Slaying invisible dragons

by Anita Miller

I don’t know when it happened except that it came on slowly. I do know I was not surprised when, after I asked, “What do you think?”, my health care provider leaned against the counter, peered at me over his glasses and said, “I don’t think there’s anything physiologically wrong with you. I think you have depression.”

On the 12th day of the 11th month of this nightmare year, there it was. An answer. Over the course of the few months prior I had dropped 24 pounds from my five-foot frame. I couldn’t remember sleeping through the night, and I was struggling at work and at home to do the things that used to come so easy.

I knew it was something beyond my corresponding decline in vision. Cataracts can be fixed, and I was already started down that path.

What followed with my very patient provider was the inevitable discussion of “why.”

Of course, the hell of the pandemic played a part. Not one of us is immune to the pain of separation from family and friends, the cessation of activities that had always brought joy and the underlying fear of becoming one of the numbers that flash across the TV screen – the new infections, hospitalizations, deaths. In a matter of months, we moved as a society from a season marked by food drives to a season of food giveaways, from joyous anticipation to cancelled plans.

Then came the unsettled election that of this writing remains an open wound, regardless of which side of the political fence your garden grows. Speaking of gardens, I would be remiss not to mention the seeds of hate so commonly strewn these days in the direction of those who practice my craft.

My provider believes, and I cannot disagree, that what put me over the edge was the loss of a family member, a canine companion on the cusp of 13. That’s no excuse as it happens everyday and was not my first such loss.
It doesn’t really matter when it happened. It doesn’t matter why. It does matter that the group I have joined is one I never anticipated – people with mental heath challenges, slaying dragons no one can see.

I have medication now and there is every reason for hope. There are clothes that haven’t fit for years that slip right on. There is even a new puppy trying to nibble her way into my heart. Most of all, there is my supportive life partner, the man who slipped the ring on my finger 36 years ago this week.

I will continue to cherish him as I promised all those years ago. I will continue to be thankful for my job and to give it the very best of my abilities as I tell the stories of Hays County. I apologize profoundly to all those I have lashed out at needlessly in recent weeks. And promise I will build on my new-found appreciation of the silent struggles that so many face with each new day.

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