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When Depression Takes Over

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Photo by Steve Weaver

A client contacted me recently and told me she had multiple job offers even after she accepted her new position. Wow! Wonderful! The resume I wrote for her got plenty of attention and results!

Then she told me the back story. She became my client in mid-January, after being laid off in December from a position she had for more than 18 years.

The resume went together well and we showcased some great accomplishments. She told stories well and we had a specific target for her search and we also positioned the resume to be multi-functional so she could apply for other similar opportunities in her field. At the time, she seemed to grasp the concept of networking.

She struggled

Then I didn’t hear from her until a few weeks ago. After she met with me initially in January, she struggled. Buoyant when she left, later when she didn’t have instantaneous results, she wondered if she made a mistake investing in a professional resume when she had other bills to pay.

The impact of losing the job after so many years of playing a major role with her organization hit her hard. Depression set in and just as the commercials depict, she detached from reality. A highly attractive individual with high standards both personally and professionally, noted as one who prided herself on clean living spaces, she let everything dissolve as she hardly dragged herself out of bed in the morning and found it hard to shower or do laundry.

She wondered if she would ever find another job

She felt like many job seekers feel, especially after a successful career where they felt valued and a critical part of their organization’s mission and successes. Facing the dismal economic conditions that have plagued the United States and much of the world since late 2007, she wondered if she would ever find another job. Family members worried about her but she retreated.

Reach out and call someone

Had she called me in February when she was feeling so blue, I would have told her that she was not so different from other job seekers. I would have told her that even I as a business owner feel that way sometimes when the phone doesn’t ring and e-mails don’t fill my box.

She did snap out of it and started making contacts and soon she was back in the work force and still getting results from the contacts she made earlier. But I was reminded how often we don’t know the signs of someone who is depressed.

When you are struggling with those feelings, you do need to reach out and call someone and let them know. Sometimes the person struggling may not be able to make the call. If you have a family member or friend fighting depression, they may not rebound on their own like my client did.

Jason Alba’s popular post, Depression Clouds Everything describes how he felt as a job seeker in the early days after he lost his job. He said:

“but day after day, the rejection, the self-doubt, all the bad stuff that happens when your world is turned upside down, the emotions where clouding things. Judgment was clouded, because I was desperate. Performance was clouded because I was scared. I certainly wasn’t used to dealing with these emotions, especially week after week.”

Jason gives an extensive list of resources in his post: Job Search Depression.

This economy has been hard on us all, job seekers and business owners alike. Recovery is slow and challenging but with the right strategies and career marketing materials, job seekers are going back to work.

Don’t let depression take over your life, make a positive step to reach out!

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22 Responses to When Depression Takes Over

  1. Hi Julie.

    I’m glad that your client is on the other side of that experience.

    People don’t like to admit when they are depressed. And yet, that is the first step to finding help; admitting it alone takes a weight off your shoulders. It’s a little more challenging for an entrepreneur to reach out, for fear of not looking credible to colleagues and customers. So choosing who you reach out to is important.
    .-= Davina´s last blog ..The Muse is My Master =-.

    • Yes, when business owners struggle, they want to hide those struggles to avoid further impacting their business. Yet, if they tell no one, they will end up feeling worse and being scared for no reason at all. No matter what your role is, job seeker or business owner, ebbs and flows seem to be more the normal than not. Once you hear from people you respect that you are not alone, it is easier to get back out of bed and get moving.

      It’s the fear of being the only one that I think scares people the most. And the fear of it lasting forever.

  2. I find that depression can set in when something ends – even when it’s something that you wanted to end. I couldn’t wait to finish college. But once I was done and I wasn’t so busy I was really down – I didn’t know what to do with myself.

    It’s great that you told her that what she was feeling was normal. Often, when we realize we aren’t the only one, it becomes easier to bear.
    .-= Kim Woodbridge´s last blog ..5 Simple and Minimal WordPress Themes =-.

    • Exactly, Kim! I think it is more common than we think… but when we are thinking it, we think are all alone. You are right about the ending… Even with it being my decision (and the right decision) to leave Wausau Whitewater, the ending still came packed with sadness in some ways.

      I want to be there for my clients… not only when they come for services but also when a moment hits and they don’t know what to do. While I am certainly not a counselor, I know plenty of them both virtual and here in my hometown and I am happy to refer if that is the need or if maybe all they need is a little more direction to make sure they are using the right strategies to find their next position.

