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!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


This morning I had a great speed workout at a small town track a few miles from here. I stopped at the local convenience store for some bananas and a cup of coffee on my way home. While filling my coffee cup, I heard someone behind me say my name. I turned around to find a former therapist gazing at me, questioning if I was, in fact, etta. What a nice surprise! I was quite happy to see her!

We exchanged a hug and caught up as quickly as we could. Her family was waiting to take her oldest son to college. Weird. Her three kids were small children when Heather and I worked together. Of course that was, we realized, 11 and 12 years ago. She was my first psychologist. We worked together during the first few years of my illness. That was a long time ago.

Though we were only together for a few short minutes, our surprise meeting left me reminiscing all day. I've been reviewing those first couple of years of depression. I've been remembering how quickly this illness came on, how severe and debilitating it became, and how disorienting the whole experience was during those initial years. I was sad, bewildered and confused. If only I knew then what I know now.

I'm not going to go into the gory details of those early years. That's not what all this remembering has been about. Actually, the memories of the pain, the chaos, and the losses have left me with a deep sense of gratitude. When I think of those years I am filled with gratitude for where I am today. I am so grateful to know what I now know and to have the coping skills I now have.

I guess 12 years of one illness has made me a bit of an expert on depression. I definitely was not an expert back then. Back then I suffered from depression. Over time I've learned a few things, and today I live with depression. One day, someday, I hope to be a survivor of it. What a wonderful day that will be.


Susan Mystery said...

It is a wonderful thing to be able to look back and realize how far you have come. I know that since my diagnosis I have grown quite a bit and really wish I had the opportunity to share my progress with the woman who was my therapist back in the day. I think she would be quite surprised and pleased as I am.

Erica said...

I like what you said in the last paragraph, but more importantly, how you said it. You "suffered from depression" in the beginning, now you are "living with depression," and one day you will have "survived depression."

I think that is an incredibly empowering statement. As time passes and a person becomes more knowledgable not only about this disease but how this disease affects them and how they can and need to handle it, you can find yourself free of depression's cage. You're no longer suffering at its hands; instead, you're living with it.

Is it still difficult? Yeah. Do you still struggle? Of course. Are there bad days? Duh. . . but there's also good days. And that's the important thing. Once again, etta, you have put our confusing and stigmatized disease into eloquent words that inspire and empower. If you don't mind, I will be sharing these words in an upcoming post on my own blog :)

Anonymous said...

What a nice run in. I love your attitude and being grateful for how far you've come. What do you think made the difference? How did you learn to live with depression?

etta said...

Living with depression is the result of lots of WORK. I've attended multiple groups to learn coping skills. I've been hospitalized, at least a half dozen times in 12 years, where I've taken advantage of more education and learned from others' experiences. I've consistently followed up with, and been honest with, my psychologist, psychiatrist and social worker. I got sober and regularly attend AA. And I've stayed alive, despite the pain, and learned from my own living experiences for these past 12 years.

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

Such a great post! I love how you can see your progression over the years. I, too, wish I had known then what I know now, but it was only by going through the pain and work that I could learn.

Nicole said...

What a great post! I've only been doing this for three years and on bad days I forget to look back and see how far I've come. Thank you for that reminder.I agree with Erica that I was struck by the last paragraph...switching the "suffer from" to "live with" has greatly impacted my life. I'm not sure if I'll ever be a "survivor" but today I say that "I SURF the waves of bipolar". That image reminds me that I can do something good or build something positive even with my illness! Thanks again for the awesome reminder.

Sassy said...

From one expert to another, I just want to say how very inspirational you are. I can relate to so many of the things you write on your blog, but what I really like the most is how despite of the depression, struggles, etc we continue to move forward and excel. Thank you so much!

michael platania said...

I've been dealing with depression most of my life (almost 50). Of course as a child I did not know it was depression - I thought either this was how everyone felt, or that i was born defective. It's been the past seven years that I've actively started paying attention to my depression and learn from it, and look for ways to live with it and now working on overcoming it. It's been a long journey, but I also am grateful for where I am today.

Stationary Runner said...

Poignant post... What a wonderful opportunity for you to look back and reflect on your journey.

Sometimes when I am feeling discouraged with my "progress," I make myself look back to three years ago. Only by comparing then with now can I truly appreciate how far I've come. At least I now understand what I struggle with, and to an extent why I struggle with it, and I have tools that I can use to help me get through the hard times. Doesn't always work... but at least now I have a plan.