Tag Archives: truth

Hello Depression, My Old Friend

When I was about 13, my best friend at the time and I memorized every word of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence.” We wrote down the words by playing, pausing and rewinding a cassette tape, which we had recorded by placing the tape deck beside the radio. Yes, I’m that old.

“Sound of Silence” became “our” song and to this day I remember every word of it. The haunting words appealed to our dramatic teenage angst and supported our growing realization that life could be sad simply from living. We had lots of big questions with no answers but it didn’t matter because delving into the questions made us feel mature and acutely aware that we were no longer kids. The song comforted us as we transitioned from childhood into no man’s land of pre-adulthood. At that time I never thought about the lyricist’s life experience that lay beneath the words of the song. Today I think particularly about the first verse:

“Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again”

I have lived with depression for most of my life and through the crests and valleys I understand how I must face this disease. This past year, I took on too much, got sick with a month long virus and together with the start of fall, I had the perfect storm for depression to pay me a visit. Depression, as reliable as ever, didn’t disappoint. At some point, when I was able, I shared with a new acquaintance the reason I had not responded to her email promptly – I called depression “my old friend.” With the best of intentions, because she is a lovely lady, she told me to never call depression my friend and that it is no part of me.

I have never felt the need to defend my perspective of my disease but here’s what I believe. Depression is a part of me – a big part. It has shaped the way I think about life, my family and my friends. I choose friends who accept me for all that I am, not for the best of me. It has made me a more empathetic person towards anyone suffering with anything, mental or physical. It has broadened my perspective of people, understanding that there is a place for everyone at life’s table. It has helped me be a better wife and parent (I hope) because I have become a good listener and kinder person.

I must make depression my friend or it will be my enemy and the more we hate something, the greater its power.

Depression is my old friend and I accept that it is a big part of me. It is not all of me, in the same way that people with other illnesses, mental or physical, don’t become their disease, so I don’t become mine. Acceptance, however, is key. Acceptance diminishes the impact of this disease immensely. With acceptance I lose shame. As a result, I can open up to new ideas and different ways to help myself. Most importantly, I can love myself.

So, depression, I will tend to you when you need me and when you are quiet I will keep you by my side in my warm, protective embrace, so that you can feel safe. I will not abandon you, my old friend.

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My Son Mooned Everyone At His Wedding and I Couldn’t Be Prouder


At his wedding, my youngest son stood up to give his much anticipated speech. His reputation as a public speaker is well known and he didn’t disappoint. His two older brothers had spoken about his eccentricity and how, as much as they love him, he is the weirdest guy they know. Half way through his, on point, hilariously funny speech, he calmly addressed his brothers’ comments by walking to the centre of the dance floor, pulling down his pants and slowly mooning everyone, possibly performing the first ever groom-moon.

Along with many others, I gasped and I held my mouth, muffling the words – OMG. I can only describe what happened next as a piece of my life flashing before my eyes. I realized many things in a matter of seconds. Here they are:

  1. I raised my kids to follow their truth, so put my money where my mouth is.
  2. Just because I wouldn’t do it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.
  3. This kind of humour makes him uniquely him and I love all of him.
  4. Who cares what other people think.

My perception went from horrifying to hilarious in seconds and I laughed harder than anyone. Turned out the “moon” was hilarious to most and to those who weren’t amused – tough! I felt incredibly proud that I had raised a kid who could step away from the expected and be so okay with it. And seriously, is this any more risqué than string bikinis?

My quirky son is a paediatric resident and appreciates fully the frequent tragedy of life. He has more than his fair share of anxiety and holds onto a strong moral code, heading, each year, a Movember team – in great humorous spirit as his moustache growth is puny at best. His ability to find the fun in a life that so often feels overwhelmingly heavy is completely necessary so that when he has to, he can be his best.

Unlike others, I am privy to my son’s back-story. I don’t feel I have to explain to anyone why I am so proud of his “mooning” but I am doing so, as I believe the lesson to us all is to judge the actions of others less quickly and less harshly. My son would laugh at this last statement as one of the things he is fond of saying is “I judge people quickly and harshly with very little information!” Did I mention he’s hilarious?

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Chaos and Creativity

I heard a hard truth a few weeks ago. Harder because it was about my second book. The one that has consumed me for more than two years and to which I have given freely my heart and soul. I believe every word I have written in this book but this week I found out that that is not enough. In fact, it is such a small part of enough that the book world smirks.

I thought I had finished my book and that soon it would be read to small minds who would grow to adulthood and feel better about themselves because of it. Better than I had growing up. I knew the book business was hard but did not realize until now how little the words in the book had to do with anything. No, that’s wrong. The words have everything to do with everything, just not in the way I had thought. According to my truth-teller, I have to make my words convey one thing to publishers – this book can make you money!

This realization sent me spiraling down into my awful place. It is not where I want to ever be but it’s my default place. This is not feeling sad about something that has happened in my life. It is far worse than that. It is a place I first visited when I was thirteen. For no reason. “There’s no reason to feel like this,” “You have a family that loves you”, “You have friends… School’s going well…. Snap out of it.”  I heard it all.

I grew tough. I grew up. I had to in order to cope. Life with depression can feel very lonely and even at times of great joy, it always lurks in the shadows. Depression tilts the world so that those who have it always walk uphill and it doesn’t take much to slide down. I have tools and today I forced myself to use the simplest one. The mindless one. All I had to do was get dressed and put on a pair of running shoes. For the first kilometer, I was painfully aware of the sidewalk beneath my feet and the plodding. Left, right. Left, right. And then they came.

Thought after thought. Idea after idea. Billowing out from me like dandelion’s seeds exploding into the air with the first winds. Both my thoughts and the dandelion’s seeds had no idea they were ready to release until the moment that they were. I felt a sense of separateness, watching in awe and marveling at the clarity and sheer brilliance of each idea.  I could think this way about these thoughts because I had no part in formulating them. This process had clearly happened beyond my consciousness and must have been brewing for days because each idea was so complete and directed with perfect precision at my problem.

I felt anxious that I would forget but now that I had them within my conscious grasp, I repeated them as I ran, trying as hard as I could to commit each one to memory so I could write them down as soon as I got home. In such a short time, my belief that there was only one way to see my problem was thrown on its head and I was able to see it from a completely different perspective. I allowed myself to absorb the lesson. Chaos feels terrible, tumultuous, confusing and depressing but out of chaos and because of chaos a new understanding is born.

As I neared home, I felt the sun warm on my body and the cool breeze flowing through my hair. I heard the birds singing. My sad place was the shadow under a tree. I wished it well but for now, I was happy to be climbing the hill once again.

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