Depression Sucks, But This Might Help

Wile-E-CoyoteHigh up on the hill across the street our neighbors have a sprawling bougainvillea. It’s a brawny beast of a bush. Its blossoms are fifty shades brighter than any blossoms ought to be.

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-press-shun.

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 Dexters 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…

I digress.

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.)

Depressed.

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.

We indie authors wouldn’t survive out here in the cyber-jungle without the help of loyal readers, friends like you, sharing our stories and posts, and spreading the word about us.

If you found this post helpful or think someone else might, please share it on your networks with the share buttons below.

Sign up for my newsletter here. You’ll get a free short story, project updates, information about new book and story releases, and super special top-secret deals just for fans.

Also, if you’d like to know when my next post is up, please subscribe on the sidebar up there to your right and I’ll see you next week.

Thanks for sharing your time and stories with me. Be warned, I may steal them at some point. It’s what we do.

Kelly Signature small

 

JOIN MY BOOK CLUB!
You'll get a FREE SHORT STORY and stellar book recommendations. I’ll also keep you in the loop about my upcoming releases and exciting deals and giveaways exclusively for club members.
**Your information is sacred. I'll never share it with anyone even if they offer me chocolate. Peace out.**
Kelly Byrne

An award-winning writer in many a genre, I currently herd words into novels and short stories about wildly flawed, but lovable characters. I strive to uncover the extraordinary in the ordinary, for those who believe in the possibility of the impossible, and those who always believe in love. My fiction embraces the idea that extraordinary things can and do happen in the real world. These whisperings of supernatural elements give my work a strong emotional edge, lending surprise and wonder to every story. I live in Los Angeles with my desperately handsome boyfriend where I’m working on my next novel.

19 Comments

  1. This hit me deep in the feels! I found out this morning that a friend had killed herself yesterday. She’d been having some debilitating health issues, but I’m sure depression factored in. I’ve been very fortunate to not hit this level of depression, but I know people who have. You’ve given me a great insight into how their brain might be working.

    1. Oh, Shawna, I’m so very sorry to hear about your friend. That’s devastating news. Depression is insidious and, yes, very often linked to other health issues. I’m so sorry she didn’t get the help she needed in time.

      Often, it’s difficult to tell when someone is going through this because when you’re depressed you don’t necessarily share that with anyone, because much of the time we feel ashamed to feel the way we do. Like there’s something wrong with us and we should be able to fix it on our own in the quiet of our own home.

      Part of why I wrote this and write about depression in general is to try to help get rid of the stigma that still exists surrounding depression and any mental illness. We need to talk about it, say it out loud, get help. We need to stop making people feel like it’s “all in their head.”

      I’m so glad you don’t struggle with this often debilitating condition. I lightened it up here a little, but it gets incredibly dark sometimes. I’m glad I could give you some insight into that. Thanks for reading, as always, and if you think this might help someone, please do pass it on.

      Hugs to you, Shawna. Again, so sorry for the loss of your friend.

  2. Always hit the nail on the head, you do. I’ve been struggling lately because the need to write has really hit me, especially after reading the Harry Potter series. The problem is I get 500-700 words into a short story and I hit a wall. I’ve even been trying writing prompts and none of them seem to apply to me, for whatever reason.

    I have all these ideas, but no means to bring them together into a cohesive story because of…you guessed it…depression. But I not only have depression, I also have anger. A lot of things have been bothering me and because I’ve never really been anywhere (other than a racetrack, that is), I feel like I have nothing important to say. And now that I’m older and well acquainted with reality, it seems my imagination has completely shut down. I’ve been trying to get it back, but depression is a heavy “hag” as you called it. And it’s funny you used the word “hag” in your blog, as “the old hag” is another name for night terrors, which is something else I still occasionally have, especially if I’m really upset and not able to sleep. Night terrors compound depression x10 because your worst nightmares now happen when you’re awake, which makes the sadness all the much harder to push aside and sleep becomes all the more illusive. I wouldn’t wish night terrors on anyone, by the way. They really suck.

    However, I do believe that writers such as yourself, who share their struggles and then their success are an inspiration that can be annoying like that bush you mentioned, but necessary to drag the rest of us out of our hole. You never know who you’re helping with your words. And I’m thankful for your writing Kelly. I’ve always adored your gift for verbiage. And considering that you’ve just been to Europe, I command you to stop sand bagging and start sharing. So the rest of us home bodies can see the light at the end of the tunnel. – Rachael

    1. Oh Rach, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with all of that. My God. It’s a heavy heavy load, woman. Have you been able to talk to anyone, even just friends? I always find talking about it lightens the load if only a little. One step at a time with this.

