Since coming out of a major depression which was then followed by several events which mad it practically impossible for me to work, I am now at the point where I know I must work or I will fall back into depression. I’ve been on Social Security Disability insurance and it is not enough money to support my family so my wife works full-time. While on SSD one is allowed to earn around $1000 a month prior to taxes if while on SSD. They also have a “Ticket to Work” program which let’s you try working for some time period (in NY I thinks it’s around a year where they will suspend your benefits of that time while you work so you can see if you can actually stay working. If you stop working prior to the year ending your SSD benefits start up again. It basically allows you to put yourself to the test without having to reapply for SSD if it doesn’t work out. And here is the scary part. What if it doesn’t work out.
I want to work. I need to work to avoid slipping back into Depression and to afford to earn enough money for my family and I to live as we do now. But how do I know I won’t relapse into Depression? I want to be able to tell a perspective employer the facts but how can I? How would he/she be able to trust me. Most people can say with a high degree of certainty that they will be able to show up for work each day and function as required or better. For those of us with life long Depression that goes from minor to major depressive episodes throughout our live’s it’s not so simple. My intent is certainly to succeed. My intent is to always show up and always to a good to excellent job, just as I would think it would be for any conscientious person seeking employment, but how can I promise that something that happened to me one or more times in the past won’t happen to me again? And if I do the Ticket to Work program and fail on the 13th month, then I have to reapply for SSD and there is no guarantee that I’ll get it. This is part of the depressing situation that I experience as I recover.
There is another aspect of trying to get back to work that is insidious. When you become severely depressed most people don’t understand it, especially if it was not set into motion by a traumatic event like a spouse’s death. Grief and Depression or separate things. Depression can occur in the grieving process, but it need not necessarily do so. Loss of loved ones is an inevitable part of life, and we will all have to face these loses in our lifetime. If everyone who grieved the loss of a spouse, parent, and even a child fell into Depression then the world would be a very different place. How would anything get done? Depression robs you of your energy and enthusiasm. It robs you of your self-esteem, self-confidence, strength and stamina. The road to recovery is long and difficult, and even depressing, but it is not Depression. But back to my point about the insidious nature of this disease. Since most “normal” people can not fathom what it’s like to be in depression we (the people in the depressed state) spend ridiculous amounts of time trying to prove to those whom we care about how depressed we are so we are not stigmatized and dismissed as lazy, weak, of diffident in some aspect of our character. I’ve been doing that with family members for years to try to obtain the support that I need for my family. Believe me, it wasn’t for me. I would have been happier dead, but I wasn’t going to do that to my family. So here I am now trying to convince the very same people that I am now capable of working, and not only my family but my friends and even more alarming, myself. Am I lying to myself? Am I deluding myself? Am I just supposed to hang around and rot the rest of my life away? There has to be life after Depression, but it doesn’t come easy for us long-term sufferers.