“The three grand essentials to happiness in life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” – Joseph Addison
Although I like to keep things light here, this time of year is always a little bit rough for me. So while this post feels self-indulgent and I’m sure I’ll regret that I shared it, that’s why I’m writing it—because it’s easy to only share good things and hide all the gray in between.
I promise “funny” next time. It’s not all doom and gloom.
But while everyone is optimistic and resolving to be EVEN MORE AWESOME and productive and “following their passion” in 2013, I’m still counting the minutes until I can crawl into bed and drop the façade of a functioning adult human being. In other words, riding out another wave of depression in which I find it hard to find any or all of those things.
Well, that’s not entirely true.
The past couple years I’ve really come to embrace my own likes and dislikes and peculiarities, and I do have a slightly better grasp of what makes me content. I’m quite simple, and it doesn’t take much.
But depression’s a game-changer, and I feel like my biggest accomplishment in 2012 was surviving without complete self-destruction. I didn’t really live up to my potential and didn’t really care all that much. My weight slipped down, motivation came in bursts and busts and for the most part I just floated along.
We don’t need to go back over that, as that’s not the “something to do” that he spoke of. Instead, I shall overshare more.
For me, “something to do” is to make a living in a way that grants me the freedom to look forward to going to work, ideally writing and making a few people smile. I don’t seek fame, but rather the work that I do and the people I’m around to make me feel good about myself.
I’ve yet to find my “fit,” that place that feels right, but I have to believe that meaningful work is somewhere out there for me.
When you’re depressed, your world gets very, very small and soon you see nothing but things in your head. The last thing you want to do is appear weak or feel like a burden, so it’s easy to keep it all in.
And despite my fierce independence, wanting a connection with others is a natural inclination. Connections are the main reason why I write—along with the fact that I love it—but I often reveal myself to strangers and hide myself from the people I know.
I need to remember that “something to love” doesn’t necessarily mean “something to validate me” and that being in an abusive relationship with myself takes up time in which I could be open to healthy relationships.
As I’ve covered before, the key is to want to want something to hope for, to want to want something to change. For most of last year I had insight, but not much inspiration. So while I don’t aim for extra awesomeness or miracles in 2013, I hope to do more than survive.
I hope to find somewhere I fit.
And no, it’s not a resolution. It’s a reminder that life is messy for everyone. It’s filled with pain and confusion mixed with moments of joy, much of it out of our control. But we can all seek something to do, something to love and something to hope for.
One day at a time.
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What are one of your “three things” from above?
I can actually relate to this a lot. I know that I seem like such a HAPPY Optimistic being (and for the most part I am..) but this time of year is very hard for me and always has been. The cold aggravates my fibromyaligia which leads to more Migraines, which me wanting to come home from work and just crawl into bed…Plus I really really dislike Winter.
So reading this, I said, “I Understand, it’s hard to just exist sometimes” and I want you to know that I’m here for those days. You make me LAUGH every single day (that’s a gift you know, to give me the giggles) and when you are feeling Dark and Twisty remember I feel that way sometimes too..but also remember that I can be the LIGHT if you need it.
you are an amazing person to me. ALWAYS.
No joke–you just made me misty. I don’t get misty. Thank you so much for your friendship.
well, I didn’t mean to. But you are amazing and special. I want you to KNOW that..so I tell you. HEE. xo
Depression sucks gigantic donkey balls. I was officially diagnosed with clinical depression ~6 months ago and my doc put me on meds…They did nothing the first 4 or 5 months but I finally feel like they’re helping me to get my feet back under me and remember what’s important to me and to try and find some joy in life again. I’ve gone for so long not finding joy in anything that it’s a struggle to “allow” myself to feel that again.
There’s such a stigma on getting help for mental issues in this country. I’ve known I had the signs and symptoms of depression for over 15 years but I didn’t get help because I didn’t want to be “that guy” on meds because I couldn’t hack it. I wrote a post about my depression and it was the first time that I’d really told anyone how bad it actually was.
As soon as I posted that I felt sick to my stomach because my weakness was out for all to see..But, I was lucky, I’ve had good responses from the people in my life.
I still struggle every day but I think the meds have leveled it out for me. Hopefully I can shed the warm blanket feeling that depression gave me and move on with life…And Abby, I really hope that you can as well.
Thank you for sharing your story. It’s been years of this crap for me, but I’ve been pretty open about it the past couple of years (thanks to this blog.) There IS a stigma and it DOES suck donkey balls, so to speak. I say do whatever you need to do to find that peace that you seek. And like you said, suddenly having those “a-ha” moments is weird and almost feels wrong. But it’s those little glimmers of hope that you can keep with you when things feel most dark to remind you that they’re still out there. Thank you so much, once again.
Oh, precious lady. Yes to so much of this.
Though I am in the throws of trying to clean and minimize my physical environment, my intention had been to only stop over and read. But impossible for me to not comment on this.
Living with depression is work. There is no instant cure. Medications help, talk therapy helps, having friends IRL helps, getting out of hte house helps, exercise helps, sleep helps, support helps. You know all this.
