It's been a number of years since I have posted here. I think it was during the early part of my troubled times, back in late 2014. I actually just found this site through Google, didn't know it existed, let alone that I had an account here. My memory isn't very good anymore, but my psychiatrist assures me that my memory will bounce back. Eventually.
I'm not sure where to start, so I'll start back when things were starting to go sideways. That was the spring of 2015, my memory was already showing signs of problems. At the time, I was employed (for nearly a year) as a tow-truck dispatcher; I was forgetting various details, things I should have remembered to ask a driver calling for a tow. Like whether a tanker-trailer is full or not, or the colour of the tractor. I worked a varied schedule every week, from mornings to graveyard shifts. My previous job as a limousine dispatcher was the same, except for 8 years. A normal, regular sleep pattern had been unknown to me for a decade, and it seemed like it was catching up with me.
The insomnia started to really take hold at the end of the spring, with both onset and maintenance insomnia. At the start of the year, I was averaging about 6 hours of sleep in any 24-hour period. By the end of the spring, it was under 5 hours. At the end of the summer, it was around 4 hours. The decline got much more pronounced over the next 2 months or so. My memory starts to get really sketchy at this point. My journal/sleep journal was not always completed. I was not sleeping every day, from what can be pieced together, I was sleeping 2-3 hours every 24-36 hours. There was also a large number of dissociative episodes: I would find myself on a bus with no idea what my destination was; or standing in Walmart; or walking by the side of a country road (I lived at the edge of the city).
By October, I was no longer able to keep working. I was deeply suicidal, and increasingly paranoid. I don't remember when I quit my job, pretty sure it was in the first week of October though. I think I gave them some excuse that seemed "plausible" in my malfunctioning brain, but honestly just can't remember. It wasn't until November that I tried to end myself, it was a friend who saw something that I posted on Facebook that kept me from succeeding. I wound up with at least 2, but it might have been 3, police officers who had bee guided by my cell phones GPS. I was taken to hospital, and checked in for a psychiatric evaluation.
I don't remember much about that either, other than being in the Emergency for days due to a shortage of beds. There were a few men and women, doctors I guess, who asked me a lot of questions. They decided to send my to another hosptital, about 45 minutes northeast of my city. They had a bed available, and were willing to take me. Don't remember much about that either, other than being allowed out and bumming a smoke from a bunch of teenagers.
Things stay pretty hazy until early January, when I finally meet with my first psychiatrist. After a couple of sessions, he concurs with the other psychiatrists and diagnoses me with Major Depressive Disorder (Melancholic), Persistent Depressive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, in addition to PTSD (previously diagnosed). I was prescribed Ciprolex, at 20mg per day. Things seemed to be going OK, the worst of the depression seemed to ease and the suicidal ideation was gone. I don't recall when I last saw my psychiatrist, sometime in the summer of 2017. I do remember he decided we didn't need to set up another appointment, but told me to call if any problems came up.
The next 2 years are a patchwork of memories. I was intent on trying to find a job, the psychiatrist had given me the OK to do so, and had a list of restrictions. No more than 24 hours per week, no shifts over 4 hours, no dispatching, no high-pressure. This was after 2 years out of the workforce. Over the next 18 months or so, I sent literally hundreds of resumes out. And got exactly zero responses. I was also cycling very fast, a couple of weeks, sometimes as much 3 or 4, without depression, followed by deep depressions lasting anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks.
I think it was in early February, but might have been early March, there was some problem with renewing my prescription. My memory becomes extremely fragmentary, but it would seem that I crashed off of ciprolex. My first clear memory was just after Canada Day (1 July). I do remember being surprised it was July as my last clear memory involved trudging through snow. This was a new experience for me, as previously, my memory was OK when not depressed, and totally absent during the worst of the depressive episodes. There were still problems with my working memory, and details like dates or days of the week just won't stick anymore, even during the non-depressed times.
Things seemed OK to me, even though I was no longer medicated. Even the anxiety, which was usually pretty intense, seemed more manageable. I decided to continue my job search. This was just as successful as my previous attempts. The depression was starting to set back in. At the end of September 2019, disaster struck. I received a package by registered mail from the provincial disability program that provides me with financial assisstance. Now, intially, I wasn't too worried about this. I figured that a quick call and a visit or 2 with my psychiatrist would get this sorted out. Instead, I learned that because I hadn't seen my psychiatrist in 2 years, I had been dropped from the patient list. My anxiety was off the charts, and went into a severe depression that lasted from mid-October to the start of January. I had gotten an extension, as I had to find a doctor to help with the forms they had sent.
After 2 more extensions, I found a clinic who would help, and gave me a referral to a psychiatrist. This psychiatrist was quite fixated on my cycling while taking ciprolex, and had me do a bi-polar screening and another online screening test. I have since been re-diagnosed, with Bi-Polar Spectrum Disorder. Instead of up/down like BP-I & BP-II, mine is irritated/down. I'm now on 600mg daily of lithium, and recently added zopiclone to help me sleep better now and then. Sleep is a persistent problem for me. Previously, cannabis helped me sleep, but the zopiclone is much more effective and consistent. During our last phone conversation, my psychiatrist asked me "what do you want to do?", and it knocked me for a loop. I know that I would really like to get back to work, but the question still left me speechless. I got my paper route when I was 12, and worked until 48, with my longest period of unemployment being just under 3 months. Being unemployed this long is really alien to me, and I'm sort of amazed that it's been 5 years.
I have redesigned my resume to try to minimize the (increasingly) massive hole in it. I don't know where to find the answer to my question of how to explain it. None of the agencies or services that I have talked to can tell me anything other than that my resume looks pretty good. They offer no advice on the question that matters to me.
Now, I do apologize for the roundabout way it took to get here, but do do thank you for you patience. My question is this: How do I explain to a prospective employer about the 5-year gap in my resume? This gap keeps growing, and it's wrecking me.