Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 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!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a genius

It was an animal I didn't even know! A bird in the middle of the road...A goose. It was squawking and trying to move. It was clearly distressed, and hurt; and there were four other geese on the other side of the road, watching, and they were squawking, too. Why do we get so angry when someone or something dies? It was an anonymous goose. To my dismay, I bawled my eyes out and then got pissed! I didn't even know the animal, yet I was sad and angry!

A little background:
In my city, geese are more prevalent than people around one small lake right in the middle of town. Because of a hydro-electric plant, I think, the lake rarely freezes during the winter. So this is apparently as far south as some Canadian Geese ever get. Up until very recently, the city prided itself on its large goose population. In the park, there were even machines where a quarter bought you a bunch of corn, which the geese devoured practically out of your hand. Within the last few years, however, the novelty wore off, as the goose population and the goose poop swelled! Locals are more likely to think of them as obnoxious, overgrown rats than birds. They aren't friendly, not necessarily beautiful, and they wander the streets--cars be damned--as if they have permanent right-of-way.

I was on my way home to ready for my parents' visit. My day was done. It was beautiful and warm. Ironically, I had just taken a pleasant moment to view a family of swimming geese before rounding the corner to the horror in the middle of the road. Horror... I quickly pulled my car over and dialed 911. I didn't know what else to do. There were cars whizzing by in both directions, some with stricken faces, others oblivious to the suffering before them.

I ran toward the goose as I talked with 911, stopping momentarily to retrieve a towel from my trunk. They would send someone, "to put it out of its misery," but I couldn't stand there and watch. I spoke gently as I picked it up. Having just laid its head on the pavement, apparently for the last time, the goose offered no resistance. I carried it to the shade of a nearby tree where all was suddenly quiet and still--both my goose and the four geese, who now turned and walked silently away. It may have died in my hands. I don't know. I knelt there with it for several moments, stroking its back, and telling it everything would be okay.

Feeling self-conscious, I got up and stood nearby to wait. Tears welled. I felt dumb.

Finally, the city animal control arrived. She seemed nice enough when I pointed her toward the goose, but oh, how I wish I had turned away. Rather than the gentle scoop I naively expected, she yanked it up by its neck and tossed the still-warm soul into her truck.

I cried. I'm crying now.

I got angry. I'm angry now.

I had no idea what happened to the goose, but I was angry at the "impatient" person who struck it. I was angry that person didn't bother to stop. Did the driver hit the goose on purpose? Probably not. I know.

I felt bad for the geese who apparently made it across. Witnesses to the suffering...perhaps "family" of the deceased? And I felt silly for feeling bad.

I got angry at the inhumanity of the city worker. She knew I was watching. She knew I was the one who had carried the victim to its resting spot. And what about the other residents who were driving, running, biking and strolling by? Did she have to yank it by its neck? It had barely just died!
And I got angry for being angry, for crying like a "fool" over I bird I didn't even know. Perhaps anger is more comfortable than sad. I don't know.

It bothers me to be so traumatized by this experience, and I almost wish I hadn't stopped. But I did. Feeling so traumatized worries me, but I guess I don't need to figure my feelings out. I want to, but I guess I just need to let them be.

I'm sad and angry about a goose. I'm sad and angry about the needless suffering of a goose. Suffering...perhaps I'm sad and angry about suffering...and pain.
I hate suffering and pain.
I especially hate to witness suffering and pain.
I wish I hadn't. But I did. And now, I just have to feel it.
I guess.


Emma said...

Wow, that sounds horrible. I think I would have reacted in the same way. How brave of you to put aside your own pain and try to ease the poor goose's suffering.

etta said...

thanks, maia.
it was horrible.

Michelle (The Beartwinsmom) said...

Hrmph at that uncaring animal control worker. I'd like to see someone take her by the neck like that. grrrrr

You have such a loving soul, Etta. No wonder why that bothered you so much. I would have been moved to tears, too.

Sending you hugs!

Bradley said...

Etta, you get my award for one of the most loving and caring people out there. I hope you can focus on the pride you should have for you concern for the goose not the callous animal control person. Not easy I know.

etta said...

michelle and bradley-
thank you both for your kind, generous words. i really appreciate your thoughts.

Denise said...

Etta, I can only echo what is said. There is a saying.... you can judge the advancement of a civilization by the way it treats its animals. Apparently great portions of the world are standing in a stagnant abyss. I totally get why this is so difficult for you. Suffering is something I have never been able to come to grips with either. Sometimes it seems like all you can do is wish it wasn't so.


etta said...

thank you, denise.
you use words beautifully.