Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 18 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, December 25, 2018

Pity or Participate

I admit it. I awoke this morning feeling a little sad, which was unusual, so initially I didn't pay much attention. I've spent many years alone on Christmas day, and it's never been a big deal. I mean I haven't even put up a Christmas tree or decorated for at least 10-12 years. I'm not anti-Christmas. I actually like Christmas a lot, but it's just me and Jet, so decorating seems a bit much. It's Christmas, but it's also just another day for me.

I got up this morning as usual and prepared to go to work. Everything was fine until I pulled out of my driveway. The neighborhood was so quiet. There wasn't another moving vehicle or person in sight. That's when the sadness really set in.

I began thinking about all of the excited activity taking place out of sight in those still and tranquil homes. I began thinking about all of the families who were together this morning, rather than at work or school. The traditional and special meals were likely underway. I knew I wasn't going to be having a traditional or special meal today, and I felt sad, and maybe a bit of self pity, because I wasn't going to be a part of any of it.

The feelings surprised me. After all, this was a normal Christmas day for me. Just yesterday a coworker inquired as to what my plans were for today. I told her I was working, and maybe Jet and I would go for a run, but that's all. She scrunched up her face and gave me a concerned look. I told her not to worry. It was no big deal. And I wasn't lying. So feeling sad and a little pitiful this morning really surprised me.

I entertained the pity for about 10 minutes, reinforced it by noting the empty roads around me, and even got a little tearful. Then I picked up my phone. I woke up one of my close friends. She and her family were soon going to be opening their presents. At first that heightened my sadness. I shared how I was feeling and then made plans to stop in after work. But I was still feeling a bit low, so I made another call.

I left a voicemail for my brother. He lives about an hour away. I knew he was spending the morning with his family. I left a message asking if he wanted to go for a run this afternoon. While awaiting his response, I saw 4 patients, all of whom were cheerful and happy to participate. One long term, very debilitated patient even made a huge leap forward today when she accomplished something she has been working toward since August! I was ecstatic! To top it off, the dietary department fed us (the staff) a free traditional meal. That was unexpected and delicious.

Just as I finished my meal, my brother called and accepted my offer to go for a run. So instead of going to my friend's house after work, I drove to my brother's house, and we went for a long run together. It was a beautiful, crisp day. The roads were almost empty, and we had practically free run of the city. We ran and chatted and wished Merry Christmas to everyone we passed. Before I knew it we had run 9.2 miles. That's the furthest I've run since early September. I may pay for it with sore Achilles tendons tomorrow, but it was worth it to have that quality time with my brother.

I'm proud of what I did today. I could have wallowed in self pity, but I didn't. Instead of wallowing, I participated. My day was resurrected by participating fully in everything I did today, whether that was as a physical therapist, a happy diner, a runner, or a sister. I had a good day. I'm happy tonight to be sitting here alone, typing, with Jet by my side. Life is good. Merry Christmas, everyone.


Katheryne Patterson said...

I'm proud of you, too. Looking from the outside, it seems like everyone is so peaceful in their little "Christmas" worlds. I find holidays incredibly stressful. Nothing is as peaceful or as "perfect" as it may seem. Too much pressure is put on Christmas. I'm so happy that you pushed past the sad feeling and ended up having a wonderful day! I so wish I didn't have to put up a tree or decorate. I do it for my kids who love it. I don't like "special" days where the pressure is up for everyone to be happy. That's just not how real life works. It's better to do the best you can every day. That is the best that all of us can do.

etta said...

@ Katheryne: I hear you and couldn't agree more. I'm glad I don't HAVE to decorate, or bake cookies, or even buy presents. It does make the holiday a more sane and less stressful for me. I don't like the forced expectations many holidays entail. Valentine's Day comes to mind! I like buying things for people whenever I want, when I see something that makes me think of them, or just because. Likewise, I prefer to express my love, appreciation, or gratitude whenever I wish. Maybe I'm just a rebel, but I'd rather be present and thoughtful in my daily life than save my thoughts and gifts, whatever they may be, for a few days a year.

Julie Gathman said...

WOW! I am so impressed with this! It lifted me up incredibly much! Just to think, we can make small decisions that can turn out to make a huge difference! This was a great, great blog entry.

Julie Gathman said...

Today I checked in with you, and I hadn't "visited" with you online in quite awhile. I am so happy to see you are RUNNING. Wow! You healed! All the crazy health issues that sidelined you...and now you are back in the game (almost). Gives me so much hope. Remember those awful dental issues? (Of course you do.) You got through that, too. Thanks for posting so consistently over time. It is rare to be able to see someone actually getting better after all their setbacks, because it takes a lot months and years for things to improve sometimes, and to report about it, takes a lot of faithfulness.