Living with Depression

I imagine when all is black that I’ll write something brilliant that justifies the darkness within.
But when I’m black like this, all I usually produce are rants.

Not this time. But it’s not going to be brilliant, either. This post is simply on depression, living with it in a world that wears masks, puts on facades online and in-person, because we’re not allowed to feel bad, or at least show it. We’re allowed to feel frustrated, annoyed, disappointed, in moments, but they better not last too long, or be too intense, like when feeling mad translates into yelling. Even in anger, we’re supposed to retain our composure.

I suck at pretending. I can’t pull off that I’m OK Buddy, when I’m not. Most of you reading this are much better at wearing faces. Most people are. But depression, that feeling there is something stuck in your throat that you just can’t swallow, that with every breath it feels as if you’re sighing— trying to shed the weight in your chest— makes putting on a mask particularly difficult because you’re spending so much energy just trying to breathe.

Commercials for drugs to combat depression are all over the media. They come with a list like: Use this product and you may get dizzy; nauseous; stop breathing; feel even more depressed; become suicidal even if you didn’t feel that way before the drug; die. Wow. Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t really need to take Lexapro to help motivate me to kill myself.

I’ve tried Prozac, a long time ago. I was allergic. It almost killed me. I’ve tried Xanex, which is by far the most popular drug for depression. All it did was make me sleepy. I’m already tired all the time.

Therapists like to talk, or for me to talk. And talk. And talk. Business 101— you make more money with continuing clients than having to find new ones. I want ACTIONABLE things to do, other than taking drugs or talking to a shrink 3 times a week, making me poorer, which makes me even more depressed.

What is “depression,” anyway? I mean, everyone gets depressed occasionally, regardless of the masks we wear. Technically, and absurdly simply, depression lies in our chemistry—dopamine, serotonin…etc, not supplying the pleasure centers of our brain adequately. It is commonly accepted that some are born with inadequate levels of these hormones, or there is a problem with their release inside the brain. Manic depression apparently has a genetic component, but this has yet to be proven as hard fact.

Episodes of depression effect most people when events in our life hurt us. For most, the length and severity of feeling sad is usually consummate with the event itself. Losing a loved one, or loosing the lottery generally solicits dramatically different responses. As it should. Most let their feelings of sadness dissipate, often forget them entirely over time. I’ve spent a lifetime envying these folks.

Those of us suffering from depression internalize pain. It resides in us, like a cut, or injury that just won’t heal. We hang on to our hurts, from minor slights to major loss. And whether born with an imbalance, or too many painful life events, when sadness sticks, builds up and gets thick, every day feels like wading through molasses. If depression festers long enough it will eventually kill you. It strips us of the single motivating factor that keeps us all alive through dark times… hope.

Curing clinical depression for those who experience it, and those who have to live with people who do, is paramount. Over 90% of those who attempt or commit suicide are clinically depressed. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death worldwide, which is a shame, because so often emotionally wired people are the creators, writers, artists, builders of thriving societies. It is believed Abraham Lincoln suffered from Depression.

The only way to help reverse, or at least halt the chemical cascade into darkness is to actualize pleasure. I realize that an effect of depression is finding no joy in anything, but that’s not true, and those of you reading this that are living with that weight in your chest with most every breath, KNOW it’s not true. It is that ugly voice in our heads meant to perpetuate depression, and a LIE. A rainbow is still beautiful. A double-rainbow extraordinary. The taste of your favorite foods; a hug when we’re scared, or lonely; backrubs; creating something—these things are still good. The Pacific cresting at 40ft is still awe striking; a field of blooming flowers still visually stunning…etc..;-}.

Living, existing as human, is all about FEELING. The good, the bad, the ugly, the wonderous, the awesome, the magnificant empowerment of feeling loved, respected, valued. The charge that comes with creation. The suffocating black hole with loss.

Are you living with Depression?

If so, SEEK and FIND JOY, not self-destructive behavior, like drinking or using cuz it’s fun, as this will increase depression. Do things, stuff that turns you on, makes you feel—if not good—at least glad you get to see it, taste it, experience it—without regret later!! ACCOMPLISHING TASKS also lights up your brain’s pleasure centers. String enough joy and accomplishments together, even simple things, and, over time, continually reminding your brain why you are choosing to live will reinforce your desire to do so. 

On Suicide

I think about suicide constantly. It used to be my out— if life got too…much, I’d leave. Feeling nothing must be better than feeling bad all the time— my rejoinder.

