Monthly Archives: November 2014

in thanksgiving

i am thankful for words.words help me to get my crazy and also the practically sane thoughts out of why head. that is good. the crazy thoughts can hold me prisoner in my own mind while releasing the more sane thoughts might be an aid to other people in their own journey.

the following exchange still boggles my mind and happens more frequently than I would have ever expected.. i’ll read something i wrote and hear, “you wrote that?” i’ll answer, “yea.” then I’ll hear, “wow.” never, in my life, would I have ever expected a response like that.

besides words, I am thankful for every time you read my works, like or comment on. it gives me a similar rush to the exchange outlined above. that rush inspires me to keep writing, to keep putting my thoughts down in pixels. that continues to aid me to get both the thoughts that trouble me and the thoughts that i think are enlightening out of my head. that is a good place.

i guess that’s just a long winded way of saying i am thankful for my new found gift of words, for the good it does me, to the people i touch, and people like you who encourage me to keep going.

wintery reflection

it’s greek to me

i wonder if part of the problem for depression is depressed people are spoken to in the wrong language. we hear should’s, must’s, pushes, pulls, requests, commands, demands and cajoling. that sets off one of our “best friends”, the critics from within. we don’t or can’t answer the call, the inner critic answers as he often does; ”you loser.”, “i’m not good enough.”, “i just don’t measure up.”, “it’s perfect or go home”, “i fell short yet again.”
so the “request” driven world sets us up for failures and possibly deeper depression. when we fall short, our internal voices quickly jump on for a ride. in the ride, if we aren’t at our very strongest, we start or continue on that downward spiral. and without some self–intervention, the bucking bronco continues to throw us off.
what if people stopped talking greek to us? what if we would get talked to in a language we could understand? what if we got talked to in a language that would help to quiet the inner critic and everything that drives us down? wouldn’t we be far better off?


compliment—a polite expression of praise or admiration
how come i seems to struggle with that little act of kindness so much? in talking to the people around me, it’s easy to see that i’m not alone. as a matter of fact, i think that somewhere between 2 and 5 billion people,  give or take a billion, on our little blue planet struggle with the same thing, at least occasionally.
i grew up in a family where compliments, at best, got sloughed off, at worst, ignored. when i left home, i learned to at least answer the compliment with a thank you and a slight nod of the head. when i feel anything other than at my best, i fall back into the old family patterns.
i also discovered while in depression, compliments act like water off a duck. I usually answered with a blank stare and an internal voice of, “wait, that was a compliment. do something more than stare.”
so, let’s head back to the original question; how come i seem to struggle with compliments? for me, i believe it’s tied to my struggle with self worth.  a compliment means i did something right or well. it often comes with the added benefit that the person who offered up the compliment has values of me  the rise above  my own. the low self value kicks in. i reject that thought as wrong. from there, the next logical thought pops up; i reject the compliment.
i have also noticed that my reaction to compliments can be a leading indicator. recognizing that i am not graciously accepting compliments means that i am likely taking a turn for the worst.  and after a period of ignoring compliments, turning towards graciously accepting compliments can indicate a turn for the better.
which leads me to last tuesday night. i shared at one of the support groups i attend my intentions to write a book. the compliments began to flow. “you’re a good writer;  i bet it’ll be good.”, “i look forward to it.” each of the compliments gave me a tingly feeling. not only that, each compliment triggered things like,  “wow, I think that cool. you know what? it’s hard to admit, i kinda believe that, too.”
i’ve got to say, after nearly two years of depression, it feels good to finally have some upward indicators. this is but one that i am experiencing. this time the changes don’t appear to be med induced as i haven’t changed any meds in over a month and a half.  there is still work to be done, but finally there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
bird in the reeds

recipe for depression

sometimes i like to mess around in the kitchen. sometimes my recipes will come out of a cookbook like the joy of cooking;other times they will come out of my head. sometimes the results are pleasurable and tasty, other times not so much. all of the recipes have something in common, the list of ingredients that get used in making the creation.

