In the fall of 2018 my son, our oldest child, went off to college. Many hour away. We’re so close I used to tell him that his leaving will be like losing a limb. When we did finally send him off it was really quite hard on me, but I moved on. I got to visit him and see that he was still my close son, and even saw evidence that he was homesick or missed the family. Hard as it was, it didn’t feel like a traumatizing event worthy of a depressive episode.

I do remember a month or so later when I was due to take a business trip to Scandinavia, I was worried about my depression when I was far away and alone. I had my anxiety (don’t like to talk to strangers, feel self conscious in public, etc.) but that was with me for decades and I knew how to deal with it. Or avoid strangers. But even then I had my depression, though I powered through it and had a great time and did some great work.

In december a peer quit our company. We were both a little overworked, but this meant I was going to be taking on more work than usual. Love the job, love the company, love the people I work with, so it’s no big deal working a bit harder or more. That and we had plenty of open positions, so help would soon be on the way.

Again, I still don’t track my major episode to that person leaving, or to the company or the work. I think in the end it’s more about a growing dysthymia and additive depressive episodes – or “mental flu” as I called it.

Regardless, December was the beginning. I stopped seeing friends, doing hobbies, going out, doing anything except work or escaping into video games. Sure, there were family functions, even vacations, but through it all I became more and more isolated. Still wearing my mask, so even my wife couldn’t see the growing horrible.

January, typically a quiet work month, was bonkers. We added a member to my team which helped immensely, but I was still juggling the workload as well as larger clients. And looking for more “me”s to add to the team. It’s hard to find more “me”s because of the experience we were looking for, and the type of job. Not impossible, but tricky.

By the end of May it was getting worse, but it still felt like the usual depression, though I hadn’t really thought about the fact that instead of a few days or a week, it had stretched out into months.