Depression And Mental Health

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Will B.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi All. I need some help.

I have completed a carrier's CDL school and will be leaving in the next week or so with my trainer. I have been excited to become a driver but one thing concerns me: I have depression and have been treated for something described as being within the bipolar spectrum. I actually did not think I would pass my CMV Dot medical exam but I did. Even though I put this condition on the form and listed the drug I take the doc never questioned me about it even though it appears the FMCSA requires them to do so.

My "disability" is controlled but I can occasionally become so overwhelmed be reduced to a period of deep sobbing. From time to time (once a year maybe) stress can also result in my running away from a stressful situation. In a regular job that has been to simply say something like, "**** this!" and storm out the office door. My concern is that should any of this happen while driving I may become a hazard on the road.

I am under a lot of pressure to take this job. I have been unemployed for almost a year (I lost my last job after a stressful moment when I said "**** this" and walked out). My wife and I are close to losing our house and bills are deep. She tells me to get over it and just do this. I guess I am writing here for some recognition that my concerns are valid and that I am being responsible and safe. Others, given that I don't have a job or money, would say I have been irresponsible.

Sorry to "Dear Abbey" the forum but I don't know what to do. Or, maybe better said, I know what to do but can't figure out how to do it.

Thank you......

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Will!

I have no doubt that what you're facing is very real. Nobody goes into a period of deep sobbing because they're lazy and don't want to work. You do have a real problem you're dealing with.

The first thing that comes to mind for me is that trucking requires consistent hard work and safe driving. It's not something you can be up and down at. As you know, one moment of inattention can kill someone. You are allowed to have a bad day or a bad week when you're knitting blankets, but not when you're piloting an 80,000 pound rig in heavy traffic and over huge mountains. You have to be on your game.

There are some things about your situation I'm not sure how to reconcile. For instance, you say it's controlled, and yet you go into occasional periods of deep sobbing, you haven't worked in a year, and you're in a financial mess. This doesn't sound like you're in control of things at all. Quite the opposite in fact.

I guess I am writing here for some recognition that my concerns are valid and that I am being responsible and safe. Others, given that I don't have a job or money, would say I have been irresponsible.

To be honest I don't think you're being responsible or safe. Others may have been saying you're irresponsible for not working at all, and given what you've told us it sounds like they're right. You're not completely disabled so I can't see why you haven't worked in a year. And yet when you do finally decide to come back to work, you chose a very high stress career, you agreed to accept training in return for being under contract, and then at that point you first bring it up to ask others their opinion.

Why did you remain unemployed for a full year, letting your financial situation completely unravel, and then decide to embark on an extremely demanding high stress career? That is quite honestly some very poor decision making all the way around, and yet sound decision making and the ability to handle a lot of stress are the most important aspects of driving a truck.

Obviously I am not a doctor but I'm comfortable saying that you should not go out on the road until you talk to your doctor and make sure your situation is stable. Make sure the medication you're on is safe for commercial driving, and make sure you're feeling consistently well enough that you don't have deep dives into despair. No one feels chipper all the time, but if it gets to the point of deep despair and sobbing, even once in a while, then I feel you have a problem that needs to be corrected before you should be driving a big rig.

My best advice, given my limited knowledge on the subject, would be to tell your company you need to see your doctor about your medications before you can go out on the road with a trainer. If he does suggest switching medications you should take some time to adjust to the new ones to make sure you're stable.

I fully expect your company will not be pleased, but because it's a medical concern you have to get straightened out I would expect they will allow you to return and pick up where you left off.

I don't think you would be coming here if you didn't already suspect that you shouldn't be behind the wheel. I would never condone laziness because I am a man with an extremely strong work ethic, but as I've stated, deep sobbing is certainly not a condition of laziness. It's something more for sure.

Talk to your company. Tell them you have to see your doctor before you can go on the road. Tell them you'll stay in close contact with updates and and as soon as possible you'll return to pick up where you left off. I don't really see any other option that makes sense.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Paul's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Will!

