Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Reflecting

I've been traveling a bumpy road the last several days. Every time I think I'm feeling better, my mood dives into the pit, and then I feel better again, maybe even normal, before it dives back downward. It's been frustrating, but overall I think things are looking up. My mood is better than it was last week at this time when I couldn't finish my work day. I worked more than a full day today, so things are improving. I think.

I'm feeling reflective today. It turns out, 15 years ago today I was fired from my physical therapy job. I worked in a hospital outpatient clinic. I loved my job, and I was good at what I did, but I had depression. I was in an inpatient treatment program for my illness when I was "let go."

I learned of my firing via a letter I received 15 years ago today. At the time, I had missed approximately 2 months of work, and the hospital could "no longer hold my position." I pointed out to the hospital human resources staffer that one of our doctors was, at that moment, out for more than 2 months due to illness, and her position was being held. Of course, she had cancer. Enough said.

I didn't realize it at the time, but being fired spurred me to become an open, willing advocate for people with mental illness. I fought to get my job back, and when I didn't, I sued. I won. But I never did get that job back. Instead, I took on a bigger fight.

I began publicly speaking about my illness and about the stigma surrounding it. I've spoken to several church groups, to countless college and high school students, and at many public educational forums. Over the years I've done a radio broadcast, a newspaper interview, and a feature on my local television news. I had the tremendous opportunity to do the Healthination educational videos, and of course, I began this blog. I became something I never planned to be, an advocate, of sorts. It was all done in an effort to educate, reduce stigma, and bring about change. I hope I've made a dent.

So I'm feeling reflective today, 15 years after receiving a shocking, devastating, cowardly letter. It was a letter which began a journey; a journey which is yet to conclude. It's been difficult, and surprising, and exhausting, and rewarding. And if my journey has kept at least one person, receiving treatment for mental illness, from losing their beloved job, it's been worth it.

2 comments:

paullamb said...

I've seen a number of people at my office, who happened to have a mental illness of one form or another, lose their jobs for this or that reason never given to the rest of us. I think some effort is made to accommodate them, but in the end, I fear it is a failure of compassion. And though I doubt anyone would be surprised by my diagnosis, I have never revealed that I have depression. Of course, I have only missed a day or two of work in the last few years because of it, so I'm one of the lucky ones. Ironically, I work for a large medical sciences company. You'd think they'd be aware of these kinds of things more then other employers.

paullamb said...

more THAN other employers.

*SHEESH*



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