Deano’s answer to: “How do I recover professionally from depression?”

I won't recommend giving up at work, but it really is hard to overcome those prior impressions. Take it from me – I survived a workplace demotion from department head to line worker, and slogged through another year with the same company before I had fully recovered.

Two points of attack I would suggest:

  • A concerted effort to put on that "new face" to any new employees who come on board – they will likely make a lot of their own decisions before they completely trust their peers/boss' assessments in general, and especially about coworkers outside their team/department.
  • Focus the high energy/excitement/passion work outside the workplace. Volunteer with an SPCA or the like. Take cooking classes. Whatever you do, make it something you'll be likely to keep up with even when things get a bit busy/stressful… These outside activities also expand your network, and give you much needed "filler" on the resumé in many cases. Look around you, I bet you can think of a few coworkers who even reference such interest – artwork or handicrafts in their work areas, the occasional girl scout troop cookie drive, or a big dish of something to share in the lunchroom. Having outside interests is a demonstration of high value (DHV – a pickup term, ack, but let's run with it!), and being able to demonstrate value in one field has various potential transfers to other areas. At the very least, it gives people a non-work-related reason to talk to you at work – and sometimes your impressions of what people think about you and your productivity/skills/potential are entirely driven by work experiences. Being able to moderate those interactions with more neutral topics helps you not get caught in a negativity spiral that is otherwise very very difficult to escape.

Just doing those two things consistently, or even combine them (bring a plate of cookies to each new employee when they first start out – then they appreciate you, and can let everyone else who drops by for one know where they got them), and you should start noticing your energy and enthusiasm rising again, to the point where you'll be getting better assignments/involvement/support where you are, or at least feel better about looking for a new role in a new organization.

How do I recover professionally from depression?

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