I was going to write a blog about my trip to Spamalot with my parents but you will all have to wait for that because I have something much more important to say. This morning, for the first time in years, I woke up on the right side of the bed.
I don’t know what happened, but something inside me has changed, and I’m afraid if I don’t write about it I will lose it. I have navigated through the hills and valleys of depression for years, so I know this could easily disappear if I don’t grab onto it with both hands.
It started last weekend. Last weekend, I went to the gym as I always do – reluctantly. But something clicked while I was there, and I actually kind of enjoyed it. I KNOW, RIGHT?! When I left, I was actually looking forward to going back. On Monday I knew I wouldn’t have time to go in the evening, so I skipped lunch and went to the gym instead. (Say what? No, really, I did!)
This isn’t the first time in my life I have been shocked to find I enjoyed exercising. Not long after my son was born I fell in love with TaeBo. I looked forward to my daily TaeBo workout; at some point during my pregnancy with my daughter I had to stop, and at every checkup after that I asked my doctor when she thought I’d be able to start TaeBo again. When I finally got the green light, I found it wasn’t the same and it didn’t quite engage me like it used to. It was around this time when I was finally diagnosed with clinical depression. A few months later we moved from the Minneapolis area to Fargo, ND. Overall the move was a positive thing for the family, but it was a difficult adjustment. I got a part-time job I loved, but I had to leave because we needed a full-time salary and benefits. I worked for a year at a large travel agency and I loved my job…until September 11, 2001. That day I went to work and had to leave immediately because it was too traumatic. Two months later I left for a job in retail.
In early 2003 something struck me again. I dusted off my TaeBo tapes [remember VHS, kids?] and made a bargain with myself. I bought a pair of boots I loved, but I told myself I could not wear them for two months, and then only if I had exercised at least 5 days per week. I also quit drinking pop (or soda, or whatever you call it where you live). It worked; two months later those fabulous boots were on my feet and within a few months I was wearing clothes that would have fit me in high school.
I was energized and motivated. I quit my retail job and went to work for the zoo and the humane society. I went back to school to get a vet tech degree. During this time I also discovered Tae Kwon Do. I loved this too, with all my heart. It broke my heart the day I had to give it up (between work and school and the kids it no longer fit into my schedule). My heart still aches a bit when I drive by my old gym. Perhaps someday…
But today was a different day. Today when I woke up, I did not have to claw my way through a fog of negative thoughts just to motivate myself out of bed. Even more amazing to me, I looked at my dog and realized I wanted to sketch him. I used to hold a pencil like it was a part of my hand; I could not sit in front of a piece of paper without drawing something on it. For years though, I have not really been able to draw, even when asked. The muse had simply left me. But today I woke up and I wanted a sketchbook. So I am going to get one.
Because today, for the first time in years, I feel like I am going to stay happy, and I don’t want to lose it.
Here is the first sketch I drew with the new pencils and sketchbook I bought today. In case you have never met her, that’s my Saint Bernard, Selby. [Sleeping on my bed, where she is normally not allowed to be].