I know a guy who is going through a rough patch right now. Normally he is one of the most optimistic people I know. His friends and co-workers love spending time with him, sharing stories, laughs, drinks and conversation. Most of them would be surprised to know that he is depressed right now. In fact some amount of depression has been in his life for a long time but it is usually in the background and he is pretty good at masking it. He is the guy people turn to when they’re depressed and need a sympathetic ear but his ridiculous pride usually stops him from seeking other people’s help.
This friend had an especially bad few days this week and really needed a good cry, but that damn pride got in the way again. He got a little teary-eyed around his boss for a minute the other day but he survived that encounter, although I doubt she’ll say the words ‘are you OK?’ around him again any time soon. He has several close friends who he can count on for a hug, a hand shake or a smile but most of them live hundreds of miles away. I am one of the few people he can be completely himself around but it even makes me uncomfortable when he is in that much of an emotional state; at least he had me around when he let loose for a few minutes today.
Part of his current depression is related to his over-scheduled life and part is the result of a bad procrastination habit. He often lets things pile up or waits too long to take action, then pays the price when everything piles on at one time. That seems to be his situation right now. He knows he could benefit from a little professional help to navigate his current emotional state but he had been down that road before and believes he already knows what a therapist would say. And he doesn’t have time anyway.
I gave him three pieces of advice today that he would normally give others. First, break down the seemingly huge problems into small pieces and tackle each piece one at a time. Two, do something fun, like go to a concert with friends. And three, write out the story and share it with someone, either a professional or a friend. Or just write it and read it back; maybe seeing it as if it’s someone else’s problem will help.
He took the advice well, by the way, and is feeling slightly better tonight than he was this afternoon. He thought through the big pieces/small pieces scenario, he confirmed concert plans with friends for tomorrow and he wrote out the story. I think he should still see a pro but meanwhile telling and sharing the story helped. He is me.