Category Archives: suggestions

another view of the tatoosh range

two types of compliments

i’ve noticed in my travels two types of complements, the implicit and explicit compliment. when someone compliments something that you have done, they have delivered an implicit compliment. when someone offers a compliment about you they have delivered an explicit complement. let’s view some examples. Continue reading

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?
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?

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.
return from lake 22

pioneer of television, robin williams loses his battle

this week on pbs on the pioneers of television series honored robin williams. it followed his career from his humor in high school, his work in stand up, his work on television and his work in movies. unfortunately the program ended on a sour note; it ends with pam dawber of mork and mindy fame asking the question, “why? why did he leave?”

wel pam, that’s another show unto itself. let me give you a brief overview. what authority to i have? none really. though i am someone who has come too close to making the very decision that robin made.

it all starts innocently enough; we experience some trauma, whether it is a loss of a job, a fight with the spouse, or some fender bender.  for a period of time measured in days or weeks, the amount of joy we feel is less than the pain we feel.

if this imbalance isn’t corrected, the person can end up in depression. often times with work and sometimes medication, the person can experience a turn around; they begin to restore balance to their joy/pain equation. if not the slide continues.

as the slide continues, the depression gets deeper. it becomes harder to get out. if this slide continues it is no longer a joy/pain question, but perceived joy versus pain.  i defined perceived joy as all the joyed currently being experienced by an individual plus all the joy they can imagine ever having.

if the slide continues, the pain comes close to perceived joy. the person enters a dangerous place. crazy thoughts come into their mind. they start to imagine an end game, how to seemingly correct the joy/pain imbalance they are feeling.

if the slide continues, the pain becomes greater than the perceived joy; they lose their battle. they follow through on their crazy thoughts. it’s not the suicide that takes them; they die from the depression that drove them there.

so pam, he left us because his pain that he felt became too great and at the same time, all the joy he thought he could experience became to small.

could anything been done? yes; robin’s joy could have been increased or  his pain decreased. that’s a tall order; or is it?  for some examples, take a look at would-ju-of. it’s  really not that hard.  maybe doing one of those things would have changed the joy/pain quotient just enough that he would seen another day. and that day could have made all the difference in the world.

the power of an empathy

Brene Brown, in Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead,  writes, “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”

i’ll go even further. when one of our life adventures, no matter how awful, is received with empathy, we feel accepted for who we are and where we are. that acceptance is powerful and a form of love.

i went to my psychiatrist yesterday. recognizing how my depression can be a drag on Mary, i not so eloquently asked him, “any suggestions along the line, obviously when i’m in a bad space, it’s also a bad time for Mary. any suggestions along that line?”

dr. rogge replied, “…have some empathy for one another…just acknowledge it; that’s all you have to do.”

simple. yet, at times so difficult.

i recognize when i’m in a bad space, i am so wrapped up in myself. it is hard to see anything. i can imagine the difference it would make if i could say something like, “i recognize that when i am in depression, that it’s a hard time for you. i wish i didn’t have to drag you through it. when i do, it brings me sorrow as i’m sure it does for you, too. i wish that didn’t have to happen.”

or perhaps from the other side. “i recognize the depression puts you in a horrible place. that place is not of your choosing. when you get taken to that place, it makes me sad. i wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”

both of these statements ooze empathy. they acknowledge the wretched state and do it with out judgement. being on the receiving end of either of these statements, would make the situation feel a little less heavy and i would feel a little more accepted, a little more loved.

one thing that has become clear to me is  the power of our group, that being the people who suffer with mental disorders. we tend to seek solace with one another. we unknowingly and unwittingly become a support structure, a shoulder to lean on. its that willing ear, an understanding being, someone who has walked a similar walk. that makes it easier to leap to the feeling of, “been there, done that, i understand.” that generates strong feelings of belonging and empathy. those feeling give us a feeling of connectedness, that connectedness we as humans all desire.

so in closing, i offer up a challenge; act out of empathy today. in doing so, you will be taking a small step towards making the world a better place.

blue boat getting away?

quieting the critical voice while writing

all you closet writers reading this, are you like me? does your critical voice take over? oh, i gotta fix that misspelling right this second or the world will end. is that verb tense correct? is this sentence flowing correctly? am i making sense?

that’s the critical voice. the critical voice can be a burden and an enemy. the critical voice does a wonderful job of breaking the flow of the thought process. the break in the flow can get in the way of getting thoughts down on paper, or if you are like me the bytes to the screen. if the worry goes to correcting something, perhaps that fleeting thought will “fleet” away, never to return.

what if i could show you a way to turn off your critical voice while you mashed on the keyboard. now how much would you pay?? don’t worry, i won’t charge you a red cent for this wonderful idea, and it’s a money saver, too! what more could you ask for?

turn the screen off. that’s right, for the first draft, turn the screen off. fade to black. don’t worry about what you are typing. i imagine the first time you do it your critical voice will be freaking out like the first time i tried it. your critical voice will revolt. it’ll throw a fit. it’ll tell you this is all wrong. don’t listen to it; it’s a liar. the world will not end.

“if I do that, there is no chance i’ll get everything right on the first pass”, my inner critic will say. let me be truthful; i have never got it right on the first pass. that’s the perfectionistic mindset coming into play and i somehow think perfection will come out of my keyboard the very first time. let me tell you, in ain’t gu–nuh happen. ever. heck, most of the time it still isn’t right on my fifth pass.

don’t worry, this is only a first draft. after getting the train of thought out, if the box car looks better in front of the tanker, switch it around. who said the caboose had to come at the end? some stodgy old english professor’ i’m sure. my uncle, a english professor by trade, told me sometimes rules are made to be broken.

and you know what? when you get done with the first draft, all the misspellings will still be there, waiting to be corrected. got a misspelling? fix it. verb tense wrong? fix it. bad flow? fix it. not making sense? fix it. it’ll okay. you’ll have the opportunity to fix problems before hitting the publish button.

so, my challenge to you: on your next first draft, turn off the screen. let the thoughts flow. turn off the inner critic. give it a try. and when you do, make sure to comment about your success or failure.