Health, Uncategorized

A Walk with My Dad

Following Footsteps out of Depression

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While I was on a plane gazing at the clouds, I had a vivid flash back to when I was a young teenager. The clean clouds reminded me of a walk with my dad through gentle falling snow in our old hometown of Escanaba, Michigan.

I remember following my dad like a shadow. All I had to do was follow his footsteps exactly. I didn’t have to look up, trusting he knew where to go and what was safe.

There was only silence surrounding the snow crunching beneath my boots. A comforting silence of nature.

For a time growing up, a wave of depression overcame me. I think my parents didn’t know what to do or what was wrong. I was too young to be questioning the meaning of life or to panic because of how small I felt in this world.

At night, I remember physically feeling depression take control of my mind. I told myself I had no reason to feel sad or scared. I had a loving family, a safe home. My mind didn’t listen to my mind. Talking about it didn’t help. I didn’t know what to say. Something was just wrong.

My mom did everything she could, and we discovered car rides to look at Christmas lights helped calm me down that winter. We would count plastic Santa Clauses (the record is still set at 23 for a single car ride).

My parents burned through gas like when I was an infant and car riders were the key to getting me to sleep. As soon as we came to a stop in the driveway and the motor turned off, I would feel the panic of emotions flood back.

I struggled for weeks like this. Some good days mixed in. Overall, I began to accept that my life might be like this. Maybe everyone feels this way?

I can do this, we can do this! We can live this life.

Then a simple day took all that away. I remember the exact moment my depression lifted and I felt light again. I was having a hard morning and I couldn’t even move past my bedroom doorway.

My dad knocked on the door and sat on the floor with me in my room. We didn’t talk much, He didn’t know what was happening and I didn’t know how to explain. He just asked if I wanted to go for a walk. A normal walk.

I don’t remember leaving my room or bundling up. Just the cold, white, crisp snow falling. All the heavy things in my heart lifted. All I focused on was my dad’s footprints. Just one foot after the other~simple. Constantly whispering, “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.” My simple mantra chanted in time with my breath.

I don’t remember how long that walk was (knowing my dad, a long one). I do remember pushing through the door dread free when we returned home. No panic, no heavy feeling, light and calm.

My bought with childhood depression was not easy on my family. I kept to myself a lot. My whole family did and still does. It could have been chemical, a battle with faith, or seasonal depression like SAD.

Occasionally, I feel the pressure and dark, unreasonable, uncontrollable emotions creeping back. I know what usually works for me, and telling someone to just, “choooose to be happy,” doesn’t work.

Walks still do. Just one foot after the other.

I can do this, we can do this! We can live this life.

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