      Truth be told, you made me cry reading this. The rawness in your pain and struggle comes through so vividly, you might consider just writing about what you’re going through right now. Maybe forget about the stories for a minute and concentrate on you.

      I totally understand feeling like you’ve lost your imagination, how you start but get stuck, how nothing seems to apply to you. I feel exactly the same way most of the time. That’s why I’m starting to do morning pages again as well. Writing in my journal about whatever comes to my head. It loosens things up. Makes it okay to just write, get back to just writing for writing’s sake. Not to be good, or witty, or brilliant. No one will see these pages but me. It’s only for me. You might think about doing something like that to let go the pressure you’re putting on yourself. I know that pressure well and it will do you no good.

      Just write. Don’t censor. Don’t think.

      Also, I know I probably recommended it before, but if you didn’t get a chance to read it, Writing Down The Bones, by Natalie Goldberg is a fabulous book. As is Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott. Both may help you. Both will feed your soul.

      It’s a tough road for creatives, made tougher by our frustrating propensity for depression. We don’t chose it, it chooses us. What we do with it when it visits and refuses to leave is of utmost importance. I don’t know much about night terrors, but I can imagine they’re horrible. If you need more help than a friend can offer, please seek it out, Rachael.

      I’m rootin’ for you, and for me, and for all of us, to feel good, and whole again. Big hugs.

      Oh, and, yes, the European trip will be forthcoming soon. If you’d like to see some photos here are my albums: https://www.facebook.com/kelly.l.byrne.75/photos_albums Start with Barcelona and move up. The cruise photos are numbered by port.

      Feel better, Rach. 🙂

    2. And btw – Rachael, you always have something to say – whether it can make its way out or not right now. Doesn’t matter whether you’ve been anywhere else in the world or not. You have YOUR story to tell. Please do your best not to succumb to the idea that that’s not enough. Hang in there.

  3. Yup, the old meep-meeper’s been in my head a bunch of times, the little shit. Luckily the meeps are few and far between, but when they screech in my brain, they’re loud, insistent fuckers.

    I hate to say it, but I tend to let the inertia take over. Sometimes letting myself feel as shitty as I do, even for just a few days, is enough. It’s enough to keep me from ignoring what I’m feeling because that’s never worked for me, and it’s just the right amount to give me time to feel strong enough to pull myself out of the muck.

    I do it in a very similar manner to you: one thing, no matter how tiny, at a time. Sometimes it’s just taking a shower. Or reading one page in a book. As long as it’s moving me forward, I’m on board.

    I’m sorry you felt that way when you got back on American soil, but I’m happy that you found a way out of it.

    P.S. I know a guy who knows a guy who could take out that bougainvillea–just say the word. 😉

    1. Oh Kel, you make me giggle. Thank you. You’ll see for yourself what I mean when you come. Maybe you, me, and your guy who knows a guy can take care of it together. 🙂

      So damn, meep-meeper hits everyone. And yes, sometimes I just let myself have it for a few days too. I’ll almost give myself a deadline to feel as bad as it wants me to feel, and if I reach that deadline and I’m still totally stuck and not able to find any light, movement, or momentum in me, that’s when shit gets really real and I need to start thinking about how to come up out of it.

      That really deep darkness when there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Just a big black hole ready to swallow you up. When brushing your teeth is the pinnacle of your day.

      It makes me sad that so many amazing, brilliant, wonderful people are sidelined by this bastard. All part of the creative mind, they say, but I’m not sure why it has to be. I say we get a petition going to stop the nonsense. Not sure who we’d send it to, but petitions seem to be the thing these days. 😉

