Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dear Mrs. Hoffman

Dear Mrs. Hoffman,

I have been planning to write you for years. I thought of writing you in 1990 when I graduated from college, and again one year later when I received my first master's degree. Then there was the successful mental health career, a poignant reason to contact you. My wedding followed by acceptance into and graduation from another master's program all made me wish to connect. Multiple joys over multiple years each reminded me I needed to reach you. And then, unfortunately, the illness, sadness, and misfortune you were previously familiar with brought back soothing thoughts of you. Finally, the unexpected, sudden death of a cherished friend and mentor highlighted the urgent need to say today what I have planned to say, for none of us is promised tomorrow. Without your having a clue, I have integrated you into over 23 years of my life, Mrs Hoffman. Today, I want to say, thank you.

I want to thank you for saving my life. Every time you listened to my sadness you saved me. Every time you read a piece from my journal you saved me. You saved me with each passing smile in the crowded hallways. You saved me with kind words, hugs, and encouragement. You saved me because you took time to know me, and because you cared.

Teachers often get a bad rap. It seems parents think teachers don't care about their kids, or worse, teachers have an evil agenda to ruin their child's future. In my case, if it hadn't been for you caring about me and my future, I likely would not have had a future. You cared about my day-to-day safety, happiness, and growth more than anyone else in my life at that time. Ironically, I never had the opportunity to sit, officially, as a student in your class. Instead, I sucked up hours of your free periods, hours meant for you to work, as you selflessly gave me more time. You, Mrs. Hoffman, never deserved a bad rap.

Mrs. Hoffman, I cannot convey in a few written words the level of my appreciation and respect for the time you gave me 23 years ago. Thank you. I am so grateful. The little things you did probably feel slight and unimportant to you, especially today. But that is exactly the point of this note. That is exactly the point. Little things to a vulnerable kid--me--those are precisely the things that saved my life. Those little, seemingly unimportant gestures 23 years ago continue to have a positive daily impact on me. That's huge! Too huge for a few written words...

You have traveled my life's path with me, Mrs. Hoffman, and now, in the ultimate gesture of gratitude, I am in the midst of that same opportunity with a 17-year-old, high-school junior. I am honored to be allowed in his life and grateful to have your generous example guiding my interactions with him. Perhaps, if things go well, he will offer his time to a troubled teen in the future. If one minute of our shared time eases his life's journey, I owe it all to you, Mrs. Hoffman. Thank you.

You probably never expected the little time you gave back in the early 1980's would mean so much, but it did, and I want you to take great pride in it. I want you to know you made a difference. I am only one person, but the time and love you shared with me gets shared with every life I touch. So by caring for me when I couldn't care for myself, you have changed many lives, Mrs. Hoffman. You should be proud of that. I will continue to carry your generosity and spirit with me in all that I do. Thank you.

Thank you.

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