Ryan is working to overcome depression. He shares his experience with benefits offered through RBC Insurance, including the Onward by Best Doctors program, that helped turn his life around.

Depression and RBC insurance

My plan was amazing because it took the pressure off me financially. There was no way I could work in that time in my life, and with a family of five, I would have had no income. My stress, anxiety and depression would have increased tremendously.

I was a zero out of 10 and now I'm an 8 or 9. I'm almost there.

When did you know you needed help?

My manager and operations manager approached me and said, “We’ve noticed a change in your behaviour – is anything wrong?” I told them, “Nope, nope, everything’s good.” But it wasn’t good. I was going through really hard times at home and at work, but I didn’t want to admit I had an issue and I didn’t want to talk to anyone. So, when they gave me a bunch of literature and phone numbers, I went to my office, crumpled up the papers and threw them in the garbage. I didn’t even look at them.

Then, three months later, I hit my rock bottom. I said to my operations manager, “What do I do?” He said, “Honestly, Ryan, I can’t tell you what to do, but I’m going to tell you if I were you, I’d take some time off and talk to someone.”

What kind of support did you get from your benefits plan?

My plan was amazing because it took the pressure off me financially. There was no way I could work in that time in my life, and with a family of five, I would have had no income, and my stress, anxiety and depression would have increased tremendously. Everyone at RBC Insurance was so gentle with me and kind, and they made it as easy as possible for me.

I got a doctor’s note, went on short-term disability leave through a different provider, and first saw a psychiatrist and then, when that didn’t help, a local psychologist. I wasn’t getting anywhere. The antidepressants the psychiatrist prescribed either made me feel numb – no sad feelings but also no happy feelings – or had physical side effects. The psychologist in Brandon [Manitoba] was really just teaching me to breathe. I needed more help than breathing!

RBC Insurance stepped in when I moved to long-term disability and recommended I use Onward by Best Doctors. I was very skeptical. I told Bobbie, my Best Doctors psychologist, she’d have a hard time getting through to me because I’m a hard guy and I’ve built walls that don’t let anyone in. But I went with the program and, in the end, she broke through my walls and I opened up.

What made her approach different?

Bobbie took it slow and easy, and that’s what I needed. I told her, you push me and I’m going to fall. I’m already on my hands and knees, I’m on the floor, I’m laid out, I’m at a zero out of 10. I don’t need a push. I need someone to pick me up. So she didn’t pry. She let me open up at my own pace. Then she helped me set little goals.

Prior to that, for over a year, I had stayed in my room 99% of the time. I missed every one of my kids’ concerts and sports events. But I was able to connect with Bobbie over the phone and when she said, “Can we do baby steps?” I said, “I love baby steps!” Then she said, “Do you think we could get you out of your room for 15 minutes a day to go for a walk, bike or get some light, light exercise?”

That week, I did four days out of the seven and I was scared she’d tear me apart. But she said, “Good for you. Can we try something else?”

How can employers better support their employees’ mental health?

We used to have weekly meetings where we’d talk about what’s going on in everybody’s life – that can help. Maybe hand out information about anxiety, depression and mental illnesses.

Also, let people know once a month or once every six months that you have these programs in place and they’re very beneficial. My employer gave me about 100 papers when I first started but I didn’t read any of them, so I never knew we had this program. And make it comfortable for people to use the programs.

How are you feeling now?

I believe my story was a success story because I’m here to share it with you. I had ups and downs, but now I’m doing much better. I’m out of my room all the time. I’m healthy. I’m active. I’m eating. I’m partici-pating in more activities in my children’s lives than I have in a long time. I give the RBC Insurance and Onward by Best Doctors teams 110 per cent for helping me through this time. I was a zero out of 10 and now I’m an 8 or 9. I’m almost there.