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!

Friday, November 19, 2010

One decade

Ten years. Gone. Finished. Over. It's now been one decade since depression stole the life I once had, shredded it, and threw it away. It's my own, personal lost decade. I could spend the rest of this post lamenting everything I've lost--spouse, friends, home, job, financial security, opportunity--but lamenting the losses won't bring them back. And I've already spent plenty of time lamenting over the past ten years. (Including time earlier this month...) Suffice it to say that depression, like any other major illness, is a life altering event.

My life has certainly been altered. I was so sick in those early years, I don't know how I made it to this point. I couldn't do anything, take care of anything, or sustain a relationship. My head was sunk in a morass so dark and thick, death felt like my only option. Fortunately, I failed at that, too.

At some point a few years into my lost decade, the drinking began. Drinking worked where nothing else would. It numbed me. It stole me away from my barely tolerable reality. It was a miracle. Unfortunately, the miracle cure quickly became its own separate problem.

Help, fortunately, was something I was lucky to get and willing to accept. An inpatient DBT program, outpatient DBT groups, and years of AA have taught me life skills to deal with people, places, and things (including my illness). Medications have been tweaked, and tweaked, and tweaked again. Numerous doctors, psychologists, social workers, sponsors, friends, family and patients have helped me find a level of stability I never thought possible just 5 years ago.

I would never wish this devastating illness on anyone. Yet because of depression and alcoholism, I have reinvented myself. I look nothing today like I did 10 years ago. In almost every way, I'm actually a better, kinder, more responsible, harder working, more humble and grateful person than I used to be. Is it possible to grieve the loss of a life I will never know while simultaneously feeling grateful for the difficult, painful path I've been given? I think so.

It's been ten years. One decade. No, I would not want to re-live this decade. But today, on a day when my mood is low and my thoughts are still off, I have to look for the gratitude. I have to, or I will not survive. Ten years is a long, long time. Here's hoping year 11 is the best one yet.


Anonymous said...

I hear that and relate to the extremity of such loss due to severe depression loud and clear. Sometimes I look back at it all and wonder if it was worth it, if even given the stability and contentedness, the health and happiness that I am so privileged and lucky to have today, was it still worth it to go through everything I did up until I got here? If I had a choice, would I go through it, knowing that I would to this place of goodness?

Though I am a little ashamed, I honestly do not know the answer to that. It is not clear cut at all.

Maggie Beth said...

I am afraid the reality of a lost decade is all to real to me...90% of the time I am excited about the "newness" of the life I am 'creating' -- but then there are those rare moments ~ some I am currently living ~ where I allow PHYSICAL exhaustion to overtake me (I have worked 75 hours in the last 6 days - a ridiculous amount of time for ANYONE!). And today I am paying a very 'nervous, frightened, weepy and all out overwhelmed' price. Not worth the o.t. I will be paid....I am learning sanity has no price.

Anonymous said...

I can totally relate. It's been 12 years for me. I've made a new life for myself, but I still long for the things I lost. I didn't pursue certain academic dreams; I lost a wonderful relationship and had to watch my partner move on; and I've had to adjust to lower stamina, frequent low moods, and intrusive thoughts.

I'm more empathetic, more loving, more grateful, and less judgmental. Honestly, those were traits I needed to develop. But did it have to be so hard? Did I have to lose so much in the process? I'm happy to be doing well, but I grieve for the things I've lost.

I love this blog. You are so good at expressing what depression does to your life. My blog: