The Real Costs Of Depression

It is no secret, I’m sure, to long-time readers that I’ve been floundering a bit the last couple months. My full-time job has been getting the best of me lately, with several project deadlines looming around the end of the year. My Mom’s death in September has made focusing on anything besides grief difficult the last two months, though I have had to try to put one foot in front of the other and get back to a semi-normal routine. Because I am a glutton for punishment, we have also decided to move this month.

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While all those factors have conspired to affect motivation in several areas of my life, what has really suffered is my writing. Thanks to a number of close blogging friends, I have had no shortage of guest posts to present here at Frugal Dad (Neal from WealthPilgrim.com is sharing another great one with us this Friday!) since they learned of my mom’s passing. These breaks in the action are welcomed, but I do feel a little guilty for not cranking out material at the pace I once did.

Just yesterday I missed my first Monday post in nearly two years of blogging. I wasn’t motivated to write. I had an incredibly busy weekend of packing and moving boxes, etc, and when I finally sat down late Sunday night at the keyboard there was nothing left. No witty budget concepts. No rants about self-reliance. No new reviews to tell you about. Had I finally run out of things to say?

Fortunately, not yet. I had simply run out of steam. I was losing focus, and not just with my writing. I am not sure if it is depression or just the normal grieving process, but after losing a parent (who also happened to be my best friend, besides my wife), you sort of go through a period of just going through the motions.

I wake up, eat a quick breakfast, kiss the wife and kids and drive to work. I check my email, my to-do list, keep busy, leave in the evenings, play with the kids a while, work on the blog and go to bed. But when I go to bed feeling completely exhausted I can’t recall the specifics of the day. Did I even ask my kids how their day was at dinner? Did I remember to send that status email on the big project at work? Did I remember to pay the utility bill online? And for just a moment, just a split second, I don’t even care. I just want to go to bed to put this day in the books and do it all again tomorrow.

The problem is when you find yourself in one of these funks the days just start to slide by. Life starts happening to you, instead of you being in control. The budget gets relaxed. Old, bad spending habits come to the forefront again. You stray from healthy eating and start refueling on crap from fast food restaurants and vending machines. You distance yourself from loved ones. And the worst part? When you are going through it, you aren’t even aware it is happening.

At some point you snap out of it; like a fog lifting in the middle of the morning. Things start to become meaningful again. It is at this point that you recognize the days have been sliding by, and you start grabbing for moments before they can get by you. Yes, I’ll be at my son’s next football game, and instead of watching alone at the fence down from the bleachers, I’ll be among the other fans cheering for our kids’ team. Yes, I will again be my former productive self at work. Yes, I will balance my checkbook and take a stab at a new budget for the next month. I will re-engage life.

This was really just a long way to say thanks for sticking around during this tough time. I have some exciting ideas for the blog in the coming months, including a few spring projects I think you will enjoy (mostly related to square foot gardening, living off the grid, etc.). I’m going to rededicate myself to getting back to my frugal roots over the next few weeks, and hopefully my writing will reflect that focus.

Finally, if you are reading this and feeling blue, or more than blue, I suggest you talk to someone. It doesn’t have to be a professional holding a psychology degree, though I would certainly recommend one if you are experiencing signs of depression. Go out to lunch with a close friend and open up about what you’ve been feeling. Sometimes it helps to simply get things off your chest, and let someone else know what you are going through. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the symptoms and let too many days slide by.

Comments

  1. I agree with all the comments above, specifically that God is always with you and will help you and that we, as readers, will be here for the long haul too!

    I lost my own dad two years ago at Christmas. Christmas, which used to be my favorite holiday, is now painful. One thing that got me through my own bought of depression was working out on a regular basis. Sometimes I have to really force myself to put on my running shoes, but after a quick run I always feel a zillion times better. Even if I feel at the point of exhaustion, running gives me the endorphins and a second wind at the end of the day.

    Hang in there FD!