similarly, depression has a list of ingredients that goes into making depression. i believe that many of the ingredients in any depression are similar.  sometimes someone will use a pinch of guilt, other times a dash and still other times, someone will use a full teaspoon.  ingredients may even vary within someone’s cycles; maybe one time grief drives the depression and in another one, life’s pressure becomes the catalyst.

these are some of the ingredients that go into my depression. i left off amounts because sometimes my depression likes to “season to taste”.


i lack self value

poor self care

something/someone doesn’t want me happy



chemical imbalance in my brain

pressures of the world

pressures from within


sometimes the ingredients get mixed together and create an even bigger mess. as the ingredients rise, sometimes a narrower thought process begins to form. the circle of friends begins to shrink, the ability and desire to reach out begins to decrease, the thought processes become more and more one dimensional. if this blob is left to rise too long, such life disasters, like isolation and suicidal ideations will begin to fester.

unfortunately, once the ingredients are mixed, there isn’t much that can be done to stop the blob. left on it’s own, the blob will continue to grow and grow and grow. but, just like a baker who beats down the rising dough at just the right time, there are things that can be down to beat back depression. some examples are exercise, getting the thoughts out of the head, do something fun, change things up a bit, anything to beat back the one-dimensional thoughts that tend to rule depression.

but remember, you are the cook in your kitchen of life. try to control the ingredients that go into the pot and even the ingredients that get kept in the kitchen. try not to do things like store the vinegar in the same container as the baking soda; it will just create a big mess.

what are your ingredients of depression? what are some things to keep out of your pot? your kitchen? what are some things you can do to be like the baker and beat down the blob of depression once it has started to grow?

reflections off the water

numb the dark and you numb the light–update

Face the dark to see the light. It seems counter-intutitive. But the last few days have borne that out for me.

Before Friday, despair ruled my life. It felt far worse than depression. Hope hovered at an all time low. Getting out of bed, took most of the energy I had. Thankfully for Mary, I managed to do that before she got home from work.

Then Friday came. I had a difficult day, first getting flooded, misusing the ultimate threat, running, and finally receiving the request to not come home. That had to be one of the worst days of my life. On Saturday, separation ruled the day as Mary and I stayed apart.

Something happened in those two days; the experiences forced me to face the dark. Darkness seemed to rule the days. Or did it?

The fog o’ despair lifted. The despair that had ruled my life for months had cleared. The light which couldn’t penetrate the fog had become visible. What a rapid and sudden change! and on the back of such horrid events!

I’m not out of the woods, yet. There is still much work to be done. While the despair  has completely cleared, the depression is still there at some level. Thankfully, it seems to be at a level that can be worked it and handled.

My challenge is to continue to keep looking at the dark, so I can continue to see the light. By doing that, I will be able to continue my journey out of the, now, nearly 22 month cycle. (Ug, that’s too long.)

clouds and sunlight

greg day

flashback to a warm spring day in eureka. i am in the second grade. this day is an early dismissal day. that means all grades get released a the same time. finish setting up the scene, one block south from school on a grassy patch, corner of park and john hill.

for some reason unbeknownst to me, to this day, i beat the crap out of my best friend greg. i had a year on him; at that age that makes quite a difference. i just sad on him and wailed on him. our friend jesse needed to be constrained by two sixth graders, thank god for that, otherwise i would have been the one on the bottom being beat to a pulp.

i left victorious feeling like a champion boxer, running away with my arms upraised. a rub down awaited me upon arriving home to the neighborhood.

as i tried to put distance between what happened in that triumphant moment  in the days that followed, i could not put out of my mind what i had done to my near defenseless friend.

i vowed to change. i pledged to myself to never inflict pain like that again. i also promised to become passive.

fast forward  two or three years, neighborhood kids being neighborhood kids play fighting. not being scofflaws, the thought of wrongdoing  barely entered our mind. joey, a boy two years my junior and i were just screwing around. then the play turned more serious and i found myself in an all out fight.

joey didn’t possess great strength or speed. if i wanted to, i could of easily fought him to a draw or likely won.  i flashed to my vow, my promise, “never inflict pain.” on top of that, passivity kicked in. the results were the same, just the names were different. i now found myself on the bottom getting the crap beat out of me. in retrospective i can say i became passive to a fault.

