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The greatest gift…


Eight or nine years ago my depression hit an all-time high—by which I mean low. It’s hard to imagine being more depressed and staying alive.

I consider it a personal privilege, an act of faith, when friends share their own intense encounters with “the feathered thing”. Some have bottomed out, as I had—or hoped it was a place where we couldn’t sink lower. I found myself driving around town more or less aimlessly, considering how to save myself: a phone call connected me with a professional who does triage, and that brief process set an appointment with someone I came to know as Doctor Bob.

Forty years of intermittent counseling had gone badly for me; mental health was no closer than it had been in high school but I vowed this time would be different. Was there, I puzzled, something common to all those failed therapies? The answer was simple and surprising, given the circumstances: I’d entered each therapist’s office wanting to be liked and comported myself accordingly, which meant each of those several professional relationships was doomed before it began. Not so this time.

The Brooklyn edge in Dr Bob’s voice was a good sign; I wasn’t from here either. But it was Wallace Shawn’s double who welcomed me to the inner office, and seven years later it was a friend who bid me farewell—another surprise. In the meantime, change was an exercise in watching time pass — on a calendar, not a clock. Incremental change was imperceptible; I was different each time, but didn’t know how and couldn’t say why. And though Dr Bob (not his real name, by the way) has retired, the process he set in motion continues. I’ve not opened all the gifts received during our time together; who knows what the greatest of them will be.

The gift I currently enjoy is memory: mine is considerably improved over the days when my only concern was acceptance. Surprising how many folks will accept you when you accept yourself and are free to enjoy what’s going on all around.



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