Tuesday, August 3, 2010


It is really hard to describe to people what this feels like. I have heard such ignorant comments as "You laugh all the time, you can't be depressed", or "Ha! I made you smile, you're not depressed".

Probably the easiest description is to picture waking up just before sunrise on a really cloudy and overcast day. There is light in the sky, enough that you can walk around without a need for a light, but everything is darker than it should be. You can't wake all the way up, even if you aren't tired. If you are having a really good day, the sun comes over the horizon, but never clears the thick clouds, and you can't shake that sleepiness. On the bad days, you hope that the rain comes, and takes you away from everything, but it never does. The world has no joy, not for you. Colors are duller, the things you love are boring, food all tastes bland, you want to do nothing but sleep, you aren't tired, and nothing will ever get better.

Before I got really bad in 2009, Allison pointed out to me that I was acting like I was depressed, so I got some Celexa from my Primary Care Physician. It was enough of a dose to clear the clouds, I could function as a human being. I didn't notice until far too late that I was still suffering from symptoms: mostly attention span. This let my work suffer, which I have summarized elsewhere. When everything finally hit me at once, I started being more proactive about what I need to do to take care of myself: get to a psychiatrist and a therapist. In the first week of my LOA, I got into see both of these professionals, the Psychiatrist upping my mediation by 50%, and the therapist giving me a good outside perspective on myself, one that I really needed.

I don't have too much more to say on this, but if you ever find yourself feeling like you can't go on, please get help. I know it is hard, but you need to take care of yourself, and you can't always do it alone. Trust me.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Realization that a 13 year relationship was ending

This coming Friday we meet with a divorce mediator. I am really happy to finally be moving on with this next phase of my life, but I am still really saddened that it came to this.

We have had our share of troubles, we have both brought up divorce more than once in all these years. I honestly wish I knew why we never went through with it before, and I honestly wish I knew why this time it is real.

I know people want to blame Allison, and that is unbelievably unfair to her and to me. The truth is, both of us have been unhappy, both of us have been putting up with a situation that we didn't want to be part of. This time it was her who decided to end it, and I thank her for having the courage to make that choice that I was too afraid to make, so many times.

Early 2010, Allison decided to go see a therapist. She had been noticeably unhappy for a while, and found a "life coach" kind of therapist. It seems to me that he helped her realize that she did not want to be married to me anymore. Like so many things here, all I can say is what it appeared to me, I am not saying that this is the factual account of things, just my perception of the situation.

It was around the time of the census starting that Allison told me that she wanted a divorce. Unlike the last time one of us brought it up, I told her that I agree. She seemed surprised that I would not argue, but I knew that she wasn't happy, and neither was I, so why fight it? She told me that she didn't have a timeline planned yet, but her hope was that once she started working for the Census, she could put aside some money, and she would move out, letting me keep the kids and house. She knows that I like my life: working, spending time with the kids, basic boring American dream, and I think she wanted some excitement. She felt really fulfilled when she went to Houston to help after the hurricane tore the town down, and while she was a full-time mom, that kind of adventure was too hard to justify. So we agreed to continue on the path we had long been on, living as roommates.

When she started real census work, she made fast friends with a bunch of co-workers, and seemed really alive for the first time in a while. I had a dash of a concern that one of her co-workers and her were getting very close, but between our discussion of divorce, and her happiness, I didn't fixate on it much. It turns out that they are very close, but still only friends. Being friends with him makes her happier than I have, maybe ever. Sadly, the perception a lot of people have is that he is the cause of all of this, but it isn't the truth.

That isn't to say that it didn't hurt. Really badly. Her wanting to leave in the unspecified future was very different from her being so much closer to someone else right now. It was a personal hell for me, and on top of my work situation, it was so damn hard to deal with. The worst part was that I was trying to be supportive of her, but kept messing up, getting her outright angry at me. All of this made me realize that as unhappy as we both were, for so long, I still love her, and will miss her dearly.

The hardest part of all was putting on a good front for people who didn't know anything was going on. I had told some of my family, but the kids and her whole side of the family was in the dark. When we told them all (after the kid's last day of school) I felt so much better. It was such a relief to be able to talk about everything without worrying about rumors getting to people before they could be told. The timing wasn't great for Allison, because of the perception of the "other man", I have been trying to dispel that as the cause ever since.

