3 months and 23 days ago I was diagnosed with a major depression disorder after months living with what Ive thought it was just a normal, and not so happy, mood.
Living in Chile made things a little bit harder: Chile is famous for being the most seismic country in the World, for having a plenty of cheap and good wines and for having some of the most beautiful landscapes in the World to visit. But its also one of the most depressive countries in the World, with more than 20% of its population suffering from depression.
I dont trust on this numbers as Im pretty sure depression rates in Chile are inaccurate because diagnosis of depression (and the medical leaves from it) are a mere business issue. Workers without ethics uses a false depression or other mood disorders to get they money back from Isapres, the very own chilean private (and very expensive) medical care system. Isapres in the other hand had created several ways to minimize their risk and keeping their profit rates on the sky: In Chile, Psychiatric is not a normal medicine branch. Psychiatric attention is not covered by your insurance as Oncology or Dermatology are. Here you have two options: choose to have your attention where your Isapre want (with doubtful quality and long wait times) or pay the attention entirely from your pocket. I was fortunate to be able to afford the second option.
After choosing a clinic with a good reputation in Santiago I had my first psychiatrist attention who promptly add me on the most expensive antidepressant in town, together with creative prescription drugs that have as one of their side effects the ability to make me fall asleep. I was there three more times in less than a month as my sleep disorder was getting worse. I tried four different medicines without any significant results with a endless hope that antidepressant will start with its therapeutic effects anytime soon.
Ive been an active worker for the last 8 years, taking risks, being an expat, accepting challenges and in mostly of the time delivering good outcomes. I have an amazing wife, an incredibly family, deliberately chose to live in Chile after my life-changing experience as part of Start-Up Chile in 2012 and a job that I really love. Nothing was wrong with me and with my life but at twenty eight I was clinically depressed and under antidepressants drugs. The job I always loved became impossible to do. Not only my happiness that always marked my character was gone but my complete vitality.
In the first weeks Ive tried to ignore my illness. Then things are getting even worse at the point my father flew to Santiago to help me find another doctor and with him an effective pharmacotherapy.
5 weeks and 3 days after my first psychiatrist appointment I saw another doctor, handpicked from the best Medicine University in Chile. He changed all my prescription drugs and forced me to take a 15-days medical leave of course my Isapre sent me to another doctor on the last day of my leave to ensure I was really depressed and proceed with my medical leave approval.
I start sleeping since the day one. And start recovering myself.
After one week my cognition was much better and I started reading about my illness following my boss recommendation. Then I found Andrew Solomons The Noonday Demon best-seller. Reading it was hard but helped me a lot to understand that I was not crazy: Depression is real and its more common than Id never imagined.
You will almost certainly face more and deeper adversity. The question is not if some of these things will happen to you. They will. Today I want to talk about what happens next. About the things you can do to overcome adversity, no matter what form it takes or when it hits you. The easy days ahead of you will be easy. It is the hard days the times that challenge you to your very core that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive. -Sheryl Sandberg
After my 15-days out of office I was feeling much better. I was eager to be back to work and try to have my life back. I was sleeping better (and Im still waiting for my Sleep Shepherd device) and I was fortunate enough to work for a company that understood my temporary disability and gave me all the support to be back in a very short period of time, up and running.
Today I know depression breakdowns can happen again. I know who and how to ask for help. Im under treatment and Ill be following it at least for the next 12 months. And Im fine with that.
A few days ago Ive watched a masterpiece of Commencement Speech by Facebooks COO, Sheryl Sandberg. What she learned from her husband suddenly death Ive intuitively learned from being clinically depressed. Here is her explanation of Martin Seligmans Three Ps and I really recommend you to watch her Commencement Speech right away.
This is the lesson that not everything that happens to us happens because of us. My first instinct was to blame myself: You worked so hard for the last four years that youre now completely broken. Why did you start Always Hungry Diet?. Why you didnt take longer vacations last year?.
Understanding that some things did not happen because you made some mistake is relaxing.
This is the lesson that even on the deepest adversity you need to find moments of joy and gratitude. My first instinct was to consider worst case scenarios for everything: Your wife will leave you. You are a fraud and youll be fired soon or later. This is impossible to do. I dont want to do anything, leave me alone.
Relying on other people to fight against your debility is not weakness, its liberating.
This is the lesson that projecting our current feelings out indefinitely is harmful and unreal. Its fine to be sad, its fine to feel anxious but its mandatory to recognize that they will not last forever.
Trusting that some of the greatest days of your life are yet to come is refreshing.
After my very own storm Im feeling good again. Im still struggling with suboptimal sleep patterns but I have enough energy to be who I really am. And I know better than before who I am.
Build resilience. Build resilience in yourselves. Build resilient organizations. Build resilient communities. -Sheryl Sandberg
Posting this publicly was a tough decision but I think this humble post could help people who are fighting against depression or any other hopeless moment on their lives.