Category Archives: depression

Stepping Away From the Abyss

On the Edge
We all have things we need to do to keep an even keel — blogging, exercising, reading, cooking. What’s yours?

I will share some things I do that keep me from going off the edge.

Number one must be exercising. Yoga helps my arthritis and calms my mind. The weight work I do must keep my bone density as strong as it is even at my old age. It also keeps the old arms from flapping too much in the wind. Elliptical machines keep my heart pumping without stressing out the knees. I enjoy watching the plants, animals, and people go by from my bicycle. Going out in the flower and vegetable garden is calming and surprisingly a good workout. Gardening makes me sore in ways that my other activity doesn’t.

A close second is reading. If I only sat and read (tempting at times) I would be depressed. Between contemplating my navel with philosophy and contemplating the infinite universe along with the minuscule particles of physics, I’m sure I would run off screaming at some point. For a necessary easy-going escape, I love my mystery novels and historical fiction. A bad reality or just a boring one can be solved by a book. By reading books written by people very different than myself, I can empathize and get away from myself. I felt like a pile of bricks fell on my head when I read the last page of “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. I think that is the way the book should have hit me.

Writing must be third. Writing things out helps me learn. People tell me to stop taking notes and just look and listen. I’m not wired that way. The act of writing and rewriting allows me to understand new concepts. Writing  is also my therapy to work through bad memories and new stresses. It can modify my thoughts and opinions, maybe for the better. Writing makes me think through ideas and conclusions can change. Writing (and reading) has allowed me to feel that “Cleaving in My Mind” that Emily Dickinson expressed in her poetry. I totally enjoy that.

Tutoring in a literacy program, I would place fourth on my list. It keeps me doing something useful and keeps me from becoming too self-absorbed. Another good reason to get up every morning. I want to share not just the practical aspects of reading and writing with another person, but also the sheer joy. A world without books, paper and pens is in itself too sad to think about.

Gotta go, plants to trim, weeds to pull. Moving farther from the edge.

Summertime Blues

I vividly remember the first time I felt despair. It was during summer break from school when I was about 8 or 9 years old.

I was at home with my mother and grandmother, and they were cleaning the house. They didn’t ask me to help, in fact they must have wanted me out of the way. The radio was on and the Nat King Cole song “The Lazy, Hazy, Crazy, Days of Summer” came on.

I don’t know whether this prompted or accompanied my first known episode of despair. I felt more alone, useless, unhappy the longer I listened to that song. Conversely, the song was upbeat, happy, and carefree. Why this innocuous song and not some dreary Gregorian chant from Sunday mass? Or better yet, why not “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin? I always thought it was one of the most depressing songs out there. Albeit the “Cat’s in the Cradle” song came into being 10 years later, maybe my despair should have waited for a more appropriate musical accompaniment.

Every summer I recall this unexpected, intense feeling from the past. I guess I’m still trying to reconcile the trigger this pop song may have had to the feeling of the blues.