But a conscientious daily life of shield up, armor on is a must. And even then, the waves come crashing down like ten story buildings.
Living with depression. It’s work. It’s finding solace in understanding and community. It’s actively searching for that community even when not an ounce of energy exists in you, because if not, then it’s just as you said, “with depression your world becomes very, very small.”
And very very small is where all perspective is lost, and yeah… the bad voices win.
I’m here, I know. At the bottom looking up at that tall mountain we have to decide to climb, just as you, dear friend.
Much love to you. Brilliant post–telling you so that you know, and not to validate your writing.
Thank you so much for stopping by. What’s funny is that I think we all look at other people and think they have it all together. Even though I know of your struggles and those of others–that’s what’s awesome about creating a close community–I still think, “She handles things so much better” or “Why can’t I be more like that?” It just proves that we all have our shields and our moments. Being vulnerable makes us real, and sharing that vulnerability makes us connected.
What an honest and beautifully written post, Abby. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and reflections with us. I can tell from Kir and Jake’s comments, you are already touching lives. It is so important for those of us who write/blog to show more of ourselves than just the bright, sunny spots.
@Jake and @Kir Thank you for sharing your stories as well. I found a little bit of myself in each.
Thanks Tammy. I like to keep things light and feel like I’m repeating myself when I bring this back up (hence all the links back to old posts,) but I feel the need to overshare and emotionally purge from time to time ;
Long time listener, first time caller. Thank you for sharing- your paragraph about the world becoming very small and feeling like a burden is straight out of my own head. Seeing it in black and white like that, from someone else, somehow makes me feel a little better. Best Regards, N
“Long time listener, first time caller.” That alone makes you all kinds of awesome.
And we all benefit. Thank you, Abby.
” I hope to do more than survive.” I can relate to that.
We’ll make it. I’m hopeless but hoping.
Abby, my heart goes out to you. I wo hope that you get on the far side of that dark cloud and totally out of its grip in 2013. Hugs.
I was going to say the same thing as Misty – I have my (physical) issues that make me want to curl up in bed with the pups… and then the occasional “why me?” happens as well. so without diminishing what you go through, I can relate, in a way.
it is my hope that the little glimmers become more and more frequent for you – taking over the not so glimmery times. ❤
I understand the physical issues part of things 100 percent, even though most of mine are a result of the mental (chicken or the egg, I suppose.) Again, I look at you as someone who has it all together and who is doing what I would love to be doing. I’m not glad you can relate, but in a way I am, as it’s nice to know we’re all in the same boat.
You had me at Loving. I do that same exact thing. Hide from those that love me most. I’m trying to work on that…
You have no idea how much I can relate to this blog post. And I thank you for writing it. I have been having a terrible bout with depression lately too.
“When you’re depressed, your world gets very, very small and soon you see nothing but things in your head. The last thing you want to do is appear weak or feel like a burden, so it’s easy to keep it all in.”
Um…yeah. Big time.
I will be taking your advice and using writing as my ‘something to do’ as well – because just going to doctor appointments every single day, is pretty sucky.
As far as ‘something to love’ – Luckily I have family & friends for that arena.
Hope? Now that a big one for me.
“The key is to want to want something to hope for, to want to want something to change…”
I hope I can work with that.
And I REALLY hope YOU find where you fit.
I do think I know because I know what you’ve been going through–physically and mentally–and my heart goes out to you. (And I’m often so jealous when I read your updates about staying in your PJs and writing all day) 😉 But I know you struggle, and I hope you can work with your wanting that “hope.” I have faith you can.
You’ve clearly struck a chord with this well-written and highly relatable piece. I wish there was something I could say to you that didn’t come off sounding preachy. Spiritual matters are, after all, very personal. So let me just say, from my own personal experience, that when I finally fully embraced the knowledge that I was a spiritual being having a physical experience and not the other way around, that as such it was impossible for me to ever be alone because I AM one with the creative consciousnexx of the Universe and as such am connected to all things, and that I have only to ask for guidance in faith believing I will be shown the way in all things — Woo hoo! Life could not say “yes” fast enough. I know that’s a lot to digest and, again, I’m only telling you what has worked for me. Here’s a great little website that will send you a “Note from the Universe” every day for free. http://www.tut.com/ I always find them inspirational. Maybe you will, as well, my friend.
You’re one of the most self-actualized people I know, or “know.” My resolution is not to do anything, but to get to the point where I at least know what I need to do. 🙂
I don’t know personally what you are experiencing. Rather I know from standing beside someone, witnessing first hand what you described. I’ve seen healthy outlets work and I’ve seen unhealthy ones trample and damage all who are around. I think focusing on what works to keep the demons at bay in a healthy way is paramount.
this could of been me writing without your skill though. so thanks for writing for me and i very much hear and appreciate you. being in the process of trying to get out of a 20+ year relationship that turned abusive i’m desperately trying to find something to survive for, find something that is loveable (though can one if one does not even find something to like w/in themselves), and to find a plact to fit. may we both keep getting through the next day or even hour in 2013.
