Sunday, June 10, 2012

Good Things

I've got a special project for this old blog. I'm making no promises to stick with it. I'm not sure if I'll even tell anyone about it. Since this was my former "thing a  day" type blog, it seems an appropriate place. 

Things haven't quite been going my way lately. I think it started about a year ago, last March, with the liver surgery. The surgery itself was a good thing. It was a planned donation to save a friend's life. That friend is thriving now and I'm grateful I had the opportunity to save a friend's life. Too often when we've got a dying loved one in our lives, all we can do is try to be emotionally supportive, but there's rarely more than that. But for once I could do something to make a difference. So I don't regret that surgery for an instant. However, the recovery from that meant half a year of not operating at my fullest. Not really in any sort of pain after the first 3 months, but just tired all the time. Just barely able to fulfill commitments, not really feeling enthusiastic about doing things that would usually excite me. Yeah, depression, basically. 

Then, just as I was finally recovering from that, our son died 5 months into the pregnancy. I must confess, I never really understood this before it happened to me. I've always been sympathetic to friends who lost children during pregnancy, but it didn't seem like all that big a deal. After all, they never really knew their child. I shudder to think that I used to feel this way. But I guess unless you've lost a child that way, you never really know what that kind of pain is like. I hope you never do. 

The pain from that was almost paralyzing. I'm not quite sure how we kept moving forward, but we did. The depression was worse than anything from the liver surgery. Then there was a whole series of misfortunes. I don't want to get into all those, but it just seemed like whenever things started looking positive, there was something else bad happening to knock me back down. 

But we were getting through it. We've got a daughter on the way now, and all the tests and scans indicate that everything is A-OK. I'd started feeling more confident, excited by the future, feeling like things were going to turn out fine.

Then a routine surgery turned into a 3-day hospital stay with a six week recovery. While full recovery is expected, it's been extremely painful and debilitating. I've been in near constant pain for a month now. It's worse when I laugh. Or cough. Or, really, do anything besides sit around. 

And yes, the depression is back. I'm starting to feel like a Smith's song:

Good times for a change
See, the luck I've had
Can make a good man
Turn bad

So please please please
Let me, let me, let me
Let me get what I want
This time

Haven't had a dream in a long time
See, the life I've had
Can make a good man bad

So for once in my life
Let me get what I want
Lord knows, it would be the first time
Lord knows, it would be the first time

Depression is a tricky beast. Once you've got it, it's almost like a living thing that tries to keep perpetuating itself. It will make it so you don't notice the good things in your life (and there are many good things in my life. I know this intellectually but knowing it and feeling it can be two very different things). Depression will also make you do things that ensure you have things to be depressed about. Like make a deadline seem so overwhelming you don't even try to meet it. Or make you terrified of your email in box, so a simple problem that could be solved with a "yes" or "no" turns into a problem so big it needs a committee meeting to deal with. Or turn an normal, healthy dialog into something that seems like a painful confrontation.

You know what? I've got better things to do. I've got a daughter on the way who I want to welcome into the world with boundless joy. I have a wife who makes me feel lucky to be married to her every day. I have a family I love and get along with more often than not, and a life filled with interesting people, exciting opportunities and so many other things that should be making me happy now, and will again.

So here's what I'm going to do. Every day I'm going to write about one good thing. Yes, I know it's not an original idea (see the 1000 Awesome Things blog, for example). Yes, I know I've complained about how contrived and banal books like the "Things to be Happy About" series are. But you know? I don't care. This is for me. Every day I'm going to carve out a few minutes to recognize that there's something good in my life. I'm going to do it for as long as I can, even if that doesn't last past the end of the week. I'm not going to try to be profound. I'm just going to do it. 

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