Category Archives: more than meets the eye

Is it just me?

Okay.  This isn’t a funny post so feel free to skip it.  I just need to know something and I need you to tell me the truth rather than just make me feel better, so please be honest.

I realize that I’ve accomplished a lot in life and deep-down I know that, but it doesn’t change the fact that I only have a few days a month where I actually felt like I was good at life.  I know I’m a good person (as in “not evil or intentionally arsonistic”), but I’m not very good at being a person.  I don’t know if that makes sense and it’s not me fishing for compliments.  Please don’t tell me the things I’m good at because that’s not what this is about.  It’s just that at the end of each day I usually lie in bed and think, “Shit.  I’m fucking shit up.  I accomplished nothing today except the basics of existing.”  I feel like I’m treading water and that I’m always another half-day behind in life.  Even the great things are overshadowed by shame and anxiety, and yes, I realize a lot of this might have to do with the fact that I have mental illness, but I still feel like a failure more often than I feel like I’m doing well.

My pride that Hailey is the best speller in her class is overshadowed by the embarrassment that I don’t have the energy to be a PTA mom.  I’m happy my first book was so successful, but I suffer with writer’s block so much that I’m always sure I’ll never write again and that I’ll never finish my second book.  I feel like from the outside looking in I seem successful and happy, but I can’t help but think that if people looked closer they’d see the cracks and the dirt and shame of a million projects that never get done.

Part of this is me.  I have depression and anxiety and a number of personality disorders that make it hard for me to see myself correctly.  Part of it is that I judge myself by the shiny, pretty people I see at Parent-Teacher meetings, or on Facebook, or on Pintrest who seem to totally have their shit together and never have unwashed hair.  They never wait until Thursday night to help their kid with the entire week’s homework.  They don’t have piles of dusty boxes in corners waiting to be opened from the move before last.  They have pretty, pastel lives, and they are happy, and they own picnic baskets and napkins and know how to recycle, and they never run out of toilet paper or get their electricity turned off.  And it’s not even that I want to be one of those people.  I fucking hate picnics.  If God wanted us to eat on the ground he wouldn’t have invented couches.  I just don’t want to feel like a failure because my biggest accomplishment that day was going to the bank.

I just need an honest assessment to see if this is just me (and if I need to just find a way to change, or to increase my meds) or if this is just normal and people just don’t talk about it.

Please tell me the truth (anonymous answers are fine).  How many days in a month do you actually feel like you kicked ass, or were generally a successful person?  What makes you feel the worst?  What do you do to make yourself feel more successful?

Please be honest.  Because I’m about to be.

I feel successful 3-4 days a month.  The other days I feel like I’m barely accomplishing the minimum, or that I’m a loser.  I have imposter syndrome so even when I get compliments they are difficult to take and I just feel like I’m a bigger fraud than before.  I feel the worst when I get so paralyzed by fear that I end up cowering in bed and fall further and further behind.  To make myself feel more successful I spend real time with my daughter every day, even if it’s just huddling under a blanket and watching Little House on the Prairie reruns on TV.  I also try to remind myself that most of idols struggled as well, and that this struggle might make me stronger, if it doesn’t destroy me.

I’m hoping that by writing and posting this it will make me face this head-on and make some changes, either by forcing myself to change the way I see success, or by forcing myself to get shit done and stop feeling such dread and anxiety every day.  I’m hoping that I’ll get hints from you guys about what you do to feel like a good, successful person, or what you avoid that I can try to avoid it as well.  I’m hoping to stop the voices in my head.  At least the ones who don’t like me very much.

Your turn.

PS. For those of you who are new here, I’m already doing cognitive therapy and I’m already on a lot of drugs for anxiety, depression and ADD, but I’m really fine.  Honestly.  I just want to be better.  I’m just struggling with being human and I could use some pointers.  My guess is that a lot of us could.

PPS.  When things get bad this song helps me.  It might help you too.  Put on your headphones.

