The return of the black dog

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I got three things done this morning that have been on my to-do list for some time (one for months). It’s a good upswing in mood for me as the black dog has been visiting recently and I was starting to hibernate.

See how I used the secret code in that last sentence? Black dog? Because we still don’t like to talk about it, despite all the social media campaigns, the celebrity confessions, the it’s-just-like-any-other-disease comments. I’ve been getting a lot of support from the few friends with whom I’ve talked about it. But so many people just don’t get it. They want to solve the problem, and it just ain’t that easy.

Depression.

This most recent bout was likely triggered by a diagnosis of osteoarthritis in one of my knees. I’ve been having increasing levels of pain and discomfort over the past few months, with respite from time to time (including, thank G*d, during our trip to Sweden.) But this last flare up found me in my doctor’s office.

I love my family doctor, and really liked the doc who was covering for him while he was on vacation. She sent me for an xray and ultrasound, but based on her examination, she said it was likely osteoarthritis. So I went for the scans and waited for a call back for another appointment.

What I got was the (very nice) secretary reading my results off of the computer screen, as follows : “Degenerative condition. Patient should continue with pain medication as discussed and get physio.” No offer of a follow-up appointment.

I’m 54, retired, overweight and not sporty in the least, but walk a lot: in my neighbourhood, on public transit, in travels abroad. I want to adopt a dog in the near future. We look forward to this empty nest season in our lives as active, and so the knee thing is kind of alarming. Feeling brushed off by my doctor’s office was the last straw. I was angry, and then, a couple of days later, on my way to my first physio appointment, the tears just welled up. I spent the next couple of days feeling not anger but fear and sadness. I found myself checking not once but twice whether I’d forgotten to put my antidepressants in my pill dispenser. (I hadn’t forgotten.)

The physiotherapist I saw was absolutely lovely, talked about the objectives of treatment (strengthening the muscles around the joint), and did some work on my leg and foot. My homework for this week was to apply heat to my knee a few times (which was lovely.) Next week she’ll start me on some exercises.

I realized this morning that I feel better when I accomplish things. So I’ve been forcing myself to get out of bed and work on my list. Yesterday I cleaned my desk (NOT an insignificant task) and made dinner. Today I replaced my broken Birkenstocks, shopped for groceries, and got my computer glasses fixed. I’m seeing a friend for a late lunch today.

This weekend, my loved one and I have nothing on our calendars. We’re planning to visit the McMichael Gallery, to which I have never been, despite seven years in Toronto. Next week, my personal September madness starts, with TIFF (where I’m seeing 17 films over 10 days), TSO opening night, and then travel to France, so I will be busy and occupied. And (hopefully) fully mobile.

I’ve recently started following the blog Momastery after someone shared this post. I think it’s brilliant. And her voice really resonates. In her About page, she finishes with this:

My job is to wake up every day, say yes to life’s invitation, and let millions of women watch me get up off the floor, walk, stumble, and get back up again.

Love each other, my friends.

~~

Wanna know what depression feels like? This video is pretty much it.

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