Finally, I'm starting to feel like a ray of sunshine is getting through the cloud of depression.
I had to go back to the doctor recently because the depression and anxiety have been winning out over my intentions. I have had a lot of trouble getting out of the house. My medication was increased. For the first few days, of course, nothing happened. I still made myself get out and walk everyday, telling myself the dog needed it. But in truth, I'm the one who needs it.
For some reason, going to a public place, like the bank, is really difficult for me right now, but in the woods near my house, I can follow those circling trails for miles, just accompanied by my dog and some good tunes on the Ipod, and get away from that anxiety. It feels like the very trees are sheltering me from the bad feelings, the shortness of breath, the nausea, the overwhelming feeling that people are staring at me.
Some days I walk out there alone and cry. I cry for my Dad, whom I miss more than I ever thought possible. Because his illness was long, and he was suffering, I thought that his death would bring relief. I thought I had prepared myself for losing him. I'm glad he isn't in pain anymore but I wasn't prepared for the ache in my heart that is never far from the surface. Sometimes when I am out there, alone but for the dog, a bright male cardinal lights in our path and stares at us, lets us get amazingly close. I think of my dad, because he loved birds and the cardinal was always his favorite - he always pointed them out anytime he saw one. It feels, just for a quick second, like he is saying hello.
The past week, I've really increased my mileage. I feel nearly compelled to seek the solace of the woods and walk until I can hardly move my legs to carry me another step. I've been walking 6 kilometers through the woods every afternoon, and then after dinner, I've taken a shorter walk, less brisk, with the dog, and sometimes my daughter. If I walk far enough maybe the cloud of depression will get tired of following me.
Yesterday, for the first time in recent memory, I felt good. I felt like my sense of humor was present. I was actually hungry. I had a bit more energy and I sat outside on the front porch and chatted briefly with a neighbor, instead of ducking into the backyard to enjoy fresh air.
When I was out in the woods I thought of Dad, but I didn't cry. I smiled. I remembered going with him to Wal-Mart, on one of his morning walks, when he was 85. He was getting very feeble, taking short steps where he hardly lifted his feet, and using a cart for support, yet he made his laps around the store until he succeeded in completing his mile. If he could do that, I have no right to give up and cave to how I'm feeling.
So I'm trying to make today better than yesterday and will continue to do that everyday from here on out. I'm sure there will be bad days where I regress a little, but step by step I will recover from this. If I just keep walking, the depression will get tired of following, and give up, and let more sunshine in.