PPPS.  The Oxford Dictionary says the word “arsonistic” doesn’t exist, but it totally does.  It’s the same thing as being artistic, but instead of being sensitive to or good at art, you’re just really good at arson.  Then again, this is is the same dictionary that just added “twerk.”  I question everything now.

PPPPS.  Sorry.  This post is all over the place.  My ADD drugs haven’t kicked in yet.  I’m failing at writing a post about how I’m failing.  I think I’ve just set a record.  A bad one.

Happy anniversary, Victor.

In a few minutes it will be the 4th of July.  It will also be mine and Victor’s 17th anniversary.

I usually celebrate anniversaries with giant metal chickens, or unexpected sloths, or tiny kangaroos in the house, but this year I’m celebrating quietly and with dignity.  Mostly because the live llama delivery place said they don’t work on holidays.  And also because murderous gallbladders are taking up too much of my time this week.  And because I think my husband deserves one small day of respite without dealing with the assorted insane shit that comes with being married to me.

See this picture?

Me and Victor. And Victor and me.

It looks like a before-and-after picture done in reverse but it’s actually me and Victor at around 20, and me and Victor nearer to doubling that number.  We’re older, less skinny, and we’ve perfected the art of bickering to the level that it’s a damn point of pride.  We’ve traveled halfway around the world and back.  We’ve seen howler monkeys in the deep jungles, canoed blindly through swamps, and watched entire seasons of Game of Thrones in a single night.  We’ve seen each other at our worst and at our best, and whenever things seemed at their darkest one of us always said, “It will get better.”

And, somehow, it always did.

We’ve watched each other develop (and occasionally been the cause of ) new grey hairs and wrinkles as we wander this strange path with our wonderfully curious daughter, with our baffled families, and with you…our friends.  Yes, you.  If you’re reading this you are a part of our odd journey and I thank you for joining us on it.

Here’s to another 17 years.

I’ll see you on the other side.

PS.  On the other side there are llamas.

I’m coming out of this. Eventually.

Me: I’m having a nervous breakdown.

Friend: I’ll bring the wine.

I’m not sure which wine pairs best with a nervous breakdown, but at this point I don’t really care, because wine.  That seems like a sentence fragment but it’s not.  “Because wine” is a full sentence and is also an answer to just about anything you could ever ask.  “Why should I leave my house?”  “Why am I crying at an insurance commercial?”  “Why do my cats all have mustaches drawn on them?”  BECAUSE WINE.

In fact…why does this post exist?  Because wine.

And also because I’ve been fighting through a bitch of a wave of depression for the last several weeks and I’ve been slogging through the days and going through the motions and waiting for this shit to finally break.  I’ve been forcing myself to leave the house as much as I can and congratulating myself for showering and moving and breathing, but it’s still hard as hell.  I’m not alone.  In the last few weeks I’ve gotten tons of comments and emails and tweets from people all feeling equally helpless.  And that sucks.  It sucks for them, and it sucks for me and it sucks for every person out there who can’t just fix us.   There is, however, one bright point about getting those messages from others sailing their own rough waters…I can – without doubt- tell them that depression is lying to them and that things will get better.  And then I have to admit that the same thing applies to me…even though at the time I’m fairly sure my emotions are dead forever.

And then, just as quickly as it came, it starts to lift.  Yesterday I felt human again for almost two hours.  It’s amazing how much you’re missing in a depressive state until you start to come out on the other side.  It’s like breathing again after being underwater for far too long.  The depression is back again now but I had an hour this morning when I was me again.  And a few minutes ago I called a friend to come over to visit.  That sounds like a stupid, small thing, but it’s not.  It’s big.  It’s huge.

