Depression: The Black Dog has become a transient visitor?

black dog

Yes I am pleased to say that my old ‘friend’ the Black Dog has become only a transient visitor, here today gone tomorrow…kind of! So since my previous post on this subject, Has anyone seen a Black Dog, things have settled some more. The depression has been back, but really nothing to overly concern me. Mornings are the time when I am most likely to feel flat but providing I get myself up and going I usually break the cycle, and since my new job requires me to be up at 4.30am five days a week, I am fairly well covered.

The other helpful thing about my new job is that at no time am I able to just drift off and dwell in my thoughts. I am either trying to maneuver a bus through heavy traffic or around inner suburban streets, or I am interacting with the passengers as they come and go. All round my mind is well occupied…this is so different from my previous office job that had become totally boring and something I could do in my sleep (or in a state of depression).

office sleeper

So all round I am feeling a lot stronger, a lot more positive. On bad days I can face them knowing that I can manage, and still feel a sense of accomplishment and, if I can make somebody else’s day a bit better then it’s still been a good day.

I am still on my medication and at this point I don’t see myself coming off it for a while, I am just not that sure of how strong I really am. Also, I have been getting out a bit more recently and my wife has detected some of my ‘old’, ‘odd’ behaviors, so one step at a time. The other thing that does concern me about coming off the meds is, what happens if I start to slip and that triggers anxiety attacks, I do not want to go back there!

So what’s the moral of this story? Depression/mental illness is not something that will necessarily leave you, even with treatment. Treatment however can make a big difference but it takes time as well as trial and error, but don’t give up. Always look for ways within your life that can help you…get a new job, something you like rather than something that pays well or has some prestige to it. Help others, not just by social media but by getting out and getting involved, have that interaction with others – even if this means some kind of group therapy where you can use your experience to assist others.

I know I still have a long way to go and that I am still going to have bad times, but right now I am feeling liberated from that old dog, he’s still there but he doesn’t have the hold that he did, he’s not tearing me down and making even my good days bad….let’s hope I still feel the same tomorrow!!!! (Just joking)

Today (8)

buses

Today is the beginning of my second week of work, having lunch at the moment (9.30am) so decided to write this and post it tonight when I get home.

So why am I having lunch at 9.30am? Start time was 5.50am.

When I got to the depot this morning I was greeted with the news that one of the drivers had a heart attack (see info), collapsed and died a short time earlier! Great start on a wet, windy, freezing cold morning, still the buses must keep running. The best part of the morning was the third route I did, a school bus route – first day back after a two week break – only problem was this school doesn’t start till tomorrow! Whatever happened to communication?

Last week was made up of two days in house training, then three days driving. Was ok but my instructor seemed to have a Jekel and Hyde problem, each day around 11.30am his personality went from congenial to antagonistic, then after an hour or so he would back flip and be fine again…go figure. My guess is he is probably suffering from fatigue and consequently at a certain point in the day he just cracked. Still a new instructor this week and so far he seems a lot more relaxed. This week I have three day here driving again then back to the class room for two days.

It is really weird going back to work after more than twelve months off, I was a happy retiree, retiree I didn’t need to go back to work (except for the need for money), I was happy doing my own thing with my walking, furniture making, shopping (one of the reasons I need to work…we love shopping). Not that I don’t want to work, it’s just not one of those things that drives me. In my twenty six years in the government I remember that most of those who retired in their fifties or sixties would be back as soon as they could get in. Some of them had great pensions and had no need financially to work, but they just wanted to work…I think they needed to get a life!

So how is the depression holding up? Well I have been mostly clear! Since those days a couple of weeks back when I had my first taste of fog free life, I have been a little bit ‘unstable’, not in a bad way but just in that the fog has tended to drift in and out. Some mornings are clear but mostly a bit low, nothing like they were earlier but just a reminder that the fog is lurking. On these days if I get myself up and going early I can improve quite quickly (so not too much of a problem now that I am working mornings). If I stay in bed then it takes longer for the fog to clear. The other thing that I have noticed is that I am prone to being very self critical if I make mistakes or if someone points out a mistake, I don’t remember being like that before. Last Friday I had a bit of a bad afternoon and got so ticked off with myself that I left for the weekend without finding out my Monday start time and without handing in my daily time sheet…will keep monitoring that one.

