Without a doubt a curious title, for that I am sure. Eye-catching, definitely. A little confusing, probably. This is how my thoughts and feelings rotate around in my head, visually represented by a dust bowl. Sometimes they look more like scrambled eggs. Nonetheless, something is eventually learned, captured, and understood. This is one of those big “OH” moments.
You see, as you begin to learn more about me, you will learn more about depression and how it affects me personally. Yes, there exists a basic definition of depression found in all dictionaries, medical journals and studies and even the DSM book. I am NOT proud to state, nor seeking attention to say I have been diagnosed since the age of 19 with “Major Depressive Disorder, Severe, Recurrent without psychotic episodes.” This is part of who I am. I have accepted this absolute “hellish” part of myself and I do not try to hide it from others any longer. This is where this blog post begins.
It was only a few weeks ago Thanksgiving week fell upon those of us who celebrate and recognize this U.S. holiday. I am one of those people. In my humble opinion, the media and society as a whole has turned Thanksgiving into a celebration of turkey dinner and football. Plain and simple, that is all you see and hear about Thanksgiving.
Another Thanksgiving came upon me, as well as a return into the deepest depths of my depression. I knew beforehand it was going to be another Thanksgiving spent at home by myself. For as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving has never been about family members traveling to be together with one another in a celebration of love and thanksgiving. It most definitely has never been an occasion to remember and celebrate all of the many things in each of our lives for which we are so thankful.
This year, and for the last 13 years, my son traveled to be with his dad and other relatives for a traditional Thanksgiving feast and “Black Friday” shopping. Many of these years, I have found myself sitting at the table of friends or loved ones (not to be confused for family members).
I began falling into the depths of my depression on Monday of Thanksgiving week. Someone very near and dear to my heart, of whom I was going to celebrate Turkey day, succumbed to their own feelings of depression and loneliness and expressed no interest in spending time with me and Duke (my canine companion). It was very unfortunate timing for me. I was already feeling those holiday blues.
However, I was reminded many times earlier in the week, by other friends words and actions the very essence of Thanksgiving. It most definitely is not about the turkey cooking in the oven, nor the potatoes being mashed and buttered, the fresh baked dinner rolls and the homemade pumpkin pie with whipped topping piled high. Thanksgiving is a day and a time to reflect upon our life and all of which we are thankful for receiving.
I realized I had a LOT to be thankful for in my life. In fact, I realized and appreciated, I have more than probably 75% to 80% of our world population. I have a dry roof over my head, it is warm inside, I have food in the cupboards, I have my own transportation, I have a loving canine companion who always seems to know when I need cuddles from him, I have loving friends, I have giving friends, I have two grandma’s of whom are both in their 90’s with fantastic and upbeat attitudes, I am blessed in so many different ways.
Mostly, I have a loving, giving, caring, and understanding Lord, who has given me everything, mostly my life! With this understanding, I was able to get out of bed in the morning and live! To be able to take a breath each day is something I have often not been thankful. This year and this Thanksgiving season found me financially desolute, feeling sorry for myself and not realizing, nor being thankful for those who have helped me in my times of great need throughout this year. I am so thankful-beyond words.
I am so thankful for my personal relationship with Christ, Our Lord and Savior, who gave HIS life so that I may live. My life isn’t perfect, nor is it pain free, but neither is anyone else’s. I am one of God’s children and for that…well, no words can possibly describe.
On the day before Thanksgiving, my son was getting his things together at his home to travel to spend the holiday with his dad. I traded cars with him because not only does he have a donut on his vehicle he’s been traveling upon, but his car is downright scary. I wanted him to have reliable transportation to ensure his safety. With the very little to no money I had at the time, I put gasoline in my car for him because he has even fewer financial resources than myself.
