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!

Monday, April 27, 2020


I'm getting rid of stuff. I've been unloading stuff, on and off, for about 6 months now. It began when I felt so low in late October, early November. In fact, donating a SAD light to my psychiatrist when I was incredibly low was the impetus which led to her hospitalizing me. (For those of you who don't know, one sign of imminent suicide is when a person begins giving stuff, especially stuff they value, away.) She was correct to hospitalize me, but that's beside the point.

I kept giving stuff away after my hospitalization. I donated 3 big boxes of household items to the Salvation Army in December. I also gave away a bunch of clothes to a local homeless charity. I filled the garbage can with a ton of other crap, too. It felt great!

I'm back at it. Over the last few days I've been de-cluttering and organizing my upper floor, which is essentially just storage space. This house, which I moved into 16 years ago, is about half the size of my previous home, which I shared with my ex, so I've got a lot of stuff up there. I cleared out much of what I had about 6-7 years ago, had a huge garage sale, and sold almost all of it. Nevertheless, there's still more stuff! I don't like stuff.

The problem with the remaining stuff is it's laden with emotion. I've got long-unopened boxes up there; memorabilia from my high school and college sports days, photos from long ago relationships, photos from a complicated childhood, and writing--lots of writing. I had to pause and take a deep breath just to open a few of those boxes.

Each box flooded me with different memories. Organizing the photos compelled remembering the moment captured in each of them. Or, and this happened a lot, too, wondering what or who the heck was in that picture? I relived memories of thrilling wins and painful losses from both high school and college, mulled over old relationships, and rehashed much from my complicated, not-always-happy childhood. The pictures and memorabilia brought up a lot of old emotions.

The writing, tucked neatly into two folders, conjured up more emotion than I was able to handle. After scanning a couple of poems and sketches (I forgot I used to sketch) I had to put it away. I had barely scratched the surface, but I knew if I continued I would have become overwhelmed.

I began writing at age 15, which is when my first depressive episode began. That depression, which lasted through the end of high school, is documented in those folders upstairs. I kept writing through college and beyond, but usually only when times were tough. I have several legal pads filled with writing, a hand-written blog, I guess. I couldn't have handled reading it yesterday. Just finding it set me back a bit. It's now neatly tucked inside it's new and improved plastic bin. I plan to get it out again one day. I would like to read it, but now is not the time.

I've got a bit more to do upstairs, a few more memories to unpack. I think the most heavy remembering is done. I'll be very satisfied when I'm finished, when everything is neatly organized and in its place, and when I will no longer have to relive the saga that has been my life. I prefer to look forward rather than back.


Paul Lamb said...

I happen to be married to someone who pretty much cannot get rid of anything. (Even a random plant the comes up in the garden gets nourished and cherished.) The house is not jammed, and when the kids moved out that helped, but when it comes time to downsize, she is going to anguish over every scrap of paper she must get rid of. It will take years.

I have been taking my old college spiral notebooks out to my cabin to burn in the fire. I hadn't looked in them in 20-30-40 years, so I figure there wasn't anything in them I needed. It was very satisfying to throw them on the fire and watch them burn (and be rid of them).

etta said...

@ Paul: I have parents like your spouse. It drives me nuts. And you are correct, she will anguish over every scrap. Better start now.
I also threw away lots of old text books and notes from PT school. Like you, I hadn't looked at them in years, and with Google I doubt I will ever need anything in them anyway, so out they went! I must have hauled 150 pounds of text books to the curb. It was a literal load off!

Wendy Love said...

'Getting rid of stuff' is one of my favourite things to do. Cleaning a closet? almost as good as ice cream. Filling the car with give-aways and making a trip to the thrift store is almost as good as finishing a painting or a quilt! Order helps my mental state as well. I am sure order would help others with mental illness too. My fantasy mission would be to go into the houses of people who can't organize (especially the mentally ill) and help them put their house in order. The challenge, however, would probably be to get them to get rid of stuff, for you can create order without purging. But that is a fantasy, because people need to do it themselves for it to have any lasting effect. All that to say that I am happy for you that your have made a stab at getting rid of some old stuff, had a trip down memory lane and are feeling well enough to enjoy it!