I have no doubt that what you're facing is very real. Nobody goes into a period of deep sobbing because they're lazy and don't want to work. You do have a real problem you're dealing with.

The first thing that comes to mind for me is that trucking requires consistent hard work and safe driving. It's not something you can be up and down at. As you know, one moment of inattention can kill someone. You are allowed to have a bad day or a bad week when you're knitting blankets, but not when you're piloting an 80,000 pound rig in heavy traffic and over huge mountains. You have to be on your game.

There are some things about your situation I'm not sure how to reconcile. For instance, you say it's controlled, and yet you go into occasional periods of deep sobbing, you haven't worked in a year, and you're in a financial mess. This doesn't sound like you're in control of things at all. Quite the opposite in fact.

double-quotes-start.png

I guess I am writing here for some recognition that my concerns are valid and that I am being responsible and safe. Others, given that I don't have a job or money, would say I have been irresponsible.

double-quotes-end.png

To be honest I don't think you're being responsible or safe. Others may have been saying you're irresponsible for not working at all, and given what you've told us it sounds like they're right. You're not completely disabled so I can't see why you haven't worked in a year. And yet when you do finally decide to come back to work, you chose a very high stress career, you agreed to accept training in return for being under contract, and then at that point you first bring it up to ask others their opinion.

Why did you remain unemployed for a full year, letting your financial situation completely unravel, and then decide to embark on an extremely demanding high stress career? That is quite honestly some very poor decision making all the way around, and yet sound decision making and the ability to handle a lot of stress are the most important aspects of driving a truck.

Obviously I am not a doctor but I'm comfortable saying that you should not go out on the road until you talk to your doctor and make sure your situation is stable. Make sure the medication you're on is safe for commercial driving, and make sure you're feeling consistently well enough that you don't have deep dives into despair. No one feels chipper all the time, but if it gets to the point of deep despair and sobbing, even once in a while, then I feel you have a problem that needs to be corrected before you should be driving a big rig.

My best advice, given my limited knowledge on the subject, would be to tell your company you need to see your doctor about your medications before you can go out on the road with a trainer. If he does suggest switching medications you should take some time to adjust to the new ones to make sure you're stable.

I fully expect your company will not be pleased, but because it's a medical concern you have to get straightened out I would expect they will allow you to return and pick up where you left off.

I don't think you would be coming here if you didn't already suspect that you shouldn't be behind the wheel. I would never condone laziness because I am a man with an extremely strong work ethic, but as I've stated, deep sobbing is certainly not a condition of laziness. It's something more for sure.

Talk to your company. Tell them you have to see your doctor before you can go on the road. Tell them you'll stay in close contact with updates and and as soon as possible you'll return to pick up where you left off. I don't really see any other option that makes sense.

Brett, can we get a like button on here? Your response is spot on as always. I have suffered from depression issues in the past and had to seriously deal with them and be absolutely certain I was stable before I began on the journey Will is on. I have finally come to a place, after many years of prayer, reflection and guidance, to where when the sadness hits I can take a deep breath, understand that it is a storm that will pass, and refocus and move on. But unless I was capable of doing that, there is no way I would put myself in such a stressful and extremely lonely profession. I'm praying for you, Will.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar
My wife and I are close to losing our house and bills are deep. She tells me to get over it and just do this.

Will, I can't pretend to understand the health issues concerning depression, but I do understand misfortune and desperate times. You cannot lean on your issues as a crutch that keeps you from moving forward. Your wife needs a man that can "step up" and do what's needed. That very thought ought to put a dead resolve in you to make something happen, if for no other reason, than to prove yourself to her as a suitable, helpful, and loving companion through the struggles of life.

You may very well be about to lose more than a stupid house. If you value your wife and the relationship you have with her you need to deal with whatever you have to and get this done.

Will, training is very stressful.

You are going to have to set yourself and make a resolve to get through the training process. Just do this one step at a time. Getting yourself past the training should be your solitary focus right now. Don't even concern yourself with all the future ramifications of the job - focus entirely on getting past the training phase. That is step one. You have got to get that done.