  2. You’re in good company, if that’s any consolation. In May I gave birth to a beautiful little girl who went straight to Jesus’ arms, and I’m still trying to dig my way out of this black hole. Just understand that grief is a process, and it does get better. I’ll be lifting you up to God, praying He brings you comfort and peace. ((hugs))

  3. Hi.
    I’ve been where you are and it’s a tough place to be. A few things I’ve learned which I hope will help… always remember how much your mom loved you, and know that she would want you to move forward past the intense grief. Of course, you will always miss her but she will be “there” with you, in you.
    Also, push yourself to “get out there” and keep your life busy with family and friends. If someone invites you to do something, do it, even if you don’t feel like it. Getting out there and living is a good way to move forward.
    And thirdly, ask for help if you need it. Tell someone you are struggling. Tell him/her you need to get together. Others often want to help but don’t know how.
    I’m sorry you are having this experience. Losing a parent is one of the toughest things to go through, especially one you are close to. Grief is a long-term process but you can move through it at your own pace. Please do ask your family and friends for support when you need it. Know that your readers care about you too.

  4. Grieving is a process, but it sounds like you have so much good in your life to help you get through. I’m looking out my window at a gorgeous sunrise, and it always reminds me that there is still a “today” to make things better and be the people we want to be. Keep up the fantastic work each day at a time.

  5. When things go down in one area, it affects your performance in other areas. Down stuff causes more down stuff. There’s no question about it.

    There’s a long-term good side to this negative cycle, however. When things are going good, we tend to just keep on doing. We don’t reexamine basic beliefs in good times. We figure we’ve got it more or less figured out.

    It’s bad times that bring on deep thought. Deep thought is what brings on the true breakthroughs in terms of writing, in terms of money, in terms of happiness, in term of spirituality, across the board.

    God is doing this to you, Frugal Dad. He has bigger things in mind for you.

    I’m not saying that the hurt (especially re your mother) is not real. It’s real. I’m saying that this is part of a process that leads to an even better place than where you were before the hurts began.

    I don’t know why God chooses to do it this way. It’s not the way I would do it. But God is smarter. He knows what he is doing. And I have seen him do it this way enough times now to be able to recognize the pattern.

    The fact that you have the courage to take openly about it is a very good sign.

    Rob

  6. “Finally, if you are reading this and feeling blue, or more than blue, I suggest you talk to someone”…. You are right. Talk to your best friend… Jesus Christ. If He’s not yet your BFF, just ask in your your heart… He is always ready and always has room for one more friend.

  7. Depression is tough and no easy way to handle it. Everyone deals with it differently, I sometimes have a few days where I get depressed for no reason, then snap out of it. Need to find a way to not let it take over your life.

  8. as a depressed gal for most of the last 20 years I now know it is the the things you feel least like doing: connecting with others, being in social settings, doing physical activities and getting outdoors which push the clouds away the best- just try to focus on your blessings and know that you are helping others when you take action

  9. Don’t worry about the blog too much Jason, we’re all here for you, and we’ll be here when you’re ready to start it up on a regular schedule again. Just remember to take care of yourself and your family during this tough time.. We love you man!

  10. Jason I have never posted before but had to share that I have dealt with depression most of my adult life and tried to convince myself many times that it was just a bad patch and this would pass. If I had sought help (wether it be meds or just talking to a therapist) sooner I would have saved myself weeks or months of wasted sadness and depression. Please know that you do not have to go it alone and will more than likely be feeling much better just having spoken to someone. You are going through one of the most stressful situations we face in life. The death of a parent. On top of dealing with the greef of that now moving on top of that is really a double if not triple dose of stress. This will all settle in a while but in the mean time seek help from a professional because family and friends though helpful truly cannot under stand the true extent of depression unless they have been through it themselves. I am not a health care professional but have come to realize that they are a huge factor in getting past this time in your life.

  11. Jason – This too shall pass.

    It’s a normal process and the best part is that you realize it is going on.

    On top of normal grief and depression, you also have mental exhaustion with all you have going on. You are just plain worn out mentally and emotionally from the past year. Take good care of yourself and you’ll be back to normal after the ‘after Christmas season slump.’ Try to just take one day at a time, be kind to yourself, don’t overwhelm yourself til you are better, and ask for help when you need it.

    Force yourself to stay physically busy and you will get thru it. It’s temporary – it will pass.
    Hang on to that thought!

    Best wishes to you and yours!
    Take good care of yourself!

