“If the heart of man is depressed with cares,
The mist is dispelled when a woman appears.”
One of the unexpected side effects I should have expected as part of this painful and painfully slow process of recovery is depression. It’s not the paralyzing depression that came with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after I was shot, but rather a more subtle and insidious lack of will that I at first confused with lack of energy. The only forms of activity (if you can call them that) I am supposed to engage in are maintaining the breathing therapy with my incentive spirometer, and walking ten or fifteen minutes every day, cautious jaunts in my orthopedic boot and sling, up and down the path in front of the house, until one day I just couldn’t stand it anymore and walked down the driveway, where I could lean on the fence and have a conversation with my horses. Horses are greatly underrated conversationalists, and they are completely honest. They never interrupt or pass judgment or belittle, but they provide constant feedback, their ears flicking back and forth in interest, making you feel far more intelligent and interesting than you actually are. And when you do become repetitive or boring, they let you know immediately by looking off at whatever else happens to catch their attention. This wildly daring expansion of my horizons, first two hundred yards away from the house, then two hundred and fifty, then three hundred, left my broken leg throbbing and the rest of me physically exhausted, but it sustained me emotionally for about a week. It felt like progress; it felt like change. But then one day I found I lacked even the energy to do that. Thank God for Darleen. She seemed to intuitively grasp what the underlying problem was and with a combination of charm, bullying, and complaining about her own feelings of being housebound, she got me to agree to go for a drive with her. It wasn’t as if we took some magical and scenic mountain route or backcountry road. It combined a thrilling run to the dump with a breathtaking trip into town to the post office. Oh, wild excitement! But it worked. Just that little outing and I came back feeling refreshed and hopeful again. And very grateful to my wife.