I'm Okay, You're a Wreck.
December 13, 2012 12:27 PM Subscribe
Coworker/friend/mentor really, really depressed... and with good reason. Can/should I help? How? Wall o' sadness inside.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The background: for a number of years, I've worked closely with a guy I'll call "Calvin". He's been an important mentor to me - he's patiently taught me the majority of the skills I use in this gig. He's also a great guy in general - generous, loyal, smart, funny, etc. While there's never been anything even remotely romantic between us (and we've never socialized outside of work), we're de facto "work spouses" - we've got each other's backs, we go to lunch occasionally, we buy each other holiday gifts.
The problem: Calvin's been seriously depressed for... I don't know. Possibly forever. While he's indicated that it's actual-factual clinical depression (he's not on meds or in therapy now, but has been in the past), there are a number of factors which probably make it worse. He lives alone, sans even a goldfish. He doesn't date (he's bald, short, chubby, not terribly attractive, kinda self-conscious). He doesn't travel. He doesn't have hobbies. His social life is minimal (occasional dinner dates with friends' families). His house is, per his own admission, a disaster area. His life consists of working, then going home and staring at glowing screens. Every. Single. Day.
Basically, he's pushing fifty with a life that just... hasn't come together. And while I know this makes him really, really sad (he's said so, repeatedly), I don't think he sees any way out. Friends and coworkers have prodded him to do various things to improve his life, but he's never really embraced any of their suggestions.
I know that this is Not My Problem. I also know that I can't make someone else change their life for the better. I ALSO know that delving into coworkers' personal issues is unwise at best (although on reflection, I'd consider him more of a friend-friend than a work-friend) However, it kinda breaks my heart to hear Calvin mention how unhappy he is with his life (always in passing - he doesn't whine/overshare), especially because I can't even come up with any consoling words - his life DOES sound crushingly depressing! He once harbored dreams of having a wife and family, but like everything else in his life, it seems like the ship has sailed on THAT one, too.
My question: IS there anything I can do for this guy, and if so, what is it? Just listen and say "there, there"? Encourage him? Leave a brochure for mail-order brides on his desk (kidding, kidding)?