Sunday, October 7, 2012

Damn you, depression!

Ok, for those of you still following, yes - I'm still here.  I've spent most of the past 3.5 years in a funk.  I don't know if it was depression, since I never actually went to a Dr.  So maybe depression is too strong a word.  Whatever, I don't know.  What I do know is that I wasn't myself.  Normally optimistic, I was moody and unhappy.  I tried hard to hide it from friends and co-workers (especially co-workers, since I was in a new job and I wanted to make a good impression).  But due to some enormous life events, I was stressed!  Would you like a synopsis? 

In April 2009, I was notified that the company I worked for was transferring my department to either New Jersey or Indiana.  I loved this job!  LOVED IT.  But neither of us wanted to move to either region.  So I started looking for other jobs.  This took awhile (in fact, it took a full year).  In January 2010, we discovered that our Bernese Mountain Dog (then 6.5 years old) had a thoracic mass.  Sure, we could have chosen surgery, but that seemed like too much to put her through, especially since she was asymptomatic and I was still looking for a new job. 

 In May 2010, I started what seemed like a dream job (though the voices in my head told me nothing about this job was going to be easy.  Boy, were they right!).  It has taken me two and a half years to feel like I'm getting my head above water in terms of keeping ahead of my workload.  Currently there are two things spurring me forward.  1.  My job is pretty unique and special  and 2.  I keep getting a little further ahead day-by-day.  I figure if I stick with it, I'll eventually be caught up!  As far as the job goes, I am a veterinary technician for a small zoo.  We are AZA accredited and maintain a collection of around 1,000 animals. One of the biggest detriments is that I've always been able to commute to work by bicycle (at least during the summer.  I've only had one job where I was able to commute year-round).  However, due to several factors, I haven't yet been able to commute to this job (largely due to distance, terrain, traffic, irregular hours, and right now a lack of fitness).

In December 2010, my boyfriend and I decided to get married.  Yes, good stress, but stress nonetheless.  It was a small affair with absolutely no fanfare.  Perfect.

Regular checkups on our dog showed that the mass was growing, but not at an alarming rate and she was still asymptomatic for the most part.  In hindsight, I believe now that she was exhibiting signs of discomfort, but we were unable to definitively put it together.  I will know better in the future.  She was still active and loved her walks, especially in the winter (though deep snow really tired her out and there were times I actually left her home, knowing she would be too tired). 
In June 2011, I came across a dog in the middle of a downtown intersection.  I was on my way to work, but luckily had enough time to stop and coax him into the car.  He was wearing a harness and trailing a broken leash, so I felt certain that somebody would be looking for him.  I put out notices in as many places as I could think, but nobody ever came forward.  He has some issues (separation anxiety and thunderstorm phobia), but with the help of a product called "Composure", we're making progress.  We used to have to keep him in a crate while we were away, but he is reliable enough to leave with full house access now.  This is huge!

In July 2011, I had appendicitis with complications and was out of work for 3 weeks.  By November/December 2011, our dog was starting to tell us that she wasn't feeling well.  She was less enthusiastic about her walks and her appetite started decreasing.  Repeat radiographs showed that the mass had not only enlarged, but it had spread.  I was devastated and started to question whether we should have put her through surgery back in 2010.  I'm still glad we didn't, but the doubts were there nonetheless.  By February, she had really lost her zest and her appetite.  We couldn't let her go on, and elected euthanasia.  I am at peace with our decision, but I can honestly say that I miss her every day.  I am so glad that Norman found us when he did...without him the house would have been unbearable. 

In June of 2012, my father faced a health crisis.  I spent a few weekends helping out my folks as much as I could, culminating in staying for about a week in August while my dad was in ICU.  Dad was in pretty rough shape and decided to enter home hospice.  I helped them out for several more days, until they got to the point that they could manage on their own.  The good news is that he's doing much better and has been kicked out of the hospice program as of October! 

At present, I am riding a wave of complete optimism and happiness.  The only real changes I've made is that I finally sat down and let go of some volunteer commitments and have made concrete plans for getting back into a fitness regime.  I don't know if it was possible that I was clinically depressed....the really weird thing is that I can pinpoint an exact moment when my attitude changed from one of merely existing, to one of optimism.  That happened this past Tuesday morning.  I was preparing my lunch and it was like a switch flipped back "on".  Was it just that sufficient time had passed in order to allow my body and mind to process all the stress?  Is it possible to be depressed and get better without medication?  I really don't know, but to anybody who may stumble upon this because they're feeling similarly disillusioned; don't give up hope.  Things will get better. 

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