Have you ever been depressed, personally or professionally? What does it look like?
Hollywood would have us imagine a desperate man or woman alone, crying on the bedroom floor. Perhaps it is – but depression certainly has many faces.
I’ve supported company outplacement for 12 years now. That’s 12 years of helping people through the difficult task of transitioning from one job to the next – most often without warning. Sometimes, it’s as challenging as losing a loved one, particularly if people are blind-sided. Situations lack closure. People can’t stop looking in the rear-view mirror. They’re caught in a tailspin, free falling down a negative thought spiral, with no end in sight.
Depression sets in. They enter a deep, dark, and lonely place.
Rock bottom looks different to everyone. Yet it feels the same – like absolute hell.
Time convinces you of the worst: No one likes you. You lack talent. You’re obsolete. You have no value.
Were you really that good at your job… if you lost it? The recruiters aren’t calling you back. You can’t even support your family. You’ll never find a job. This is your life now – worthless and without future.
Typing these words is hard because I’ve not only seen these emotions, I’ve felt them. Hopelessness is a real disease of mind. If you’re not careful, you can let it consume you entirely.
But then light breaks through the darkness. The sun hits your face one day – and you decide to take ownership of your reality. You realize statistically, nearly everyone gets back on their feet. Sadness is temporary. “It can’t rain all the time.” Not even in the movies.
You remember your success stories – from childhood and career alike. You remember gratitude. You’re SICK of feeling this way. You decide to feel better by gradually challenging yourself more each day. You’re learning resilience, whether you know it or not.
Allow me to share a short story: A once destitute friend attended a networking coffee. She hung her purse – only to have it stolen with everything inside. With no alternative, she had to ask the person she just met for prospecting, for $20 just to get home. Many tears were shed that day.
Today, she’s thriving. It was a crucial moment, because she hit rock bottom… and bounced upward. After all, there was nowhere left to go!
So, if you find yourself in pain – depressed from unemployment – know that you’re not alone and there is a path forward. Things will get better, because they have to. You have value, but it’s up to you to demonstrate that value by respecting yourself, your health, your schedule, and your professional assets.
Stand up. Brush yourself off. And move forward. Unemployment depression is real, but so is your recovery.