  12. Jason, I am with you all the way and enjoy reading your blogs and yes, some of your guest blogs. I lost both my parents over ten years ago a year apart to lung cancer. They smoked Kool Menthols! Just know all your readers are here for you! hugs, Lindi

  13. I’m glad you’re feeling a bit better — that’s all real, hard stuff.

    Also, I look forward to chatting with you about square foot gardening: I’m a serious gardener and it drives me nuts, so I’m always curious about what the appeal is and how well it works for people :)

  14. Thank you for sharing that. Grief can come in so many forms, for so many losses, and can be devastating. The fact that you recognize it puts you way ahead of some folks. Allow yourself to grieve; you will always miss her but it will get better. Blessings to you and your family.

  15. I have bipolar disorder and have found that, “This too shall pass,” is one of the most important phrases in the world. When you’re mired in depression, remind yourself that you WILL feel better eventually, then take whatever steps you need to heal and refresh yourself. Sometimes it’s sleep, talking with a friend, some mindless channel surfing or a brisk walk. Ask your body what it needs to feel better and then do it, as long as it’s not harmful or addictive. It sounds like you’re on the upswing now, and I wish you all the best with your move.

  16. I just stumbled onto your blog right after the loss of your mother. I am shocked that you think you can carry on as normal in only 2 months. Give yourself a break! It takes about 6 month just to come out from under the fog of grief. A year and you might not visit that place everyday. It is okay. I think you are great. After all am judging you on the last two months. You will make it through this. We are all on your side.

    Kim

  17. This must be normal. I, too, have experienced much the same thing.
    July 7,2008 I lost my only brother to cancer. He was 42, and I had almost idolized him. The pressures of life add to this. I was almost beyond going a few weeks ago. I took a vacation, spent time with my wife and children, and came home feeling better. I’m not 100%, but I’m on the way.
    I’m feeling happier and better little by little.
    God is gracious and will help you know what to do to help alleviate some of the troubles. Sorrow still remains, but the physical effects will pass, as will the debilitating depression.
    This takes more time than most of us realize….until we are in the situation our own self.

  18. Hang in there. I don’t think that any of your regular readers would begrudge you the time to get through this difficult time on your own terms. We’ve all been there, in one way or another.

  19. I lost my older brother to suicide in June and am also moving this month. I think we are supposed to wait a year after a trauma or grieving to make any life changes. That makes sense, but a good oppurtunity arose for me to buy my grandmother’s house, so I took it.

    It has been really hard though. I don’t have joy about my move and am stressed about all the work at the new house and packing at current house.

    I am trying to walk with the Lord, be the mom He wants me to be, homeschool, fix up new house, pack, grieve my brother, prepare for holidays, ahhh. My blog has also taken a back seat.

  20. Loved all the caring messages and advice here and actually Frugal Dad you had some of the best with seek out professional help or tell someone how you are feeling.Maybe some blog topics will rise out of a horrible situation( your Mom dying.How about some financial ideas related to what you are dealing with betwwen the aftermath of someone dying, moving expenses that surprised you,budgeting for the move,things that help during this time for instance you mentioned guest bloggers-what else helped?Coping ideas how you get thru some life events.Maybe ask your followers for topics they would like to hear you write about right now till the creative flow picks up.You probably notice more than we do.To me you are plugging along a pretty sad guy who writes great and has lost someone he really loves.Think of the Phoenix ” out of the ashes” Best of luck

  21. Jason,

    As someone else mentioned, life has it’s ups and downs. Short term depression is one thing, but be careful that it doesn’t spiral into something deeper.

    Speaking from experience, I spent several years totally pissed off at the world and my family bore the brunt of it. It was not fair to them and I realized I spent so much time depressed about life that I was out of touch with all the good things in life, thus making me an angry monster. I finally talked to my family doc about it since I was going nowhere trying to do anything about it myself. I hate to resort to meds, but they certainly did the trick. I took anti-depressants for about a year… totally fixed me up. I felt ashamed to be taking them, but once I stopped hiding it, I realized like 30% of the people I knew had been on or were on anti-depressants.

    My point is… it’s a slippery slope. Be careful and be sure to ask for help- your family deserves nothing but your best.

