Here’s a little cheat sheet for you just in case you find yourself face-to-face with a person suffering from depression. It’s always hard to know exactly what to say…
Are you okay? This should be said as soon as you lay eyes on the person, with incredible emotion, as though you just witnessed the person barely escape alive from a car accident, and her hair is on fire. Don’t worry; she won’t feel self-conscious at all about her appearance.
Exercise always makes me feel better. These are motivational words for anyone who is overwhelmed by the thought of getting out of bed to take a shower.
Whenever I’m sad, I always try to think about the good things in my life. Depressed people love to be reminded that we are too self-absorbed to realize that we should be grateful there isn’t a telethon named after us.
Maybe, you should stop drinking/eating so much Diet Coke/fill-in-the-blank. You are absolutely right. Depriving ourselves of the less destructive vices in life will definitely make us more cheerful.
Are you mad at me? Of course I’m mad at you. The fact that you feel the need to ask me this question proves that you are feeling guilty about some transgression against me. But, don’t worry, I’m more mad at myself. Partly for being mad at other people.
Do you really think medication is the best option? That’s a great question. I’m not sure. I mean, I haven’t tried anything else. As soon as I cried during my first ASPCA/Sarah McLachlan commercial, I said to myself, “I need to get a handle on this. I better start popping some pills.”
I looked everywhere on the internet, and on my new medication information, and nowhere does it say: Possible Side Effects – Increased Sarcasm. The FDA really needs to look into this…
My daughter is a Slytherin.
For those of you who don’t live and breathe Harry Potter, Slytherin is one of the four houses of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. A few of the less savory characters in this series hailed from Slytherin – including the main villain, Lord Voldemort. In other words, if Hitler had attended Hogwarts, it’s a pretty good bet that he would have been in Slytherin.
Dimples joined the virtual world of Harry Potter at pottermore.com last week, and worked her way through buying important school supplies like cauldrons and glass vials (Hogwarts does not have Trapper Keepers on their school supply list, either), getting a wand assigned to her, and, after much suspense, getting sorted into a House.
She eagerly called me into the room, so I could watch her carefully answer the questions that would lead to her final sorting.
When she got assigned to Slytherin, I got a hint of the disappointment to come if she ever gets hate mail from Harvard.
“It’s okay,” I said. “Remember? We talked about how there were some good characters in Slytherin, and this is your opportunity to prove that not all Slytherins are out to destroy the world.”
She glared at me, a glimmer of tears in her eyes. It was clear to both of us that this was all my fault.
The obvious solution to this problem was for me to get sorted too.
So, I logged in to the site, went through my school supply purchases, earned my unicorn wand, and made my way to the sorting. Dimples raced to the computer when I announced that the moment was at hand.
The first question appeared, and Dimples almost dissolved. “The questions aren’t the same,” she said, obviously having expected me to get the exact same set of questions – and to answer them the same.
I told her that I was going to answer them honestly anyway. A few of the questions were identical to hers, and I answered 2 of them the same way she had. As I answered each question, I tried to go with my first instinct, instead of trying to second-guess what House it would lead to.
At what I imagined to be the final question, I hesitated before sending my answer to cyberspace.
What would it mean to Dimples if I got sorted into Gryffindor, the House of Heroes? What would it mean to me?
I finally clicked the mouse, and we both waited for the Determination of my Destiny.
Which makes perfect sense, given my snake-handling skills (Slytherin’s mascot is a serpent) and my unabashed attempts to become a legend in my own mind. (“Slytherin will help you on your way to greatness” is the house motto.)
After consulting the Slytherin Psychology tumblr, I realized that the Sorting Hat probably knew exactly what it was doing.
That explains a lot.
But, hey, at least I made it into Hogwarts, unlike poor Stephen Colbert (commiserating with a student who claims she was refused entrance to the University of Texas based on the fact that she is not a minority):
I am frazzled.
I know this because, in the last two weeks, at least three different people have commented to me, in passing, “You look frazzled.”
I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why I would appear this way to casual acquaintances. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that: my old anti-depressant recently became as useful as a Tic-Tac, my new anti-depressant has increased my desire to thrash anyone who does anything irritating, everyone but me does things that are irritating, and my inefficient colon has suddenly become overly efficient.
I am pretty sure it has everything to do with people telling me, “You look frazzled.”
Once someone tells you that you look frazzled, it’s pretty certain that, no matter how relaxed you were two seconds before that declaration, you will then feel frazzled. And, if you were already frazzled, then you are guaranteed to feel frazzled and somewhat inclined to hurt someone.
At least, this has been my experience.
