I’ve never suffered from depression, but very recently, I found myself teetering on the edge and I wanted to share this story because lots of people suffer from depression. You see, two years ago, I had surgery on my ankle to repair a shredded posterior tibialis tendon (the tendon that goes under your arch and up the inside of your leg). It was a traumatic experience and the recovery has been long and painful.
A few weeks ago, I went back to see my doctor because I still have pain and swelling in my ankle. She told me that the surgery had obviously not accomplished what we had hoped, and asked how I felt about having more surgery, the procedure we should have done the first time, but because it was even more extensive with twice the recovery time, I opted for the less invasive one. It was now apparent that I had made the wrong choice.
Sitting there in the doctor’s office with my swollen, bare foot dangling off the edge of the table, the thought of having to undergo more surgery instantly plunged me into a suffocating darkness. I’ve had surgeries before, and my body does not take kindly to being cut on and stitched back together. It’s always a traumatic experience for me. Besides, there were no guarantees that the more extensive surgery would correct the problem either.
Returning home from my appointment, the crawling, bleeding, agonizing darkness sunk even deeper into me like thick black tar invading my soul. For days, I cried. I drank too much. I slept too much. I ate all the bad food I could get my hands on. I became lethargic. I couldn’t think. I felt very, very sorry for myself. I just knew that I was destined to be a cripple for the rest of my life. All I wanted to do was divorce myself from this rotten, messed-up body that keeps failing me. On the other hand, I had enough foresight to realize that if I didn’t watch it, I could slip into a bonafide clinical depression and I could see how easy it would be to go there, because the bad news was just one more addition to an already long list of negative and serious issues I’d been dealing with, so this new information didn’t just cause me to focus on foot surgery, it caused me to view my entire life through a lens of how terrible everything was. And I teach workshops on how to live the life of your dreams! How could I be an effective teacher if I was seeing nothing but the things that were wrong with me and my life?
But I was so down, I couldn’t see any way to pull myself out of the darkness, plus all those thoughts about not being an effective teacher only made me feel worse about myself. I needed to get my shit together somehow because I was sinking. Fast.
A friend then recommended a physical therapist in Boulder who specializes in foot and ankle issues as well as scoliosis. I knew I had scoliosis, and I wondered if perhaps that could be exacerbating my foot issues. My foot doctor concurred.
Yesterday I went to see the new PT. She looked at the x-rays of my spine—curved in two places—nice. She checked my flexibility and told me that my foot issues were likely caused by my scoliosis, and even if I were to have more surgery on my foot, it probably wouldn’t solve the problem. She said that we needed to treat the whole body–not just one area, and very likely the foot issues would resolve themselves in the process. Wait. Seriously? A small light went on inside my heart. Was she saying there was hope?
She told me that my tendon was good and strong, which was encouraging because my initial thoughts had been that the surgery had all been for nothing–a total waste of time, money and pain. But the surgery didn’t go so far as to determine the cause, which was now becoming obvious—scoliosis was causing me to put pressure on the arch of my foot, hence the pain and swelling. Ah ha! An explanation that made sense!
The PT gave me a few suggestions to try in dealing with my posture and they helped instantly. She told me that she was optimistic that their unique program for scoliosis patients could help me live a normal life again because it had helped lots of people from all over the world. It helped my friend.
I felt hope rise inside of me like a gentle kiss of summer rain—a kind of hope that had previously seemed unlikely at best. Suddenly, the world looked brighter and all my problems, not just my foot issues, but all my problems and fears seemed manageable. Tears ran from my eyes—tears of hope that I could be pain-free again. Oh my gosh! What pure joy that would be!
Hope. Opens. Doors. Hope gives us the tools to keep going when all seems lost.
I can’t remember when I haven’t had pain, and just to have hope that that day is coming, for real this time… I can’t even begin to tell you how much this means to me, especially when I saw myself spiraling down into the quicksand of depression and all because I didn’t realize there was another option besides more excruciating surgery.
Sure, it’s easy to think positive when things are going fairly well; it’s a lot harder when suddenly the ground gets pulled out from beneath you due to the unexpected death of a loved one, a serious health issue, or any number of other things. Hope moves mountains. It gives us the strength to take another step.
Please know that no matter how terrible or dark things may seem, there’s always another option, and that’s the reason I wanted to share my story. Because although it may not always be apparent, if we keep looking and don’t give up, we will find the perfect solution, maybe something even better than we ever could have imagined and perhaps in a place we never thought to look.
There’s hope for everyone. There’s love for everyone. There are good things for everyone because there’s enough for all of us; the Universe (and our minds) are only limited by our thoughts. Please don’t ever give up.