It is now 20 years ago that Steve jumped from the rooftop of the office building in Frankfurt, Germany.
My colleague AND friend, Steve (Dr. Steve R.), was an extraordinarily good Management Consultant. Even though he did not speak German, his expertise and sincere interest in supporting clients made German companies overlook that fact.
No one saw it coming. We let the last weeks and months pass in our heads over and over and over again, searching for signs we overlooked. We did not see any.
Two days before he jumped, he told me stories about his evil cat and we laughed and giggled for hours. He told me how his mean cat hated and terrorized his wife and him. She might grab her purse and find ... (how do we call this here? Typically, I do not talk a lot about the liquid that must not be named) ... yellowish cat liquid in it. Or he might find one of his slipper in pieces.
I am not aware that he had financial, health or any other problems. He was not drunk. In the middle of preparing an offer, he left his desk went to the rooftop. And. Jumped.
The selfish feeling of guilt is still with me. Guilt that I did not even realize that my friend was in a very dark place. There were times when he seemed to be far away. Similar to when I wake up and have to come to my senses. He looked at you, but did not seem to see you until he was back in the "now".
With what I know today, I could have helped my friend to save himself.
Depression is a scary beast. It´s not always obvious. The ones who the beast is already holding in its firm grip, might not talk about it. Or care, for that matter. They might not show "classic" signs.
Depression changes the brain and is a serious condition.
Some overdiagnose every bad mood - some do not even acknowledge depression as a serious condition.
Having a bad or sad day are normal parts of life and are usually nothing to worry about. Setbacks in our personal life and our careers can give us the blues, just like the loss of a friend or a loved one. It can be hard to find the balance between taking yourself and your symptoms serious and taking yourself too seriously which can lead to self-created symptoms.
That is what makes it even harder to tell if you have a problem.
Just today I saw a Forbes article on my LI feed "Stop the excuses. The truth about burnout". There is still a social stigma. "Boys don´t cry" - and business people don´t get depressed or suffer from burnout. Vulnerability, authenticity and empathy classes reflect an ideal-world scenario that is not always compatible with our reality.