When I’m in a depression I want to write about it, but I usually can’t.  I’m too overwhelmed and paralyzed and exhausted.  I end up writing 100 angsty drafts that never see daylight and I convince myself that no one cares.  It’s not true.  People care.  They care about me and they care about you.  If you’re feeling alone, you aren’t.  Millions of people struggle with suicide and depression and mental illness.  We keep taking pills.  We keep talking to shrinks.  We keep each other alive.  We remind ourselves that depression lies.  We keep breathing.  And eventually the clouds metaphorically part and – as if by magic – we get a blast of normalcy and remember how amazingly wonderful it can be to feel life instead of suffer from it.

Yesterday I started feeling life again, and it felt wonderful.  And I’m writing this to remind myself that it does pass, and that the miasma surrounding you now won’t always cling to you.  It will pass for me and it will pass for you.

Keep breathing.  Keep living.  You are worth it.

PS. This seems unrelated and maybe it is but I’m including it anyway because wine.  A few years ago my blog posts were peppered with humorous stories about my severe rheumatoid arthritis.  I’d be bedridden for weeks at a time.  I was in and out of hospitals.  I spent most vacations in a wheelchair.  It took many years and lots of different meds and doctors before they finally found the particular drug that cured my symptoms.  It isn’t perfect and it’s crazy expensive and involves a lot of injections and constant work, but (knock on wood) I haven’t been in a wheelchair in over a year.  I had started to think that my whole life would just be random weeks of pain and that I’d end up hobbled and miserable, but then we found that one drug that worked for me.  And if there’s a drug out there that could save me physically then I have to believe that one day there will be one that could save me mentally.

I’m holding out for that miracle.  Stay here and keep me company.

PPS. If you’ve found something that works for you, feel free to share it.  For me, it’s music. This song has been on replay for me all week and it helps.  Maybe it’ll help you too.

In The Library

For those of us with triskaidekaphobia the year 2012+1 will be an entire year of forced behavioral therapy.

It’s a stupid superstition but one I still struggle to shake as (for me) it’s wrapped into a weird layer of OCD-based terror.  In my mind, every time some one says the unlucky number, everything becomes unlucky for everyone who has just heard that number, and only saying it again will cancel the negative effects.  Except that it’s impossible to know exactly if you’re on the lucky or unlucky side of life, and so maybe you say the unlucky number to get you out of an unlucky period but then you get your arm chopped off and then you realize that you were in the unlucky period before, so you say it again and then your leg falls off because you’ve just said the unlucky number too many times and fate is now pissed that you’re fucking with her.  This all makes sense in my head.

That’s why yesterday at my friend Laura’s house I was a bit of a nervous wreck entering the first day of this terribly named year.  And so we decided to change the name.  To “The Library.”  At first I thought this just made me feel immediately better because the booze had just kicked in, but now I’m perfectly sober and I’m in the second day in The Library and I feel so terribly comforted.

(by Johanna Ljungblom)

In The Library you are safe.  It smells of old books and worlds you’ve yet to explore.  It smells of worlds you’ve loved that beckon you back.  It smells of the bacon sandwich the guy in the corner has smuggled in while he devours words and food, not sure which is more filling.

In the library you are prepping.

Everything that happens in the library is just preparation for the next year.  That means if you fuck something up this year it’s fine.  This whole year is just practice.  The library is made for that.  Maybe you spend the year writing a book no one will ever read.  Maybe you spend the year recuperating from last year.  Maybe you burn the Thanksgiving turkey and forget an important birthday.  It’s okay.  It happened in The Library.  It was just practice for next year.  Maybe it’s insanity, or maybe it’s just me, but somehow I think we all need a year in The Library.  A year where it’s safe to make mistakes.  A year where it’s okay to have to escape and stare out the window without someone asking you when you’re going to get back to work and fix your life.  A year where we all whisper quietly about our plans and our wishes and dreams and darkest fears.  A year in The Library.  A year of getting lost in dusty, forgotten corners, and a year of finding the want.  (The want to leave.  The want to play.  The want to shrug off the dreams and walk out in the sunlight.  The want to pounce on 2014 with glee and rapture.)

The Library opened yesterday.  It closes 51.9 weeks from now.

