Monday, January 28, 2008

Recovery from Depression and Stress

As I recover from depression and grief, I continue to seek solace in nature. After giving up my career, my Ottawa home and garden, familiar colleagues, my old city life, and my parents, I take it slowly. Walking heals me. Today it was glorious out walking in the dusk. I kept an eye out for the wolf that appeared last week when Brian was speaking on the phone to Caitlin, my daughter, while I was out at work. He was gazing out the window while he talked and stopped mid-sentence, awed by the sight as it hustled by. I think it was looking for our turkey vultures that visit our feeders--it was the cycle of life. You could see its footprint in the snow as it trekked across the lake. The colours, the shades and shadows, as well as the creatures that continue to survive in the minus double-digit temperatures always stirred me.
This morning, the blue jays were puffed up for warmth. I had filled the feeders last night--I knew it would be a cold night, ten degrees below zero or even less, and they would be hungry. I counted five jays negotiating for a spot at the feeder. The squirrels, in that endless hide-and-seek game, had wee faces covered in snow as they doggy-dug trying to first bury and then find sunflower seeds or peanuts. They were a hungry lot today, and I may give them all a second sympathy feed. The rest of us were on diets, but we don’t have to live outdoors. I was glad for no yard duty anymore. Supervising inadequately dressed teens, hell-bent on jockeying for yard position, was no fun. I spend longer outdoors now, but it is my choice and I can move around, take photos, and explore nature.
I am so glad to be on the upturn emotionally. I still find it hard being in large groups. The winter was passing, and spring would come, just as it had for the previous fifty years of my life! I endeavour to get out every day to walk or do other outdoor activities. The Vitamin D is necessary for us old folks. I have been off meds for long enough to know that I don’t need them right now, but I know that my doctor is there if I need him, and he is happy with my progress. Quitting antidepressants too quickly or suddenly can result in setbacks.
I had worked hard at doing my M.A. coursework: research to help me navigate through the past few years of depression and stress. I feel that I have made many gains. There have been days when I felt sad and tired, and re-experienced some of the warning signs of depression (sadness, anger, fatigue, inability to make a decision, and insomnia), but they are less frequent. When I recognize the warning signs, I make sure I work out more, get outside in the sun, take time for me, do something for myself, and it passes. What a relief.

In the spring, Caitlin and Jean-Luc brought our granddaughter for a visit. She was thriving in the joy and love of a wonderful home. We visit lots with Jesse, who lives the closest, in Toronto. I regularly communicate with Terry, too, and he visits from time to time. All have been grieving the loss of their grandparents. We often speak of the fond memories that we hold dear: trips to the cottage and trips to town; tons of photos and slides are on hand.


  1. Dysthymic Disorder is characterized by chronic depression, but with less severity than a major depression. The essential symptom for dysthymic disorder is an almost daily depressed mood for at least two years, but without the necessary criteria for a major depression. Low energy, sleep or appetite disturbances and low self-esteem are usually part of the clinical picture as well.

  2. Thanks for the good link! Whatever depression I had, it went undiagnosed for months, and I had little education about its symptoms. I had less that the minimal support from my boss, minimal psychotherapy, while I fought my bereavement issues ( May, 2006) and simply having chemotherapy (Cipralex).
    At the time of my depression I was fighting everyone and everything around me, except my immediate family. My book is a reflection of my point of view while fighting as an advocate for my parents, and losing sight of my own needs. Typical of caregivers. I do want to give people hope, however.


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