It’s time for a little something about depression. There are lots of ways to be depressed, beside the one most people think of, feeling sad and hopeless all the time. Feeling sad and hopeless all the time is what drove me to see my doctor in 1997, when I got my depression diagnosis. But it was only one of many other ways depression had me in its grip, and to explain more about that I need to start with my blog title, Wish I Could Have Been There.
It comes from the song I Wish I Could Have Been There, by John Anderson, one of my favorite country singers. The song tells of a man reflecting on all the times his occupation (country singer on the road maybe?) pulls him away from his wife and children and all the important family events he has missed. The song came to have profound meaning for me after my depression diagnosis. It explained something about my high school reunions that always left me baffled and disturbed.
I attended University High School in Norman, Oklahoma, a small, private laboratory school for the College of Education at Oklahoma University. I was one of seventeen in the graduating class of 1962 At one time many universities operated these laboratory schools; they were supposed to be a site for experiments and innovation in education. Many of these schools have been disbanded now, which is a shame, because my classmates and I thought we received an outstanding education at UHS.
Being a laboratory school for the university, UHS attracted a lot of professors’ kids, and the nerd quotient was pretty high. I was not a nerd. My family moved to Norman from Seminole, Oklahoma, in 1957 when my mother accepted an invitation to teach first grade at University School. I entered the 8th grade there. By the next year I was a cheerleader, and head cheerleader in my senior year; in my junior year I was homecoming queen. All through high school I ran with the really cool kids. I was very popular.
But later when I went to class reunions, other classmates would recall with laughter incidents involving me that I had no memory of at all. I laughed as if I too remembered the incident, but inside I was baffled and wondering how their memories could be so different from mine.
After I was diagnosed with depression and learned more about the illness, it made sense.
Depression runs in both sides of my family. After my diagnosis in 1997 at the age of 53, I recognized I had had depression most of my life. It started manifesting subtly in my early childhood and grew as I got older. I had lots of friends, I was popular, I had a successful career, yet often I was miserable inside. And one of the things about depression is that when you’re in it and feeling especially down, you are focusing on yourself and your own feelings, not on the people around you. Thus I may have been physically there with my classmates, yet far, far away emotionally. This emotional absence has been true for me much of my life. Thus the title of my blog, Wish I Could Have Been There. There’s lots more to tell about how depression has shaped my life, but that’s for later.
Thanks for reading my blog.