Welcome.

Today and forever

*mild trigger warning*  

Last week our nation was hit by a terrible tragedy, leaving so many of us reeling and wondering “why?” and “how”?  This weekend my family was hit by a tragedy that hit much closer to home.

I don’t write much about Hailey (both to protect her, and because she’s not really old enough to make a valid decision if she wants her whole life recorded in my strange little diatribes) but those of you who know me well enough know that Hailey was very blessed to go to an after-school and summer program she went to every day for years.  She loved Ms. Ally (her teacher) and Mr. Dan (Ally’s husband) and they loved her right back.  Ally and Dan were very special.  Loving, supportive, always helping.  Ally taught the kids and Mr. Dan (her soulmate of many, many years) was there for anything anyone needed.  He loved those damn kids.  He loved his own kids.  He loved his wife and the community, and he was the first person to show up at my door if I needed any sort of help.

This weekend Dan lost a battle with depression and ended his wonderful life.  He will be remembered as a strong and amazing man with a contagious smile and laugh, a father, husband and mentor, and the not for the demons that ultimately took him from us.

We – the men, women and children who loved him – can ask ourselves “why” and wonder if there was something we could have seen or done, but in the end sometimes terrible things happen in an instance.  And sometimes beautiful things happen too.  Like the way that our tiny community is coming together to try to help Ally and her family.  But there is so much more to be done.  Ally cannot (and could not be expected to) return to that home.  Her children can’t handle this alone and should never have to.  There are so many things that need to be done and we’re doing everything we can.  We’re standing by the family.  We’re rallying.  And we need help.

If you pray, pray for this family.  In the coming weeks I may direct you toward a fund to help with the expenses (once we know better what they are).  If you can’t do either of these I understand, but you can do something else.  You can tell your family that you love them.  You can tell them that you expect them to ask for help as soon as they need it.  You can forgive yourself for any guilt you have for living when others aren’t so lucky, because that’s what they would want.  You can post information for the suicide hotline on your twitter and Facebook or blogs.  You can save someone else in the same way Dan saved so many people in his life.

A lot of you have asked if this had to do with the Connecticut shooting and in some ways it may have contributed.  Dan worked Search & Rescue in the Coast Guard for many years and never fully recovered from the trauma of retrieving young bodies from the sea.  PTSD is an misunderstood thing and can lead to inconceivable actions.  I’ve never really written about it but when we were newly married Victor was lost at sea during a terrible storm and was finally rescued by the Coast Guard, so there’s a special place in my heart for those heroes.

One of the hardest things to accept about this tragedy is that Dan did ask for help.  When things got bad he went to the VA but was told that he couldn’t get the specific help that he needed because he didn’t serve during wartime.  I don’t know if he tried again for help, but personally I know how incredibly difficult it is to fight for your own mental health when depression lies about how you aren’t worthy of that help, and I know how hard it is to find good mental health in America when you barely have the strength to get out of bed.

The last time I was in true jeopardy I couldn’t find anyone willing to take me as a patient and had to call a suicide hotline to get their help in finding someone.  Even when I did find a doctor who specialized in what I needed she didn’t take my insurance so I happily pay thousands of dollars a year out of my own pocket to keep myself sane.  It shouldn’t be this hard to get mental health help.

There are no ultimate  solutions.  There are no answers to the questions of “why?”  There is only us.  And that’s one hell of a thing to be proud and happy for.  The Dan that I knew would not want us to grieve for him, and would be the first person here making an irreverent joke to make everyone feel better, and I think that helps…knowing that he’d want us all to be happy and to remember his best times instead of his lowest.