  22. @Engineer… nothing to be ashamed about. You knew that something was wrong and finally talked to your MD about it. People take medications for high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, stomach disorders, thyroid, etc. Depression is another illness that can be treated with medications at times. Like you, I speak from experience, but from a chronic point of view. It took me over two years to tell my MD what was going on and then I started taking medication & still do (had a couple trials of stopping, which did not work for me). A couple of family members have taken medications short-term during times of stress and anxiety to help them get through the situation. A helping hand is needed sometimes, whether by medication, counseling, talking to friends, or whatever works for you.

  23. Hang in there! I know firsthand what it is like to be in a funk and feel alone. You’re not! You have friends, family, and a huge following on the web pulling for you. Please don’t hesitate to talk to someone – therapists and family doctors can help IMMENSELY!

    Take care – we’ll be looking forward to more posts from you!

  24. Simple solution: post a “Temporarily suspended due to personal reasons – be back as soon as possible” and take care of yourself.
    We’ve all been there, and we’ll wait for you.
    Best wishes to you and yours.

  25. Hi Jason, it’s part of the grieving process, this rollercoaster. Be gentle with yourself, and take each day as it comes. Some days you just won’t be able to do what you did last week, and you need to give yourself time to pause and reflect. It’s a long haul, and it’s still such early days. Take care, and be taken care of, too. Hope you have some supportive friends around you right now.
    Diana x

  26. I have only recently been following your blog, which I enjoy. I think it was sensible of you to have you friends host the blog while you were dealing with your loss. Take your time; there is no rushing grief- it comes and goes, attacks and wanes when we least expect it.

    You were raised by a single mother; I was raised by my dad due to the death of my mother when she was very young, as was I! When he died, I was heartbroken. It’s different when you only have one parent. I am not a religious person but I do feel that the intensity of our grief is measured by the love we have for that person.

    Take whatever time you need. Your blog readers will wait.

  27. Jason
    First, don’t worry about the blog. You shouldn’t feel you have to post every day anyway. We who enjoy your work will be here.

    Grieving is a complex process and it’s different for every person. Most people don’t even stop to really think about how it affects them—at least you are paying attention to your life to see where things are shifting/changing, etc.

    Most people advise activity. And that is good, to a point. But a lot of people keep active to avoid really going deep into their feelings.

    We lost our mother last Xmas and my close friend lost her husband the same day. Watching my brother and my friend “grieve” (as I do my own version) has been quite revealing.

    Activity for the sake of activity will not help.

    You really need time to break away from the normal routine and explore what is going on in terms of the life changes that result (on sooooo many, many, many levels) from the loss of a parent or spouse (or anyone you love).

    You have to go into it. Not around it or over it.

    You may want to actually spend time writing about your feelings, just for yourself, rather than blog writing.

    Men in particular (sorry) have trouble really getting into their feelings and acknowledging them.

    yes, you do have to get up each day and go thru the motions (on some days) and that is the good news. Some people never really recover from grief because they do not have demands on their time/energy and they literally “sink.”

    Us working folks have no such safety net and that’s for the good, I think.

    Your “old” life is gone and that is also part of your mourning/grieving. Your identity changes, your role in the family, lots of things change forever with the loss of a mother.

    You need time, reflection and support to help you go thru it all. It’s especially important to take it slow as you approach the holidays, which can really find you dazed, confused and in pain as they approach.

    There are some excellent books out there that can also help you gain some perspective and context to your grief. Therapy can be helpful, but finding someone you feel comfortable with and whose approach works for you…a real trick to find them.

    As for medication, please consider it only as a last resort. Many doctors are far too quick to recommend drugs when they are not needed.

    You are functioning and it doesn’t seem like you are bordering on any kind of breakdown, so forget about drugs. They also dull people to the pain they must feel and “be” with before they can move through their lives.

    You never stop missing those you love–and nothing is ever the same. But there comes a time when you realize that they would be very unhappy to see you in such pain and also that you want to focus on remembering and celebrating their life, not focusing on their passing. And one finds a new way of being in your life even though they are no longer with you on the physical plain.

    It’s tricky but at least you are on the path: admitting how hard it is and how it does make it difficult to do even the most basic things.

    it is as others said, a rollercoaster.

