I don’t believe it’s fair to blame my depression for my speeding.
After all, my depression is not driving the truck, I am. And while depression is putting unhelpful thinking to work, I should know better. I certainly should have known better traveling a back road after 12 AM and then passing through a work zone. When the officer came to the window he said:
“Sir, did you know you were going 62 in a 35 MPH zone?
That’s got to be reckless driving, I thought to myself. What I said back to the officer was, “No.” He asked if I had seen the posted signs for the work zone. I said I wasn’t paying attention. He said “You didn’t see all those signs? I smiled and said, “I was singing to the radio.”
Then he asked how my driving record was.
I told him that I hadn’t had a problem since I was a teenager (which works out to be almost 50 years ago). He said, “Let’s hope we can keep it that way,” and he went back to his cruiser.
The officer soon appeared back at my open window.
He hands me my driver’s license and says, “I’m just going to give you a warning. But please watch the signs more carefully.” I said, “Yes officer, and thank you.” He smiled and walked back to his vehicle as I put my driver’s license back in my wallet. Putting my seat belt back on, I started the truck, signaling to pull back onto the road and headed for home.
Almost 24 hours later, I am still in awe of how lucky I was last night.
I am catching myself feeling guilty for not paying the price for exceeding the speed limit. Worse, I am feeling hypocritical as I often tell employees “It’s what you do when no one is watching that defines who you are.”
“Pay more attention” was his warning.
I can do that. Being able to recognize things I should change is what has helped me in learning how to live with MDD, major depressive disorder. And doing the right thing, even when no one is watching, has been my trademark. Or that is what I tell myself and project to others. It turns out I am human, too, and am not always perfect.
The above interaction was what I blogged about three years ago today.
And my driving record is still clear. In almost 50 years, I have had one ticket. And the ticket was for speeding. I was going from ODU in Norfolk to a meeting with Dr. Anderson, the president of Christopher Newport College. I was ticketed for going 80 in a 65-mph zone. In the end, I did make my meeting, but what a story I had for later.
Will there come a point where I feel I need to slow down?
Perhaps, or perhaps not. My Mother drove until she was 80. Then the flooding of a hurricane filled her car with water up to the seats. Her insurance said the vehicle was a total loss. We never replaced the car. This helped us to not have a difficult conversation with Mom.
Perhaps there will be a hurricane in my future.
Or I may drive until I die. Living now in the country, the main road out to the highway is narrow in places. Maybe there will come a time when I need to take my time looking at the road. I have seen others who do that now. Not all of them appear old either.
Or maybe my depression rears up and I must focus on myself at the expense of no longer driving.
The bottom line is that no one can predict the future. So, living in the moment, living for today is the sensible thing to do. This plan takes away depression’s favorite tool, unhelpful thinking. Most importantly, I do not need to time travel to the future where I entertain thoughts of what might be. And I stay out of the past with its woulda coulda, shoulda thinking.
My depression would rather I go back to driving with rage.
Depression was far happier when I would fume about the way someone was driving. It could build on this all the way to work. Leaving this amount of rage at the door was hard. And in the past, I have also had plenty of moments of road rage as I was heading home from work.
It makes me sad to think about what I must have been like when I brought my road rage home.
So, with this anniversary, I am once again committing to letting go of my road rage. I am committing to living in the present and not taking my depression bait. And I will stay out of the future and stop wallowing in the past. I cannot change anything but the here and now.