There are other things that you can do so that we can make sure the Dan’s life wasn’t in vain.  We can remember the joy he brought.  We can remember the love.  We can help others who are currently in Dan’s place, who are hurting more than they ever let on.  We can push for better mental health resources and make sure that our friends and family know exactly where the current resources are.  We can tell them to not believe the lies of depression and remind them how much they’re worth to us.  When this happened I tweeted about it and a brave soul came forward to say “The bravest thing I’ve ever done is to seek help and check into a hospital. I’m proud of myself for once.”  I retweeted it.  That day two people contacted me to tell me that was the impetus for them and they were going to ask for help themselves.  We help each other in ways we can’t possibly imagine, and the good outweighs the bad, even if it’s sometimes hard to see.

We can come together.  We can make this world brighter for all of us one tiny candle at a time.

Tomorrow will be better.  Tomorrow we’ll be better.

Dan would hate for me to end his story on a sad note, so instead I’m ending it like this: A few weeks ago I asked your help in raising the money to donate Nighty-Night Packages (a new blanket, stuffed animal and book in a canvas bag) to 1,000 homeless children. Last night these tweets came out from Project Night Night:

Thank you. Because out of the darkness shined a light that I needed to see, and I’m so grateful to be part of a community that can laugh together, cry together, and help together. I love you all very much.

*Worldwide suicide hotlines*

On knowing your weaknesses, and loving them

My friend Amanda is going through some rough shit.  Her best friend has cancer and she’s taking a leave of absence from work to be there with him while he battles it.  It’s a terrible situation for everyone involved, but what makes it even more complicated is that my friend is Amanda Palmer, and that means canceling her upcoming year of touring.  Which sucks.  For her.  For her friend.  For everyone who was hoping and expecting to see the wonder of Amanda.

If you’ve been reading long enough you know that I went to see her a few months ago and was struck with one of my biggest panic attacks ever.  Amanda read my tweets about not knowing if I’d be able to leave my hotel room and she did two things for me.  She emailed me and told me that she’d arranged for me to watch in a treehouse so that I could avoid the crowds.  She also left me a backstage pass so that I could go behind the scenes and visit.  It was amazing and incredible, but it took every ounce of my strength to just be there, and when the concert was over I looked at my backstage pass and I knew I didn’t have enough left in me to go and meet Amanda.  People without severe anxiety disorders will think this insane, and it is.  I simply didn’t have the ability to walk 100 feet to just  say “thank you” to someone who has changed my life.  I felt like a failure, passing up such an incredible opportunity that would bring me such joy, but I knew it might also send me over the edge into the abyss of mental illness that could take me weeks to climb out of.  I sat alone in the treehouse for 20 minutes and thought about my daughter and what it would mean for her to see her mom in bed for a week recovering from a breakdown.  And that’s when I decided that sometime being “strong” meant giving myself permission to protect my weaknesses.  And my weakness isn’t just my mental illness.  It’s my daughter.  Who is also my biggest strength.  (People without mental illness might need a decoder ring for this line of reasoning, but I assure you, it makes perfect sense.)  So I stuffed the backstage pass in the bottom of my purse and I left.  A little regretful.  A little inspired.  A little confused at how such a devastating weakness had just made me give up meeting an idol all for the sake of a little girl who needs her mommy.

Amanda’s post today reminded me of that.  She was giving up so much for the sake of knowing that her weakness for her friend who needed her ultimately outweighed everything else.

They say that sometimes your biggest strengths are also your biggest weaknesses.

But sometimes it’s your weaknesses that become your greatest strengths.

 

*****

For those of you who are new here, my favorite Amanda Palmer song which has pulled so many of us off of our own personal ledges:

UPDATED: James Garfield for Sainthood

SEE UPDATE BELOW

Victor:  I bought Hailey one of those shelf-elves for Christmas.

me:  Yeah, I saw that.

Victor:  And now it’s gone.

me:  Yep.

Victor:  I can only assume you’ve done something exceedingly inappropriate with it.

me:  Don’t be ridiculous.  That’s what the cats are for.

Victor:  Then where is it?

me:  On my shelf.  BEING AWESOME.

No hamsters died for this picture. It was already dead of natural causes. Promise.

