Ordering food in the restaurant

Lately, I’ve been going through a Depression (capital D for much respect).

I think one of the hardest parts about it has been that oh-so-common question from others (and often myself) of…“Why?”

You see, people often associate Depression with something situational. Something must have happened, must have gone wrong. And when nothing has happened, nothing has gone wrong, when I have nothing outside me to blame, I feel like there is something just fundamentally wrong with me.

That feeling is judgment rearing its ugly head, as it often likes to do. This compounding of a negative feeling with a negative judgment is what Buddhists call the “second arrow,” the not-so-helpful criticism and blame we tack on to an unfortunate unpleasant situation or feeling. It’s such an irrational (albeit human) thing that we all engage in this kind of judgment. It’s counter-productive; it doesn’t help anybody, and well, arrows– they’re pointy and made to hurt.

However, as many who experience Depression know, it can often be a biological thing with no cause to point to or bad situation to blame it on. 

But truth is, my life (situationally) is pretty damn good: I have a hot, smart husband who loves me and treats me well; I have amazing friends who I can call up and cry to when I feel like shit; I have a job that pays me well, keeps a roof over my head, food in my mouth; I have art and creativity and a strong healthy body and a really cute cat and an adorable dog and… really, I could keep going with the gratitudes and the positive thinking, and sometimes that’s all I need to get by on any given non-Depressed day. Positive thinking on a daily basis keeps my mood in check. (Note: I am a big fan of daily positivity by the way… proof here).

Yet still I can’t help but ask: Why? 

Why is Depression consuming my life right now?

“Why?” is one of the hardest questions in the world, because, oftentimes, in so many aspects of my life, I just can’t answer it. It’s hard not having the answers. And honestly, I don’t want to keep dissecting this uncontrollable thing that’s just happening in my brain right now.

But I will show you a picture of a depressed brain and a not-depressed brain. In the not-depressed brain, you see mostly yellow. In the depressed brain, you see very little yellow and mostly blue.

See, a lot of my yellow lights just aren’t shining. There’s no point in asking why because it just is.

dog laying on back
Zelda. I had a pic of her lying on me and me lying on the floor on a particularly bad day but I deleted it. Shame Arrow.

So, I’ve decided to stop with the why and just accept what is. And what is right now… is that I feel like poop.

I’ve been going through this Depression for a over a month now. The first week was rough: crying till I was numb, lying on my floor (my dog Zelda joined me – see right), oversleeping, loss of appetite, unable to leave the apartment, not reaching out (feeling like no one could help, so why bother?) and just that overall sense of hopelessness. 

If I were to characterize Depression in one feeling, it’d be that one: hopeless.

Nothing helped. I did all the things I’d been told to do, all the things I’ve read in books:

  • Meditation – check
  • Offering help to someone else, a.k.a service – check
  • Running – check
  • Talking about it – check
  • Affirmations – check
  • Journaling – check

And then there was the ever popular reminder that this too shall pass. A lot of well-intentioned people said that to me: “Rebecca, this too shall pass.” And I love each and every one of them for trying to help, but I did not want to hear nor could I believe that this too shall pass. 

I can believe it now. But Week 1 of Depression? I was not hearing it. You know what else I wasn’t hearing? You are responsible for your own happiness. No one actually said this to me because, thankfully, I have friends that know better. But I heard it in TV shows, read it in books and heard it on podcasts.

You guys, just a tip — don’t tell people who are Depressed that they are responsible for their own happiness. You are essentially telling them it is all their fault, and they are already feeling shitty enough. Let’s not add a layer of judgment to it (remember that pointy arrow and how it hurts?).

However, hearing that phrase often enough did help me to enter Phase 2 of Depression: Anger, a.k.a. a general F*ck You attitude. And I was pretty cool with that because at least I was feeling something.

And then something wonderful happened.

After about a week of mostly isolation — I don’t think I even bathed most days because when I feel awful the first thing to go is hygiene — I finally left the apartment.

I had to go to therapy.

I totally wanted to cancel but inner adult Rebecca, who really wants what’s best for me, convinced me to just put one foot in front of the other and take a shower. It was my first small victory in seven days.

I made it to therapy. It wasn’t so bad. I’m not going to go into the benefits of therapy because that’s not what this story is about. But after therapy, I was hungry– my second tiny victory, seeing as eating is second to bathing in the things that go out the window with Depression.

I went to a Pret a Manger and grabbed myself the most comforting thing I could think of: chicken soup. As I went to pay, I got a call from a friend. I picked up. In hindsight, that may not have been the best place for a conversation, but in that moment, I really needed to talk to someone.

