My neighbor, distant neighbor, was doing some repair work for me. He is out of work and depressed and I try to employ him as much as my limited resources are able. I began to think about my own depression and how having external issues might affect one’s depression. I have always been unable to answer one question from when I was first diagnosed and my depression was at its worse, “Am I depressed because I am getting a divorce or am I getting a divorce because I am depressed?” Don’t know, just glad I got the divorce.
My neighbor has been clinically depressed a long time, just as I have been, and somewhat recently has been laid off. As he helped me work on a tractor, or rather he worked while I handed him implements, I felt the need to discuss his depression, his job loss and the loss of self-esteem associated with them, something I am familiar with.

I have lost a job, actually two. Lost a job is not correct because no matter how I searched I wasn’t going to suddenly find my job and make it mine again. It’s not like a lost golf ball. Like that really beautiful, green eyed redhead in the late Sixties, I’m not going to suddenly find her again and Linda Gail might have something to say about it anyway. Just so you know I’m not looking.

Technically I was fired twice even though one of my associates allowed me to resign and the other…let’s just say I was fired and leave it there. If you coach for a living there are only two kinds of coaches according to the late coach Bum Phillips, “them that’s fired and them that’s gonna be fired.” I was both. More on point, I believe once laid off you try to replace your job with one just like it and you are probably setting yourself up for more failure and lost esteem…or at least I did and so is my neighbor it would seem.

For a man, and more recently with more women in the work force, a woman, it is hard to detach your “worth from your work.” I don’t believe it is chauvinist to say it is different for men. We see our work somewhat like our penises. If our penises are working fine, we are fine. Work is fine, we are fine. We have self-worth because we tend to identify with what we do…and to a certain extent, our penises. Until somewhat recently, women identified with their families for their self-worth…the old maternal instinct. This has changed, not a bad thing, except women executives are now having near as many stress related heart attacks as men, but I don’t see women ever identifying their work with their vaginas unless they are working in the world’s “oldest profession.”

Back on point, getting fired, laid off or having a failure to launch is depressing. Come on guys we’ve all had a failure to perform at least once. There is no shame and there is a reason for those little blue pills. Actually getting fired can have an effect on performance but more importantly it can have an even greater effect if you are clinically depressed. That was the reason for my conversation with my neighbor. I was worried about how he was handling his job hunting and his depression.

I don’t believe men are as willing to admit they are depressed as women because of the way we are raised. “Buck up Jocko!” “Dry those tears and get back at it!” We still have problems admitting to our emotions, committing to a long term relationship or with the inability to launch. Clinical depression is not about emotions. It is a sickness that can be treated even if you are looking for a job.

I don’t know if I helped my neighbor, I know he got my tractor running again. I wish there was some sort of sensory feedback when you assist people with their depressions but as hard as I looked and listened I received none. There was no engine roar or smell of diesel exhaust. At least he knows he is not alone.

Don Miller has also written four books, including “Winning Was Never the Only Thing…” and the recently released “Through the Front Gate.” They may be purchased or downloaded at

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