During his confinement in Nazi work camps, psychiatrist Victor Frankel knew inmates who developed fantasies of being released on a given day. They would maintain optimism until that day came and went, at which point they would either throw themselves into the electric fence, or simply weaken and die.
I expected to be mostly recovered from my knee replacement in six weeks based upon remarks that the surgeon made. I was wrong, but I took comfort in the fact that I had made a lot of progress. I also reminded myself that full recovery can take a year. I then recalled that recovery from my shoulder replacement took longer than that (these joint replacements amount to dreadful wounds). At seven weeks, I developed a Baker Cyst, which is fluid-filled sac at the back of the knee that develops in response to irritation within the knee. I was first bothered by it many years ago, and I had a unsuccessful debridement surgery in 2008. For unknown reasons, the cyst eventually got better on its own, but now it's back, and the more I'm on my feet, the worse it hurts. I can no longer walk without a limp, or do most of my physical therapy exercises. Indeed, it was the exercises that brought back the cyst. I figured out which ones were to blame, and asked the therapist for alternatives. When she insisted that I continue with what she had already assigned, I decided that further therapy was most likely a waste of time.
Peggy's mother suffered so grievously from depression that she was twice institutionalized. She also suffered from chronic pain due to scoliosis, and when her life ended at age 79, the pain and depression had caused her to lose touch with the outer world. Thankfully, Peggy took after her father who's invariably upbeat. She will occasionally reflect upon something sad, and feel down for a few minutes or hours but, as far as I can tell, her lows are higher than my averages.
|John Fox Jr. (1863-1919)|
Because of my growing struggles with depression, I simply don't have it in me to deal with additional challenges and, combined with my back problems and arthritic shoulders, this Baker Cyst is proving to be a significant problem in that it's keeping me from getting good sleep and meaningful exercise, both of which are essential in combating depression.
Peggy has gone away with friends for a few days, and while I miss her, at least I don't have to bear with the guilt of knowing that I'm a growing burden. If somewhere deep within, I contain an untapped reservoir of strength and resiliency, I'm sadly unaware of it. It seems to me that the world is filled with people who do much better with problems that are much worse, yet I know that the mere act of making this comparison is a symptom of depression.
It's so very true that the last thing a depressed person needs is to have someone advise them to count their blessings and to reflect upon how much worse things could be, as if they're too stupid to come up with glibly obvious ideas on their own. I have heard a few people maintain that a person with cancer can simply think away the disease, but such people are rare, whereas those who say it about depression are commonplace. This is because they assign depression to a purposeful and inexcusable cowardice toward life, a failure as a human being that exists at the core of the sufferer's soul, and that could just as easily be remedied with a little gumption. During World War II, the English referred to the failure to fulfill ones duties as coming from "a lack of moral fibre." The hell of depression is that the sufferer accepts this appraisal, and at worst loses all hope for a brighter tomorrow.