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On a Clear Day.

On a Clear Day was one of the many songs my mother and I used to sing. We knew every single word and it was right in our range.

“On a clear day rise and look around you
And you’ll see who just who you are
On a clear day, how it will astound you
That the glow of your feelings outshines every star”

This was just one of the happy uplifting songs we sang in the 70’s, along with anything by the Fifth Dimension and Frankie Valli.  We sang a lot of Carpenters too.

If I recall correctly, I believe we thought the Carpenters were uplifting. But I may need to do a fact check on that.

My best friend and I sang too but our song choices were more of the Sylvia Plath-inspired ballad.  We sang about bridges over troubled waters and anything else that fed our dark, Harold and Maude-inspired vision of the world.

Back in the 70’s, we didn’t really know what depression was.  Before the internet, Oprah and Dr. Phil, it was rare to find mainstream references to depression.

But I knew about sadness from the books in my house. My parents read Harold Robbins, Judith Rossner and Jacqueline Susann, so I did too.  I knew from books that heroines lose hope and then ultimately find hope again, as a rule.  But the sadness and grief the heroines experienced along the way to finding true love in the last chapter was as foreign to me as the affairs they were having and the houses on Cape Cod they seemed to keep inheriting.

I feel like I grew up depressed before depression was a thing.

Back then I just thought I was moody and kind of dark.

Being moody and dark was okay back then because I was lots of other things too.  I was a good student and an energetic kid. I was creative and passionate and, in my own mind, a gymnast, dancer and actress. In the summer I was good at tennis and swimming.  In the winter I was good at baking and reorganizing my cluttered room.

Sure I was moody, but moody wasn’t all I was.

And because I was young, I don’t think I worried about anyone knowing I was moody. I was young and far more concerned about things like boys and clothes.

And then I grew up.

I grew up and my moodiness grew up with me.  And, I suppose it’s only logical that as I grew to be more dramatic, traumatic and extreme, so did my moods.

A hardwired brain combined with a strong genetic component made the depression I was born into a really hard habit to break.

So I learned tricks.

I learned how to talk myself down and, when necessary, how to bring myself up.  I learned to soothe myself, quiet my mind and focus my brain when my brain felt like jumping around.

I learned how to go out even when I didn’t want to and how to enjoy staying home with myself.

Basically, I became an expert in managing myself.

But no amount of expertise is good unless it continues to evolve along with its subject matter. So I find myself beginning again more often than not.

More often than not, I have to stop and relearn how to breathe.

More often than I would prefer, I have to learn new ways to do the self-talk that works…especially when the old self-talk stops working.

And more often than I would like to admit, I have to remind myself that my depression is just a part of who I am.

Not to change the subject, but did you see the movie 50 First Dates?

If you didn’t, you can skip the next paragraph.

But if you did see it, well…let’s just say that more often than not I need to leave myself notes to remind myself what my story is and why my story can have a happy ending if I allow it to.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay until leaving myself notes stop working well and I need to learn a new trick.

Or learn to write better notes.

xoxo, d

 

 

 

 

 

Dream More.

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If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less
but to dream more, to dream all the time.

~Marcel Proust~

Okay. Start focusing….NOW. Okay, NOW.

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I didn’t do a lot of things today.

I didn’t read about or listen to anything anyone said about Season 2 Episode 6 of The Affair even though I really wanted to.

I didn’t spend any time looking for a replacement for my original George Foreman. Even though I really wanted to.

I didn’t clean the catastrophically confused kitchen drawer or look through my collection of not-quite-right lipsticks.

I didn’t start a new campaign of doing a hundred crunches every hour on the hour so I’ll look all crunchified by the time I turn 90.

I didn’t blog or surf or tweet or distract myself in any significant way from the list of priority deadlines that couldn’t have moved slower if I had been working backwards.

I didn’t stop working on the most annoying document ever created by me even though I really really really wanted to work on anything else in the world.

I didn’t berate myself for hating Mondays or act surprised when Monday felt just as icky as my Mondays generally do.

I didn’t chastise myself for being grumpy, especially after I heard my baby, Andy Cohen, admit that sometimes he’s grumpy.

I didn’t do a lot of the things today that would have made me feel more stressed out by the end of the day.  And now I’m glad because I don’t feel worse and I might even be feeling a little better.

And I got work done even though it kept feeling like I wasn’t getting work done.

Sometimes it’s not so much what you do, but what you don’t do.

At least for me.

Sometimes.

xoxo, d

Can You Think of Nothing in this Lifetime?

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Today’s strip celebrates one of my favorite themes….how hard simple things are.

I look back at my attempts to breathe and empty my mind….years and years of attempts…decades, actually.  And even though I go through periods of really good breathing and really efficient emptying of the mind, I seem to keep ending up with no breath and a head too full to think.

So I keep starting over.

I know, I know. That’s okay. I know. I get it.

But, seriously….does everyone have to keep starting over like this?

Speaking of starting over, I read this article from The Guardian three times this morning.  It is mesmerizing.

Salvador Alvarenga, a 36-year-old fisherman from El Salvador, had left the coast of Mexico in a small boat with a young crewmate 14 months earlier. Now he was being taken to Ebon Atoll, the southernmost tip of the Marshall Islands, and the closest town to where he had washed ashore. He was 6,700 miles from the place he had set out from. He had drifted for 438 days.

This article makes me want to hear more stories of how other people live.  And it makes me wish I had been taught a healthy fear of suicide.

But his will to live and fear of suicide (his mother had assured him that those who kill themselves will never go to heaven) kept him searching for solutions and scouring the ocean’s surface for ships.

But I wasn’t.  I was taught, not intentionally, that suicide happens. That it’s a statistic that can barely be changed.

I wish it was different but I’m not sure how it could be.

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Enjoy your Sunday. Make someone smile.

More later…..

xoxo, d

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