  4. Hell’s Bells, Kell. That was a really good one! What rhythm, what flow. Funnier than funny and truer than true. You know – (right?) – that I AM the Big D? And that D ain’t for Davis. Getting going (the antidote to the D) is a problem cause I’m really bad at self-starting. Actually, I’m good at the start. It’s the follow-through I suck at. Check out my list of writing projects. Then check out the column next to the list. Not one has been ticked off. Nonetheless, and, surprisingly, my incessant depression lifted recently. It always does when I’m busy, out of my own head, focusing on something bigger and bolder than my self-deprecating thoughts. (That’s why travel sends me the most! And why, when I get home, like you, I’m toast.) But I did nothing, really, to help lift my heavy load. At least not in the immediate sense. It was the call from the L.A. Times giving me the part-time job I’ve been working at for the past three weeks. Now, keep in mind I’m on my feet for most of my 8 hour day; my mitts are usually submerged in scalding water; I’m lifting heavy pots and cast iron pans, climbing step stools to find palm sugar or spanish paprika or pomegranate molasses; chopping onions, mincing garlic, smelling my hands, grilling potatoes, frying carrots, smelling my armpits, running from this side to that side, from here to there, wiping and cleaning and shopping and swapping and fretting and sweating. And you know what? I frickkin’ love it! Yes, I sometimes sit and answer emails, call restaurants, and even write some pitches for blog posts. And I sometimes meet chefs and watch while they shoot demos. And I even help style the food and assist the photographer. But most of the time I’m doing grunt work– and, still, I haven’t been happier since . . . the last time I was insanely busy and productive. But here’s the rub: I didn’t get myself this job. It landed in my lap. Unless, of course, you count the single-minded work I did to land the internship last summer, and the conscientious interning I did for three solid months to impress my boss (and please myself.) But, other than hope and wish and see myself in the test kitchen and tell the world I need a job, a dream job, and post food photos that my ex boss could see on Facebook, I really did nothing. Some might say I manifested this position. If I did, kudos to me. And big recognition for the fact that maybe we could all manifest ourselves out of depression. That’s what you are saying, I think. That even though we suffocate under an emotional shroud that exists outside of reason and doesn’t have the decency to run for it when we shriek and rant and cuss it out . . . that maybe we are more powerful than we think. Maybe with sheer will and positive thinking, with optimism and small successive actions, with the power of our minds and the tenacity of our souls, we can kick depression out and make room for happiness. Because our emotions do not have to rule us. If ever there were a time to be a controlling bitch, it’s when we’re fighting for our right to survive. xo, You rock, girlfriend.

    1. So much here, Davis, that I want to comment on, but first let me just note that I definitely chuckled at “smelling my armpits.” Couldn’t help myself. 😉

      So, uh, yeah, you most definitely did everything to get that job. Of course you did. You laid the foundation with everything you did before and now you reap the reward of all that hard work. It didn’t just fall in your lap, you worked for it, you earned it. Own that, honey. And I’m so happy you’re happy with it. That’s terrific!

      Yes, we are most definitely more powerful than we think, especially in those dark times. We have the power to help lift ourselves out of it if we’ll just choose to use it. That’s often the hard part, for me at least.

      Your suggestion the other day to look outside myself is brilliant and it’s something my mom reiterated today. When we focus on helping others, it’s almost impossible to remember that we’re feeling so shitty. The only problem is that when we’re feeling so shitty, it’s incredibly difficult to muster the desire to help others because, well, you’re feeling so shitty.

      Our emotions don’t have to rule over us, even though we do tend to make a habit of letting them sometimes. It’s a matter of breaking that cycle with movement in the right direction hopefully, but in any direction to start.

      And maybe the next time that lil’ meep-meeper shows up it won’t be as difficult to throw him off the cliff and get going again because we have that muscle/emotional memory of movement built in. That’s the hope, anyway.

      You rock, woman. That’s a fact. Congrats on your job. Kudos! 🙂

      1. I believe in you, Kelly. And, strange as it may sound, I believe in your blues, too. All great creative minds are highly attuned, which means sensitive, which means emotional, which means prone to ups and downs. Like they say to actors– use it. Use it in your writing. Use it to take walks and get lost and accidentally stumble upon inspiration. Use it to journal in stream of consciousness and, again, accidentally stumble upon inspiration. Use to help others (as you said) and accidentally stumble upon . . . well, you get it. Take artists’ dates, go to museums, listen to live music, explore a new neighborhood or ethnic food store. Change the scenery, distract yourself, move. I know it’s tough. That’s why it’s important for you to remember I’m here for you. Cause if you have a hard time just opening the front door some Monday, sure as shootin’, I’m gonna be having a hard time just getting out of bed some Thursday. We chicas locas gotta stay together, verdad?

        1. Verdad, chica. I’m right around the corner, so ring me. Or I’ll ring you.

          I’m not great at changing the scenery, and I know I need to do that more often. When I lived closer to walking distance shops and things I used to go out and about, but since I’ve been in the hills I’m less inclined to. I need to though, I know this.

          Sometimes I do wish the creative mind wasn’t SO attuned. lol But it is the way our minds work and so yes, I will use it to the best of my abilities.

          Funny you should mention journaling stream of consciousness, because I just started doing that again last week. Morning pages before I do anything else (which means before I get online and fill my head with the nonsense that exists there).

          Ten minutes a day timed. And go. Yes, I’ve actually stumbled upon inspiration a couple times already in the process, so there you go. It works!

          I hope you’re able to get some of that in as well. The process of writing something every day really does help. Doesn’t matter what it is. Get some words down. Love you much and thank you for always believing in me. Right back atchya. xoxo

          1. I tend to hermitize, too. If you need a compadre to accompany you, give me a call. Sometimes all I need is a little push, pull or tug on my sleeve. And then I’m so happy I got out.

