Depression on the Road

By Sandy Long

Recently, a group started on Facebook to help truck drivers in dealing with depression.  It was amazing on just how many drivers do deal with some sort of depression at one time or another and for so many reasons.  Since I too have had my own issues with dealing with it, it got me thinking.

Everyone has a day now and then where they feel blue, maybe they do not feel good, had a fight with friend, or partner, got laid over in Podunkville for the weekend, or snowed in.  It lasts a day or two, then their mood rises; this is normal.  Depression is where the down mood lasts more than a couple of days, hope is lost, one cannot see any good in their lives.

Depression can be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, can be symptomatic of mental illness, caused by the death of a loved one, relationship issues, overwhelming stress, and anything negative that just does not go away.  Different things can set an individual spiraling down, where the same set of circumstances might not bother someone else.

Truckers have a lot of time to think.  While yes, they listen to the radio, audio books, or can talk on the phone while working, for the most part the job only takes part of their brain, so it is easy to get stuck on negative thoughts.  These can intensify if the driver does not have someone to open up to, and many do not.  As the trucker’s normal day continues, with delays, watching the clock, bad docking situations, cranky customers or clerks, the trucker can internalize every little thing more, leading to more feelings of failure.

So, what does a trucker do, keeping appointments for counselling are hard to make and keep.  After an initial consultation, some counselors will do phone sessions.  There are medications that one can take to help ease depression, however, one should take time off when first starting them so the effects can be judged, some will make folk tired, or not alert.  Building a support base is good.

Building a support base takes finding level headed people one can speak openly with.  It might include a family member, a pastor, a good friend, or a professional.  Whomever, needs to be honest with good sense, and one should be willing to listen them.  Set up time each day to reach out to the support base to talk about the day.

Taking some time off of work can help too.  Even a weekend at a motel on the road can help.  Go swimming, call Uber, rent a car, go sightseeing, and eat a good meal or two at somewhere other than a truck stop.  Anything to break the monotony of the job.  Sometimes something as simple as stopping at a roadside tourist spot can help do this too.

The main thing is do not expect to be perfect, contrary to public belief, truckers are humans too, and make mistakes, bad things happen to them, and sometimes life just is hard, like for anyone else.  Truckers are not robots with no feelings, we drive the trucks, we are not the truck.

If you are thinking the worst, help is at the other end of the phone, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. 1-800-273-8255.


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