since that day, my passive vow has centered around my emotional well being. if an emotion i experience could be potentially hurtful if expressed to someone else, i return to the bottom of the fight. the emotion goes unexpressed because it might be construed as hurtful. it  gets held in, hurting myself. in my struggle, i once again become defenseless and let myself get beat up, by myself in this instance. the emotion, whatever it is, gets stuffed away for unsafe keeping. through this process i wound myself again and again. and with each lost battle, i convince myself further and further, that i am incapable of sharing emotions. my emotions become a steaming pile, and i find less and less value in them. with that, i sink further and further into depression.

at times i’ve thought of trying to track down greg, some 43 years later, to make amends for that fateful day. the thing is it is probably me who got hurt most by that day since it still haunts me with nearly half a century gone by.

this passivity born out of that spring day in eureka is one of the keys to my depression. though at times, i have made some progress in this area, the key remains lost on the corner of park and john hill.

mt rainier fron kendall catwalk hike

numb the dark and you numb the light

numb the dark and you numb the light
this line is from brené brown a renowned author who writes on vulnerability. the complete paragraph goes like this:
“and numbing vulnerability is especially debilitating because it doesn’t just deaden the pain of our difficult experiences; numbing vulnerability also dulls our experiences of love, joy, belonging, creativity, and empathy. We can’t selectively numb emotion. numb the dark and you numb the light.”
maybe depression is tied up in trying to run away from the dark feelings and emotions that seem to go hand in hand with the big d. additionally it makes sense that depressed people struggle with feelings like love, belonging, joy, creativity and empathy. when stuffing or hiding from the dark feelings, the uplifting feelings get stuffed or lost, too.
it almost seems counter intuitive, face the dark to see the light. using another analogy, if one faces the east at sunset, the dark, and keeps facing that way, sooner or later, the sun will rise, the light.
perhaps victory over depression lies in facing the dark instead of turning from it. I got to say, that sounds both like something to strive for and something that sounds really scary. The dark is the monster I have been running from far to often. And in running from the dark, depression wins.

what can I do

imagine for a moment if someone near and dear to you is suffering with depression. it’s a dark place that does awful thinks. one thing that is likely to happen is indecision. you’ll ask them, “what can a do to help you?” you’ll likely get a shrug or if you are lucky, you will get words like, “i don’t know.”
they are in a state where the mind locks up thoughts tightly and the brain seems to function more slowly. they might recognize a need but they are unable or even afraid to vocalize it. it makes the job of supporting then that much harder and as if it is not hard enough.
 if only a list existed that of things you might do that could help. you could pick a couple to a few things from that list and unbeknownst to them, you would be helping, helping them win their battle with depression.
well, there is such a list and you are looking at it. pick a couple to a handful of suggestions to take on. they really aren’t that hard. don’t expect any cataclysmic events. don’t expect the heavens to open and your friend to be immediately cured. coming out of depression can be a slow process. by sticking to your choices you are reminding your friend that you are there for them, that you care, that they can make it through, that they can get to the other side of depression.
sound exciting? you up to it? ready to choose? then go!
reach out to them.
give them a call.
sit with them.
offer support.
give then an atta boy.
smile at them.
hug them.
fix them a meal.
invite them to do something.
admit that you haven’t always been the best of support.
learn more about their condition.
acknowledge their presence.
look past your anger and resentment, to be a better support.
look past a friendship that has seemingly drifted.
be more forgiving for phone calls not returned.
be more willing to listen to how they really feel.
look past your own struggles a little more often.
look past your fear and ignorance of the situation.
try to break through the wall that stands between you and them no matter how tall or wide.
be a little less pushy.
try to be more understanding.
reach out more often.
run from their tough spots a little less often.
be a little bit more supportive.
be more willing to hold them when they are in a tough spot.
be a little less critical.
project hope more often.
let them know that they are important to you.
go for a walk with them.
remind them they can make it through.
remind there is another side.
take them to the movies.
get them some chocolate.
get them some flowers.
do anything to make them feel special.
let them know that you love them.
let them know that you are there for them.
let then know that you care.
…and slowly great things can happen.