Two years ago, around the same time this year, I was laid off from my job. I had worked at the same company (albeit in several different roles) for 15 years when it happened. I started when I was 19 and at the time I told myself it was only temporary. Years down the line I was making decent money and had a good house and a nice car. I lived very comfortably even if I wasn’t doing what I thought I wanted to do. I liked the team I was with at the time; we gelled so well and enjoyed working with each other. I wasn’t even thinking of next steps for a career, really. You would think having your job eliminated would be a kick in the pants. You might have thought I would have taken the layoff as a sign or at the very least as motivation to spread my wings. I didn’t. Instead it side-swiped me into a wall of immobility. I found another job within that same company at a higher pay grade with a bigger bonus (and stock options even, I clearly made it didn’t I!) and signed back on. I should have found the courage to strike out into something new even if it was scary and uncomfortable and meant I would have to change my lifestyle. But I didn’t. I wasn’t ready, I guess.
Now here we are, two years past that event. I’ve been in therapy and on meds and have worked so very hard on myself to achieve growth and make depression MOSTLY manageable (like Dr. Ian Malcom says, life finds a way – so does depression from time to time). I have a better set of tools in my “Handling Life’s Shit” toolbox now. And I have some of the best people around me to lift me up because I finally let them know me. Even though I still struggle, I’m so much better than I was if only because I can handle the hard times now. I’m grateful that I had two years of money to afford a therapist and medical insurance to get on medication. I needed it.
Two years later and the company I work for goes through another restructure and layoff. Guess what happened? If you guessed that my job was eliminated once again, you’d be right! But you win nothing because I’m unemployed so the jokes on . . . me. I know. I guess I should fully explain that I wasn’t let go outright. They gave me the option to take a demotion doing the same work but more because we were merging with another area. So I couldn’t be a manager but I could go back to the exact same job grade that I was at exactly two years ago when I went through my first layoff. I don’t believe too much in the universe sending signs but it seemed like I was at least getting a Post-It note from the corporate unknown.
I’ve struggled only slightly with my decision this time around. Maybe because of all those things I outlined earlier, I feel like I’m in a stronger position to recover. The only struggle I’ve really found myself having is trying to examine if it’s more ego driving my decision to not go back. I don’t think that’s the case. It’s more that I don’t want to go backwards. I know that sometimes in life, and in depression, you can slide back a few steps and early on it feels devastating. You think to yourself, wasn’t I over this? Wasn’t I getting better? Why am I struggling so much if it can be undone? Maybe I won’t ever get better. Maybe I’ll struggle with this the rest of my life.
The thing I’ve come to understand is that as long as there’s forward motion of some kind, any kind, you’re doing good. It’s when you give up that the hopelessness wins. And even then, you can still be a comeback kid. And yes, I might have to struggle with depression the rest of my life but that struggle isn’t always going to be the same. And I call that a win, too.
I’m not going backwards voluntarily. So I’m not going to take the demotion. It’s scary because I’ve only ever known the safety of this one company. But if this has happened twice in two years, is it really safe? Either way, I’m taking a risk. I might as well take a new risk this time and see if things go differently. I might fail. I probably will fail. But I think I’ll be alright and even if I’m not, I know I can get through it.
Now I just need to figure out what I’ll do next. Anyone hiring?