As many of you may or may not know, I have depression. I was diagnosed in 2005, spent some time in a hospital for it, and really struggled with the reality of it. It was one of the lowest points in my entire life, and to be honest, also one of the best. Without that stint in the hospital, I would have never been able to cope with life, and I probably would not be writing this today. As a matter of fact, I did try to end it all at that point. My, what a difference time makes. I now couldn’t imagine being away from my family and friends. It was because of this time, I was set on the path that I am on now, and that I found a home and because at peace with God. It was his grace and mercy that lead me in this direction and is the reason you are reading this now.
Also, I have been managing people for most of my life. I started young as a manager, I took a position when I was 18. It was one of the best jobs that I have ever had. Even today, I have a group of people that report to me. It is a large responsibility, and trust me, having depression makes things a little more difficult. I am not writing this for sympathy, I am writing this to tell everyone that you can still accomplish your mission, even with something that can try to rape you of your self confidence, worth, energy and self-esteem.
Depression is a medical condition. It also has a lot of bad stigmas involved with it. Depression is something that has to be managed, monitored, and something you have to be honest with yourself about. It is not something you can take lightly, like a minor scrape. Before I was hospitalized, I had the “sad” feeling, as they call it, for more than three months. It was caused by a lot of different things, but it was way more than just being down about something for a few days. It made me want to actually die. Not in just one of those teenage ways, but literally, I thought the answer would be to just not be on the planet anymore. Obviously, that is not the case. There was more for me within God’s master plan. It helps if you have a lot of family and friend support as well. I can not stress this enough for those of you who are struggling with it like I am, you have to have a support system. No one can do this alone. Even for those who are not faithful, you have to have help. I put a lot of trust in the Lord, and I pray everyday for clarity, and for peace inside my own mind. With that, lets get into what I really wanted to talk about… managing….
Like I said, I have people that report to me. I have a group of people that for at least 40 hours a week, I am responsible for, and I am also the work that my unit’s work they produce. My week is full, between family and my extended work family, it is a huge amount of work. I wouldn’t trade it in for the world. The experiences and the interactions that I have on a constant basis makes me happy. The only problem is, this mind of mine likes to sabotage itself. It makes me second guess everything. It tries to keep me down. And admittedly, sometimes it wins.
So, for all of you out there wondering, Lucas, where is the point? What do you do to keep yourself from having a mental breakdown? Well, you’ve made it this far… so, just keep reading.
First and foremost, I pray. Every morning and after every bad encounter. I have a very hard time with bad news. It makes me feel like I have failed. I realize this is not how I am supposed to feel, but in my head, it is what happens. Sure, it is not logical, but nothing about depression makes sense. Yep, it puts me in a bad state of mind, and the only way that I can get out of it, is to pray. In the end, it is all about giving the situation up to someone else. Any manager will tell you, the problems are abundant. The trials can be daunting. For someone like me, its a constant mental struggle. There is nothing more frustrating in the world then to know that your brain is sending mixed signals on your emotions. So, instead of totally shutting down like I used to, I let it go. Sending that little part of my day up to God gives me a little peace of mind. It helps to remind me that I am not all alone. I know that I am not thanks to my friends and family, but sometimes in that moment, it helps to make things not feel so huge and overwhelming. Trust me, everything for me feels huge and overwhelming more often than not. Giving that overwhelming feeling to God makes things so much better.
That is not to say that things are all doom and gloom. Trust me, though, its hard work maintain this. I have to do this, while showing the leadership qualities that are needed to manage people. I have to ensure that my group is with me, and that they know I have the ability to lead them through everything, no matter what. So, having this wonderful condition, makes that all the more difficult. Why? Well, because a lot of people see it as a weakness. That comes from a lack of understanding of the disease itself, but you know, everyone fears what they do not understand, including people who actually suffer from it. Either way, I have to have the composure within the group. So, if I am unbalanced, and not controlling my depression, my team will also be unbalanced and out of control. That is a huge thing to understand, if you are not in control of what is going on within your mind, you are in no shape to ensure a group you are leading will be heading in the correct direction. This requires me to be on top of my medical care. It is that important. And my family lets me know when I need to be on my game about that. I have a great support system that way.
And lastly, the most important part of this that I can say. I pray everyday, once in the morning, and once at night. I do this because it sets the tone for me. I waiver all the time on my religion (that is a blog for another day). Even so, no matter how I am feeling about my chosen path, I always give that respect everyday. It’s my conversation piece with God, and it helps me feel better about the day ahead. Knowing that the day will be set for me and as it should be is very comforting, for me. Not everyone is this rigid in their prayer life, and I understand that. It helps take the edge off for me. Couple that with the constant chats with the doctor and the therapy of talking things out with my friends and family, I can cope and still be effective for the people that need me. All in all, managing is difficult on its own, couple that with depression, and it is just plain tough. Its really about having the tools you need to survive. God, family and friends.