Depression: Should I Post About That?

cloudDepression—when hope shrivels from grape to raisin size. (I wanted to use a watermelon for the size factor. But a watermelon doesn’t work for the analogy. Anyway, you get the idea.) Yes, I struggle with it from time to time. Like now. Not only that, I struggle with admitting that I struggle with depression. As I considered a subject for this post, depression was not my top choice. But it was the honest choice. You can thank Mishka Jenkins for that, because this post on her blog (A Writer’s Life for Me), prompted me toward honesty.

     bull_thistle003

Sometimes life is like this (left photo), rather than this.

As I consider my state of mind, for some reason “Duel of the Fates” by John Williams is playing in my head. Star Wars fans will remember hearing that music during the battle Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi fought against Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (episode 1). Depression, however, doesn’t seem as epic as that choreographed fight. But it is a battle, nevertheless.

Obi-Wan-vs-Darth-Maul-obi-wan-kenobi-20389038-1600-1200

Obi-Wan Kenobi (left), Qui-Gon Jinn (center), Darth Maul

When dust piles up in corners and you stop noticing, except in bursts of clarity when you realize you have not dust bunnies but dust warrens, that’s when you know the gray cloud overhead isn’t a raincloud.

GollumBut who wants to hear that? We want to hear stories of triumph not tragedy, don’t we? Don’t we? Hmmm. . . . So, as I debated over this post, I had a running conversation with myself like Gollum had with himself in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King—only mine was less psychotic.
Me: Depression? Nobody wants to hear that.
Me Too: But maybe if I admit I struggle with it, someone else will have the courage to admit that he or she does too.
Me: Still, I should write something cheerful or encouraging, shouldn’t I?
Me Too: But if I don’t admit to where I am and write about something else instead, it will look as if I’m having a party on the page that I’m not having in real life.
Me: Yes, but won’t the post seem like a downer?
Me Too: Life isn’t just a series of stairs going up. Some stairs go down too.
Me: I don’t really know what that means. . . . I want potato chips.
Me Too: Well, it means . . . Oh never mind. I want some too.

So that’s where I am. For some “fixers,” this admission might present a problem. Some might want to rush in with advice for how to get over this. “Why don’t you try . . .?” “Do this . . .” “Well, if you would only . . .” But you have to get through certain experiences. One of the best things you can do for someone going through depression is to listen without judgment before rushing in with advice, even if you can only listen for a short while.

E_B_WhiteWant to know something interesting? As I began this post, the latest Brain Pickings newsletter came through the email. In it was an article by Maria Popova concerning a letter author E. B. White wrote to a despondent man. Here is a quote from that letter.

Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

The entire letter is here. You can find the letter in this book. In the article on White’s letter, Popova included a link to an article on White’s belief in the “writer’s duty to uplift people.” That article is here, and contains this quote from White:

I do feel a responsibility to society because of going into print: a writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false; lively, not dull; accurate, not full of error. He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.

So you see why I debated about whether or not to admit to depression, especially if a writer’s duty is to be “lively” and “lift people up.” But White mentioned the need for truth also. Sometimes, you have to admit where you are in order to begin to move on.

By now you probably have “Duel of the Fates” going through your mind also. If you’re not familiar with that piece, check it out:

Weed photo from outsidepride.com. Gollum from wallconvert.com. Raincloud from stevecotler.com. E. B. White from Wikipedia. Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Darth Maul photo from cwcgoodlife.blogspot.com.

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46 thoughts on “Depression: Should I Post About That?

  1. You are not only honest, you are courageous, Linda. It’s not easy to talk about depression–not for anyone. But so many creative people struggle with it–it’s something to do with their sensitivity, I think. Libba Bray also recently talked about depression–and the struggle of posting about it. When I blogged about Van Gogh and his struggles and the Highly Sensitive Person personality trait, I was also thinking about depression and creatives. Once of the things that struck me was that Dr. Elaine Aron says that anxiety–stress–is more and more linked with depression. Which makes a lot of sense. Add in the sensitivity of creative souls and it all makes even more sense. So, definitely go eat those potato chips and know–for what it’s worth–I don’t believe it is the job of the writer to lift people up. I believe it is her job to reflect life. As Amy Rose Capetta says, to condense everything that matters about being human into handy rectangular form.

    • Thanks, Sandra! I think I read one of Libba’s posts on the subject. What a great quote from Amy Rose! You’ll get to see her soon too! How awesome is that???
      Glad you brought up Van Gogh. I remember that post. And I recall seeing his beautiful work at the Art Institute in Chicago when the Van Gogh/Gauguin exhibit was there. So beautiful. It makes me wretched that he was so unappreciated.