So, could you please do the frazzled people in this world a favor, and maybe keep that delightful observation to yourself? If you must say something, perhaps you could try commenting, “You look amazingly hale and hearty today! When you have a moment, you must give me your secret for always looking so invigorated!”
Luckily, we frazzled people are too busy to analyze confusing compliments too closely.
So, first of all, yes, I am in the process of switching medications. I know my last post caused
one person people in many countries to be concerned for my well-being. My doctor says that I can wait a whole month before I see him again, but made me repeat to him twice the proper dosage I should be self-administering. Which made me question his confidence in me. Which made me question my confidence in him.
It seems that, when my depression starts taking over, I begin to obsess about how horrible life is – and small obstacles suddenly become monumental examples of why I shouldn’t bother trying to even live.
I finally opened my iPhone. Then I was afraid to do anything with it because I was worried that I would ruin it. I made my husband take me to the store the very next day so I could get all kinds of bullet-proof equipment to protect it from my clumsy self.
I bought one of those “shields” that you put on the screen to keep it from getting scratched or fingerprinted.
If any of you have tried to put one of those darn films on a phone or tablet, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You have to be a friggin’ engineer with a medical degree to correctly affix it.
And, surprisingly, I am neither.
After 4 efforts, I finally arranged it so that there is only one air bubble under the film.
One air bubble that I have fixated on for the last 24 hours.
One air bubble that is seriously challenging my will to live.
Because, if I can’t do this right, what’s the point? What’s the point in trying to have nice things? Remember that new car I got – and the scratch I put on it the very next day? Remember the new concrete floors I got, and the scratch they got a couple of weeks later?
Okay, that was my husband’s fault.
Remember that new husband I got (12 years ago), and the way he got me a bulldog named Wonderbutt, and the way this bulldozing wonder of a dog completely re-decorated my house in a way that would not be considered acceptable by any of the hosts of an HGTV show?
Remember when seeing all of those new houses on HGTV totally caused the housing bubble?
ARGGGGGHHHH! Remember that BUBBLE ON MY IPHONE THAT WILL NEVER, EVER GO AWAY?!!!!!!!!!!!
…Remember that new medication I started, and the way it helped me blow everything way, way, way, out of proportion?
P.S. If you want to know how to install a Zagg Shield without having to resort to medicating yourself, John Chow’s video might help you. As long as you aren’t worried about dowsing your device with fluid…
How You Know Your Anti-Depressant Medication is No Longer Working
You get your driver’s license in the mail and wonder if the photo will be used for your obituary.
You come home to an iPhone 5 package on your doorstep, you bring it inside – and go take a nap.
You realize that you are part of Mitt Romney’s 47%, and not part of the 1%, but also in the 99%. And your life is 60% over.
You realize that your hair will never look as good as Mitt Romney’s.
You are upset because Penny Marshall just published a book called, My Mother Was Nuts, which was totally what you planned to do – publish a book about Penny Marshall’s mother.
You look at this face wistfully and wish you could be even half that happy.
You may know me as Mrs. Cap’n Firepants, mother of Wonderbutt, Mrs. P.I.B., and Dimples, but my psychiatrist knows me as the woman he treats for clinical depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (Believe it or not, our bulldog, Wonderbutt, and his house demolition attempts were not the cause of either of these mental illnesses.)
I wasn’t planning for these two women to collide with each other on my blog, but a few recent blog posts from other authors have brought them together.
So, today, I invite you to the somewhat disturbing dialogue between Mrs. Cap’n Firepants and Mrs. Eeyorewearsnopants (referred to in the rest of this post as Mrs. F. and Mrs. E.)
Mrs. F: One of your favorite bloggers, Aja, gave you an award at Writing and Recovering.
Mrs. E: I know. And you totally don’t deserve it.
Mrs. F: Oh geez. Are you in one of those moods again?
Mrs. E: Again? How about “still”?
Mrs. F: How about snap out of it?!!!!
Mrs. E: Yeah. That always works. I’m going back to bed.
Mrs. F: Fine. Then I will accept the award.
Mrs. E: You can’t.
Mrs. F: Why?
Mrs. E: Because you have to tell what your diagnoses are, and no one has diagnosed you with anything but a bad case of Wonderbutt.
Mrs. F: It seems like “Wonderbutt” should be a good thing, doesn’t it?
Mrs. E: There you go, roaming off the subject again. That’s why you’re never depressed. Because you can’t keep your mind still enough to obsess about how hopeless your life is.
Mrs. F: Yes, that’s definitely a weakness on my part – the inability to get pre-occupied with my meaningless existence. I’ll try to work on that.
Mrs. E: I don’t care what you do. I’m going back to bed.
Mrs. F: Wait, I thought of another diagnoses. What about my eating disorder?
