– Did you have depression before your daughter was born?
My daughter Hannah was born in 2001. My depression (and anxiety) was traced back to 1975 when I was in grade 10. I lived with both undiagnosed for 20 years, until 1995. From 1995 onward, I have been on my journey to combat the disease
– What was the impact of depression while trying to raise a daughter?
Many impacts, but the most distressing was struggling to enjoy what should have been quality time spent with Hannah. For example, taking her to the local park to play when she was a toddler took supreme energy and at times was a chore to do.
– Do you think it was harder to have a work/life balance with depression?
Without a doubt! Because any type of activity is much more difficult with depression – you feel burned out 24/7 and not up to the task – and that you spend so much time looking inward to find some semblance of contentment, a quality work/life balance with depression was all but impossible.
– Did you worry about passing depression onto your child?
I have worried about that possibility every since Hannah was born. Although there are a lot of unknowns about the causes of depression, one aspect the medical profession has determined is that genetics can play an important role. I strongly believe my father had the disease, as did his father, and do my two brothers. Unfortunately, they were raised not to hold great stock in the medical profession and therefore have never been diagnosed with depression.
– What is hardest about being a parent with depression?
Perhaps the hardest is not living in the moment – almost as if you are living life on autopilot – and therefore not being able to relish the quality time you otherwise would have with your child, especially when they grow up so fast.
– What advice do you have for dads that are trying to show up for their family but feeling so depressed they cannot even imagine getting out of bed?
Even though you physically feel numb from the effects of depression and are not mentally up to the task, you have to fight through those obstacles for the sake of your family. It is somewhat ironic with depression in that although you are the one living with the illness, you have to find the inner strength to do what is best for others. Extremely difficult to do? For sure, but not insurmountable.
– What do you wish you’d known then (regarding raising a child) that you know now?
My case is somewhat unique in that I’ve lived with depression for more than twice as long as Hannah has been alive. But for me, it would have been the realization that I would be so treatment refractory for so many years. If I had of known that the depression journey would have been so long, perhaps I would have accepted my destiny and directed much more of my limited energy to parenting than to combatting the disease.
– How is your relationship with Hannah today?
Hannah is at the age where she fully understands that depression contributed to our somewhat arms length relationship while she was growing up. In fact, she is now entering her 4th year of the Psychology with a concentration in Neuroscience and Behaviour (PNB) program at McMaster University. Because of her insight into the effects of depression, she is much more emphatic than she may otherwise have been. I am extremely grateful that our relationship today is solid.
We’re glad too, Bruce.
Breaking Free of Depression’s Grip: A Powerful Success Story is the story of Bruce R. Ross, a successful Canadian executive, husband, father, neighbour, friend, and now author, who has lived a thriving life despite depression’s dark clutch on him for over 45 years.
Ross shares how he tried understanding what was “wrong” with him, accepting the depression diagnosis, the endless attempts to find a helpful medication, therapy sessions with multiple doctors, enduring electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), experiencing investigational treatments, and the extremes he went to in the quest for joy. Ross opens up about what it’s really like to have this illness, the dangers of falling into despair, the significance of staying close to family and friends, and how one man pursued every avenue to find better mental health in the quest for contentment.
Ross deep dives into his pre-retirement life as a CFO in the multi-billion-dollar credit union sector, and the critical importance of his boss. Ross’ boss, the CEO, supported his efforts to contain and control the effects of depression, so Ross could carry out the complex fiduciary duties he was called upon to complete day after day. In this book, you feel Ross’ ups and downs personally and professionally as he opened up about his mental health to friends and coworkers and how he was treated along the way.