The other thing that has happened with the start of work is that I have fallen behind in my blog reading, way behind. So if anyone gets comments on two week old posts don’t be surprised! There are a couple of posts in the pipeline but they too are having to wait. I am just trying to take all things as casually as possible, spend as much time with my wife as possible – we have hardly been apart in twelve months – and just relax.

Today (3)

Well I don’t know, I have been so busy that I haven’t been able to finish anything to post. I have a few under construction but just haven’t finished them. Anyhow I thought I should at least give an update on the bus driving situation. The last three days went extremely well, no more incidents. On the second day I got a new evaluator who did the last three days with me, he started the day by getting me to drive him to a nearby coffee shop…yep a man after my own heart, what a champion! Actually I think it might be his way of putting drivers at ease, and it worked, it was all plain sailing after that.

After leaving the coffee shop, we started weaving through the streets, some busy some not, then we connected with a busy road and just crawled our way along the street….at some point I took the time to look up and notice a lot of tall buildings around, we were in the CBD! The streets look different when you are in a bus ok! We drove all through the CBD on the various bus routes, no incidents. This was repeated on the next day which has turned out to be fortuitous as it seems that I may be spending a lot of time in there…yep I passed and hopefully will be starting in a couple of weeks, hooray.

The last day he took me over to the coast, a long and winding route that had me totally confused as to where I was. Still it won’t be one of mine so I don’t care. What was good was when we got back to the depot, the instructor told me he had sat a bottle of water on the seat next to him as we were leaving the beach area and when we got back to the depot, it was still standing…how cool is that, I couldn’t do that in my own car! So, come drive with me, I will give you a comfy ride!

So how has this impacted on my depression and anxiety? Well so far it hasn’t affected me at all, perhaps being a little calming with my mind being so totally distracted. Probably a bit early to say yet but it is looking good!! Better get on to some of those other posts.

Today (2)

So it happened…today was my first day of bus driver evaluation! The driving turned out to be the easy party, with a few little hiccups of course! The hard part was getting to and from the depot. I didn’t sleep well, I never do before any event, holiday, etc., my cold yesterday turned into the dripping tap episode so I was not only tired I was terribly dehydrated. I had to walk thirty minutes to the train station, thirty minutes on the train including a change of trains, then a thirty minute walk to the depot. I was early, no surprise there, so I stopped half way from the station to the depot for a coffee. I’m sure that if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have made it to the depot. After a brief rundown on the depot facilities it was into the bus and away…I nailed it!

Now for the unedited version. I did do very well and the instructor was very impressed, but I had a couple of things that didn’t go quite to plan. First; we are driving down a street and she tells me that she wants me to turn right but to be careful of the concrete median strip. What she forgot to tell me was that the concrete median strip was on the side road that I was turning into. So I’m cruising down this street, not a median strip in sight, but she says “slow down, slow down” (very calmly), then suddenly says “you have to turn here”! Yeah not a good look, anyhow I attempted to turn but had run out of space. Now with traffic banking up in both directions, I have to reverse up so I can swing out and continue down the street. Yep it was funny, fortunately she was laughing too.

image

Second; we had been stopped for a break in a dead end street that had a ‘kind of’ turning circle at the end. She says she wants me to do a ‘U’ turn. The other three buses that I had seen come down while we had been sitting there all did 3 point turns, but she says a ‘U’ turn is possible but there is no room for error. Me, I think, yep I can do this. In my rush to do it I forgot to put the bus into gear (we were facing downhill so I didn’t notice the bus not being in gear until I tried to accelerate through the middle of the turn….no power. I got distracted for just a split second but that was all it took to miss the turn….she was laughing again, I think it made her happy to have me fail something.

Anyhow it was a great day all in all and I felt great when I got back to the depot. Walked out the depot to start the journey home…as I walked out the door I was suddenly overwhelmed with tiredness, I was whacked, and I had not drunk enough water so I was dehydrated as well. So it took a lot longer to get home, my walking was at least half pace. Now I am showered, watered and feed, and ready for bed….but it is only 8pm! Today is going to be a long day even if it ends now!

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