After a long day of taking care of sick people, Lisa returns to her apartment feeling tired and weepy. Each day more people are admitted to the surgical unit and for Lisa that means more intense work–listening to new people telling their long and sometimes boring stories and then working more closely with the medical team. Both functions irritate her more and more and exhausts her more and more. It must be her age she tells herself, more aches and pains than just a few months ago. And then, rotten hospital administrators. They don’t know a surgical scissors from a kitchen scissors. Every nurse agrees with these complaints. They all call their jobs, “stressful”.

Feeling restless and anxious she walks her mutt Claire—her favorite friend. Claire doesn’t ask for much. These days Claire doesn’t get much.

Lisa believes her irritations are shared by the other nurses. They don’t talk much about it. This makes Lisa feel more alone. Maybe she is less effective than she was ten years ago. She has at least twelve more years before she can retire. That’s a long long time.

Lisa doesn’t believe that she is depressed. Everyone talks about the stresses in their lives, multi-tasking and job dissatisfactions. Not everyone lives with the cruelty of bipolar disorder. Lisa does.

Her psychiatrist appointment is in a few days. She doesn’t expect to talk about how she has been feeling. Admitting that she may be depressed makes Lisa feel that she’s the problem not the job. It’s just another shaming experience.

Depression is ugly; it’s full of self-blame. We rather interpret our feelings as a result of external stressors. After all everyone talks about stress, job dissatisfaction, sleep problems. We however have the depression list of symptoms that goes along with bipolar disorder. We can mark off the ones that describe our moods. With this information we can talk to our doc with more clarity and power.

Reviewing the symptoms of depression when we feel bum can stop the slide into deeper depression and more paralyzing feelings about ourselves. Reviewing a symptom list can empower us to make the appointment to our doctor or therapist. I hope Lisa does.

A. Persistent sad, anxious, or empty moods
B. Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
C. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
D. Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex
E. Decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue or of being “slowed down”
F. Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
G. Restlessness or irritability
H. Sleep disturbances
I. Loss of appetite and weight loss or gain
J. Chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms that are not caused by physical disease
K. Thought of death or suicide; including suicide attempts.