That bush is an asshole and I’ll tell you why.
Its flowers are so incandescent, so utterly offensive in their cheer, some days when I look up at the fuchsia chaos, I feel like it’s just told a joke I’m not smart enough to get.
Because some days, I’m not. Some days that bush goes all Greek and monochromatic on me.
Perhaps you’ve had those days too? You’re so entrenched in your own darkness you can’t even keep up with a bush.
It’s Called Depression – Let’s Just Say It Out Loud
That gray, amorphous specter swirling and whirling through me. I won’t lie. There have been times in my past where I’ve fantasized about meandering across Wilshire Blvd. at rush hour.
Deep – you are shut down at the cellular level.
Press – the world is pressing down on you and bit by bit you’re losing your push-back.
Shun – you’ve been shunned by everyone. You have no friends. No one likes you. Your breath would knock a donkey out.
That’s the story in your head anyway. It has nothing to do with reality or the truth (except maybe that bit about the donkey), but depression doesn’t care about that.
I only speak, here, of my personal experience. Everyone is different. Check your own safety labels for warnings.
I am Wile-E-Coyote and depression is that miserable, meep-meeping little motherf&$%er.
Always just out of reach. Always tricking me into thinking I’ve got him licked. Always returning with some trap, and sometimes, yes, all feathered up. Dear Lord, don’t ask me why.
So, what do I do when my mind and mood resemble that creeping mold in the shower that just won’t go away?
The keyword here is ‘do.’
Of course the last thing you want to do when you’re depressed is something. That’s how the insidiousness works. It robs you of your natural desire to protect yourself, to keep yourself healthy, to be kind to yourself in the right way, which is not the chocolate way, by the way.
Let’s look to Sir Isaac Newton, then, for an answer. A simple way Newton's First Law Could Save You From Depression Click To Tweet
As you well know (or perhaps you had no idea) Newton has three handy laws of motion we use on the regular.
Here’s how I use his first to combat my dreaded dark passenger.
To be clear, I’m not talking about Dexter’s dark passenger. Mine’s no serial killer. You read the part about meep-meep, right? Cartoon and all that? Although, now I think about it, The Road Runner could potentially be seen as a…
Newton’s First Law of Motion (AKA The Law of Inertia)
“Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.”
Objects tend to keep doing what they’re doing. They resist change. That means nothing is going to happen unless you make something happen. You must act as that external force applied to yourself.
Trust me, I know. It’s much easier and tastier to sit on the couch and eat pints of Haagen Dazs. Especially if you struggle with addiction like I do. But that ice cream isn’t doing your heart, your hips, or your head any favors.
Sugar is depression’s ugly girlfriend. Beware. She’s a gap-toothed old hag with a bum eye and hair growing from places it shouldn’t, ready to swallow you and any bit of motivation you have in one sloppy mouthful.
The first step is to take a step, as far away from the junk as possible.
Stand up. Get outside. Breathe fresh air. Step away from the TV.
The more you settle into your immovable Ice Cream Inertia, the more you’ll start resembling Jabba The Hutt, inside and out. Nobody wants to see that happen.
The next step is to do something in the direction of a goal.
You need a clean house? Start with the dishes. Do one dish. Like Doritos, you probably won’t be able to stop with just one. I can’t. But one is one more clean dish than you had before you started.
Bills piling up and suffocating you? Pay one. Start there. Start somewhere.
Just start.Break the inertia inherent in depression. Click To Tweet
Last month we returned from a three-week European cruise/vacation. It was amazing and I’ll post up about it at some point when I gather my thoughts together.
When my feet hit the bedroom floor the morning after we returned, I heard the faint meep-meep over my shoulder and I knew the tricky little bastard had returned. This isn’t unusual for me after a vacation. Especially one as epic as seven European ports in nine days.
We were back to reality.
But my reality is pretty damn great, so I didn’t understand what the hell my problem was.
Then I realized, I’d barely thought about writing at all when we were on the trip and for the couple weeks leading up to the trip. I was too busy taking care of business and prepping for our departure.
I had a brand new pen to go with my brand new journal. I was ready. But I only wrote a few pages at the very beginning of our trip because I didn’t have the energy after sight-seeing most days.
And then I stopped altogether.
And didn’t think about it again. Didn’t jot down idea morsels or snippets of dialogue or anything at all like I thought I would. I brought some work with me, story notes, in case the mood struck, but it never did.
The inertia was building.
That worried me. A lot. And when we returned it hit me hard. I was home now. This profoundly awesome trip that I’d been looking forward to and planning for months was over. I had great experiences and photos to share, but I also had to get back to work.
That work loomed large because I didn’t know what I was going to write. I go a little loony when I don’t know what to write. It tends to feel like someone dumped a load of cinder blocks on my chest. Makes me super cranky. Heavy. (And flat.)
So I kicked inertia in the berries and got back to my writing life.
I rewrote a few older short stories and submitted them to some pretty major writing contests around the world. (Fingers and eyeballs crossed. I’ll keep y’all posted.)
I sent out my first eNewsletter. You can sign up for future ones right here.
I wrote this post.
I’m workshopping five other short story ideas through Holly Lisle’s 3 Week Fiction Writing Class, “How To Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck.” Love that title.
And I’m getting back to my long neglected second novel to do a complete overhaul.
The shroud is lifting slowly and the meep-meep is only a distant chirp in the wee hours of the morning. Why?
Because, ain’t nobody got time to be in the muck. I got work to do, son.
Today, when I took my morning walk, I glanced up at that bougainvillea, and you know what?
It’s still an asshole. Seriously. Enough with the day-glo, dude. You’re gonna put somebody’s eye out with that nonsense.
Fun fact: a coyote can run 43 MPH while a road runner can only muster 26 MPH on his best day. But the lil’ bastard can fly. So there’s the rub.
Side note: If you are clinically depressed, please seek help. You may not be able to do this on your own. I have shared what tends to work for me when I’m stuck in the muck. Depending on the deepness of the muck, I have tried other things like therapy many many many times and will probably go back at some point to continue my progress there.
If you can’t get unstuck by yourself, you might need something stronger to help you. There is no shame in that. Please try to find the thing that will help you, because you’re great and you deserve to be happy.
If you don’t want to talk to someone you know, please reach out to one of these Depression Hotlines for help.
Guys, have you struggled with the Road Runner? Have you been able to outsmart the little bastard and send him over the cliff instead? What makes you feel better when you’re in a mucky rut? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
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