It’s Delicate

Watching a portion of the PBS 3 part series, This Emotional Life, tonight, brought back so many vivid memories…times of depression, times of searching, times spent yearning for understanding. I am ecstatic for the understanding and awareness that quality television, such as what is produced on PBS, brings to our world. It is a joyous moment to sense the eyes opening across the nation as people watch and learn about living with major depression. In my own living room, I sensed a desire to better understand it, even though I am living breathing proof of what life with major depression can be like, for some reason it is better understood out of the mouths of others.  Chevy Chase did a spot on the show, candidly describing some of the challenges faced when battling depression. I found that particularly interesting and a good way to draw my husband, who is a big fan of his, into the audience.

I couldn’t help myself, but secretly, I wished I had been given the kind of opportunities experienced by the 18 year old who’s story was told. Her family was very proactive and she was in the care of great and knowledgeable professionals at the University of Michigan. They did not allow her to continue suffering when a treatment did not work, they continued on, and searched together for solutions, eventually ending up using ECT as a method of treatment. So many who struggle with this condition could benefit from having a support system such as the one she has in her family, therapists and physicians.

I remember so clearly my first devastating experience with ongoing and relentless major depression. I had been experiencing anxiety and bouts of depression for a couple of years previously, but it’s presence was “off and on”. It was when I was a freshman in college, and also 18 years old, that I would have given anything to have experienced “normal” life. I was truly taken down by the disease. The young lady featured on “This Emotional Life” reminded me so much of what it was like laying in my dorm room, suffering but not knowing why or how to deal with the illness. There was a moment during the program that the narrator said something about how life is stolen from those who suffer … and yes, I can think back now to the losses I have suffered. I have lost so much time. I have missed opportunities for education and achievements. I left college in my last semester before graduation largely because I was non-functioning due to depression and anxiety. I have yet to obtain my Bachelor’s degree, although I am far too close to let it slip by me. ( A goal on my horizon!)

Just now, as writing this, I recall a moment when I was given an award while attending the University of Kansas for my accomplishment in my studies of the French language. My parents made the trip to the college town (Lawrence, Kansas) to go to the awards ceremony with me, but because of the depression and such a deep-seeded feeling of inadequacy, I refused to go. I was unable to see myself as worthy of the award. I was frozen by social anxiety. I was paralyzed, sad, and also perplexed by my own behavior.

Depression is a dreadful thief.

But, I have been given so much life, still. I see that my life is a continuous journey filled with more joy each and every day. I will not let this thief rob me of everything! There are new studies, new findings, and efforts being made to help the millions who suffer from depression and other mental health issues. My life is not wasted. I can share with others, relate with others, and offer hope to others. I am not left with a sadness too great tonight.

The one thing I really took from this evening’s program was that there is indeed a very delicate balance of our emotions and we all do the dance as best as we can in life … sometimes dancing in darkness, other times in light.

6 thoughts on “It’s Delicate

  1. Over the last, now 2 years, I have been through the worst possible thing that could happen in life. I was caregiver to the most important person in my life, my housemate and business partner for 27 years, who was suffering from brain cancer. She was the healthiest person I ever knew and also the most kind. We battled together for 18 months before the disease took her at home, while I was hanging on to her. Now it is hard for me to even find a reason to stay on earth. Hard to get up, hard to see people I know, hard to sleep. Waking up is the worst, because I know I have to face another day. The sheer terror and sadness I felt everyday for 18 months, knowing there was nothing I could do to save her, while trying to stay positive and live as normally as we could, has taken its toll on me….feel like this must be similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. Its hard even believing that she is gone. I am stuggling with how I can even go on, or want to for that matter, without her. Right now my focus, when I can direct it, is to find a way to raise awareness for brain cancer and to raise money to help fund a highly underfunded area of cancer research. So right now,this is what literally gets me out of bed in the morning. Without this strong desire to bring meaning to a meaningless death, I’m sure I would be consumed by my depression.

  2. Great post – I really want to watch the documentary now. I am reminded of myself at 18 and filled with so much anxiety, but at the time I had no name for what I was experiencing. It is only now after having children of my own and witnessing their struggles with anxiety that I recognize it in myself.

    I have always functioned at a socially awkward, anxiety filled level – feeling grounded and “normal” was a foreign feeling. Like you, I think I will envy the girl who was surrounded by such a pro-active support system.

    It is often frightening to think of all the opportunities and emotional growth that is stunted by anxiety and depression. I sometimes wonder where in life I would be now if someone had intervened and recognized that I needed support and guidance.

    Alas, I strive to have no regrets – I am here now and learning so much about myself! Better late than never!

    Thanks so much for sharing! Your journey is an inspiration to me!

  3. This piece speaks to the depths of my heart. If ever a soul was worthy of acknowledgment and praise, it’s you. You are one of the most loving and gentle people I’ve ever met (virtually or otherwise). Depression is indeed a thief, but it can’t steal what you give to others. You consistently and generously give and give and give the beauty of yourself — despite what pain you may be feeling under your dazzling smile. It’s truly a wonder to behold.

    I love what you wrote here:

    “The one thing I really took from this evening’s program was that there is indeed a very delicate balance of our emotions and we all do the dance as best as we can in life … sometimes dancing in darkness, other times in light.”

    … as best as we can. Sometimes those are slow dances in the darkness. If we are in the arms of someone who loves us (be it a friend or Daddy God), those are the most intimate & unforgettable moments. Dance as best as we can, to life’s amazing soundtrack. Sometimes we’ll have to hum the words to songs when we don’t know all the words. You’re exactly right, dance as best as we can. I love that.

    It’s such an honor to know and love you.

  4. I really wish I could’ve seen this series; perhaps they’ll replay it sometime…

    It’s always interesting to go back and realize how depression has affected you even when we may not have realized that’s what was manifesting your life. You’re right, we can “only dance as best we can,” and keep on going.

    Btw, I added your site to my blogroll 🙂 Thanks for introducing me to new avenues

    • Thank you so much for adding me to your blog roll and for visiting me here! I have been following and reading a lot of your posts on your blog recently. I enjoy learning about your experience and it gives me “food for thought” myself. I will add your blog to my blog roll as well, I have not been keeping up well enough with those types of things around here, so look for it next time you visit.
      I look forward to seeing you in other forums/mental health communities in the future and I hope our paths continue to cross!

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