  2. I think it’s great to talk about depression. Get it out there. Well done. I agree with Sandra, I think it’s the writer’s job to reflect life. Depression an’ all. Hopefully writing about depression will not be a self indulgent thing, but will challenge the black cloud to a duel! Self indulgence just give off the sort of vapours that feed the cloud. Y’know, L, even Yoda went through a long period of self-doubt and said “Self-indulgence leads to self-pity, which leads to suffering, which leads to the grey side of the force. Ummm, me thinks that may not work as a Jedi axiom.”
    I think a clarification of what depression is might be worthwhile here. It’s easier to start with what it’s NOT. It’s not feeling sad because your pet has died. That’s grief. It’s not feeling a bit down because you can’t get what you want. That’s sulking. It’s not crying into a tissue because someone dumped you for someone sexier. That’s romaniticistis. When you are depressed nothing can budge you from that overwhelming feeling of swamp bathing.
    I spent a few years suffering from this. If my wife asked me if I wanted a cup of tea, the decision was so onerous that I would burst into tears. I couldn’t get out of bed. Couldn’t cope. Someone had pulled the plug and I slumped in the corner like a used vacuum cleaner choking on a full bag of dirt.
    “Cheer up” does not work. It hurts. Anyone who says that to a depressive lacks compassion and understanding. But it does pass. With time. For me it was a period of incubation. I had big decisions to make about my life, and if I’m really honest, the trigger for the depression was a form cowardice. Or at least lack of confidence. Little by little I did what I had to do and came out the other side, stronger. Depression can also be the flip side of that energetic state I use to create. I find a steady effort to create keeps my equilibrium.
    One thing that made me laugh when I was depressed – which really helped – was seeing a badge pinned to a young girl’s bag, whilst riding the bus. It said ‘Depression is just anger without the enthusiasm.’ It made me laugh. Made me think, and ultimately helped me see a link between my own depression and anger – and what was thrashing around beneath that little pool of pain.
    Good luck and I’ll definitely see you on the other side. Xxxxxxxx (It runs strong in you, young Padawan)

    • Thanks, John!!! So glad you mentioned what it is and it isn’t. So glad to have met you through our blogs. What a great statement: “Depression is just anger without the enthusiasm.” Ha! So true! And yes, “Cheer up,” does nothing for me except make me hostile!!!
      I like the idea of being a padawan. I think I’d misuse the force though, picking fights and all with total strangers in public places.

      • It would have to be done, especially in the post office or DMV queue – ‘These are not the counter clerks you are looking for.’ Or perhaps the odd ‘shove’ for a politician, mid speech.

  3. Actually, I kind of have that movie blocked thanks to Jar Jar, midoclorians, and the whimpering injury it placed on my childhood. 😛 Not much else to say because ‘Me Too’ got it right. You speak about it because it can help other people and help yourself. You’ve seen my posts where I don’t hide my bad moods. There’s something cathartic and long-term healthy about admitting it too. I kept stuff pent up when I was younger like everyone else around me did. Made me sick and I found it harder to interact with people when I was so focused on keeping the ‘bad stuff’ down. At least for me, it goes away quicker if I let it out.

    • Charles, I thought of you as I wrote the post. Those posts of yours really helped me to not hide any more. I was going to mention you, but since I was talking about depression, I didn’t want to just say, “And Charles has mentioned this too” since this isn’t a fun topic.

      As for Phantom, sigh. I hear you. I know it’s not a favorite of many people. I like it better than Attack of the Clones–a movie I can’t even look at any more.

      • I understand. It’s an awkward thing to discuss personally and even worse to say ‘this person has it too’ without talking to them. I know many people who suffer severe depression, but I try not to mention them.

        I don’t really remember 2 and 3. I get the arena fight from 2 mixed up with the one in John Carter.

      • I need to look at John Carter. I read A Princess of Mars many years ago.
        I only like the arena fight and the Yoda/Count Dooku fight in Clones. Revenge of the Sith is better, but I’m not a fan of Anakin or Padme, so I’m not drawn to their relationship. I only like the fight scenes in those movies. This is not to say that I’m not a fan of romance. I just don’t care about theirs.

      • It was an odd movie. Apparently the only thing you need to impression martians is the ability to leap extreme distances. Fleas would be their gods.

        Kind of hard to get into the romance when you know the endgame. Especially because Padme was never mentioned in the originals.

      • Very true. So with the new trilogy to look forward to, I’m hoping there won’t be any more painful romances. I saw somewhere that Lawrence Kasdan who cowrote Empire Strikes Back is involved. That’s good news.

