Last weekend at the farm, there were gun shells and dead flies on the windowsill. Sounds depressing, huh?
I’ve been thinking a lot about depression. How it’s different for everyone. How for some it lasts moments and others days, months, years, even a lifetime. Depression for me comes and goes. Some days there are just little doubts and insecurities about myself—mistakes I’ve made in the past that I have a hard time forgiving myself for and anticipating the worst-case scenario of the future.
When I started this blog, I never intended it to be about mental illness. I just thought it would be a space to open conversations about books I’ve read, so to be clear, I am honest about my experiences with mental illness, and while it may seem like every day I’m charging forward at this spectacular clip—always remembering to take things a day at a time, to use DBT skills, to use talk therapy, to never forget a dose of medication—I have slip ups. I have had times where, yes, I contemplated suicide.
The important thing is that I’ve always been able to pull myself back from that dark place with the help of friends and doctors. My depression peaked during my pregnancy, but Husband and my OB, Dr. S, kept me on track. I understand the warning signs and reach out to others so that they can help me untangle what really bothers me and how to address those problems, instead of speeding ahead at that fast clip in the wrong direction, an early end to a beautiful life.
This is easy to write when you’re in a good place. Right now it’s easy for me to remember how much I have to be thankful for—Husband, new Baby, family, friends. A career I love. A home I adore. And then there are happy moments, small ones that are easy to overlook in a busy day.
A few weeks ago, I made the conscious effort to reflect on my day and pull out two moments that make me happy and grateful. One was watching Baby touch snow for the first time. Last night, it was falling asleep in Husband’s arms. The shift in thinking helps combat depression so much that I decided to turn the happy moments into a life letter. When talking about depression, and the darkest part of it, all everyone ever mentions is a suicide letter. But why write that? Why not talk about pulling yourself out of that dark place with love and happiness?
Now I try to talk to Husband and Baby each day, sharing the best moments. At first I started with just two thoughts. Then, gradually, I got more. If you stop to think of your day chances are you can find way more than two happy thoughts. You can find as many as you want to look for, and get lost in a beautiful life, one that you would never, ever want to leave.
Happy thoughts: Parties. Slow dancing, barefoot. A phone conversation with a good friend. A hug from someone you love. Sitting in a patch of warm sunlight. The smell of wood settling into ash in a fireplace. The smell of rain after a storm, how the world is slick and silver. Clouds that roll over the parries. Sliding across the floor in new socks. Kissing your baby’s hand. Flickering candles, and the smell of pinecones and pine needles, and cut grass. Why not circle in these times and use them like a ladder to climb out of depression?
The only true cure to depression is a commitment to life.
All of this fits perfectly with Robert Frost’s collection of poetry because it reminds me of his most famous poem, The Road Not Taken. I like to think about life as having two roads, one that is happiness and one that is depression. I commit to the happiest path, looking beyond the windowsill and out into the yard where hay bales and snow lie.