Mrs. E: You mean my eating disorder?
Mrs. F: Oh, you get to have that, too?
Mrs. E: Yes, I get the great gift of three mental illnesses. Lucky me.
Mrs. F: What do I get, then?
Mrs. E: An Awards Shelf.
Mrs. F: Well, that doesn’t seem quite fair.
Mrs. E: To me, or to you?
Mrs. F: Umm. Both? I’m not sure at this point. Have you noticed Wonderbutt is really quiet right now? That usually means he’s in the middle of consuming a shoe,or a table, or something…
Mrs. E: Changing the subject again? I think someone has a bit of an attention problem – and I’m not talking about Wonderbutt.
Mrs. F: Well, stop whining about all of your problems and finish up accepting our award.
Mrs. E: I’m going to pretend you didn’t say “our”. Not that I care. But I noticed. Anyway, to accept the Strong Person Award you have to list
your my diagnoses and –
Mrs. F: Check
Mrs. E: And, post a picture of yourself, or something representing you.
Mrs. F: Crap.
Mrs. E: What’s wrong?
Mrs. F: I can’t post a picture of myself.
Mrs. E: Why?
Mrs. F: Because I made myself up.
Mrs. E: Hmm. That does pose a problem. And we both know we can’t post a picture of me.
Mrs. F: Why?
Mrs. E: Because I hate myself. Are you not paying attention? AGAIN?!!!!
Mrs F: I’m trying, but you aren’t doing a very good job of keeping my attention. Just find a darn picture, and post it.
Mrs. E: Fine. Here.
Mrs. F: Hey, that’s pretty good. We do both do that. Hide from the world, I mean. We don’t literally stick our heads under the bed. At least, I don’t.
Mrs. E: O.K. So, let’s pass this sucker on. All of these responsibilities are making me tired.
Mrs. F: Well, this part is easy. We are passing the Stronger Person Award to Miranda Gargasz, a very talented writer.
Mrs. E: You’re just giving her that because she gave you a Reader’s Appreciation Award, and she got you Freshly Pressed.
Mrs. F: No, if those were the reasons, then I would hyperlink those two items to which you just referred, but I’m not going to do that. I’m giving it to her because she has overcome a lot of obstacles in her life, and she is a very talented writer.
Mrs. E: Brown-noser.
Mrs. F: Also, since
you we suffer from depression, and she just wrote a very heartbreaking piece that touched on this very subject, I thought it would be fitting.
Mrs. E: That was sad.
Mrs. F: Yes, it was. But it’s a very real problem, and depression has been in the headlines a lot lately. Here’s another article that people should read – even though it’s not by the super-talented Miranda.
Mrs. E: Have you noticed people keep searching the web for our “John Denver and Depression” post?
Mrs. F: Now, who’s getting off the subject? I think I better go check on Wonderbutt.
Mrs. E: Fine. I think I’m going to go take my medication.
Mrs. F: We’re all grateful for that…
I was happily painting my toe-nails and reading my Oprah magazine when I realized that I need more testosterone.
(Ha. That would be a very funny statement coming from a guy, wouldn’t it?)
I am not a guy.
As a self-diagnosed hypochondriac, I often discover that I need new treatment for my heretofore undiagnosed diseases that my lazy doctors are unable to cure. So, it was with great delight that I read an article in Oprah that identified all of my current symptoms (plus or minus 3 or 4) and the underlying cause – low testosterone.
I informed my hair stylist of this revelation. My hair stylist is suffering from the same exact symptoms. He is a guy. A gay guy. He thinks I may be on to something.
My husband thinks that I am off of something – my rocker.
Here are the symptoms – just in case you are interested in diagnosing yourself: depression, severe lack of energy, inability to focus, blah, blah, blah. See?!!!! You need more testosterone, too.
Wait a second.
I’m watching David Letterman, and he says I’m a hamster, and that’s why I’m depressed.
No, he’s a hamster.
No – hamsters that were exposed to late night television showed brain activity that resembles depression.
I wonder who the hamsters were watching.
See?!!! Inability to focus. Classic symptom of low testosterone levels.
If you are a hamster, and you are reading this – get thee to a testosterone testing technician immediately. You need your energy for running on that wheel.
If you are a person, and you are reading this – get thee to a psychiatrist.
I’ll meet you there.
About once a month, I come to the conclusion that I really need to divorce Cap’n Firepants; in fact, I should have done it a long time ago. I mean, how can I live with a man who can’t stay up past 10 P.M., or who cannot smell, no matter how many times I ask, the mildew odor emanating from our brand new mattresses? He is clearly the most unreasonable man in the world.
