Depression Through the Eyes of an Optimist
Hello True Believers,
If you have known me for a significant amount of time, you know that I suffer from depression. I use present tense, because no one is ever actually cured of depression, you just learn to live/cope/deal/handle it. You learn how to not let it control you. The bigger adjustment knows, also in comparison to a tidal wave, there are times all you can do is hope to float and ride the crest of the wave out, hoping not to take in too much water. Knowing the victory is in the fact you didn’t give in to the abyss, or the abyss didn’t drown you.
I am going through one of those “Abyss stare downs” now. Not sure why, and I am careful not to fall into THAT trap of driving myself to the brink of insanity trying to figure out the WHY. That is about as useful, and equally frustrating, as a drawer full of knives when I just poured myself a bowl of cereal. Instead, I am trying to look outside myself. A trick I learned a few years ago. Instead of getting sucked in the feeling sorry for myself, I look outside of myself at the MULTITUDE of blessings I have in my life. My Wife (supports me in all I do, and has just become a Runner herself!); our 3 most AMAZING daughters (who BLOW me away at their greatness everyday); our dog Molly (my running partner); the fact that 3 years ago at this time, life looked a LOT more bleak, health wise); and countless other things, but usually I don’t need to go past these examples, before I have found my “life preserver”to hang on to.
I am speaking about this, because I think there is a misconception that my optimism comes from rainbows and unicorns and that I have never experienced hardships. That is FAR from the truth. I just refuse to let my situations define me…I define THEM! My optimism knows that in any storm (like this morning’s tornado sirens going off at 4AM), you will take damage, you will get hit hard, your resolve will get tested, you will bend. But if you dig deep, you will not break, and the sun will shine on your face.
That is the thing about these “bouts” (yes, I use that word in a fighting sense) of depression, they are cyclical. To believe anything different only sets me up for failure. Because then these bouts will feel like a blindside, instead of a base understanding is that it will come. But so will the sun. As long as I hold on and believe in what I am surrounded by. As long as I have faith in God, and in the Blessings He continues to bestow upon me.
I am optimistic, not because I am unrealistic. I am optimistic because the sun always rises if I have the resolve to wait for it. This is why when I became a Runner and trained and ran for my first Marathon , it clicked with me. There are incredibly tough times during the 26.2 miles, there are joyous time, but there are a few, (what feel HUGE) tough times in there. But if you keep your resolve, stay faithful in what you have put in the work for, and don’t stop moving, you will encounter the most INCREDIBLE feeling. You will have completed it, and above everything else, you will now be armed with the knowledge that you can survive, on your own, anything thrown your way. This is why any Marathoner will tell you we are different in the end. The person who crossed the Finish Line is highly different than the person who started. You are a better You than before: A “You 2.0”, if you will. You are you, just better, almost shinier, if you will. Even if no one else knows, and you never tell anyone, you know you are different...better than before. This is why the grind, of training, the preparing, the injuries, the changes your body goes through is all worth it, because you survived. No, you didn’t just survive…you came out of it with more knowledge about yourself than you ever had. You come out of it not thinking life is rainbows and unicorns, but you came out of it knowing that you have the fortitude to stand and take anything thrown at you, without having to run and hide. Think that is a small thing, I can GUARENTEE if you have run any sort of endurance race, you are surrounded by at least 10 people who won’t flat out tell you, who are jealous, envious, and questioning their very foundation on not only how you were able to accomplish this, but why they aren’t able to. You see sometimes success is an honest mirror for the successor and their people in their life, to take a harsh look at themselves.
I am going through a bad bout right now, but I will survive it, because I am built that way. I will bend, I will be battered, but no matter how hard the winds howl, I won’t be broken.
-Until the Wheels Fall Off (and they haven’t)