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!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Phew! I spent the day, and I do mean the whole day, unpacking boxes I hadn't touched in 6.5 years. was a long day full of memories. Every box I opened contained multiple tightly wrapped surprises. Initially, it was like a strange Christmas, but as the day went along, my heart got heavier. Every tightly wrapped surprise contained a memory. And every memory brought forth a host of feelings. It was a long day.

As I opened each box, some items transported me back in time instantaneously. Others required a bit more thought. Most of the memories were from my "previous life," when I was one of two. My ex left 8 years ago, shortly after my depression began. So almost every memory today was categorized as B.D. (before depression) or A.D. (after depression). After unpacking everything, I really did have a sense of leading two separate lives.

The photos were the most interesting. Besides the fact that almost all of the B.D. photos were also associated with my ex, there was another surprising difference between the B.D. and A.D. pictures. My smile was different. As recently as the year 2000, (depression began in November, 2000) I look very happy. My smile is open and wide. There is a light in my eyes which I no longer see. I truly appear to be a different person than I am today.

And I think I am a different person. My smile now is more reserved and self-conscious. It is the smile of someone who's been to battle, and who's battle may not yet be done. It's a weary and leary smile. That makes me sad.

Perhaps I shouldn't be sad. After all, I have been through a long battle. In ten years, I've grieved the sudden loss of love, battled suicidal depression, went through ECT and lost my memory, began drinking and quickly became an alcoholic, lost my job due to my illness, lived by the skin of my teeth on disability, and learned to navigate the world alone with a disabling illness. There have been a lot of tears and triumphs, and I've definitely changed.

Up until today, I was certain the change was for the better. I am a more compassionate, grateful person today. Honesty and integrity guide my actions. That wasn't always the case in the past. But after seeing the B.D. photos today, I'm not as certain the change was for the best. Something seems to be missing.

Ultimately, it was a tough day. The memories piled so high, I eventually crumbled under their weight. I was already crying when I came upon the last box. It contained cards from my ex and wedding stuff. That box has gotten smaller and smaller over the years, and today I was able to let it go. It took a short time, but it became clear it was the right thing to do. My tears cleared, and I felt relief. It was finally time, I guess.

As I sit here reflecting, I'm looking forward to emptying my house in a couple days. Maybe lightening my house of it's memory-laden load will also lighten my eyes. Maybe not, I don't know. It was an interesting day, a long day, a difficult day, and a day I'll eventually forget. And that's okay. These memories were okay to visit, but dwelling on them is not in my plans. I'll keep putting one foot in front of the other. I know that light is out there somewhere, and eventually I plan to catch it.


The Depressed Reader said...

Hi Etta,
Thank you for sharing this. It was a really moving post, and I can understand your feelings as you literally went through all your past baggage, ready to dispose of at least some of it and move on.

It can take a long time to be ready to do that, and I am glad to hear that you are in a place where you can do it now.

I am sorry to hear you feel that a certain spark, a certain light has been lost due to your depression. And I hope you can catch it again someday.

Maggie Beth said...

I've lived that day too Etta.

More than once.

I fully understand.

You wrote about all the feelings so perfectly...

I'm sorry you are having to feel this.....

Holding good thoughts for you as you release what no longer serves you ~ and embrace the new, (WONDERFUL) life that, this ongoing healing is bringing......

Again. Lived it. So Sorry.

((((HUGE HUGS))))

Carmen said...

Hi Etta..
..have been reading your posts routinely and your efforts prompted me to begin my own cite. I have learned much from reading about your "ups and downs" and your feeling of being a "new person." I have experienced all the same.

Like you, I take one day at a time; and reading your blog is part of my day everyday.

I have been fortunate that my wife has stayed with me at every turn; but i can share with you that it too becomes a burden in and of itself as isolating and being a "new person" causes me guilt and frustration; as you do indeed become a new person (with many new characteristics, beliefs, etc.).

Thank you for your efforts and I wish you continued success on your journey.


Divas said...

I had a similar experience when I found out my ex H had passed away. I felt the need to look through our old wedding pics and it was a wash of mixed emotions.

I hope you're able to overcome the "sad" smile knowing that you've become wiser and ultimately a better person b/c of your battles.