I put my headphones in to free my hands and pay for the chicken soup. My friend started asking me how I was feeling. I was on the verge of tears as I spoke because that’s just my general state these days.

I got up to the cashier and I was not at all paying attention to her because I was on the phone. In the back of my mind, I was also very busy judging myself for being so rude as to not acknowledge the person right in front of me helping me. My self-judgment knows no bounds. 

I got my wallet out only to find I had no cash, no debit card and no credit card. Score.

I looked frantically through my bag. The cashier said something to me. I assumed it was the price. I said, “One moment,” and continued looking. My friend on the phone asked if I was OK. I said, “I can’t find my card!” The cashier said something to me again. I didn’t understand. Suddenly, a crowd of about eight or nine tourists swarmed in and up to the counter. I continued to frantically search. I felt a thousand eyes on me in that moment. I looked helplessly at the cashier and said, “I’m sorry. I can’t find my card. I need a moment.” I stepped aside.

I continued to look and my friend said “Are you OK?” and I said “No, I think I was robbed. I will call you back.” I hung up. I looked at the cashier who still had my soup in front of her and was assisting what now seemed like 800 tourists. I called to her, “I can’t take the soup. I’m sorry,” and began to walk out.

On my way towards the door, I called my husband. He was at home so I asked if he saw my card anywhere. I stopped by a table before I left and continued to rifle through my bag. My husband looked for the card and asked me if I was OK. I said, “No, I’m hungry.”

If you guys can’t tell by now, I was about to lose my shit in the middle of Pret-A-Manger.

I said again to my husband on the phone, on the verge of tears, “I’m really, really hungry.” My face got all hot, and I felt barely able to keep myself from blowing up into a billion pieces.

Suddenly there was a tap on my back. I turned around. The cashier was standing in front of me, holding a tray with the chicken noodle soup on it. I reminded her, “I’m sorry. I can’t pay.”

She tapped the table next to me and said, “That’s OK. Sit. Eat.”

And that is when I proceeded to lose my shit, but in a totally different way. I cried (OK, maybe you could see that coming) and then I hugged her. I said to her “Thank-you-I’m-having-such-a-hard-time-and-you’re-so-kind-thank-you.” She laughed and did this adorable little bow of her head that indicated, “You’re welcome.”

My husband, still on the phone, heard it all. I could hear him smiling. I smile cried and got off the phone. I sat and began to eat the soup.

A moment later, one of the tourists came up to me and said, “Oh, good, you got the soup. I was going to get one for you.”

I cried again and said to her, “Why is everyone being so nice to me?” She gave an awkward laugh and walked away.

But that question was rhetorical. I didn’t need to know why. All I needed to do was eat the chicken soup.

Follow this journey on Things I’m Diggin’.

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You’re trying, trying, trying so hard to keep it together. You had hoped today would be better, but you woke up feeling the same sense of dread and panic. You know it won’t last forever, but it’s getting old. And it’s getting worse.

You can’t stay in bed, although your body is screaming for it, because you have three kids to take care of. So, you drag yourself out of bed and perform your duties like they’re hardwired into your brain. You think a cup of coffee might give you some energy, but instead it makes the pounding in your chest worse.

Kids fed, check.

Diapers changed, check.

Is this all I’ll accomplish today?

You’ve tried self-care, deep breathing and being good to yourself, but nothing is working. Your 5-year-old’s squeals and 1-year-old’s cries pierce your ears like a siren. You try not to shout, but find yourself doing it anyway. Then you get angry at yourself for being “that” mom. You know it’s not their fault. Your toddler doesn’t know your skin feels raw and your senses are on high alert, so she climbs on you, pinches you and pulls at your clothes. She doesn’t know that today her play feels like torture.

You leave your 7-year-old in charge and retreat to the shower — maybe there you will get some relief. At least here, with the noise of the water, you can cry. You fight the urge to turn the water on too hot and scald your skin. You try to focus on your breathing and the sound of the water — try to be here in the moment, but your mind won’t allow it. It screams at you in a hundred voices. Your mind is a crowded room with a locked door.

You take a deep breath and go back out to your kids. One wants a snack. One wants to play a video game. The youngest has taken off her diaper and peed on the floor. All you can manage is a weak sigh as you get a snack, clean up the floor and re-dress your toddler.

I can’t do this! I can’t do this! Please help me! your inner child pleads. You give in and allow your kids to play video games and watch a movie so you can have some quiet. Then scold yourself again for being a failure as a mother. Snap out of it! You wish so badly that you could. What’s wrong with you?

You have depression.

