Winning (and Sometimes Losing) the Genetic Sweepstakes

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

With musicians and music lovers on both sides of my family, I feel enormously grateful that musicality was a quality that I apparently inherited. I have always felt deeply and passionately about music, and my musicality benefited me greatly during my years as a professional dancer. And now that my dancing days are behind me, I continue to enjoy singing and playing original music with my amazing guitar-playing husband. I also love singing in a community chorus that regularly performs for seniors in assisted living and other health care communities.

Of course, there are some ways in which the genetic sweepstakes have not been so kind to my sisters and me. All three of us, and some of our children, have inherited struggles with arthritis. After two hip replacements, followed by cervical and then lower back spinal surgery, I’m due for another surgery in the fall, this one the fusion of my S-I joint. I’m hoping this next surgery will mean I can once again walk places and stand for more than a few seconds without undue discomfort.

There is one other way in which the genetic sweepstakes have been less than kind to us, which is our genetic predisposition to depression. All my life, my sisters and I have struggled with bouts of depression. Telling myself, or having others tell me, to “snap out of it” makes it worse. On the other hand, exercise helps and meds help, as have my forays into therapy. Still, depression hits me periodically, even when things objectively are going well in my life. I’ve been blessed with a husband who’s the love of my life, a wonderful family, and even a second career in writing.

But I do notice one predictable connection between my physical health and the recurrence of my depression. The worse I feel physically, the more my depression spikes.

Like right now when moving around hurts like hell. Somehow, though, there’s relief in admitting to myself and my loved ones, “Hey! I feel awful at the moment. Just bear with me. It will pass.”

And if history is any predictor, I know it will. Just have to wait this darned thing out.


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