  28. Keep plugging away. Look at all the people’s lives that you touch in these messages. Just sharing your pain has made them feel less alone. Think of all those who read it and did not post a comment.
    I have nothing to point to, regarding the funk that I am in. Hour & budget cut backs at work have made us all owly and sniping at each other as we try to shift jobs off of our desk to someone else’s and they respond in kind. It is a vicious cyle that your blog made me realize has to stop tomorrow. Tough times will either tear you down or build you up. I need to make the conscious choice that this will be a building time.

  29. The thing about depression is that it just usurps your energy, your memory and your time. I understand the feeling of being busy all day, but still feeling unable to recall details or point to things you got done.

    I am sorry for your loss. I have not experienced the grieving process for a close relative, but I am a depressive and my PF blog actually deals a lot with frugality and debt reduction amidst depression and other disability. I think even those of us afflicted with these illnesses — temporarily or on a more constant level — can forget just how much it zaps from us.

    I guess my point is that you seem to be keeping on top of things — not in that you’re staying ahead of the melancholy, though you are. More that you are realizing how much you are coping with, and not being too hard on yourself. If you can keep that perspective, and keep your friends and family who care about you and want to help you through this tough period, you are miles ahead of the game. Even if that game still takes it all out of you.

    Take care.

  30. FD,

    You are incredibly brave and honest. You continue to be an inspiration for me and all your readers.

    Everyone has periods of over-load. Not everyone has the strength to be so honest about it.

    That’s why you are and will continue to be so successful.

  31. I had a 7 year experience with depression, and that was with therapy! It is nothing to take lightly. Now that was 15 years ago and I made it through the fog!

    Hang in there and I look forward to your Square Foot Gardening project! I am a new sqfooter! My biggest problem is with watering consistently…glad you wrote about depression and how it can steal your time.

  32. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. Your grief is still so fresh. Please give yourself time to mourn, to be spaced out, and feel tired. I believe that you are processing the grief and that truly takes a lot of energy. You are experiencing it rather than pretending it’s not there, and that will affect you. Depression is costly–when I first took Prozac in 1996 after years and years of depression, I was stung when I realized how much of my life had been lost to depression. Don’t beat yourself up for missing a post. You sound like you are doing just fine. Be well.

  33. i think that i should follow your advice. while i am not in a depression stage or anywhere close, i have a tendency to keep things to myself and i have a feeling that this can be detrimental. I definitely dont want to be found one morning hanging from the rafters with a noose around my neck and my tongue on my chin. :)

  34. Hey Jason – I wish you the best. Just think about your Auburn Tigers, and also…. step back and think what you’ve accomplished with this site.

    FrugalDad is one of the Top PF sites in the world. Think about that, and all that you’ve done to accomplish this. Pretend you were just an upstart, and then amaze yourself with what you’ve done.

    Best

  35. (((Jason))) I lost my sibling in September so I know what you are going through. I’m trying to work through it too. They say grief is a process and it takes time so don’t be hard on yourself and give yourself time to adjust to your life without this person in it.

  36. I appreciate your honesty. Your blog is about so much more than money; it is about life. Readers will be here when you’re ready. Take care of yourself and your family. Sending good thoughts.

  37. Jason don’t be so hard on yourself. Focus on your family and have meaningful moments to remember.
    You are a unique person here in blogland. Someone who actually is living, juggling a job and trying to do something creative at the same time.
    You are on my prayer list.

  38. Hi Jason,
    I truly can empathize with you. Yesterday was the 2nd Anniversary of my mother’s death, next month wil be the first Anniversary of one sister’s death and in March, it will be the first Anniversary of a sister and two nephews who were victims of domestic violence. On top of this, I am a non-traditional student going to school full-time with several assignments due in 3 days. I am having trouble writing as well and have to as an English Major. The Holidays are harder especially when each one falls around the time that I have lost a loved one. I am barely hanging on these days but fight each day because of my children. I do hope that you feel better soon and that you get settled in. I immensely enjoy your blog and want to thank you for taking time out of your life to share everything you do with us.
    Best to you and your family

  39. I’m sorry for your loss… I totally get it… I lost my dad several years ago and it took me out for 1 1/2 years. I luckily had a job where it didn’t require a ton of mental energy because grief does take ALOT out of you. Hang in there and it WILL get better. I also participated in a parental bereavement support group and it helped me tremendously just to process it all… God bless you.

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