It’s July 2018 and I’m on a flight to America thinking about the last time we went there, which was 2015.

2015 was the year of my 50th birthday and our silver wedding anniversary so, to celebrate, we were going on a big family trip to Iceland, America and Canada. This had been years in the planning and saving and we were all really looking forward to it.

Then, in mid-June, I was walking along the footpath at Burns Beach and I tripped over something or lost my balance – I’m not really sure. But I fell over and twisted my ankle badly.

It was really painful, and I had to call my husband to come and get me as I couldn’t push the clutch in our manual car. I limped around in pain with a walking stick for a few days until a student at ECU nagged at me to get it X-rayed. And there you go: a little trip and it turned out I’d broken my ankle with just three weeks to go until our big trip.

I was devastated. Luckily it wasn’t broken so badly that it needed to be plastered, but I had to wear a moon boot for 12 weeks, had to inject myself with blood thinners before each long flight, and the ease with which my ankle had broken led to me having a bone-density scan. My mum has osteoporosis and, although I haven’t got that, it turns out that I have low bone density so a greater chance of developing it in future. My mum is wheelchair-bound after multiple breaks, which is a rather depressing future to contemplate.

I felt really old, scared of the future, and was disappointed that our trip would be spoiled by my lack of mobility, as I couldn’t walk very far or fast. Most of the time I managed to stay positive, but on the flight to New York I was feeling sorry for myself and quite tearful.

And then, for the umpteenth time, I watched The Shawshank Redemption. “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” How those words resonated. Yes, I might develop osteoporosis, but I might not and in the meantime by worrying about the future I’d be failing to enjoy the present. And even if I do end up with limited mobility, I can still have a happy and satisfying life and travel and enjoy intellectual stimulation and satisfying work and the company of my family and friends.

This all sounds rather trite and I fully appreciate that for people suffering with depression it is by no means as simple as this. (Indeed, saying “cheer up” or “count your blessings” can often be the worst thing to say.) But sometimes, if we’re just feeling a bit sorry for ourselves, counting those blessings and seeing the joy in simple things – a blue sky, a child’s laughter, a dog’s enthusiasm (and sometimes all of these at once) – can help just a bit. It gives us hope. There have been many times since, when I’ve faced obstacles or difficulties, when I’ve thought back to that moment.

In the event, it was an awesome holiday. The moon boot did limit the walking we did but we had many encounters with lovely helpful people as a result (and a great story to tell about being stranded in a national park in Iceland …).

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