You’re stronger than you think. Trust me. Trust yourself.
thank you for your kind words. i wish it was true that i was stronger than i think i am. and that it was ok to trust your speaking of that and that one should trust themselves. but i’m not strong – i’m really not – especially at this point i’m just too beaten down and depleted. i’m not strong at all.
however, you girl are so you keep on going for the rest of us who simply can’t. best wishes for your ongoing journey.
I’m sorry you’re having a rough time! I’m also hoping for you to find your place.
Abby, your comment on my post earlier meant so much. (I wrote it because I need to read it every day, too.) To read this and have so much of your experience resonate with my own… I just really appreciate it. The other commenter is right. Your humor is a real gift, as is your honesty. The nature of depression is to urge us to draw the blinds, to close in on ourselves. Your refusal to do that is a testament to your strength. And it’s ok to practice being vulnerable with us (strangers) first. Maybe all these lovely responses can gently and slowly convince your heart that one day you might dare to share the truth about your whole self with more people who you know face-to-face. You deserve to feel the kind of love and acceptance you’re getting here in a live & in-person format, too. 🙂
I loved your post so much and thank you for stopping by here–it means a lot, especially because you do the kind of work that I envy. I am just as open in “real” life, but simply don’t put as much effort into putting myself out there. Day by day…
It is very hard being human. But this kind of open honesty about your life reminds us that there is a person making these posts. I can only appreciate your work even more. I hope you find contentment and peace and a place to fit very soon, Abby.
Oh Abby, you’re so NOT ALONE.
I know this, which is why I do sometimes get “serious” here. I want others to know that there’s nothing weird about mental illness or depression. There is no stigma, just support 😉
We are not on this earth to see through one another, but to see one another through.
You are important to me.
You’re not alone in this.
Love you lots, friendo xo
I love the quote you opened with, btw. Just need to throw that out there.
And when I cannot pull from personal experience, I’ve seen a friend go through a similar reality. It’s a regular struggle, no matter how many people you have around. But I enjoy how you broke this down. Little by little while facing forward. I hope 2013 is a wonderful year for you, my friend.
I don’t know if this is a cheering thing to say, but reading your posts, both the funny and more direct ones, always makes me feel more normal and less alone. I don’t, thank god, suffer from depression of any kind, but given some of my circumstances I possibly should. The guts and courage you display in your life, even if you are sometimes unaware of them, always prove heartwarming and inspiring to read. You are one of my most treasured “finds” in the Blogosphere.
Based on the comments alone, it’s clear that you “fit in” with a lot of people who love your writing and your honesty. You are also “doing”, as you have touched not only your readers’ funny bones but their hearts.
My hope is that you continue to do that as you (we) find your (our) own way along this crazy life.
Hugs and sloppy wet kisses 🙂
I’m always flattered when you stop and leave a comment. I know I’m lucky, and if hugs and wet sloppy kisses could pay the bills, I would be the happiest girl in the world 😉
Thanks for sharing with us, Abby. Obviously your words mean much to many different people for many different reasons. I consider myself lucky to have a chance at reading them.
this is just what i needed. thank you for helping me see
Thank you for sharing this. I had depression as a teenager but then after my first child, Major Depressive Disorder and Post Partum Depression reared their ugly heads. The PPD is gone – my son is 8 so I think I can safely say that – but I still struggle with Major Depression a major amount of the time. I have so many days that I just want to sit around and read or sleep or do something other than my adult responsibilities, but I know I can’t and then that makes me sad in itself! I try to go on only a day at a time but that doesn’t always work.
Like you said, not everything is all happy and optimistic all the time. Never sharing the not so good is not real, like all those people on FB that seem to have the uber fabulous “happy, happy” lives with no downs.
This is why this year I have gone almost anti-resolution. My birthday is in February and about this time in January I start getting down. What have I accomplished this past year, what haven’t I accomplished and “oh, shit” I’m going to be another year older in a few weeks. The existential angst goes in full gear and I get down. It’s hard, really hard.
You are a wonderful spirit who has the ability to find the humor in the difficult. Keep connecting. It’s a marathon not a sprint.
Love the quote. I think I’ve got the “hope” part down, but working on the other two (love as in “passion”/hobby). Happy 2013, Abby!
Don’t discount surviving without complete self-destruction – that’s a freaking amazing thing. And good luck in the coming year – I’m sending wishes of all the happiness you can hold.
I wrote a similar post — your’e the only other non new year’s resolution post Ive read besides my own. Fighting my own issues and depressions and a 2013 that is looking ominous for various reasons. So I appreciate this honest post (far more interesting frankly than the millions of new year resolution posts out there about getting to the gym more, eating less etc. etc) my heart goes out to you.
Thanks for stopping by! I think it’s a daily thing. While a new year is a good time to take stock, it’s by no means the only time one should reflect and make goals. Hang in there, my friend!