“Fighting depression” does not appear on any job description.
Conducting job duties — no matter how menial or how daunting — has never been an issue for me. In one job, I faithfully took a former boss’s clothes to and from the cleaners. In another, I had the pleasure of demonstrating a business solution for those who run a global corporation. Due to past traumas that occurred during previous jobs, however, I constantly fight an inner war against depression.
The most depressing part of my past was looking forward to working at a new job and being told by new supervisors that they looked forward to working with me — only to find later that I failed to perform at my job.
For my first major job after graduating from college, I was hired by a state government. When first hired, I was told how impressive my work was. Not only did I feel an incredibly huge sense of job security, but this was the time when I met the woman who would someday become my wife.
Less than a year later, though, my supervisor fired me in front of my new wife. During this event, my supervisor recited my mistakes. She mentioned that I not only performed poorly but I lacked confidence, as well. The sad thing is that she previously documented that my work ethic made me a reliable employee, even though I had trouble performing. Not only that, the women who ran this department were actually using government property to exchange male pornography, discuss sexual enhancement devices, and use e-mail referencing the television program “Gilligan’s Island.”
I’m always thinking, “Umm, I’m the one who was fired?” I will never recover from being fired in front of my wife. I think about this every day at work, even 17 years later.
After failing as a state employee, I settled into the role of a business software engineer. I had a hard time holding a job, however, due to mistakes that I had made and outright lies told about me to my supervisors by customers. Understanding business is hard enough. But configuring software for business comes with stress, self-doubt, and much embarrassment.
Instead of implementing software for multiple companies, I now work for one company. I have a supervisor who tells me that I need to work on my self-perception. In fact, he tells me that I’m too hard on myself.
This sounds wonderful. But the seeds of depression that were planted by previous supervisors have created a responsibility that I’m bound to perform every day, battling thoughts of depressing episodes from my past.
I wish that I could explain what keeps me going. In fact, I have even had to force myself to stop pondering the question, “What was the point of working so hard in college?”
Decades from now, when I’m making arrangements for my final resting place, I will ensure that my headstone displays the following epitaph: “At least he tried!” As disturbing as that sounds, at least it’s an honorable and impressive evaluation of my job performance.