Now I have a couple of women's phone numbers, nothing is actually going on yet, but I feel ready to date. Allison is much happier, and might even have a place to live (that isn't with her soon-to-be ex-husband), so we, including the kids, can adjust to this new life before school starts up in the fall.

Work Troubles

This is all being written with the benefit of hindsight. I don't know how much differently everything would have gone with forewarning, but I suspect quite a bit better for me.

Everything started in late 2008, but I was really oblivious to it then. I was lucky enough to work on an IRAD (Internal Research and Development) project, which was really interesting, and a lot of fun. There were some challenges, but I thought they were understandable, and resolved pretty well. It turns out that it really took too long, and was the first mark against me; but no one bothered to tell me. 2009 rolled around, and I was working on a different IRAD. This time I was aware of the troubles I was running into, but had been discussing them with the project leader, not that it made any difference. I was having a hard time remembering little details, and I was having a hard time keeping my mind on a given task. It was around this time that Allison pointed out to me that my mood had been really dark, so I spoke with my PCP about getting medication. It helped my mood, but the quality of my work was still behind where it should have been, and I still hadn't realized to what extent.

After that IRAD, I was back to the main project I was on before I got to go to the cool ones, and the middle of the year was upon us. This meant that we were supposed to get mid-year reviews, the first time it was mandated at Raytheon. I met with my boss, and his mid-year assessment was that I took longer than expected on a few tasks, and should work on getting things done faster in the next half of the year. All in all, a constructive criticism, but given what was coming, it left a lot of crucial information out.

I was allowed to work on the newly added software build for the project I had been on. It was a broad-reaching update to code that had been stable for a very long time, so I wanted to be sure I got it right without too much trouble. However, I didn't get all of the details of what the system architect wanted, and had to start over on the task. He later changed his mind, making me start over again. I was optimistic about getting things done, but I kept uncovering new problems. I thought the build leader understood the problems, but I was wrong.

After three times that I had to adjust the end date for my part of the project, I was informed that I was to be removed from that build. At this point, I finally saw that I needed help. My attention span problems which led to missed details needed to be addressed; my job had suffered from my inattention to what was going on in my head, and I contacted HR for help with work, in light of suffering from depression.

Late March or Early April I had my 2009 performance review, which was terrible. I was placed on a Performance Improvement Plan, which could result in my separation from the company if it was not completed to management's satisfaction. The idea of these PIPs is that I was given three tasks, which need to be completed in six weeks. The first two tasks were estimated (by whom, I don't know) to take 1 week each. The last one should have taken around 1 month. I got the first task done in 8 days. Not as quickly as I wanted, but not too bad. The second task was a trainwreck. My proposed solution was rejected, and I had to go with a solution that I didn't like, and it didn't actually solve the problem. Worse, it took a lot longer to work out. After three weeks, I was allowed to go with my solution, and finished in less than a week. However, this left the final task (the one that needed 4 weeks) with one week before it was due. In the middle of May, I was told that I had failed my PIP, and would be let go from the company.

Given the state of my marriage, this was more than I could deal with. I seriously considered ending my life. My Life Insurance would provide for the kids better than I could without a job. I saw that I was truly useless to everyone, and my death would benefit more people than my living would. I decided to go home, say good bye to the kids, and take my own life. Obviously, I changed my mind before I even got home; the kids would be devastated, even if they would have financial security.

I went back to work the next day, and started asking my former boss and people I had worked with what I could do. Gayle, who was my favorite section manager ever, suggested I take a medical leave of absence, and she spoke to my department manager on my behalf. I took her advice, and filed for Short Term Disability, taking off all of June and part of July so that I could get help with how I was feeling.

The insurance company forced me back to work in the second week of July, too soon in my mind, and too soon in my psychiatrists mind, but I need to keep money coming in, so I went back. Since returning, I have had my immediate boss making unreasonable demands, belittling me and telling me that what happens next is unknown. For all I know, I will be fired any day now, or the company could be too afraid to fire someone sick, and they are just trying to make me so miserable I quit.