This is from July of 2016. It's a subject I've written about more than once because I think it's so important. It also seems to be as much a part of the holidays as ribbons and tissue paper. I've doctored it some and hope you'll have patience with seeing it again.
I've danced with depression. It's a demanding, crushing partner that doesn't so much lead as step all over your feet and then lay the blame on you. I was one of the lucky ones. It wasn't that bad. It didn't last that long. Zoloft cut in and two-stepped me off to a lighted area where I was with music and friends and people who loved me before the depression could sit me down over there by the dark wall with no one to talk to and not a song to be had.
It is on days like today that I worry. When I wake with a sore hip and a strong inclination to stay in bed. When I eat for comfort instead of because I’m hungry. When I am irritated by things that I shouldn’t even notice. When the clouds in the sky—yes, there are usually clouds and/or darkness when I feel this way—bring me close to tears. Words are coming just fine on my work-in-progress, but…you know, are they really okay words? On days like today, I wonder if my cranky dance partner is coming around again.
No, it’s not.
Because by this afternoon, I am better. I have laughed and talked and sung (although it is true other people wish I wouldn’t.) I’ve eaten, but not too much. Medicated my hip and hoped it is nothing. Stayed awake.
I’m only writing this because depression is a villain to be watched. It’s all well and good to kick it to the curb, but the slimy rat bastard might crawl back and attack when you least expect it. I have no medical or psychological expertise, but this is what I do.
• Take a walk.
• Go to lunch with a friend.
• Laugh at something. Anything.
• Find light. And color. Latch on.
• Talk to someone you trust. Just being listened to helps.
• Find a song that makes you happy. (Mine today is “Let’s Go Fly A Kite.”)
It’s not that easy, of course. You shouldn’t diagnose yourself. Read up on symptoms to look for. If you need to see a doctor, see one—mine was a godsend.
I know I haven’t said anything new here, but there has been so much
discussion of safe places (much of it pejorative in nature) that I want to stress that it's a good idea to have one, where you can vent or spill or rant or rail all you need to. Today I needed to. What about you? Have you danced with the partner no one wants? If you have—or are right now—find that safe place or person; it’s not an opponent to be fought alone.
My new book, The Happpiness Pact, has a heroine with who suffers from clinical depression and anxiety issues. It's not the first time I've "used" depression as a plot point (see below), and I hesitated before doing it, but as any writer will tell you, our characters often don't do what we suggest. In the end, I was glad for the story that presented itself and I hope, for a couple of hours anyway, Libby's story becomes someone's safe place.
In One More Summer, the book of my heart, Dillon Campbell suffers a raging
I don't have time for it, either, and neither do you. There is too much joy to be found and life to be lived. Sounds glib and easy, doesn't it? It's not. I know it's not. But it's worthwhile to find the help that's available and take advantage of it.