Saturday, February 5, 2011


For the last several months I have been depressed. Clinically depressed. It's not pretty. The Cymbalta commercials say that depression hurts. I can confirm that. The only reason I have not been hospitalized is that I don't have to work and I have a husband who is the most encouraging, loving, patient, kind man in the galaxy.

I wish I could say something original about clinical depression. Something that would lift me right out of it. Something that would replace sadness and numbness with joy and creativity. Something that would give me back control of my life. It would be a short statement that would simply change my brain chemistry, because different brain chemistry is what I need. Everything I do to cope with depression is hard, hard work meant to compensate for having been dealt really crappy brain genes. (If I knew what to say, I would share it!) Barring magic words, I have to come up with a plan for getting better because what I am doing now is suicidal.

I know that I should eat right, get the right amount of sleep, exercise, take my meds, meditate, connect with other people, do something creative every day, and so on. Having the energy to even make a stab at it is another story. Most days I don't even get dressed, much less comb my hair and put on makeup.

Something I have learned about myself is that I feel much better in orderly, clean surroundings. The rub is that it's sometimes impossible for me to make the effort to clean and organize my living space. The rest of the time it's just very, very difficult. When I barely have the mental or physical energy to take a shower, I probably won't scrub down the shower stall. When I sleep too much because even the thought of getting out of bed is overwhelming, I probably won't make the bed when I do drag myself out.

One of my unhealthy tactics to avoid the pain of depression is to focus on my computer for hours at a time, days at a time. It has started to feel like an addiction. Uh, make that "it is an addiction". I get up in the a.m. and make a cup of tea, then it's straight to the computer. Sometimes it's all I do all day, which means that I am not contributing to clean, orderly surroundings, making healthy food, making art, or exercising. It's utterly self-defeating. I don't feel well because I don't do the things I need to take care of myself, and I don't do these things because I don't feel well. Bummer. I don't want to give it up, but if I don't give it up I am not going to get better. As a solution, I have decided that I have to earn computer time by doing what I need to do to live my life. 45 minutes of doing what I need to do earns 15 minutes of computer time during the day. If I stick to it, I get a couple of hours on the computer in the evening. I'll just have to see how this works.

So What Am I Going to Do About the Depression?

The only way I know out of this black hole is this: baby steps. Yep, just do one little thing at a time. Establish routines, build good habits, keep putting one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. If I vow to clean out every closet in the house today, I will assuredly crash and burn. I can probably manage to clean out a shelf in one closet, realistically. Maybe that will feel so good I'll put some dishes in the dishwasher. If I can let that be enough, that one shelf, and give myself credit for progress, I think I can find my way back to my life. Slowly but surely, I can plod back to that place where joy is my state of mind. And then I will fly!

If you read this far, I am amazed. But if you did, and you relate to what I am talking about, please leave a comment. We are all in this together!


  1. Donna,
    I see why now we click so well. I think we share a lot of things in common. You are right, baby steps are needed to overcome some of the things we suffer from. Some days it seems like you have to climb a mountain just to get the smallest of things done. But remember, the small things you do manage to do are a victory. You have to remember to congratulate yourself for those small things because over time, they add up to big change. Very few of us, depressed or not, can manage to completely turn off our bad habits all at once. Keep chipping away at the things you want to change slowly, one thing at a time. Soon, that small, good feeling turns into a a big, happy feeling inside. And just remember, not to beat yourself up if you slip now and then. It does not mean that you can't turn the day around. Spent too much time on the computer in the morning? Turn it off after lunch and be proud that you turned your day around. And be proud of that accomplishment. One slip does not have to spell doom.

    You can do this, just try to take it slow and enjoy how each small change adds up to big change over time.
    ((Hugs))) to you,

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  3. Well, I don't think I have anything nearly as useful to say as your other commenters did, but I read your post and I'm sorry to hear you've been struggling.

    I can absolutely relate to aspects of this, too: functioning better in a clean house and yet letting the messes build up until they become overwhelming, spending too much time on the computer, not always wanting to get dressed and outside even though I know I'd like it once I was out there, etc. It's not the same thing, and I don't mean to trivialize what you're going through, but I applaud your "baby steps" idea.

    On that note, have you thought about hiring a housekeeper? It might be nice to have someone to help keep things calm and well-ordered in your environment, as well as to have that weekly nudge to get dressed and out the door for a few hours. I have no idea if that would help or not...but it's an idea.

    In any case, I'm thinking about you and sending my love.

  4. I totally get what you're saying. I'm recovering from a brain injury and the side effect is clinical depression. Life just seems too damn hard right now. Thanks for sharing your experience. Part of the problem with depression is that there's a stigma attached. It's okay to say you broke your leg, but you can't openly admit to being clinically depressed!

  5. Donna, your post is excellent. It takes courage to lay it all out, Your message is filled with truth...Depression and creativity ~ partners forever~ and then let's pile on ADD...for that added boost! Have you heard of Flavay? I found this product while doing research on herbs from the Phillipines. After days of drilling through pages of data, could find nothing but positive comments. I use Flavay and Flavay Plus. Mucho happy with this product. Other friends, using it, love it too. It works! NAYY We all deserve relief!

  6. Hi Donna, it's Sandi from your digital art class. Just wanted to let you know that I, too, suffer from clinical depression and bipolar disorder. People who haven't been there don't really understand how hard it is just to deal with the daily stuff! I've been doing better with a combination of medication and therapy, but I still have relapses. This Photoshop class has gotten me more excited than I've been for a long time! I really haven't created anything for awhile. First the computer crashed, and also just lack of focus. Making art always makes me feel better, and I'm excited to get back to it again!!! If you ever want to talk, email me. I've suffered from depression for the last 40 years, so I must be some sort of expert, right?! LOL