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!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dear Kathy

I don't know if you remember me, but I certainly haven't forgotten you. I tend not to forget people who have made a huge, positive impact on my life. You were one of the first. You tended to my psychological needs for years, from the time we first met, which was after my first suicide attempt landed me in the your inpatient, adolescent, mental health unit, through the end of my college years, when I picked up and moved away. Even after that time, I returned when I could and stopped in to say hello. I always wanted you to know, needed you to know, I was doing well.

Kathy, you were such a big part of my earliest healing from this nasty illness of depression. When I needed a steady, loving presence, you were there. You were patient, and kind, and caring. You were generous with your time and spirit. As I grew, and the depression resolved, I kept in touch because I wanted to show you what all your work had done for me. Despite my challenges throughout childhood and adolescence, I was well. Depression hadn't beaten me, and much of the credit for that goes to you.

Thirteen years ago, the depression returned, and I lost touch. My journey changed direction more than once. Life got complicated. For awhile, I got lost in a bottle. Job loss, hospitalizations, financial strain...mental illness reigned supreme. I struggled, alternating periods of wellness with stretches of devastation. I love rollercoasters, but this one was no fun.

During those difficult years, I'd return to Duluth, wander past your hospital or drive by your home and think, "I should stop in," but I didn't. For some reason, I didn't want you to know things were tough. I can't explain why. But I missed keeping in touch. I never forgot your impact on my life. I continue to want to thank you, over and over again.

And it's been too long, Kathy, since I've checked in, and I hope it's not too late. With great trepidation, I tried to call, but a thirteen year old number only rang without end. I was almost relieved. After all, what would I say? Too many years have passed. You may not even know who I am.

Yet I want you to know, Kathy, that when I'm here in Duluth, as I am practically every year at marathon time, I always think of you. And I think of you with tremendous gratitude in my heart, for you saved me when I wanted to jump. Again and again and again, you were there. Today I am sober and living with, rather than suffering from, depression. Many impactful people have passed through my life, and my gratitude extends to all of them. But I wouldn't be here today without you, Kathy. Thank you.

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