Depression. The very word is disheartening, distressing, debilitating. Depression saps your physical and emotional strength, your will to fight on as well as destroying any dreams that may have lingered. It casts your total being by the wayside and leaves it to bleed out. Every coping mechanism and tool you ever had is gone in what seems an instant. Clinical depression can take you on a journey you could not have imagined in your wildest dreams and it will strip the last vestige of hope from your heart, mind and soul if you allow it to go unchecked.
I had my first brush with depression 12 years ago after an injury I sustained left me all but helpless. I was no stranger to therapy, however. I had come very far over these last years and I didn’t want to go back in order to work through this painful time. I had handled my mother’s illness in 1996 by taking care of her until death called her name in the summer of 1997. I had been plucked from and thrown out of my childhood home because it didn’t belong to my mother when she died. She had lived there under a lifetime tenancy agreement by virtue of her divorce from my deceased father who passed away in 1981. I was his only child and he left me nothing in his will. I had to remove all her belongings , my belongings as well as myself when my mother died in order to allow the sale of the house to take place. Others would reap that benefit. I came through that and bought a condominium 50 miles north of my home town. I settled in another state leaving my friends, acquaintances and memories behind me. I came through that too. I thought I could handle still more until an event on a crisp October day in 2000 told me differently. I had injured my back badly while working but never expected that I would be unable to work ever again. As the aftermath of my injuries permeated my body I came to understand that I would never be useful again nor would I be able to enjoy the pleasures of life that were so much a part of my existence. There was the rub. I could not accept my disabilities.
It has taken me years to come to grips with my disabilities and I’m still not out of the woods. I thank God for my doctors and the psychologists who have helped me to cope through these long years. I have tried virtually every anti-depressant on the market for my depression and I continue to take two medications daily. Without them, I don’t know how I would face each day. I have, once again, found things that allow me to feel a sense of accomplishment and joy inside. When I was a child, I was fearful of the dark. When I realized my depression to its fullest I lived only in darkness and became afraid that the light no longer existed. I have worked hard on this journey. Every step of the way has been fraught with self doubt, frustration and pain. Yes, there are many things I cannot do and will never be able to do again but the things I can do…I do gratefully and without the resentment that once pervaded my life. Today, when the shadows do come, I acknowledge their presence but choose to ignite the match that will help light my way. Today, and just for today, I know I can handle it and help, should I need it, is only a telephone call away. Once again, I have found the tools with which to live my life.