You know what I'm talking about. We chase it. We've all felt it at one time or another, or at least we think we have; the hazy outline is there just ahead, but manages to elude us everytime.
After adjusting to my leg brace and learning to navigate the social curves involved in being a child with a disability, it was time to face my future. The doctors informed my parents and I that I would be wearing a leg brace until I stopped growing, which they estimated would be at 18 years old. At age 6, as far as I was concerned they were telling me I would wear it until I was 100. As I got older, the impact of the brace hit me more and more often.
When I reached adolescence, it was especially painful for a while. At an age where one already feels awkward and uncomfortable in their own skin, I also had my leg brace to put on each morning, highlighting my insecurity in the world. I envied other girls my age who simply worried about their hair. I envied my two best friends who fought about whose nose was bigger and measured only to find they were the same length. I raced after them by trying to fit in with the clothes they were wearing, but I could be only semi-successful as that brace always made itself known.
Though I didn't realize it at the time, one day in a thrift store I found the solution. Passing an aisle, I saw a pair of bright yellow socks with tvs all over them. I bought the socks immediately. Thus began my love of fun socks and one of the best coping methods I found for being a kid with cerebral palsy and a leg brace. Soon, instead of despising my brace, I was happily picking out fun socks to wear with it. If my brace was going to draw attention to me anyway, I was at least going to have a little fun and wear socks that would show it off all the more. It was about having a choice in the matter. It was like my socks gave me the opportunity to express how I was feeling that day--my brace was telling its own story, telling the world that I was different, but my socks became a way of showing the world I was the same, or that yes, I was weird, but not for reasons they may have originally thought.
In depression I have faced a similar battle--the learning to accept things as they are, while holding onto the hope that I will reach "18" when things will finally change. It is different for everyone, but I found that for me, one of the best ways to cope is with this blog, and with sharing my story in other ways. I have found that it has helped me not only accept the depression, but helping change the social stigma towards those with mental illness makes me feel like I have some choice, like I am putting on my fun socks to show the world a side of depression they may not have seen.
The nature of depression often makes us want to hide it until it is revealed in an act of cutting oneself, of drinking, of a suicide attempt and then people are shocked and scared. If I can help people understand the way we live, the way depression and mental illness walks beside us, the way we chase the ghost of a good mood because our lives depend on it, than I will wear fun socks everyday. Though my leg brace is gone now, my fun socks have become a part of me.