This is the part in my story where the meaning of Thanksgiving came across so loud and clear to me. Before my son took off on the highway to his Thanksgiving feast, I drove his “straw car” (there’s an explanation for the description) to put gasoline in the tank as the needle was entirely below the “E” indicating that I was most definitely riding upon fumes. I pulled into the gas station and waited my turn, very patiently, to finally pull up to one of the tanks. As I swiped my card, the machine promptly declined its acceptance. I knew there was just enough money to at least put a half tank of gasoline in his car. The gas attendant politely asked me whether I had at least $100 in my account. I looked at him, while shaking my head and looked at the ground and I told him, “No.” That is the reason my card was declined. I was so ashamed and so embarrassed, in addition to the fact that is was one of our 20 degree weather days, I was freezing as well. As if that wasn’t bad enough, when I tried to start the straw car, it wouldn’t start…at all! It wasn’t the battery. I knew it had a bad starter and I knew that is what was keeping the engine from even trying to turn over.
Several attendants at the gas station pushed my car as I tried, in vain, to jump start it into action: Nothing! They tried one more time, still Nothing! That was one of those moments in your life when you learn how to eat a little piece of humble pie, as the saying goes. I phoned my son and thankfully he answered the phone and had not left town yet. He jumped into action to save his poor mother. He showed me the “trick” under the hood to get the starter to work. Well, that didn’t work either. It turns out I really was driving around on fumes. The straw car was completely out of gas and fumes.
My son raced home to get a gas can and I waited with the straw car, only because it was precariously parked in a bad place at the gas station. The straw car’s hazard lights don’t work, I discovered. I remembered that several years prior, I had given my son a large all-in-one road emergency bag should he ever break down. I rummaged through the trunk in the dark, because the straw car’s trunk light does not work either. This story is starting to get kind of funny now, right? Murphy’s law is definitely applicable here. I found an orange reflector triangle and I placed it on top of the trunk so the cars racing out of the gas station would not run into the straw car (though that may have been the best thing that could have happened to it).
Here it is the day before Thanksgiving. I had worked hard to pull myself out of the complete depths of depression and instead I began to smile and laugh and talk to myself out loud. Well, what else could I do? Here it is the season of giving thanks, of being mindful of our many blessings, to give rather than to receive. There I sat and watched over 100 cars drive right past me and the straw car without a single individual stopping to see whether I needed any help. That is when I really began to shake my head. I snickered and laughed. Well, what else could I do?
My son arrived with gasoline to put into his straw car at the gas station (you’re laughing now, huh? Well, it’s all rather hysterical at this point). Once he poured in two gallons, the straw car started right up the first time. Wow, was and am I extremely thankful to and for my son. I traveled down to the next gas station where I paid with cash and then traveled on home.
So, you’re thinking, this story is over now. In just three days, I have learned a lot and grew just as much! But wait, it doesn’t stop there. You’re kidding, right?
Well, I was snuggled on my couch watching a movie that evening when I suddenly realized I hadn’t purchased my son’s birthday present yet. His birthday happened to fall on Thanksgiving day this year. I remembered the item was on some sort of ad, not the normal type of weekly ad most stores run each week. I leapt off the couch (not really) and logged onto my computer and searched for the ad. I found the item, it was reduced in price so much, I couldn’t afford to NOT go get it. The ad was over the end of that evening. It was 9:30pm now and the store closed at 10pm. I drove my son’s straw car with the donut ever so carefully, but quickly in search of his gift. The store had ONE left. Phew! What a save.
I meandered to the cashier as at this point I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I had exactly enough money in my account to pay for the item because their store didn’t require that I have $100 or more in my account (just a small snide remark…I had to!). I took what I knew was going to be the perfect birthday gift and headed out in pitch dark to the straw car. As I approached the straw car, there was a gentleman in a very new, large SUV talking on his cell phone with the hood of his vehicle lifted. I heard him say to the person on the other line, “Just a minute.” He then asked me if I had jumper cables.
That, my friends was THE BEST ending to the previous three days. I exclaimed, “Yes, I do and I would be more than happy to give you a jump.” He was so delighted and excited and frankly so was I. That little straw car started his much larger battery and engine without a bit of hesitation. The man shook my hand and thanked me over and over again.
That is what is referred to as “coming full circle.” I couldn’t have felt even a tiny bit higher than I did at that moment. Depression or no depression, Thanksgiving dinner or no Thanksgiving dinner, I experienced first hand, just a few hours before Thanksgiving day the true meaning of being thankful. Yes, I do believe in miracles!
Just a note:the straw car wasn’t so bad after all.