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!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Thanking My Supporters

It was a few nights ago. I was speaking for the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). As many of you know, I do this occasionally. I tell my story. I retrace my journey with depression to diverse groups of people, from junior high school classes, to church organizations, to mental health providers, and in the process attempt to break down some of the stigma surrounding mental illness. It's almost always a rewarding, uplifting experience. I get as much or more positive vibes from telling my story as others do from hearing it. I enjoy doing it.

Speaking to interested groups almost always makes me feel a belly full of gratitude. This was especially true the other night, as one of the audience members was a retired psychiatric nurse with whom I had many interactions over the years. She commented that it was nice to see me. She was enjoying seeing me there, recovered. What I wanted to tell her was it was just as nice for me to see her. It was great to be seen in recovery mode rather than while in the throes of my illness, which is, of course, when she had seen me in the past. Does that make sense?

And seeing her filled me with gratitude for all of the mental health providers I've seen over the past 13 years. There are so many providers who've made a major impact on me, yet they'll never know. Driving home, I had the urge to stand on a roof top and yell, "Thank You," at the top of my lungs! I wanted to invite those with whom I'd connected to my home to see me, as I am today, living well. I wanted to show them their work with me made a difference. It mattered. And I hadn't forgotten.

It's too bad. Most providers with whom I've connected will never know where I ended up. They have no idea what happens to most of their patients. It's only through chance meetings like the one I just had that we get to show off our healthy selves. And say thanks.

So that's what I did. I said thanks, to those I could, that very night. I sent out some gratitude e-mails. And I plan to say thank you, out loud, to those I can the next time I see them. My doctor, therapist, social worker...they've all heard it before, but I don't think I can thank them enough. I wouldn't be alive today without them.

I also wouldn't be alive today without the nurses at Generose 3W, Mayo Clinic, so this post will have to suffice. Unfortunately, most will never see it. And those nurses are the ones I'd especially like to invite over, to "show off" how well I am today, as a direct result of the care they gave me. Those nurses saw me at my most ill, and they cared for me when I could not care for myself, with respect, compassion, and love. I am lucky to have had access to them and to their inpatient unit.

I am a lucky woman today. I feel well. And I feel grateful for feeling well. I didn't get here by myself. I've had lots of help. It's important for me to remember that. It takes a village. I'm so thankful for all of my fellow villagers.


A said...


I'm so glad to hear that you got another position! You seem like you are really starting to fill your schedule with work - which is wonderful, physical therapy is so critical to so many people with muscular issues. Just remember to try not to overload if possible, I know it's hard sometimes. I feel overloaded a lot with law school and my two part time jobs. I feel like I barely ever take good enough care of my house, and so it sometimes starts to look like I'm becoming a hoarder. (Which desperately scares me - I don't need another mental problem!) I still struggle with depression every single day and I have a lot of panic attacks. Sometimes I fear I will never be able to keep on top of my schedule. Usually once I get started at what I need to do, I can get through it as well as I can, but it is so hard to get started sometimes.
I just finished this semester's finals for law school. Two of them went okay I think. One, federal taxation, was a complete disaster. I actually walked out of the test an hour early knowing I either got a D or F. I was so upset with myself, because I have never done that before. I just realized that I hadn't studied the right things, and a major portion of the exam I was clueless on. So now I have to retake that class in the fall semester, which also sucks because I have to re-pay for it, which of course costs an arm and a leg.
My boyfriend and I are trying to do some major renovations to the house right now, too (buying new windows), and on top of all our other bills, this is just another huge expense.
Anyway, sorry to ramble on about some of the things I'm dealing with. I am so glad to have your blog to go to when I'm feeling very low, and to know that you understand how things are for people with our disease. I am going to go to a New Directions meeting tomorrow night at our local church (A group for depression and bipolar) because it's been a long time since I've connected with those people, I'm hoping that will be a good experience.
Anyway, thank you again for being there and helping to drive off some of the loneliness I struggle with, you are such a wonderful support and guide. Love, A.

RomanceWriter said...

Yes it makes a lot of sense to say "It was great to be seen in the throes of recovery." I feel the same way. I'm just starting to get out of my depression.

At this point I'm still telling people "I feel so much better! Like I can handle things without falling apart for the first time in years."

But I look forward to the day when others can really see it without me saying anything, when they bring it up to me.