      • I’m sure a romance will be in there. They’re unavoidable these days. Although, they were around a lot in the past too. Wonder why people appear to have a bigger issue these days.

  4. Thanks for this honest and brave post. I love this wisdom you shared: “One of the best things you can do for someone going through depression is to listen without judgment before rushing in with advice…” Thanks for trusting us to listen. You’re wonderful!

  5. So many people suffer with depression in silence, Linda. Your honesty and openness about your struggle is admirable. I would imagine writing about it would be cathartic.
    Each day, I cling to the idea that our life can change in an instant. On those days that aren’t so good, I know, this too shall pass.
    Your beautiful crochet flowers cheer me up each day, that’s why I have them on display in my office.
    Wishing you a brighter day today! xo

    • So glad they did. I just realized that I hadn’t sent a flower with the tea. That was remiss of me. I’ll get one in the mail to you and to Maria!

  6. There are so many amazing things about this post. You are human, you are real, you are brave, you are not alone and you are wonderful! In the midst of this “cloud” coming down upon you, you reach out to Jill and I and make us beautiful booties to hold our winnings of Chocolate Mint Tea. That is real kindness and beauty, Linda. Sending warmth, hugs and love your way! 🙂 🙂

    • I also appreciate you, Maria, knowing your struggles with pain. Yet you’re always so hilarious on your blog. So thank you for that. And thank you for your kind words. I hope the tea arrives today. That would make my day! 🙂

  7. You’re absolutely right to be open about your depression Linda. The only way we can fully understand mental illness is for it to be openly discussed, so that treatments are then sought after. I’ve had depressive periods in my life, but they’re a small part of bipolar disorder that I have. I fully believe in talking openly about these conditions – I just don’t accept people trying to brush them under the carpet.

    For all these conditions of the mind to be fully understood, we need to be open and honest and discuss them. There’s such a long way to go in understanding how the mind works and how people who’ve got a mental health condition should be properly treated, but one day we’ll get there. And it’s by talking about it that we’ll manage. Thank you for a wonderful post and I hope you get through this. I’m sure you will. I will pray for you. x 🙂

    • Thanks, Elaine, for your prayer and your honesty. I truly appreciate both. And you’re right. A continual dialogue is needed. Too many issues are swept under the rug.

  8. It’s really brave to talk about these issues as well as honest, and sometimes it really is good to open up. Blogging is the perfect place for that, especially this community as I have found it to be really supportive!

    I’ve struggled with depression and know how debilitating it can be, I also know that no matter how much anyone says ‘it will get better’ or ‘it’s going to be ok’ it doesn’t really help. But you don’t have to put on a mask for others, it’s better to admit it and find what it takes to get past it 🙂

  9. Linda, the way I see it, blogs are meant for getting out what’s on your mind and we’re not always happy people. Especially as creative types, we’re usually more sensitive than others. That’s what makes us better at what we do than most…we FEEL more. So the fact that you’ve been feeling depressed, I think that’s perfectly okay. It’s the people that don’t seem to EVER be depressed that worry me. 😉

    Hope you feel better soon and just know that you have lots of friendly ears to listen to you and who enjoy your company here. Though from reading your post, you seem to be handling yourself just fine!

  10. It is a writer’s duty to be honest, and I think the best writers are. We all have rough moments and bad periods, especially when we have dreams, and there’s nothing wrong with saying so.

    I’ll join you (and you too) for potato chips, anytime. 🙂

  11. All the best Linda, thanks for sharing. I hope sharing your problem with us will help you on the road back to recovery and a more positive state of mind.

  12. As always Linda you are honest-you bring it all out into the light.
    I love Duel of the Fates-and understand the Jar Jar issue for people. I have heard the ‘real’ Star Wars guys are coming back for the new ones:Ford, Hamill, and Fisher. Very excited!!!
    Had a friend I lost about seventeen years back-HUGE sci fi and Star Wars fan. He only got to see the original three. He would love this news.

    • Sorry to hear about your friend, Andy.
      I’m also excited about the new trilogy. And I have to say that Jar Jar annoys me greatly. So I’m glad his part is done.

  13. Thank you for this honest and brave post, Linda. My thoughts and prayers are with you. As a blogger, I find it hard to be honest about difficulties and struggles but it’s so important for readers to know they are not alone.

  14. I’m only reiterating what others have said, but writing about what’s real is important. So many of us battle with depression or other difficult feelings, and so many of us think we have to keep them hidden. But the hiding in silence or behind a happy face only seems to make them worse. Peace and strength to you, and kudos for your bravery in writing this.

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