something about your relationship and the way one or both of you is avoiding talking about the problem and sharing it. If you can do that then you might be able to come to understand what is making you feel so stressed.

    If is just the job in which case you might think together about how you can tackle it, or is it other things in life, maybe age related and about seeing life pass by, or lacking other forms of satisfaction and enjoyment, or maybe wondering what it's all about being in the rat race of work. All those feelings are absolutely normal but become problematic when they interfere with relationships or leave the person feeling over-stressed which you clearly are. Tackling the issue head on and clarifying in your mind what the stressors are will enable you to begin to think about the solutions.

    You wonder if you are depressed, but then make the link to depression which to me suggests that tackling the cause ie. the stresses will be a better approach than thinking in terms of treating the (possible) depression which will be like treating symptoms rather than causes. At this stage you do not sound in deep depression but do sound stressed, so can you begin to reduce that with your wife's help. Making time away from children and enjoying time and activities together with your wife including good sex would be the ultimate de-stressor!

    You do write a lot about your job so I wonder whether that is taking too much out of you at the moment, whether the work/play balance has gone and needs to be re-found, or whether there have been other triggers for your feelings and then work feels like a demand which causes stress, etc, a vicious circle. Only you can perhaps have some idea about how the feelings develop and which things in life you do really enjoy doing and find satisfying.

    I hope you do come back on the website, I find it really helpful at times!

    Suexx

  • Hi Johnnyboy

    It is definately worth thinking about talking to your GP about this. I was in the same situation and lost my business because of it. I didnt tell anyone how I was feeling for a very long time it got to the point where i couldnt stand going into to work because the stress it caused was too much, I avoided and neglected my business because of the stress it caused and.unfortunately for me I left it a little late to get help and support and I lost my business due to a mental breakdown. It sounds like you are at the early stages and my advice would be to speak to your GP he can help arrange support or therapy. Do not leave it or try and deal with it on your own as it is a struggle and you shouldnt have too. Sometimes the stress of trying to maintain a certain lifestyle has an affect on our mental well being. You are definately showing signs of what I had so please speak to someone about it preferebly your GP.

    Best wishes

    Dimitri

  • Thanks again all.

    I had a look on RIchard O'Connor's website (thanks KarmaCarl) and there were definitely some good pointers on there - especially stuff he was saying around procrastination which really struck a chord with me.

    I think the main thing I need to do, as Sue says, is try and separate cause and effect. And I think that's the biggest confusion for me at the moment. I don't know if work is the root cause of all this or whether if it wasn't work it would just be something else that I would focus my anxiety/stress on. (For example I can sometimes allow things like making arrangements to see extended family turn into big 'issues' in my head....where a small easily solvable problem like needing to rearrange a time to see somebody turns into a massive mountain I need to climb and I need to build myself up to doing it.)

    Other than my inability to discuss these issues my relationship with my wife is good in all ways....and spending time with my family is something I really treasure. It's just the feeling that if I open up about this they'll feel let down by me - and I'm already getting to the point where my natural protective feelings towards them are now accompanied by a sort of guilty feeling that I'm not performing my role properly.

    And Dimitri thanks for advice - I know deep down this is what I need to do....it's just feeling like one of those mountains at the moment but I do feel I'm working my way up it gradually.

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