Depressed again

Well, it’s that time of life again, when depression rears it’s misshapen little head and smiles in my direction.  Things had been going very well for me this past spring, but then came a month of heavy rains and a flood that trapped me and ruined my RV.  Since then I’ve been living with my mother while most of my possessions sit in a storage unit.  While I’ve survived I’ve also fallen into a deep, deep funk.

I really enjoyed living in an RV.  I lived in a nice, quiet, almost rural setting where the noise and stink of city life didn’t reach.  I was living on a river bank, surrounded by woods, and my neighbors included rabbits, possums, cardinals, deer, and other wildlife.  It was very tranquil for the most part.   (Sometimes my neighbors in the RV park would get a little rowdy, but not too often.)  Being in an RV also gave me a sense of independence and security that was really very nice.  It meant that if any natural disaster threatened then I could easily pack up and drive away to safety. Of course, that didn’t happen in the end.

The day the flooding started I was a little worried, and I thought about driving out to a hotel as I had done the previous month during a different flood, but instead of following my instinct I got online to check out the Harris County Flood Control District’s website, as well as the National Weather Service’s flood monitor and prediction site.  Both of them indicated that the flooding would not be as bad as it had been the previous month, so I made the decision to stay put.  That was a bad decision.  By the end of the day, the predictions had been updated to show that things were going to be much, much, worse than they had ever been, and by then the road out of the RV park was too flooded for me to be able to get through it.  I was stuck.

The water kept rising throughout the night, and by the next day it was lapping at my tires.  I moved my RV to the highest ground I could get to in the RV park, but the water kept rising.  Late that Saturday afternoon I found myself getting into a fire department boat with my cats, my medicine, and a change of clothes.  Everything else had to be left behind to fare as best it could.

So I went to stay with my mother, and to let my hands heal – one of my cats panicked so badly during the evacuation that he bit and clawed my hands up very badly and they become swollen and infected to the point that I could hardly use them.  It wasn’t until the next Tuesday that I was able to really do anything again, so I went and rented a car.

And promptly got into a wreck that totaled the vehicle I had just rented.  In fact, it flipped over 360 degrees.  This did not help to improve my mood.  But I did survive the wreck with no injuries other than a soreness in my ribs that lasted a couple of weeks, and thank goodness I had made sure to get extra insurance coverage on the rental car, so I was able to get another one quickly.

The water didn’t go down until Thursday, and at that point it became clear that the road to the RV park was washed away.  It ran along the side of a large pond formed in an abandoned sand pit, and the walls of the pit collapsed during the flood.  The rush of water into the pit eroded away the ground under the road and a section of road about 50 feet across disappeared into the waters.

Thankfully, there was a back road – a very poorly maintained dirt road – into the area, so I was able to walk on that to get back to the RV and inspect the damage.  My car was a complete loss, and the RV sustained enough damage to the floors and electrical systems that I decided not to bother with trying to repair it.

I had lost my home.

So I began a weeks worth of trips in 100 degree heat to get my possessions out.  (Thankfully, most things were high enough to avoid getting wet, and I didn’t lose much.)  At first I had to carry things out by hand in big duffel bags that I bought for that purpose. On the weekend I bought a new vehicle for myself – a 2007 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck – and started using that to carry things in and out, and making things easier the county came out and roughly paved the dirt road making the drive back to the RV park much smoother. Eventually I donated my car to a charity for auction, and gave my dead RV to a former neighbor who was willing to try and repair it.

And so now here I am.  I have a roof over my head, but I still lost my home.  Most of my things survived, but I don’t have them with me because almost everything is in storage.  I feel like I’ve lost my independence and my security and I feel very vulnerable and miserable.  I blame myself for losing everything I did, because I could have gotten out if I’d listened to my instincts the Friday morning when things first started flooding.

My co-workers tried to help me out by doing a fund-raiser for me.  They raised almost $9000 for me, and this has greatly helped.  It covered the down payment for my new truck, and I still have some left over to get a new RV if I decide to do that, though I don’t think I will, at least not right away.  Living with my mother has made me realize how poor her health is and I now feel obligated to stick around and help her out as best I can, although I’m not doing that, really.  I am so depressed that when I get home at night I generally just go straight to sleep, and on the weekends I get out of the house to run errands or just spend some time trying to distract myself.

The depression has really worn me down badly, and I can’t concentrate at work.  In fact, I am writing this entry while at work, because I just can’t think straight and can’t seem to focus on the code in front of me.  I’m getting almost nothing done either at home or at work.  This is bad.

So this next week I am taking a vacation.  A real, honest to goodness, vacation that is purely oriented around relaxation and getting rid of stress.  This Saturday I’ll be flying to Seattle, WA, renting a car, and driving to Olympic National Park for a week of camping and photography.  I’ve got a list of waterfalls to see, and trails to hike, and I’ll get to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time in my life.  At the end of the trip I’m even going to take a couple of days to drive up to Vancouver and see a couple of online friends in real life for the first time.

I am hoping that taking this trip will help me to reset my brain and get me out of this depression.  This has worked for me in the past – 3 years ago when I was coming out of a divorce I did something similar and it really helped me then.  In fact, that was the first real vacation I’d ever taken in my life, and this will be the second.  I hope someday to take a third vacation under more pleasant circumstances.