Test Time

I thought it would be a good time to write about depression because I am really depressed today. The psychologist at Craig Hospital, where I did my rehabilitation, said depression/self-pity was an okay place to visit bt a bad place to set up residence. My wife and I had a heated argument yesterday, very unusual for us. She accused me of lying to her about the availability of the money to finance our new van. She even went so far as to tell our son, a 39 year old civil engineer, I lied to her which pushed me off the deep end. Prior to my injury I got vigorous physical exercise every day which took care of most of my frustrations. I do not have that luxury anymore. I did smash my hand into the computer keyboard until she moved it. That felt good, until today. In all fairness to my wife she has been under a lot of pressure lately. One of her sisters was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and another with Alzheimer’s, plus she has some health issues of her own.  She is on edge and rightfully so.

What I’m really interested in, however, is me and my reactions. When I get depressed I begin to question my quality of life. I tell myself living in this chair is not quality of life. I live about 20 miles from the Canadian border and we have long, cold and snowy winters. As a result, I do not get to go outside and poke around like I can in the warmed weather.  Cabin fever is also a player.  I ask myself is this any way to live?  Then I start thinking about suicide and how I would do it. Most commonly I think about overdosing on my meds, hanging myself on my track lift (poetic justice) or some other gruesome way of solving my frustrations. I stare out the window, turn silent, refuse to eat or drink and occupy my time with some mundane task. The last 12 years of teaching I taught high school students who had emotional and behavioral problems. My behavior is classic passive aggressive.

Wikipedia states “Passive–aggressive behavior (negativistic personality trait) is passive, sometimes obstructionist resistance to following through with expectations in interpersonall or occupational situations. It is a personality trait marked by a pervasive pattern of negative attitudes and passive, usually disavow resistance in interpersonal or occupational situations. It can manifest itself as learned helplessness procrastination, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible. It is a defense mechanism and usually only partly conscious.”


After I’ve wallowed in this self-pity for a while I begin to think about the consequences of my hypothetical actions. How would my children react, my grandchildren, my great grand children, the students I taught and the people who went out of their way to reach out to us after the accident? I have chosen to present myself as an example of how people can deal with the challenges they face.  I have spoken in many schools about the inner strength which lies in each and every one of us. What would they think if I did something so stupid?

After staring out the window for a long time my eyes will begin to focus on the view. Things are so beautiful where I live even in the winter.  Why would anybody intentionally leave this beautiful place? I spent months struggling to recover from my accident. I fought to live, I wanted to live, I want to live and I do have quality of life most of the time. Being in this chair, having to have someone assist me in the morning and help me get dressed is a small price to pay for being alive. What good is feeling sorry for myself going to do for me? I remind myself everyone has good days and bad days. I listen to REM’s Everybody Hurts (click on the link below) and remind myself that it is normal for anyone to have down days.  As the psychologist at Craig said it is okay to visit but no place to establish permanent residence. Don’t you agree?


One response to “Test Time

  1. Hi Rich! I couldn’t agree more. Both you and your lovely wife are two of the most resilient and genuinely fantastic individuals I have ever had the privilege to get to know. I often think of you and hope all is well. I am blown away with all that you are doing and have done (although not surprised). You are amazing. Having said that, you totally have the right to a “down” day. Sometimes I think they just help make the happy days even sweeter. I’m so happy you are publishing this blog (I haven’t been able to find you on the web and finally tonight this popped up). Please know that even on your “worst of days” you have people pulling for you…I’m one of them. xoxoxoxox
    Michele Cheng (Papalia)

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