Anytime you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, you come right in here with your concerns and don't do anything drastic without waiting for us to respond to your situation. You can ask us questions everyday if you need to - we will assist you anytime you feel the need. I promise you that you are going to feel overwhelmed, and it will not be the fault of your condition. We all felt overwhelmed when we started this, and we can, and will, help you along the way.

Buckle up, it's gonna be a rough ride.

I'm confident you can dig deep and make it happen. The whole reason I'm confident in you is because of what your wife had said to you. That tells me she has faith in you. I am a living testimony of a guy whose wife believed in him during some really difficult times. There is a power in having someone believe in you when you are doubting yourself. Be grateful for the fine woman in your life, and honor her by becoming the man she respects and adores.

Get through step one, then we will start helping you get through step two.

Step two will be running your own truck as a solo driver. I'm not gonna sugar coat it for ya - it's tough also. Getting this thing started is the toughest part. Just remember, it gets better and easier as you work your way through all the difficulties at the start. Be resolved to stick it out for one full year. At that point you can look back and determine whether you want to continue, but don't even think about quitting during these tough times of your first year. They pass quickly.

You've got a lot riding on this. I'm confident you can do it. Your wife is confident in you, even after you've been unemployed for so long. Buckle up and make it happen. We will help in any way we can.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
when the sadness hits I can take a deep breath, understand that it is a storm that will pass, and refocus and move on

Very well said Paul! That's an awesome attitude to carry through life. That's a winning approach whether you suffer from diagnosed depression, or like all of us, you're just dealing with tough circumstances from time to time.

I've always told people to expect plenty of very difficult and stressful circumstances on the road, but to keep in mind that as long as you don't hit anything the moment will pass and it will go on to become one of many fantastic memories and fascinating stories you can tell people someday.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Old School and I were typing our responses at the same time and even though he didn't mention going back to your doctor, we both agree that you do have to find a way to move forward and shoulder your responsibilities. Nothing you have told us justifies not working for an entire year and I agree that your wife must know you well enough to know what you can handle, and what you can't.

Maybe you don't need to go back to your doctor. Maybe you're just getting super nervous and you're hoping we'll tell you to hit the eject button and go back to playing video games. You know yourself and your condition better than we do.

Is the situation under control and you're just really nervous right now? Everyone is super nervous at this point in their career. Everyone. You have to soldier through that.

Is your situation really not under control and you're heading for a big problem? Be honest about that with yourself. Don't let your fear make excuses or invent conditions that don't exist.

Expect to be nervous quite a bit the next few months. If you can soldier through it and recognize those moments as "a storm that will pass" and regroup like Paul suggested, then soldier on.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

It's one of the great things about this forum - you can get some different perspectives. Brett has never been married. I, on the other hand have the perspective of someone who has to provide for my wife and my offspring.

Will, I just see you as being very fortunate to have a wife who has endured the hardships of your issues. You owe her some endurance now. If you want to keep up this wonderful dance we call marriage, well it's time to pay the piper, or the music might stop.

Paul's Comment
member avatar

Will, I just see you as being very fortunate to have a wife who has endured the hardships of your issues. You owe her some endurance now. If you want to keep up this wonderful dance we call marriage, well it's time to pay the piper, or the music might stop.

I second that! There is absolutely nothing like a wife who will love you and help you through the hardships in life, especially when you have a condition such as depression. You are, indeed, a very fortunate man, Will.

Will B.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you for the thoughtful replies.

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

Will, you got excellent advice above.

I know I mess with Old School all the time, but I'll be nice to him right now.

I have been married for almost 5.5 years now and he is the best marriage counselor I have ever known. He's helped me through many humps and mistakes I was making when I wasn't even realizing it. He has helped me decode "woman language" and has helped me with my own body language. More often than not he's driving so he's almost always available. Best of all, he's free!

Not only that, but his daughter is extremely talented with building resumes. I could have applied for a CEO job after she got done with my resume! Best of all, it was free!

Come to realize it, I have been smooching off of his kindness for too long. Thanks OS I do believe I owe you!

smile.gif

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