My life hasn’t been very hard, not like the kids in Oakland hard. I grew up in a middle-class suburban neighborhood, when it was still safe to walk to elementary school. Never wanted for food, always had a bed, felt safe in the home of my parents. And, however abstracted, I got that they loved me.

What’s been so damn hard, always in my way, is…me. Born 2, or 200 yrs too early, I don’t seem to fit here. I’ve been on the outside looking in at this world for as long as I can remember. First hit me when I was around 5 yrs old. My mom would often laud accolades of my father in the store or the car on the way home from school—what a good artist he was, or how “smart,” and “passionate.” But at home, I saw him put his fist through the wood cabinet an inch from her face in a heated argument over politics. I’d seen him make her cower multiple times, listened to him demean her time and again with statements proclaiming her ignorance, or jumping down her throat when she dared disagree with him. The cognitive dissonance between what she said and what I saw put a glass wall between us, instilled mistrust. Perhaps I was delusional, or she was, but either way it took away my ground.

My mother came to visit many years after I’m moved from my parents’ home, and told me she wanted to divorce my dad. Though she never followed through, I know she was unhappy with him. After our divorce discussion, she never again professed her admiration of him, though they were together for another 10+ years before her death. She spewed hateful word at me about her husband of 47 years on her deathbed. What I observed at 5, and forward, gave me the real picture of my parents’ relationship, regardless of what my mother said. A glass brick in the wall of my emerging psyche. I’ve plugged into the difference between what people say and what we do ever since, much to my chagrin.

No, it’s not my parents’ fault I’ve spent a lifetime on the outside looking in. They tried to instill in me religion, be a part of the grand delusions the rest of the world apparently slavishly subscribes. But I’ve never been able to believe in a vengeful, rather ugly solipsist telling me what is right and wrong, acceptable and not, whom I’m supposed to believe in without question, or even speculation. Never been any good at blind faith. Suicide is not a sin. But it is all too often the indifferent choice.

It’s true, I still think about suicide often. I hear about Robin Williams, or Aaron Swartz, now Chester Bennington, and cycle on what they felt like right before killing themselves. Black, I imagine. And I practically live there. Have, as long as I can remember. But both Williams and Bennington had kids. And Aaron Swartz had thousand of followers who believed in and supported his fight for net-neutrality, me among them. And I feel mad at them, that they left. Then I imagine how it feels for their kids, how much they must miss their dads, and I’m overwhelmed almost to tears missing my mom. I imagine Aaron’s parents, having to live the rest of their lives with the death of their 26 year old son. And, as a parent of two teens, I stop breathing with the image and feel like I might throw up.

I brought life into physicality to experience living. And the experience of living— is feeling. The full range— happy, sad, mad, glad…whatever. No matter how hard things feel, no matter how black, if I take my own life I will invalidate the very reason I gave life. To feel. Dead, I will be robbing my children my love, the most intense, fantastic, and cherished of all feelings. And as much as I want to check out sometimes, there’s that cognitive dissonance again, followed by anger, and unfathomable loss. With, or even without kids, most people have family and friends who love them.

Feelings are dynamic. They change with time. Black morphs to gray, then violet, then sky blue some sunny days. I wish I could go back in time to the moment of choice for the aforementioned suicides, and the 40,000 annually across the U.S. alone, and remind each of the sunny days that will surely come again, especially when embracing and sharing love.

Ever Fall For Someone You Knew You Shouldn’t…

20 yrs to write, and 20 rewrites to get it right–Disconnected is the evolution of today’s modern women…

New Release

Review Readers Wanted

romance, contemporary romance, L.A. story, fiction, literary read, My novel Disconnected releases on June 12th. I’m hoping to get reviews before its release! Happy to send an ebook of the complete manuscript if you’re interested in an engaging, powerful read:

Disconnected reads like a modern Jane Austen—taut, smart, historical lit chronicling the coming of age for the last of the baby boomers with the displacement of classic gender roles at the end of the 20th century. Rachel and Lee’s tumultuous relationship is reflected in the land of perpetual sunshine imploding with rapid growth, racial tension and violence. Disconnected is an L.A. story, an addicting contemporary romance, and like the city itself embodies a very sharp edge.

Please leave a comment if interested and I’ll get back to you!

Ever fall for someone you knew you shouldn’t?

DisconnectedEver drank too much, ate too much, indulge in excess?
Drinking, drugs, or obsessed with a person, most all of us have experienced addiction. Journey into the mind and heart of obsession, passion, in this engrossing, edgy, addicting read…

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