My new post at Health Central talks about picking up on the early warning signs of depression. Since I tend to need a big picture to figure out what to do, I found it when forced by desperation to look closely at my own self-defeating behavior. That was a key recognition that helped me spot the emergence of depression.
It may seem hard to miss, but it took a long time to wake up to what I was doing. Undermining myself at work could happen at either extreme of depression – when I was filled with shame and wanting to disappear or when I was angry and clumsily aggressive. At home, I’d jeopardize the closeness of family life by dropping out emotionally or by angrily blaming my wife and children for causing the misery.
I felt trapped in a cycle of building up a good life and then tearing it down. As I wrote recently in this post about trying to save my marriage, my wife and I couldn’t wait until depression ended to restore our relationship. The same was true at work. I had to find the early steps that would at least help me recognize when I was spinning downward. That recognition was vital to get any perspective at all on the way depression was distorting my behavior and my perception of what I was doing.
The Health Central post looks at these struggles and the first few steps in getting past them. I hope you’ll take a look at it and have a go at answering the question I pose at the end. How have you been able to pick up on the early signs? Have you found good ways to head off the main event before getting lost in a downward spiral?