  3. Depression is something that I have struggled with for the past 20 years & it wasn’t until 4 years ago that I actually asked a Dr. about it. But that in it self was an awful experience. I had to push very hard to not be treated by my GP and be treated by a psychiatrist. I remember my GP asking me if my tummy hurt. That was when I knew I was right in pushing. Who would ask a 40 something women if their tummy hurts? Now I see my Psychiatrist every 3 months to manage my drugs and a social worker every week to help me manage my view.

    I don’t mind admitting that I suffer from depression but as a job seeker I don’t feel I can really admit that easily. I feel people are still scared of depression. I have a brain chemistry imbalance that can be worsened by situational changes such as job loss. I feel that admitting it will hurt my changes of finding a job but I am willing to take the chance here because perhaps something good will come out of it.

    If you know someone that is spiraling down don’t just tell them to get help and don’t expect them to call you and ask for help. When I am depressed I don’t have the capacity to ask. I only think of isolation. Draw me out a little at a time. Don’t pick me up just offer a hand.

    Thank you Julie for giving me an outlet to tell someone!

    • That’s why I covered the topic right now. I know Jason Alba did a great job in his post but I think job seekers and others need to be reminded of this issue. As Kim Woodbridge says, anything ending can start those feelings so family members and friends need to help watch for those feelings in people prone to depression. Since I am in Wisconsin, there is seasonal depression that also kicks in for many people when the sun is gone in the fall and winter months. I know that for me, I moved my office up to the family room to give me more sunshine.

      Thank you, Kimba, for sharing and keep in touch as your job search progresses.

      I shared this same information on the radio show I did this morning because the show host is well aware of the challenges of unemployed on the mindset.

  4. Excellent story, Julie, and with a happy ending (my favorite kind!).

    The key takeaway is: reach out to other people during duress, depression, difficult-to-manage challenges, and be available to take a life-line from those who reach out to us. When life is sailing along smoothly, we often forget that reaching for lifelines is needed when the waters get choppy. We just keep trying to single-hand the sailboat, when in fact, others are awaiting, on deck, eager and willing to help!

    Thanks for this meaningful post! It’s clear how much you care about your clients, and not just from a business perspective :)

    Jacqui
    .-= Master Resume Wirter´s last blog ..Interview Prep: No Pain, No Gain =-.

    • Thanks, Jacqui, I think you and I are cut from the same cloth and that though we both obviously have services that we charge for, we are in the industry because we understand the needs of both job seekers and career changers and understand how challenging the time can be.

  5. Hi Julie

    I really enjoyed this post. I’m really glad that your client came through and was able to take advantage of the support you’d given her.

    These are tough times for all of us. It is really challenging to keep believing that we are okay when all the outward signs we’ve ever taken as indicators aren’t endorsing that. There’s just such a need at the moment for us all, as individuals towards ourselves and to others, whether that’s in a professional capacity or not, to be supportive of our fellow human beings.

    Well done for raising the flag on this. The more it’s discussed the more we’ll be able to see that it’s pretty normal.
    .-= Christine Livingston´s last blog ..Here’s How New Work Pioneers Navigate Their Journey =-.

    • Hi Christine, I think that the environment that we are in right now with a worldwide recession in varying stages of being over, many people are struggling with depression. Whether real or not, fear takes over thinking we are not able to solve whatever problem we are facing. Depression can follow very quickly.

      Knowing that you are not alone, makes life easier to deal with.

  6. [...] unhappiness about a job is to give in to despair and hopelessness, which can potentially morph into depression. That doesn’t make the situation any better; it just magnifies the worst of it in your [...]

  7. [...] How often do individuals in transition go through a similar path! Losing a job is a blow, but a job seeker often starts out thinking, “I’m special! I have experiences and talent that many companies would like!” Unless this individual is one of the lucky few who land a job within a few short weeks, optimism wanes as the résumés are sent out and no employment offers come. Even when trying to stay positive and learn something from the rejection, the outlook on the job hunt can be downright depressing. [...]

  8. [...] when you have to roll with the punches! If you choose to give in at this point, it is easy to slide into depression and not be able to cope with every day life. But we have choices too. As much as sometimes it is [...]

  9. [...] Every day I run into job seekers somewhere who are disillusioned. They are trying so hard and can’t seem to keep their momentum going. This economy has made it hard for everyone from job seeker to entrepreneur to the elderly with investments. It is easy to get disillusioned and sometimes that leads to people giving up or worse. [...]

  10. […] better or differently but one of the contributing factors to the challenges for job seekers is that depression often sets in. Clinical or not, when an individual feels hopeless and slides into depression, it […]

  11. […] they feel lost and out of control. At that point, they can spiral into a depression-like response. True depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain and you should seek professional help if you or someone you […]

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