I first recognized depression when I was a pre-teen. I didn’t understand what it was really, nor do I know if I was depressed prior to this but didn’t recognize the signs. For the most part, I battled depression alone. I tried sometimes to talk to my mom, but the language really wasn’t there to clearly communicate what was happening to me. So, I mostly struggled alone with this big, ugly cloud that surrounded me. I flirted with suicidal thoughts, and I believe the only reason I never made a serious attempt was that I’d fought so hard to live. Trust me, it’s a very odd feeling to fight to keep your body chugging along while wondering if living really is worth hanging on to. I learned to look at the little things, the beauty of my mom’s roses, the breath-taking colors of a sunrise or sunset, the sound of all kinds of music. Hanging onto bits of happiness kept me from succumbing to the seductive pull of despair.
That was the beginning of the basis for the rest of my life. Clear summer days of beauty, dark foggy nights of never-ending dread. Major happiness : like the joy of holding my daughters, from their laughter, watching them grow into beautiful young women. And happiness that came out of nowhere: a beautiful day, the soft sound of rain, a stranger’s smile. Life would seem to be going well. But it was never long before the fog descended again. It was confusing and terrifying, but the only way to get to the good stuff was to hang on through the bad.
A few years back, things got really bad and I was forced to get help. This wasn’t the first time I’d sought help, but it was the time I discovered the perfect therapist. Her straightforward approach was exactly what a straightforward person like me needed. Eventually the addition of medication helped me get through the last of the fog. For a while all was well.
Then we moved to Florida to be near three of our grandchildren.
Moving is stressful at the best of times. For a person with chronic health issues moving can be the equivalent of leaping mountains. Things went wrong, of course. We were robbed by the couple who “helped” us move. We had to replace pots and pans and silverware. They took an old computer—and the irreplaceable photos still on the hard drive. They stole a Bible. We sent them home (not realizing everything that was missing) with the guy whining that we weren’t paying them enough.
All my friends and my family (except for my daughter, son-in-law, and their three kids) were back in Tennessee. I’d lived within 50 miles of my birthplace my entire life. Moving was traumatic. Being stolen from was traumatic. I slid back under that foggy cloud of agony that I’d struggled so hard to get out from under.
Thankfully things weren’t as bad as they seemed. I fell in love with Florida. I love the sun, the warmth, the new friends I’ve made here. And I discovered new ways to cope. Living with depression is a daily struggle, but it can be done. If you feel you might be depressed, please get help. Depression is an illness. It’s not the same as feeling down when things don’t go right. And if you feel life isn’t worth living—call somebody NOW. Live can be great. Honest.