And although you have been in remission for several months, your symptoms like to pop up every now and then like a cold sore, reminding you they will never really leave. You cancel outings you are meant to attend, (by text and Facebook, because you can’t possibly face a telephone call at this point) making up excuses. The excuses seem necessary because stigma still exists, and you can’t possibly just tell people “I can’t cope right now, so I won’t be able to make it to the playdate.” What would they think of you if they knew?

You spend most of the day on the couch. When your husband gets home from work, you are finally honest and tell him you’re in pain and struggling to cope. He hugs you and strokes your hair, because he’s your best friend. He reminds you how much you’ve been through together and that together, you will get through this, too.

You feel a bit better and turn to one of the coping skills you’ve learned over the years. You make a list of reasons why you are awesome. At first it seems forced (“I read to my kids every night”), but by the time you get to “lived with depression for over two decades and I’m kicking it’s butt,” you begin to smile.

It will get better. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not the next day. But it will get better for you. And it will get better for me, too.

Follow this journey on The Heart-Based Home.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a love letter to another person with your disability, disease or mental illness. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


Dear 19-year-old me,

I’m you at 37 years old, and I finally got through another year. This year, I have learned so much I want you to know.

There will be people who will look at you and see you for your illness, and you need to know you are so much more than just depression. The very people who are supposed to love and care for you will tell you who you are, and what you feel and how you act. Ironically, you may do just that because it’s what they expect you to do. Do not give in to them — distance yourself if you must, or tell them to stop. When you do your own thing, you will find you are truly strong and can still overcome the bad days and celebrate the good ones.

Always be good to your friends who have invisible illnesses, because they will love and support you as you grow strong during the good days and help you get back up on those bad days. Do not forget that depression lies to you, and that these friends truly do love and care for you. Never, ever doubt or forget that.

It will also make you want to hide from the world or make you feel that you are not worthy to be in it. Not true! You have a purpose here, even if you don’t see it yet. Lives will be touched in ways you would have never imagined, and this will require your words and actions. Your uniqueness is what will make the difference in those very lives, so you are required on this planet right now. You just wait and see! It’s OK to be a little less than humble, I promise.

You have a long and hard road ahead of you, but never give up. There will be others out there who will need you as you have needed others. Depression is not a disease of one, even if we feel it is. We must help each other survive and hope, because there will be good days we just have to work a little harder to get to.

When we do get them, we have a bigger reason to celebrate and not take them for granted.

With much love,
A happier you

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images


Facing the world each morning can be difficult when you live with a mental illness. Depression, specifically, can make everyday tasks seem daunting. Getting out of bed and out the door can be a major accomplishment. And although music can’t cure depression (we wish), it’s scientifically proven to reduce stress and even depressive symptoms.

So, each week, we ask our readers what songs and lyrics have helped them through depression. If you need an extra boost this week, hopefully some of these can help.

1. “Stand” by Rascal Flats

DEPs2 copy

“Cause when push comes to shove, you taste what you’re made of.”

2. “Racing Like a Pro” by The National

“Sometimes you get up and bake a cake or something. Sometimes you stay in bed.”

3. “You Are Not Alone” by Michael Jackson

“But you are not alone, I’m here with you. Though we’re far apart you’re always in my heart.”

4. “Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin

“For now I smell the rain, and with it pain, and it’s headed my way. Sometimes I grow so tired, but I know I’ve got one thing I got to do — ramble on.”

5. “Be Still” by The Fray

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“If you forget the way to go, and lose where you came from, if no one is standing beside you, be still and know I am.”

6. “Live Like a Warrior” by Matisyahu

“Today, today, live like you wanna. Let yesterday burn and throw it in a fire, in a fire, in a fire. Fight like a warrior.”

7. “Heroes” by David Cook

“As the sun goes down in front of me it reminds of me of where I want to be.”

8. “F**kin’ Perfect” by Pink

Warning

“You’re so mean when you talk about yourself. You are wrong. Change those voices in your head. Make them like you instead.”

9. “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole

“Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly. And the dreams that you dreamed of, dreams really do come true.”

10. “Brave” by Sara Bareilles

“Sometimes a shadow wins. But I wonder what would happen if you say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out.”

11. “Waste” by Foster the People

“How long, I say, how long, will you relive the things that are gone? Oh yeah, the devil’s on your back, but I know you can shake him off.”

12. “Get Better” by Frank Turner

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“I’m trying to get better because I haven’t been my best.”

13. “True To Myself” by Ziggy Marley

“Got to be true to myself, got to be true to myself, I don’t care if it hurts. I’m tired of lies and all these games. I’ve reached a point in life, no longer can I be this way.”

