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The Year of Not Quite Living: Part Three: Fumbling Toward the Light

Susan Eick / CEO
Nov 7, 2019

I was not even at the half-way point of one of the worst years of my life. Already, I had lost my job, had to move my family back to Colorado, attempt, then fail, then attempt again to find a job, get pregnant, then lose the pregnancy, try to maintain a state of normalcy for my kids, and work through a consulting gig that was putting food on our table.  I was ready for that year to end.

Every day was an immense struggle for me to get up, try to be a mom to my babies, a supportive wife to my husband, and a capable consultant to a client that had high expectations for me to transform their service quality levels. I was still bitter— actually, downright angry—about being fired from my executive position 6 months earlier. I still had so many unanswered questions. I was doing amazing work, or so I was told. I was getting along with everyone on the executive team, or so I thought. My team of regional managers and 71 branch managers loved working with me, or so they told me. What did I do wrong? What was wrong with me?

As I continued to beat myself into the ground over these questions, I realized that I was isolating myself from my friends, family and professional network—because I felt like a loser.  I had no one to talk to, because I chose to believe that I had no one to talk to.  I was back at the bottom of the Pit of Depression, and I had lost sight of the light entirely.

One day, on a rare occasion that I allowed myself out of my basement office to take a break from work and finding permanent employment, I called a friend at work (which I hated to do) and asked if she could meet me for coffee.  My heart instantly lightened when she said yes, and I was in my car moments later, driving my kids to a neighbour who would watch them for a few precious hours.  Over lattes that day, I spilled everything that I was going through, what I was feeling, how scared I was that I would never find another job to support my family, make my mortgage payments and pay for health care.  She listened, reassured me that I was good enough, smart enough, and would find another job soon.  I felt the lightest that I had felt in 6 months after spending time with her.  And, I realized that I needed someone who I could talk to on a regular basis—someone whose job it was to listen to me and give me tools to help pull myself out of the Pit. 

Fast forward to November of that same year.  I had found a counsellor who helped me to make sense of what had happened to me over the past year, and who recommended that I speak to my doctor about depression and its physical causes and effects.  Much to my surprise, my family doctor wasn’t shocked or surprised that I was in her office with these symptoms of what she diagnosed as moderate depression, after what I had been through.  Reluctantly, I filled the prescription that she gave me for a mild anti-depressant, and agreed to continue to see my counselor on a weekly basis.

I would love to say that my life immediately turned around after that.  It did, in fact get better.  I was able to see the exit path out of the Pit, felt physically like I could make the climb out, and felt less ashamed about my job loss, pregnancy loss and my perceived inability to be a competent mother and wife. 

Thanks to a friend and former supplier of mine from my previous job, I was recommended for a great position at a company where I spent the next 5 years.  This same company eventually enabled me to move my family to Canada, and into the amazing job that I have now, leading Refinery.

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