 

And speaking of the holidays, if you’ve been here long enough you probably know about the Miracle(s) of James Garfield.  One came in 2010 when we all accidentally came together to raise over $42k to help get presents for kids who would not have otherwise gotten any.  It was awesome, and the next year tons of people who were helped in the past asked if we could do it again because now they were back on their feet and wanted to pass on the gift they’d received, but I couldn’t do it because I was so exhausted from running it that I got really sick.  Sorry.  I suck.  So instead in 2011 we decided to help Project Night Night, which is a program that donates over 25,000 free packages to homeless children (containing  a new security blanket, a book, a stuffed animal and a tote bag).  With our help they were able to donate the 750 packages they needed to hit all of this kids on their list for last December.

This year, Project Night Night just sent 1,000 Project Night Night packages to children affected by superstorm Sandy and they need to get another 1,000 to finish the list of homeless children who still need help.  It’s crazy simple to donate.  An entire package only costs $20.  Plus, you can donate packages as presents in the name of your crazy uncle who already has everything, or your insane aunt who was always kind of a bitch to you when you were a kid.  EVERYONE WINS.

Want to donate?  Of course you do.  Just click here and you can donate directly.  I’m starting it off by donating the first 25 bags in honor of you (the internets) for being so incredibly supportive this year.

PS.  Don’t sweat it if you can’t afford to donate this year.  You can always share the Project Night Night page online or with friends to help spread the word.  Every little bit counts.

PPS.  If we actually raise the 1000 bags needed this will be James Garfield‘s 3rd documented miracle and we can then seriously start applying for Sainthood from the Pope.  It’s going to be awesome and/or very offensively ridiculous.

PPPS.  I also bought you a water buffalo.  I hope it’s the right size because I did not keep the receipt.

I'm glad they specify that it's a "full" water buffalo, because there's nothing worse than getting an empty water buffalo (which I assume would be like a sleeping bag with hooves).

Updated 12/17/12:  I just talked to Project Night Night and we’ve raised 826 bags for children in need of comfort.  174 more to go. We can do this.  It’s $20 to fund an entire bag and you can donate right here.

 

Sometimes prisons can be beautiful

Five weeks ago I had a breakdown.  It was ugly and frightening and I spent most of the next month in bed or on the couch.  Last weekend (with the help of my therapist, more drugs and the support of you all) I started to come out of it, and last night I actually left my house and went – alone – to see Amanda Palmer in concert.  Or at least that was my intention.  Instead I went to a hotel room a few blocks from her stage and cried pathetically because I didn’t think I could handle the crowds.  I was afraid of being alone if I had a panic attack.  I was afraid of not being alone if I had a panic attack.  I was just afraid in general.

This probably comes as no surprise to any of you because you all know I have a severe anxiety disorder and that fear is my constant companion, but it’s usually sitting quietly beside me while I watch Doctor Who in my pajamas rather than with a thousand strangers in a new city listening to songs that seem rawly pulled straight from my head.  I watched the clock click past the time I was supposed to leave and I was still trapped in the hotel room.  Then two things happened.  An amazing songstress sent me a song she’d written for me:

And I listened and realized that she was right and I was building my own terrible cage to keep myself in, watching life at a distance.  Then I checked my phone and saw that Amanda had arranged for me to watch the concert away from the crowds because she knew I wasn’t quite ready for that yet.

And so I went.

And it was amazing.

And as I sat, huddled with my arms around my knees in the corner, I felt safe and secure and…brave.  And then I laughed to myself because I looked around me and realized that I was literally inside of a cage above the stage, peeking out at life below.

Amanda Fucking  Palmer

Baby steps.

PS. The great thing about cages is that if you put your face in between the bars the world looks just as beautiful and free. So here’s to each of you, reaching through your own personal prisons. I hope you all find helpful hands reaching back.

Amanda Fucking  Palmer

Amanda Fucking  Palmer

Today and forever

 

Talking about suicide makes me think suicidal thoughts, which is probably one of the stupidest triggers in the history of the world.