14. “The Linear” by Umphrey’s McGee

“Forget about your future, let your past dispense. You know life is only living in the present tense.”

15. “Float On” by Modest Mouse

“Bad news comes, don’t you worry even when it lands. Good news will work it’s way to all them plans.”

16. “Beauty in the World” by Macy Gray

DEPsong1 copy

“Stop and smell the flowers, and lose it the sweet music and dance with me. There is beauty in the world. So much beauty in the world.”

16 Songs to Help You Face Depression This Week

 

What song do you listen to when you’re feeling depressed? Let us know and we may feature it next week. Check out our previous list here.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


In seventh grade I was prescribed my first pair of glasses. Up until this point, I thought the way I saw things was “normal.” I thought everyone else saw things the same way. The day I put on that first pair of glasses, I realized I had been living a blurred life, only experiencing half of the picture. Later in life I experienced this same feeling, except the second time around, it was with my mental health.

I grew up knowing I was a little bit different and that I didn’t fit in, but I was fine with it since I thought I was just being me. Everyone said I was just really shy and so I had a harder time making friends. For the longest time, I thought I believed them. When I got older I started missing school for sports competitions, and I used that as an excuse as to why I didn’t have many friends and was always so tired. The truth is, at that point I didn’t see anything wrong with how I was feeling and acting since it was normal to me. This was how I always felt so I thought everyone was this way and just showed it differently. There were times when people tried to tell me differently, but I was so deep in this blurred life that I never listened.

When I started my journey to getting help, it was just like that first optometrist appointment. The questions about my mental health were like the vision tests, and I didn’t fully understand the logistics of it all. But just like with my eyes, once the diagnosis was made, things started to make sense. Everything I have done from that first appointment to now has been like putting on that first pair of glasses. Things look clearer, I realize what I missed out on and I can see life from a new perspective. Just like my eyesight, it sometimes gets bad or even worse. But that’s when you try on a new pair of glasses — to find that clearer lens to give me a new point of view.


Depression took my life. Physically, I am here and alive, but it dawns on me how sometimes I might as well not be. There are times when I don’t feel alive, where I don’t feel anything. Depression has taken so much from me, and the struggle I face every day to not let it take any more is exhausting. 

It has been nine long years, and we’ve yet to go our separate ways, yet to let go of one another. The saddest thing is; you have always been the one there for me whenever I needed it. Regardless of the outcome, every time I felt saddened or disheartened or angry or frustrated, you were always there. 

When I look back over the past decade, it strikes me how we’ve grown together. Each birthday as I got older, you grew stronger. Each negative thought you helped follow through into an act of self-destruction. Sometimes I try and wonder about what it would be like to not have you in my life, and I can’t. As peculiar and odd as that may sound, I can’t picture myself without you. You’ve made me feel like if I don’t have you, I don’t have anything. 

You are the monster under my bed and the shadow that follows my every step. You are in the empty seat next to me in class and the extra blanket on an evening to help me sleep. You are the voices inside my head and the music I choose to listen to… or should I say the music we choose to listen to. You are embedded into my life just as the scars are embedded into my skin. 

Over the past few years you have become less needy, which I am really grateful for. Now, instead of sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear, you are the light breeze I feel across my arm every so often, making me shiver. 

I’d be lying if I said I had my life back. The memories of trying to take my own life will forever be engraved into my memory. But we are no longer inseparable. You have given me a part of my freedom back, and I thank you for that.

author playing with children in park

Of course, we still have the days (or weeks) where you become indigent and cling to my back. On those days I just have to remember to breath and be a littler kinder to myself.

These days the thought of death is one that hardly ever occurs to me, a comforting fact to relish in. There was once a time when it was a dominant and regular thought, but now it’s merely a sudden pinch on my arm that fades away after a few moments.

I find recovery such a strange yet wonderful process for one to go through. There’s a part of you that is thrilled at being able to look back on how you used to be and see how much you’ve changed, delighted that you were able to find a way to move forward. But then, there’s a part of you that always wonders how.

How you managed to make such a change, how you managed to think more positively than negatively. I am constantly at war with my brain trying not to focus on how things happened and focus more on the reasons why they did.

Depression, you may be fighting towards the climax, but you will not win the resolution.

Yours sincerely, 

One of your faithful disciples. 

And for those of you out there struggling with the same demon, please know: recovery is possible for every single one of you. 

It might not be how you expected, but things will get better.

You matter.

If you are ever in doubt that recovery is possible remind yourself that you do matter. You are important and loved and by gosh, you are so worth it. No one else can play your part in this world. 

Remember: there’s still some time to be surprised. Stay.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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