Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Feeling Grateful

Every now and then, I realize the enormity of what it's like to have felt so sick for so long--and now to feel well so much of the time. It's really quite extraordinary. From reading other blogs, I realize that a number of you aren't feeling very well, and you have my sincere empathy. And maybe it will make you feel better to know that even someone like me--who has suffered so many depressive episodes for such a long period--can truly "cure" herself--at least for now.

Last night we celebrated my son's 19th birthday--although it's not until Wednesday (but he's starting a summer job and probably will be working Wednesday night). When I remember past birthdays when I was so ill, I could cry. On a day like yesterday, I would have had to rest the entire day just to have the energy to go out at night. And as I rested, I prayed with every breathe that the depression would lift so I could participate in the celebration with my son and my husband.

The difference between those days--and these--is stunning. Yesterday, I spent the entire day helping a friend who was catering a teacher appreciation event at his daughter's elementary school. Not only did I have a great time, but I played my Autoharp with a bluegrass band, and learned how to rope a metal cow.

And then, after a brief rest, my husband, son, and I went out to a great restaurant to celebrate my son's birthday. While most people probably don't think twice about their ability to participate in these activities, I feel so blessed I can't describe it.

So, maybe at 58 years old, I will start making a lifetime of new memories that can only get better and better. Maybe...some people are able to do this when their children are young--and my family is just different.

My attitude is that for whatever reason I was ill for so many years, I am well now--and I feel so grateful that there aren't words to express my appreciation. Perhaps some of you know what a remarkable difference there is between illness and wellness.

I hope the rest of you--who are depressed now--will someday know what it's like to achieve wellness. It is truly a miracle--and yet, one that I have achieved. I hope and pray that everyone who's reading this will know the happiness that I felt last night, and continue feeling every day. It is this level of wellness that I hope and pray that everyone will experience daily!

13 comments:

Danielle said...

I was just thinking about this the other day. Things that have happened in recent weeks would have sent me falling into the pit of depression for weeks. Now I am able to think through them rationally and take a step forward...sometimes it's a tiny step, other times it is a leap....but I am so thankful that I am able to move forward now.

Jazz said...

Susan,
I like to think that the years when I felt so awful on psych meds taught me something...not sure what, but I'd hate to think they were completely wasted!

Seriously, though, I think having felt that bad, and having come through fire, as it were, gives us an appreciation for the small things in life. I am so grateful just to be able to laugh and cry again. I am grateful that I can engage with my children and really feel something. I am grateful that I can look at the future with something like hope. I am grateful for things that most people take for granted: mental clarity, creativity, the energy to engage in life...and I don't think I'll ever forget what it's like not to have those things.

Gianna said...

Not only did I have a great time, but I played my Autoharp with a bluegrass band, and learned how to rope a metal cow.

that sounds fantastic!! I have always wanted to play an instrument...I played piano when I was a kid and in my early 20's I rented one and took some lessons from a teacher who taught me how to "jam." I got just enough of the basics to play a couple times with a guitarist and a singer and it was the greatest high of my life---I had to give it up for lack of funds...i was in college...and never picked it up again...but I have always believed that making music is better than sex. Or at least equal to it...and it can last a lot longer---several hours in one go!!

Good for you!! I suppose it's not too late to pick up an instrument, but I really want piano and it's a big deal getting a piano in your house...right now it would be downright impossible, but we are looking for a new house.

Anyway....sorry for the ramble...I'm so glad you're happy and were able to share that with your son.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Danielle,
Isn't that a wonderful feeling? Reading the bipolar books always left me feeling so powerless. But I have learned that there are techniques and ways of dealing with stress that can truly make a huge difference in the way I feel. And you're right, sometimes it's just a tiny step and sometimes it feels like soaring over the Grand Canyon!

Susan

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Jazz,
I, too, like to believe that there is something I learned from my horrific experience on medication. (Again, I'm not anti-medication for others; just for me.)And your second paragraph captures my feelings perfectly!

Susan

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Gianna,
You're right, it is never too late to learn an instrument. There are programs at senior citizen centers where they teach people how to play for the first time.

I'm a great believer in trying to get what you want--within the context of now. So...if you don't have room for a piano in your house, you undoubtedly have room for a keyboard. And most music stores will rent them--to make sure if you like them. Or just so you can make music for now until you can get a piano.

For me, music and writing and exercise are the three very best forms of healing!

Susan

Coco said...

ooh you guys have been reading my mail again. Susan, I am feeling this gratitude too, and I'm so happy you're in this spot. Although mine is from more of a short-term standpoint, it still feels good, and it still fills me with hope and gratitude. I'm thinking it must be a combination of a few things that are keeping me in this spot, but I'm not going to think so hard about it that I miss out on the actual beauty of being here. How fantastic that you were able to participate fully in your son's birthday! He must have been thrilled to have you 'all there' on his special day. I know what it's like to struggle through children's birthdays when under the black cloud. Here's to wellness! :)

Coco said...

Jazz, your second paragraph so hit home for me too.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Coco,
So glad to hear it! It seems like half the people who are reading this blog these days are feeling wonderful, and the other half are deeply depressed. I wonder if it's a seasonal thing. Traditionally, June and July have been great months for me. But I'm hoping to extend it to the rest of the year and forever!

Susan

Tiddly said...

I have a theory that while psychotropic meds have their place in the short term, they eventually start to define you at least in your own mind, as someone who is damaged and ineffectual at coping with life. Prozac robbed me of my bursts of joy. It initially pulled me out of the mire and for that I was grateful, but eventually it left me stuck in the muck of apathy.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Tiddly,
Welcome to my blog! I agree with you 100 percent. I've said much the same thing but only a few people--as far as I know--have ever agreed with me.

Since you're a nurse, I think that perhaps you have more credibility than I do. I just checked out your blog, but I'm rushed. I'll visit again later. Thanks so much for commenting!

Susan
P.S. A boomer with depression who speaks her mind; we couldn't have more in common if we had known each other for years!

marja said...

I feel that amazing sense of gratitude as well - very often. Now that's one good thing about going through hell: when you climb out you truly appreciate good health and never take it for granted again.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Marja,
Isn't that the case?

Susan