Nonetheless, it’s important that we do speak up and that we’re aware of the dangers inherent in the world we live in.  And it’s not just about those of us with mental illness.  About one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.  That means if you think about your 10 favorite people in the whole world two of them could be at risk of suicide.  That’s why it’s so important to recognize the warning signs and to know how to get help for yourself or others.  If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide call 800-273-TALK, or click here for resources.

But for today let’s talk about the positives.  Let’s talk about why we’re still here.  Let’s talk about the words that help us get through.  Let’s talk about the pictures and places and songs that saved us, because maybe they can save others.

I’m here because my daughter saves me every day.

The words that help me make it through are “Depression lies.”

And one of the many songs that has helped to save me is below:

Your turn.

It comes around…and around

It was the second day at Disney World when I realized it.  Hailey was laughing her seven-year-old ass off as Victor spun us on the tea cups until we finally cried whiplash.  The weather was gloomy and occasionally hurricaney (that’s a word.  Stop judging me) but we were at Disney World and so everything was magical.  Except in my head.  I enjoyed myself and I’m so glad we did it, but the second day I realized that my peripheral vision was fading and that’s always a sign that a bout of depression is looming down toward me.

I was fine the first day.  I was tired the next.  The third day I wanted nothing other than to stay in bed, but instead I faked it.  I still enjoyed seeing Hailey so happy.  I still appreciated being able to spend real time with my family.  I still functioned.  I’m still functioning.

Maybe this time I’ll be able to fool myself into staving off a severe bout.  Maybe it was just a fluke and it will all pass quickly.  Maybe I just postponed the inevitable depression that will hit me any moment.  I don’t really know.

But what I do know is that I’m going to be okay.  I know that depression lies.  I know that I’ll be in this black hole again and again in my life.  I also know I’ll see daylight soon.  The spinning continues…in both good ways and bad.

I realize how incongruous that picture is in a post about depression but it’s also pretty incongruous that some of the funniest people I know suffer from mental illness so all bets are off.

But there was one thing I wanted to share.  At one point the ride we’d been waiting on was closed because a terrible rainstorm broke out so we ran for cover and hid under the monorail for some shelter.  It was fairly miserable and all I could think about it how I wanted to be dry and in bed and how I felt bad for Hailey that she was stuck in a closed park with no access to rides and that’s when I noticed that she was having the most fun she’d had all day just jumping in the enormous puddles and catching rain in her mouth.  Rain that had dripped off the monorail and probably gave her cholera, but still…she was so damn furiously happy.  She took what came at her and made it into joy.

This isn’t a post about forcing yourself to just smile and “be happy” because anyone with true depression knows this isn’t an option.  Instead, it’s about the good things that can come out of the bad.  In the past 5 years I’ve received 20 emails that I keep in a very special folder.  They are all from people who were looking suicide right in the face.  They are all from people who are still here now.  Mothers and fathers and daughters and sons who are still alive because of this blog.  And not because of my posts.  They’re alive because they saw the incredibly response to my posts.  They saw thousands of other people saying “Me too.”  “I thought it was just me.”  “I thought I was alone.  But I’m not.”  And that - that sense of community – convinced them what their mind could not…that depression lies.  That you can find help.  That therapy and medication and support can change lives.  And I want to thank you for that.  I want to thank you from the family and friends of 20 people whose lives you saved.

And I want to thank you for reminding me every day that depression does lie.  I want to thank you for telling me that it’s okay when I have a week when I simply can’t be funny.  But mostly I want to thank you because there are 20 people out there today who wouldn’t be in this world if it weren’t for you.  There are 20 more of us.  And that’s a good thing.  So maybe there’s a reason why I have depression.  And maybe it’s to help someone else.  And maybe there’s a reason you do too.  And maybe you saved a life without even knowing it.  Thank you.

This post isn’t about depression.

It’s about laughing in spite of the rain.

It’s about laughing because of the rain.