  5. WOW Kelly, another great post! After Rocky died, I never knew dark could be so fucking black. Sure, I’ve been in the muck before…way down in the bowels of the earth….but I always climb my way back up. It’s taken me over a year to truly “see” the sun’s shine, the moon’s glow….to feel some semblance of myself again. His death has deepened my compassion for people who’ve suffered a deep loss, but it’s also deepened my understanding as a therapist, the darkness, the loneliness, the frightening abyss of depression. I’m not sure if you saw my response to you on my blog, but you have this unbelievable gift to bring levity to complex life issues that allow us, your readers, to digest your wisdom, your points, your stories, and laugh at the same time. It’s brilliant writing. You have such a unique authentic voice…and I so deeply appreciate your willingness to share so openly and crack the tough stuff so a little light can seep through and remind us that we are never alone. Think you are amazing….and yeah, f@#! that stupid bush! xo

    1. I don’t even know where to begin, Susan (I so want to call you Suzie – but I’ll refrain, unless you’re cool with that. Sue? What do YOU like? Please tell me!) with what happened with Rocky.

      I was so devastated for you. And the more you write about him the more I understand just what a luminous, magnificent human being he was and what a shocking, soul-stealing gut punch it was for you and your family to lose him so suddenly. No warning. No time to prepare.

      I can’t imagine. But I have imagined, through your writing, the process of healing. The process of digging yourself back up out of the muck because we have to. We don’t have a choice. And you know he wouldn’t want you to be stuck down in it. Not from the little bit I know of him. He would want for you to be joyous and loving every minute, every bit (even the bad stuff) of your life.

      That’s the image you create of him in your work. I’m so glad you went to the pen and paper to figure out your feelings through all of this. Some people go the road of self-destruction and you have helped a lot of people with your inspired insights and thoughts on the subject of healing and moving on. I believe that’s what your non-fiction book is about. I think I read that on your blog somewhere, yes? I’m so glad. I think it’s a calling for you.

      And thank you for your incredibly kind words about my own writing. I posted a status update on FB last week: “Sometimes I feel like I’m writing with crayons and everybody else has calligraphy pens.” And sometimes I feel like I’m writing with children’s wooden block letters. Kinda chunky and big and unruly with sharp edges.

      You are so eloquent in your writing, it’s smooth and evocative and tender. It welcomes your reader in for a sit down and a cup of tea. I kind of knock people over the head with mine. Not so much subtle there. But if I can and do, as you say, bring levity to complex life issues, then you know what? My work here is done, because that’s my goal. I’m so glad you see that in my writing because much of the time I only see the blocks.

      So thank you! Big hugs and lots of love. xoxo

  6. Oh my…thank you for suggesting this post for me to read. While I need a moment to process, I can tell you that I am in awe about the way you manage to shed a light on the way darkness works and to do it in a way that even makes me smile. I have had many dark times over the years. I don’t know if I ever had a full-blown depression, but I have definately danced around the edges of it.

    Aside from that, and I don’t think you know this yet, but I lost my younger brother to suicide 17 months ago. He was 32. We knew he was depressed, but only after his passing did we come to understand how black his black was.

    Thank you for sharing this with me. As I said, I am in awe. It takes tremendous strength to fight your way back from the sinkhole that is depression. It takes almost superhuman strength to crawl your way out of the darkness that wants to suck you back in. Thank you for fighting that fight and more for sharing it with the world, with me. You are a source of light.

    Big Hug

    1. Oh Yvon, I’m so very sorry about your brother. There are no words. I’ve been in that black hole more times than is comfortable to talk about, honestly, but something has always pulled me out. Sometimes that darkness is so heavy, though, it suffocates everything. All hope, any joy, anything and everything good. My heart hugs you, for your loss, and for your vulnerability and willingness to share it. I hope you’ve been able to find some kind of peace now. And thank you, as always, for your kind words. They mean so much.

      1. I have since found peace with it yes, thank you. My brother Matt found the strength to leave us with a letter (several in fact) that has been a tremendous source of comfort. I have written a blog piece about it that i will share soon. Thank you for your words and for being on this journey with me.

        And my brother would have loved your post by the way. He had a great sense of humour and would have really appreciated the lightness you manage to bring to such a heavy subject.

        1. Thank you, Yvon. I’m so glad his letters have brought you comfort. I’m looking forward to reading your post about it. I imagine it wasn’t an easy one to write. Cathartic, maybe, though. I hope. Big hugs.

What did you think of the post? I'd love to hear from you...

%d bloggers like this: