Loving Someone through Depression

There is help out there.

When I’m clinically depressed, I pretty much can’t work up the energy to care about anything. It feels as though the air is as thick as chocolate pudding, and because of that it takes a lot more effort to do even the most basic of things. All I want to do is get fetal in bed with the lights off and the sheets drawn up over my head while I weep and beat myself up mentally.

This is my tried and true pattern, and it has been something I’ve struggled with my entire life. Yes, I’ve seen therapists, and they really do help, but they’re hard to find thanks to this pandemic. But I hope you’ll still find the strength to try. There is help out there for you, in the form of psychologists, psychiatrists, support groups, and suicide prevention, and it is said that 90% of the people who seek this help find that it does make them feel better.

No two people have the exact same type of depression, so I hope you won’t use this as some sort of yardstick. It’s a moot point, though, because today my focus is not on me, but on the people I suck into my depressive undertow. This is not something I could effectively contemplate in the throes of depression, because I can barely focus on self care, so stretching the old compassion muscles is a bridge too far. (And trust me, I beat myself up about that, too.)

Frankly, I’ve never really had to think about how my depression impacts others, because most of the people in my life are also prone to depression, so they get it. They get me. I do derive a small bit of comfort from that. It is such a relief to be understood even if you feel like you can’t be helped. There are no atheists in foxholes. Or something. Whatever.

It’s been my experience that those who have never suffered from depression seem to have a whole host of incorrect assumptions about it, such as:

  • You should be able to snap out of it.
  • You’re doing this to get attention.
  • You’re doing this to manipulate someone else.
  • You’re lazy.
  • You aren’t even trying.
  • You just need to toughen up.
  • You are just selfish and don’t want to carry your own weight.
  • You’re being a baby/brat/b!tch.
  • You’re making a big deal out of nothing.
  • You’re using it as an excuse to do nothing.
  • You’re whiny.
  • You’re Needy.
  • You’re acting like a victim.
  • You’re weak.
  • You’re irrational.
  • You are trying to make me miserable.
  • You just want an excuse to take pills.
  • You just don’t want to go to work.

Let me start off by saying that none of these statements, not a single one of them, improves the situation when they come out of the mouth of someone you love. In fact, they make you feel a million times worse, because you know they don’t understand. And there’s nothing quite so draining as trying to justify yourself to someone who doesn’t get it.

Loved ones who say these things don’t get that you’d love, love, love to snap out of it. You’d give anything to not bear the insurmountable weight of being the you that you are when you are sucked into a depressive spiral. You know that they view you as broken and f**ked up, and deep down you can’t really argue with them, because you feel broken and f**ked up. But it still hurts like hell to see the pity and disappointment and irritation in their eyes.

It never occurred to me that someone could find it impossible to comprehend depression until I met a “normal.” (And it’s rather interesting that it took me 50 years to meet one.) They can no more understand depression than they can relate to the persistent ache of a badly healed broken bone if they’ve never broken a bone themselves. They must think that if you slap a figurative splint on your depression, you’ll be as good as new in no time. Easy peasy. Cheer up. Get over yourself. And then you get to spend what little energy you have trying to convince this normal that you aren’t a freak, and instead you convince yourself that that’s an impossible task, right along with all the other impossible tasks that define your life-in-downward-spiral. But there I go, focusing on me again.

It’s got to be pretty awful, living with the human equivalent of a black hole. It’s got to be exhausting. It’s got to be irritating. “Oh, here she goes again. Great. I guess I’ll cancel all our reservations for the next two weeks.”

If it’s any comfort at all, deep down, depressives know the crap they’re making you put up with, and they feel horrible about it, and genuinely want to make you happy and be happy themselves. But these tools just aren’t in their toolbox at the moment. Most of us can’t even express how we’re feeling while it’s happening. But inside we scream, “Please don’t leave me. Please just listen. Please be comforting, not critical. Please. Stop telling me how messed up I am and just hold me while I cry. Please make it stop.”

It’s like we’re begging for a lifeline, but the message doesn’t quite make it to its destination. Our nerves are on the surface of our skin, so any judgment, any implication that we must not be doing something right if we “insist” on feeling this way, any impatience or frustration, no matter how justified, just piles pain on top of pain on top of pain until we are crushed flat from the sheer weight of it all. Sometimes we get angry and cruel, in an attempt to protect ourselves. We are the epitome of a wounded, cornered animal.

Many of us are not always this way. Depression, for me, tends to come in waves. I’m old enough now to truly understand that, and know that it’s just a matter of time. I can do this. I’ve come out the other side a million times before. I can be pretty darned fun and optimistic when the wave isn’t washing over me. All I can do is hope and pray that the person who means so much to me is willing to weather the stormy seas and remember the person I am when the sailing is smooth. I hope he or she can learn not to see “broken” as my primary trait, because there really are some good qualities mixed in there amongst the detritus.

But I know that’s asking a heck of a lot. I really do know that. And yet here I am, asking. And in response you might ask, “How do I help without getting sucked under myself?”

I wish I knew what to tell you. Bleh. I’m not explaining this very well. But if you are reading this far along, it’s probably because you genuinely love the depressive in your life, and you want to learn how to cope and help without losing yourself. That’s a legitimate, perfectly normal desire, and nothing to feel the least bit guilty about. So I urge you to check out the following resources.

First, I suggest you see the movie Nell, starring Jodie Foster. Not only is it a great movie, but you get to see how the Sheriff in the story deals with his chronically depressed wife, whom he loves very much. He leads with compassion and validation and support without judgment, and for that, he’s my hero.

Then, check out one of my favorite songs to listen to when I’m overwhelmed. It’s called “Tomorrow.” Maybe if you listen to it, your depressed loved one will overhear it and take it in on some level.

After that, I urge you to hop on over to an online game called Depression Quest, which is, frankly, no fun at all. But it might give you some insight into depression that you have been lacking heretofore. Knowing what you’re dealing with is the best way to deal with it, in my opinion.

And there are a whole host of helpful articles online. Just a lazy Google search yielded some interesting articles that explain things much better than I ever could. So check out “21 Things to Ask When Your Partner Is Depressed,” “Is Your Partner Depressed? How To Tell and What To Do About It,” and “How to Help a Partner Living With Depression.” I’m sure there are many more good resources out there, but when I read these three, I wanted to shout, “Yes! What they said!!!”

I can’t speak for depressives the world over, obviously, but if I were in my right mind while depressed, the things I’d most like to say are, “Please be patient with me. Please know that I’m scared and that this sucks, but I will get past it. I always do. Please believe I’m trying. Please let me cry without shame. Please hug me unless I want to be left alone. Please don’t think I’m irredeemably weird and not worth the effort.”

And most of all, “I’m sorry.”

If you or someone you love is contemplating suicide, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline through this hotlink, or by calling the new short dial, 988, that will be available all across the USA, effective July 16, 2022.

Bully Busters

They decided to be part of the solution.

I stumbled upon a Washington Post article entitled, “Classmates wouldn’t sign his yearbook. So older students stepped in.” And it brought me right back to my public school nightmare of being bullied and ignored and made to feel inadequate. Pressure to be popular permeated the very walls of my schools, and I never made it to that summit. Instead, I collected all the misfits, and we meshed and occasionally glanced upward to a place where we knew we’d never be.

As much as I loved reading and learning and getting straight A’s on my report card, I viewed school as something that must be endured for 12 years until I could break free of all the judgment and hostility. Mostly, I kept my head down and tried not to be noticed/beat up/humiliated. And when you add braces, glasses, severe acne, poverty, a complex home life, a heaping helping of pompous intelligence combined with an extreme deficit of self-esteem, and clothes that were way out of style, and you stir all of that up into an already toxic social stew, is it any wonder that I was chronically depressed?

I did get to confront my worst bully decades later, and wrote about it here. She didn’t remember any of it. Even so, rereading that post is cleansing for me. I’m proud of everything I said to her, and I feel like I got it out of my system. It kind of felt like bursting an abscess: briefly painful and unpleasant, but oh, the blessed release of pressure, and the knowledge that healing can begin!

So reading that article about a 12-year-old boy who had been constantly bulled and felt so alone that everyone refused to sign his yearbook, I wanted to hug him and cry, and tell him that things will get better, even if that’s hard to believe at the moment.

But what I love most about this story is the older students who stepped in. Apparently the kid’s mother was talking about the situation in a closed Facebook group for parents of children at that school, and those parents then told their kids, and several different sets of kids independently decided to be part of the solution. They gathered a bunch of friends, and they all went and introduced themselves and signed his yearbook and talked about bullies, and sent a message that bullying isn’t to be tolerated. Many of these students remain his friends and keep in touch with him.

