Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Everything is going to be...

Autumn’s early leaves, in crisp dark reds, pale yellows and cinnamon toast browns, began swirling around our driveway weeks ago. When they began drifting into our dog’s fenced-in kennel, my German shepherd would often carry them into the house between his teeth, one leaf at a time, until their numbers increased and they became piles to be ignored, along with fuzzy caterpillars and ladybugs crawling along the cement.

A few days ago, as I watched the sun set over my newly-bloomed asters and pale pink zinnias, I realized I have now touched my first three seasons in 30 years off anti-depressant drugs. And now as I get ready to set my mind on a better winter than last year, I wonder how everything is going to be.

In April I determined, along with my doctor and husband, that I would stop taking the anti-depressant that I thought had kept me going for so long. Just in case, I pulled out an extra roll of bubble wrap and a few down quilts as protective measures against life’s assaults. I don’t mean someone mugging me on a Wausau side street, I mean an iPhone that suddenly goes dead, an Excel spreadsheet that has left me flummoxed, or a dog that thinks “hello” is a paw to my face. On a bad day, anyone of those things can throw me under the bed.

Instead I used the bubble wrap to cushion homemade cookies that I sent to my son in Michigan and the extra quilts are packed in one of my husband’s hand-built dressers in the basement. I have done so well off anti-depressants that mostly I have wondered why I took them at all. When I felt bad and very bad and worse, I was certain that some combination of drugs, and there were many over 30 years, was off-kilter or not strong enough or too strong or just flat-out wrong.

At one time, drugs provided relief for me and so every time I felt depressed, even while on medications, I was sure that another medication would fix it. This mindset allowed me to spend much of my time moving along from the ages of 20-50 blaming a doctor or a counselor or another person who did not understand my depression. Six months after stopping anti-depressant drugs, I am wondering if they were just a convenient tool around which my whipping post wound itself.

Me without this thing to blame, is something that I am hoping is a little better. A little better because maybe I have found a better way to deal with life’s uncertainties; better because maybe I have stopped blaming things that have no blame; better because maybe I have learned to “just notice” instead of attack; better because maybe I have learned that my chronic worry is chronic lack of faith; and better because maybe I can do what my husband often points out to me: “You can’t always change what happens to you, but you can change how you interact with it.”

I don’t know if I will stay off anti-depressants. But I know I won’t have depression in the same way ever again. I hope I have not dishonored or disrespected those who do have depression in my journey of discovery because I may be a person with depression yet again. But never again will I be a person who blames depression. Instead I will be a person who has depression.

I am a very slow learner. Blessedly I am loved by a patient God. Instead of pounding myself and hating myself, I would like to choose a different path. This morning it involved rolling out my yoga mat and listening to my instructor calmly take me from downward facing dog to upward facing dog to warrior one and deep breath in and deep breath out. Right now, this is my passage of time. Next spring it may be different. In this peaceful slow-down, bad things still happen and life is still hard, but mostly, everything is going to be….



  1. This post should be shared again a and again and again, spanning the globe until everyone with depression experiences the freedom that comes from not blaming depression and embracing each moment as an opportunity to rise above oneself into the arms of God who gives purpose to every breath in and out and in and out...loved this sharing of your passage of time.

  2. I love this line in your blog "But never again will I be a person who blames depression. Instead I will be a person who has depression" Thanks for sharing