You’ve probably noted the regular schedule of this revelation, and I bet you have wisely deduced the reason this epiphany occurs every 30 days. I have, too. But that doesn’t make it seem less important every month. Fortunately, during saner times, I instituted a Major Decision Moratorium for these 12 weeks a year. And, despite the clarity with which Cap’n Firepants’ many transgressions suddenly overwhelm me each time, I am somehow able to suppress the urge to initiate any divorce proceedings long enough for the deep conviction that I would be better off as a single woman to subside.
The conversations I have with myself in my head are interesting, though.
“Is he crazy? Did he just have the gall to ask what you wanted for dinner tonight? As if you are going to be doing the cooking? Why can’t he do the cooking? It’s the weekend.”
“Don’t you think you are overreacting? Isn’t it, uh, you know…”
“Of course I’m not overreacting!!!! Do you think any other woman puts up with this garbage? Do you think Oprah lets Steadman expect her to do the cooking? What about Hillary and Bill? Or Michelle and Barack?”
“Um, I think they all have other people cook for them.”
“Great, so I have a horrible husband and I’m poor. Thanks for pointing that out.”
“Maybe you should just take a look at the calendar.”
“So I can see that I’m another day older? Trust me, I haven’t forgotten that I’m old and wrinkly. Boy, you really love making me feel low.”
“O.K. Forget the calendar. Look at your pills.”
“Well, thanks for telling the whole world that I take Happy Pills. You are just determined to completely demoralize me today, aren’t you?”
“Not those pills. The other ones. You know, the ones that have the days of the week on the pack?”
“Uh huh. Yeah, what about ’em?”
“One week left. That’s all I’m sayin'”
“And why do I have to be the one that takes the pills? Why can’t he be the one who’s responsible? God, he is so selfish! That’s it. This marriage is over.”
“O.K. I tell you what. Wait 7 days, and if you still feel that way, I will completely support you.”
“Fine. That will give me 7 more days of ammunition to use anyway.”
“Fine. Can I divorce you, too, while I’m at it?”
“Good luck with that.”
“Fine. Just give me some chocolate and shut up.”
12 years, and the divorce papers have never been filed. Cap’n Firepants is one lucky guy.
Giving up Diet Coke has not been fun.
In all fairness, I should tell you that I haven’t given it up completely, yet. Since we still had some in the house, and I am the only one who drinks it, I figured I would finish up our current stock. So, I’ve been slowly weaning myself off of it instead of going cold turkey.
I finished up the caffeinated Diet Coke on Thursday. I had reduced it to one a day (from about 4 a day).
Friday was not a pretty day. Headaches, unsympathetic first graders, That Time of the Month, and a cold front did not improve my mood. I know. T.M.I. You don’t care about a cold front.
Saturday was not much better. Despite the fact that there were no first graders (sympathetic or unsympathetic) or headaches, the other factors remained.
I was cranky and depressed. I’ve had to give up salad because it attacks my stomach, and now Diet Coke.
And I know people suffer far worse problems and I am being narcissistic. Which makes me even more depressed.
And I hate drinking water.
We went to my favorite pizza place on Friday and I had to watch Dimples and the Cap’n eat salad while I drank a glass of wine instead. It was small consolation. Two glasses of wine might have changed my outlook on things, but I was driving.
Dimples did ask me if it was okay if they ate the salad. Of course I said that it wouldn’t bother me. Because I never say whatimeant2say.
And I would really like to talk to the people who did the study that concluded that diet drinks were making people gain weight because I’ve gained three pounds since I started reducing them. And no, Smarty Pants, I haven’t replaced every single soda with a glass of wine. The wine replaces the salads, not the sodas.
So, basically, I am not seeing the value in this little experiment. Other than showing my daughter how important it is to me to try to be as healthy as I can for her sake.
But, really, how big is the impact of this lesson going to be on her? Aren’t I really just teaching her that trying to be healthy makes people grumpy?
I think the underlying cause of all of this depression is that I am not walking down a red carpet in a Vera Wang dress at the Academy Awards tonight.
No, actually, it is that, if I were invited to the Academy Awards I would probably pop the zipper on my Vera Wang dress right when I was exiting the limo and I would be on the cover of STAR magazine tomorrow with the headline, “Mrs. Cap’n Firepants Needs a Bigger Size!”
Wow. Even more depressing than the mental image of me embarrassing myself in front of millions of people is the lame headline I just concocted.
I’m turning into “Fun Bobby”, Monica’s boyfriend on Friends, who gave up alcohol and became a complete dud.
On the up side, I heard a story on NPR today in which the speaker stated that clinically depressed people actually see life in a more realistic way than other people.
Yep. That’s my silver lining, right there.