I’m sure that did wonders for that young man’s self-esteem. And maybe, just maybe, it made it possible for him to someday become an 18-year-old boy who is comfortable in his own skin, and who isn’t bitter, impulsive, and potentially a harm to himself or someone else. Just like that, some teens became aware of an injustice, and came together to make the world a better place. Bravo!

I wish all public schools would create a Bully Busters Club. These kids could do talks about bullying, and they could form an alliance of children that vowed not to be bullies, but instead be caring, compassionate and civic-minded. They could spread the word that if you don’t feel like you fit in, come join this group! Everyone is welcome. Strength in numbers. This group would need constant promoting and support so as to avoid becoming the club that no one wants to be a part of, but I think it could be done.

It would have been so nice to have a safe place to land when I was in school. If done right, a group like that would quickly outpace the popular clique and the sports clique, and pretty much every other grouping, and make it clear that inclusivity and kindness are the real things to care about, not popularity.

We need more of this, please.

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A Depressive’s Check List

One thing at a time.

When I’m depressed, even the word “list” is overwhelming. Everything seems too much. I don’t have the focus or the strength or the will to make even the most simple of decisions, and I’m already feeling like an abject failure, so the concept of having more than one thing on a list, and then having to choose which thing is the most important, and then actually do that thing, knowing darned well that at least one of the things isn’t going to happen, and the guilt and emotional self-torture that will result from not doing that thing? It’s too much. Waaaaaaaay too much.

After a lifetime experience with sporadic depression, I’ve learned to keep it simple. Here’s my list:

Do one thing.

Breathe. Our society stigmatizes depression, and seems to assume that it’s just another form of laziness or immaturity, or self-indulgent nonsense that shouldn’t be taken seriously. But I’ve been there enough times to know that doing one thing while depressed is a gigantic accomplishment, and one to be proud of.

That one thing might be getting out of bed. That’s a huge deal and a lot harder than it looks from the outside. And it’s progress. For a while that was my list: Get out of bed. But over time I realized even that was too much. It’s too specific. It sets one up for potential failure. Making the list a bit more vague allows for flexibility based on circumstances, and it increases one’s margin of potential success. So…

Do one thing.

Potential things might be eating something. Showering. Changing positions. Whatever it is, it’s a thing. Things are good. Once you’ve done a thing, then, and only then, consider doing another thing if you are able. One thing at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to think too far ahead.

This list might seem like an unattainable luxury to those out there who have kids or can’t miss a day of work for fear of the financial consequences. Life must go on. I get that. I do. And yes, let’s be honest, you may have to power through and do your “one things” in quicker succession for the pure sake of survival, but your list can still be simple for now.

Do one thing.

I look at my depression as this huge, dark, fetid pool that I have to get across. The less time I spend in these toxic waters, the better off I’ll be. So doing one thing is like throwing a lily pad out there. I did one thing. Great! I hopped to that first lily pad. So far so good. Only then do I contemplate the next lily pad. For me, at least, the process will be slow. Others might have to move a little more quickly. But I usually can get away with slow. Slow and steady wins the race.

Do one thing.

Feed the dogs.

Do one thing.

Brush your hair.

A really good thing to do is ask for help. But that’s a hard one. Imagine, though, how good you’ll feel if that’s the one thing you do. But no pressure.

If you have the energy after you’ve done one thing, maybe consider writing that thing down and then crossing it out. That might be another thing to do. It’s up to you.

Be gentle with yourself, dear reader. Simplify. Remember that hopping from one lily pad to the next is progress. It may not seem like a big deal to those who are observing from the shoreline, but, believe me, I know. It’s huge.

If you’re lucky, and you’ve allowed yourself to just focus on the next lily pad of the moment, eventually you’ll look up in surprise and realize you’ve reached the opposite shore. You’ll have reason to rejoice. You did it.

Even if you suspect there may be other ponds of depression in your future, you now know that you can do this. Hopefully that will make those ponds seem a tiny bit smaller and a little less overwhelming. So hold on to that list of yours, as tightly as you can. Even that is a start.

Do one thing.

If you’re having thoughts of self-harm, dear reader, I hope that the one thing you do will be to click on this link for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, because you matter. You really do. I promise.

Welcome to My Mid-Life Crisis

Who the hell am I?

True confession: I’ve always looked at mid-life crises with a bit of disdain. From the outside, they look like privileged temper tantrums at the prospect of growing old. That type of behavior gets little sympathy from me. Aging is inevitable.

The stereotypical midlife crisis is described as an aging man buying a sports car and a bad toupee, and leaving his wife for a ditzy 20 year old. And while that does sometimes happen, that’s really not the typical crisis. First of all, many of us can’t afford crisis-mobiles or trophy wives.

And while psychological crises can occur at any time in one’s life (or, in fact, not at all), these mid-stage ones seem to draw the most attention. According to Wikipedia, this time in life is a period of great transition. To quote the article directly:

The condition may occur from the ages of 45–64. Mid-life crises last about 3–10 years in men and 2–5 years in women. A mid-life crisis could be caused by aging itself, or aging in combination with changes, problems, or regrets over:

  • work or career (or lack thereof)   
  • spousal relationships (or lack of them)   
  • maturation of children (or lack of children)   
  • aging or death of parents (or lack of them)   
  • physical changes associated with aging (or lack of them)

   Individuals experiencing a mid-life crisis may feel:

  • humiliation among more successful colleagues   
  • longing to achieve a feeling of youthfulness   
  • need to spend more time alone or with certain peers   
  • a heightened sense of their sexuality or lack of it   
  • ennui, confusion, resentment or anger due to their discontent with their marital, work, health, economic, or social status   
  • ambition to right the missteps they feel they have taken early in life.

Without going into the specifics, let me describe what I’m going through at the moment. For the past 20 years, a huge amount of my ego has been wrapped up in being a bridgetender. I love my job, and I take great pride in doing it well. When someone asks me who I am, bridgetender is one of the first things I think to say.

But lately my reputation has been getting attacked at work. Viciously. Unjustifiably. And my efforts to defend myself have gone unheard and/or have not been validated. It’s hard to prove that you’re not a (insert horrible thing here). Especially when you mostly work alone. Although my work should speak for itself, in the form of well-functioning and clean machinery, and great customer feedback, it’s as though all of a sudden these things can only be seen by me. I feel like I’m at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, and no attempts to exercise logic will be tolerated.

These attacks came totally out of the blue and therefore left me stunned for quite some time. Given the sources, though, I am no longer stunned. What I am is deeply and profoundly depressed and confused and disappointed, and, frankly, pissed off.

It’s hard to maintain pride in my work when my work is being discounted, overlooked, contradicted, and attacked. But since I’ve allowed all my ego to be wrapped up in that pride, the question becomes this: Without that pride, who the hell am I?

And when you add a heaping helping of pandemic isolation to the mix, all of this turns into a toxic stew, indeed. It’s affecting my health in a whole host of ways. It’s impacting many of my relationships. It is definitely causing me to lose sleep. I’ve been crying a lot. I can’t seem to focus on anything. I’m even more forgetful than I was previously, and believe me, that’s saying something.

In a nutshell, I’m struggling. I’m at the end of my rope. I’m exhausted. I tried to take a couple of days off to at least catch up on my sleep, seek counseling (which turns out to be an enormous challenge during this pandemic), and surround myself with those who actually value me, but my supervisor questioned the legitimacy of this need, and denied the request. Apparently one has to be bleeding out the eyeballs to be taken seriously around here, unless you can come up with a doctor’s note.

So this leaves me sitting here at work, feeling resentful and not optimally competent, while trying to pick up the pieces of my stress-riddled body, even as I struggle to retain at least a few of my traumatized marbles. And now I somehow have to work up the energy to try to figure out what’s left of me. Pardon my dust as I reconstruct myself from scratch. Easy peasy. Not.

This is a devastating development for one who used to love going to work. This video, which was done based on a StoryCorps interview I did years ago about being a bridgetender, demonstrates the love I had for it. I want that back, but it feels completely beyond my control.

I need to find other sources of esteem. I am more than just a bridgetender, after all. I’m also a blogger, an author, a little free library steward, a wife, a dog mom, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a friend, and a good person, dammit. Surely, amongst those things, I should be able to find the building blocks to repair my damaged psyche. And perhaps I need to spread my esteem more thinly, over a variety of things. With it currently being so densely focused on my job, I’ll have another identity crisis if and when I retire, and I’d much rather not go through this more than once. Once is already too much.

I can’t even seem to keep up with the blogging lately, and I don’t want to hit you with a steady stream of negativity. So, I’m at a bit of a loss, here. Don’t be surprised to see more fluff posts. I’m doing the best I can.

If Wikipedia is correct in stating that it’s going to take me a few years to get my groove back, I’m not sure how I’ll cope with that. Everything about this feels bad. Really bad. The thought of it makes me weep.

I’m luckier than a lot of people. I have a wonderful husband and fabulous dogs and a comfortable home and a lot of people who love me, even if they can only do so from a distance these days. I no longer struggle economically as much as I used to, and while sexism seems to press down more heavily now, I’ve never had to cope with racism, which must add a whole other level of awfulness to the mix. I’m terrified about climate change, but I’m better positioned to tolerate it than those who are on islands, or are plagued by floods, droughts, devastating storms and forest fires. Politically, I believe this country is circling the drain, and that’s painful to watch, but I’m learning to accept what has actually been the case all along: I have limited control in that arena.

Still, I feel like I’m lost in some otherworldly maze full of dead ends, and while I truly believe the door to positive selfhood is out there somewhere, I fear I won’t have the strength to reach it again. So, for the most part, I’m just trying to remember to breathe, trying to establish healthy boundaries, and trying to be gentle with myself. I cannot control how others treat me, but I can treat myself kindly, at least. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to leave those things that aren’t really necessary along the side of the road, because right now is a time to pare things down and focus on my mental health.

When I need a pep talk, I’ll listen to this song:

And when I am overwhelmed, I’ll listen to this one:

This is not my first visit to the land of depression. Experience tells me I’ll come out the other side eventually. I just need to be patient with myself. This, too, shall pass.

Encouragement is welcome. Telling me what I’m doing wrong, or should be doing instead, will only make me feel defeated. Rest assured that I’m making all the standard efforts (this ain’t my first rodeo) and I will get through this with time and help.

If you’re wandering this maze with me, here’s my hand, dear reader. Hold on tight, and pass the tissues.

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Positively Introverted

Introversion is not a mental illness.

As someone who is the poster child for introversion, I’d like to clear up a few misconceptions that even some fellow introverts seem to have.

  • No two people are alike.
  • Not all introverts see themselves as victims who are put upon by society.
  • Not all introverts act strange in social situations. We just don’t feel as comfortable in them.
  • Introverts are capable of making friends. In fact, we are really good friends to have. We just are more likely to enjoy those friends in small groups, and not on a daily basis, rather than in large crowds, all the time.
  • Being an introvert is not the equivalent of hating humanity.
  • Introverts don’t need to be cured of their introversion. (Those who think they do have other issues.)
  • While all recluses tend to be introverts, most introverts do not become recluses.
  • Introverts don’t need to struggle to succeed, because they’re not failures in the first place.
  • Introverts don’t need to change simply because they’re introverts.
  • Not all introverts have low self-esteem. Many of us are fine with who we are. In fact, we like ourselves enough to be entertained by our own company. (If you have low self-esteem, please seek help.)
  • Not all introverts are profoundly depressed. (If you are depressed, please seek help.)
  • Introversion is not a mental illness.
  • Not all introverts are angry at the world. (If you are angry at the world, you have other issues to deal with.)
  • Not all introverts walk around wearing a crown of thorns because they’re bitter about how they have been treated in the past. Introverts can get past traumas at about the same rate as the rest of humanity. (In other words, with mixed results, but we’re not a guaranteed failure at it.)
  • Not all introverts blame everything on past relationships or the idiots they encountered in school. A healthy introvert is capable of realizing when to focus on being his or her best self, because the past isn’t going anywhere, but you still can. I promise.

Yes, I’m an introvert. It is a trait I was born with, like having blue eyes. I enjoy my own company. I have friends. I also enjoy their company, just not on a daily basis. I’m not bitter or angry or a victim. I’m content. I’m happy. I like who I am. I’m not misunderstood by me, and that’s what matters most, but it would be nice to not be misunderstood by you as well.

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The Holidays Are Even Harder This Year

You aren’t alone.

Depression can be debilitating, especially in the wintertime when you can go weeks without seeing the sun. And it’s even worse this year, because this pandemic is isolating all of us. It almost seems like the final insult when there’s all this extra financial and emotional pressure during the holiday season. Everyone is expected to be constantly merry, and if you tend toward depression, that gives you this sense of failure on top of everything else. It can be draining.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a bridgetender and I love my job. Opening drawbridges is such a delight. I feel lucky that I’m someone who actually enjoys going to work.

But this job does have a dark side, and it is ramped up at this time of year. I get to see a lot of attempted suicides on my bridge and on other bridges nearby. Most of the ones I see have, thank God, been thwarted. First responders, in my experience, are very good at talking people off of railings. And some people make the jump and survive.

But there is a certain percentage who make good on their attempts, and it’s heartbreaking to bear witness to that. It happens a lot more often than the public realizes. These things often go unreported because the community doesn’t want to have copycats.

Jumpers are people in a great deal of pain, attempting to take control at a time when the rest of their lives seem so out of control. It’s sad to say that choosing whether or not to remain alive is the one power we all can exercise. These people, for whatever reason, cannot see beyond their despair, so they don’t realize the heartbreak and trauma they cause with their actions. Suicide doesn’t only impact the families and friends. It also impacts the first responders and everyone who gets to witness the suicide.

I know I’ve shed more than a few tears for people who have leapt off my bridge over the past 19 years. Tears flow for the jumper, for their family, and for me, because I couldn’t do anything to prevent the act. And also, selfishly, I shed tears because I know the image of those final moments will be forever etched in my mind. I carry many such images with me, and they feel like Marley’s chains in a Christmas Carol.

But I didn’t really intend to make this about me. What I wanted to say was that if you’re reading this and you’re in despair, there are people who can help you. You aren’t alone. If you are feeling hopeless or helpless, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or call them at 1-800-273-8255.

You matter. Your life has value. I promise.

I put some lights in my bridge tower window in the hopes that someone walking by on some cold, lonely winter night will look up and see that he or she is not alone.

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Something Awesome This Way Comes

Just hold on.

Struggling with depression as I do, I tend to look at my life as a series of widely spaced stepping stones in a pond. I look forward to hopping to the next refuge, the next awesome thing. That’s what gets me through the rough, wet, clammy patches.

That’s why I love to travel so much. Who wouldn’t get excited, looking forward to a trip to Italy, for example? But it doesn’t have to be that elaborate. It could be a day trip to the seashore, or even a drive to a nearby city to check out a restaurant. I just know that it’s important to me to have something to anticipate.

Travel isn’t the only thing in life to look forward to, of course. It could be starting a new job, or graduating, or finishing a project or achieving a goal. You might be excited about going on a date or talking to a friend on the phone, or choosing what color to paint your bathroom. Heck, I even get butterflies in my stomach when I go to the library, because from there you can go anywhere in your mind.

And the older I get, the more I realize that no matter how dark the cloud is that’s currently over my head, some good experience is surely in my future. I know that for a fact, even if I don’t yet know what the wonderful thing will be. So if I can’t focus on something specific, I put my head down, keep trudging, and hold on to the knowledge that the clouds will break eventually, and that even if it’s obscured at the moment, the sun is up there somewhere.

Just hold on.

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The Tail End of Depression

I may not always have joy, but I’ll always have gratitude.

I’ve struggled with depression my entire life. It’s like having an unwanted roommate living in my head. No, that implies multiple personality. It’s more like a heavy, wet, woolen blanket that settles down over the top of me at unexpected times, for an unknown duration. And it blocks out the sunshine. Yeah. That’s it. And while the blanket is weighing me down, the air is the consistency of chocolate pudding, which makes it really hard to move.

So depression, for me, is a heavy, chocolate pudding-covered, sunshine-blocking, wet woolen blanket. One that nobody can see but me.

Jeez, that makes me sound unhinged. Ah, well. So be it.

But in a lot of ways, I’m really lucky. I hear that some depressed people can’t sleep. That must be horrific. Not me. When I’m depressed, I can sleep entire days away if given the opportunity. I actually look forward to it.

And some people live in a state of perpetual depression. What a nightmare that must be. Fortunately, my depression comes and goes like the tide, only with less predictability.

Because of that, there’s this sweet spot between depression and normalcy that I cherish. It’s always very abrupt and unexpected. One minute I’m plodding along, and the next… whoosh! The blanket gets whipped off, the sunshine dazzles me, and the air is fresh and clean. All tension and pressure is relieved. It’s like some blockage has been released. Blessed relief. The hills are alive with the sound of music. I get to embrace the normal again.

I have no idea what causes this mood conversion. I wish I did. It would be nice to be in greater control of my brain chemistry.

I’m glad I don’t go the opposite direction, though, into mania. That’s a roller coaster ride that I wouldn’t want to be on, because I bet the end of mania is like the very opposite of my sweet spot, and that would be my definition of hell.

On a brighter note, my depression has really made me appreciate those times when it’s not with me. I can’t imagine taking normalcy for granted. I will always know its value. I may not always have joy, but I’ll always have gratitude. And that’s a good thing.

I wrote this for those of you who can relate. Maybe you’re unable to express yourself in this arena, but need to hear your struggle put into words. Maybe you can share this post with loved ones who don’t quite understand. Regardless, please know that you’re not alone. I’m sending you some sunshine to see you through.

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Lockdown Protests? Seriously?

This virus cares nothing about your moral imperative.

I understand. People are scared. People are suffering from loss of income. More people are on unemployment and are accessing food banks than have in living memory. We are struggling to survive. I get it. I’ve lived it. But that’s the thing. Even this economic nightmare that is raining down upon us right now is better than the alternative, which is death.

I’d be willing to lose everything, sleep in the woods, forage for berries, as long as me and mine are alive. This is a life or death situation that we are in right now. This is real. Nothing else matters.

So, when I see people gathering in groups to protest this lockdown, encouraged by Trump, I’m absolutely horrified. Did you hear me? They’re gathering in groups. That’s the last thing on earth anyone should be doing right now.

If you want to be a fool and risk getting this virus, that’s your prerogative. The world could use fewer fools. But unfortunately, after you go to these protests, you are then coming home to your innocent grandparents and children and spouses, and they in turn will spread it to others, and so on. That’s the whole point. That’s how a virus works.

So your stupidity impacts us all, and will, in fact, increase the length of time that we all have to be locked down. Your protest will have the exact opposite result than you want it to have. Brilliant.

Of course Trump wants you back to work again. He wants you to be a cog in the corporate wheel, always. He wants you to think the world is a shining, happy place before the elections roll around. To hell with you if you die in the process. He could care less about that. How is that not blatantly obvious? He will tweet you into oblivion.

Are you so busy trying to “liberate” Michigan and Virginia, are you so hellbent on contracting and spreading this virus and making this situation so much worse, that you can’t see that you’re expendable to Trump? Don’t you know that this virus cares nothing about your moral imperative? You’re being used as a human, political shield.

For God’s sake, at least wash your freakin’ hands.

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A Brief Pause for Defeat

Sometimes I feel like giving up.

Sometimes in life I feel like giving up. Sometimes the thing I want most in the world (at that moment) does not come to pass, and in fact my worst nightmare is visited upon me. Sometimes I feel as though there is simply no more fight left in me and I can’t even summon the energy to explain, let alone to blog.

There are days when all I want to do is lie in bed like a beached starfish and cry and sleep and stare at the ceiling without a thought in my head. Every effort seems to take 1,000 times more energy than normal, and it feels like the very air that surrounds me is as thick as chocolate pudding.

The dishes pile up, the dirty laundry doesn’t quite make it to the basket, and it’s all I can do to flush the toilet. And then there’s the guilt I feel for letting down everyone around me. And the sadness and isolation I feel for being so profoundly misunderstood.

If none of these things resonate with you, congratulations. You have never experienced depression. You have no idea how lucky you are.

But I’m writing this for the rest of you, the ones who get it. I want to implore you to be gentle with yourself, as if you’re recovering from major surgery. It’s okay to sleep more or do less, for a time. Screw the effing dishes.

I do, however, urge you to seek help if this is not just a passing phase. Because sometimes the passage of time is on our side, but not always. Yes, the sun comes out tomorrow, and/or you get some rest and/or remember to eat something, and things look brighter. Or your situation improves. Other times, time feels like the enemy, and can seem like an endless wall of pain and isolation that stretches before you and is insurmountable, inevitable, and monochrome. That’s a time to reach out for help.

I get it. I really do. You are not alone.

Be gentle with yourself. Get help. Don’t make any major decisions that you can’t come back from, because then you’ll truly be out of options.

For today, just breathe, okay? Breathe, rest, and let the rest of the world take care of itself. You have my permission. (Not that you need it.)

Sending you love and light from a place not far from where you are, my fellow depressives. By the time you read this, I’ve probably come out the other side, back to the land of functioning adults, just as I always do, and have learned as I age that I always will. Until the next wave of depression hits. And so on.

I’ve made it this far. So can you. I’m promising you, there’s a crest to the wave, and what you can see from up there is beautiful and miraculous and oh, so worth it. You just have to hold on. And to do that you may sometimes need help. And that’s okay.

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