Thursday 25 July 2013

Who Am I?

Recently, my husband Jim and I visited an old friend - someone I hadn't seen since 1986.  Back then, we lived in Washington, DC where Jim worked at the Canadian Embassy.  On weekends, we would visit the beach house of our friends Pam and Norm on the Delaware coast.  Norm passed away some years ago (we miss him) and Pam has settled into a new house at the beach.

It was wonderful to see our old friend and revisit our past.  In Pam's guest bedroom, I was surprised to see this photo:

As I opened this chapter of my past, I felt strange.  This was me before children, before caregiving.  But what's more, it was me struggling with depression and anxiety.  It was a time in my life when I was often in hospital and always in treatment.  Our beach memories are very precious - those days in the sun were respite from my demons.  It was only after a seasoned psycho-pharmacologist at the National Institute of Mental Health discovered a previously undiagnosed thyroid condition that I was able to finally recover.  Luckily, I have never had a relapse since those days, but I am wary of my moods and humbled by my experience with the sordid reality of severe mental illness.

It's funny how difficult life experiences sometimes prepare you for what comes next.  My 'lost years' gave me self-awareness and humility.  They erased any sense of arrogance or ego that might lead me to believe I had control over what challenging life events might befall me.  By slowly piecing my personality back together, I learned the real meaning of courage.

This is me with our friend on the beach last week.

The beach hasn't changed, but I have.  I am a caregiver and I am happy.


Anonymous said...

Your sentence "It's funny how difficult life experiences sometimes prepare you for what comes next" is so very true.
As I have reflected on my past before the world of disability I can also say that it prepared me for our new Journey.
The poem Welcome to Holland is one I always go back to.
Thank you Donna :)

The Caregivers' Living Room said...

Yes, I know Welcome to Holland well and I quoted it in my book. Many of my life experiences prepared me in some way for caring for Nicholas. One of those experiences was living at home after my Dad had three strokes. I learned about dignity and dependency from Dad.

Anonymous said...

You're always wonderful --(that's you, Donna Thomson) and it is extraordinary to see and hear your insights and lessons. Thank you. ;-)

Robert Robinson said...

That's amazing Donna, Life does work in mysterious ways. It would be great if you could share some insight on the life changes of caregiving to our followers at

The Caregivers' Living Room said...

Hi Robert! Thank you for your comment - I have just gone to your site and will get the feed in my facebook from now on. I also have a facebook page called "The Caregivers' Living Room" with curated content (which will now include from your page). I'm going to your page now!