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!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Marking another year

Nineteen years. After surviving and thriving following teenage depression, this ugly illness returned 19 years ago. It was November, 2000, when I first noticed the old, familiar symptoms. I was in my early thirties. By March, 2001, I was in the hospital for the first time. Hospitalized more times than I can count since then, I never imagined I'd be sitting here 19 years later doing what I'm currently doing, battling depression and writing a blog about it.

I never imagined a lot of things 19 years ago. The sheer number of treatments and interventions I tried or participated in would have boggled my mind back then. In an attempt to rid myself of this illness I've taken multiple medications. Most of the prescribed meds helped for a time and then didn't. Perhaps that's what's going on now?

I'm sure ECT never crossed my mind in November, 2000. I probably didn't realize it existed, never mind the thought of actually utilizing it. TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation, wasn't even invented yet. Regardless, I utilized both therapies, again with brilliant initial results. Unfortunately, like so many meds, each therapy lost it's effectiveness. Ketamine, a powerful drug I'd never heard of, certainly wasn't on my radar 19 years ago, yet it's pulled me out of two severe depressive episodes. I'm grateful, but I never imagined that.

In addition to trying multiple treatments I couldn't have foreseen, I also never imagined I'd drink myself into alcoholism trying to numb the pain. I certainly couldn't have predicted I'd get and stay sober through a recovery program I previously belittled as stupid, but I did.

I never saw depression taking away my ability to work. Who gets (illegally) fired from a hospital while out on sick leave? Disability? I never predicted that, either. I never imagined losing my income, requiring financial assistance, needing the food shelf, or being incapacitated by inertia. Humbling experiences never envisioned, yet all of those things happened, too.

So many things happened over the course of 19 years. There have been numerous challenges in battling this beastly illness, but I'd be remiss if I didn't also focus on the opportunities. I've had multiple opportunities over the past 19 years, opportunities I wouldn't have realized were it not for depression. In some ways, I'm lucky.

I already mentioned sobriety. If it weren't for sobriety I'd likely be dead. It's that simple. No marathons, no travel, no job, no house, no dogs; I'd have or have done none of it today. But most importantly, depression allowed me to become a kinder, gentler, more spiritual person than I used to be. That's mostly as a result of getting sober, but I wouldn't have gotten sober were it not for depression. It's nice being kinder, gentler, and more spiritual. I like who I am today. It's a gift.

I've been gifted other opportunities, too. For example, depression brought me into public speaking. I've been allowed to educate others in classrooms, churches, across the airwaves, on television, in the newspaper, through running, and in a series of videos available on the Internet. Wow! And let's not forget this blog. Who would have thought? Certainly not I.

I couldn't have imagined any of it 19 years ago. So while I am unfortunately marking an anniversary I'd rather not have, this journey has been about more than just sadness and struggle. It's also been about relationships, and perseverance, and growth, too; lots of growth. It's been about living a good life. So while I can't say I'm grateful to have depression, I can emphatically state I am grateful for the person I've become because of it.

1 comment:

Katy said...

Wow! Great post!