The Mean Reds

Audrey Hepburn as Holly GoLightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Oh and Cat.
Audrey Hepburn as Holly GoLightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Oh and Cat.

My Story about Depression: Not Just a Case of the Blues

I knew February was going to be a rough month because my first love passed away in February many many years ago and Poppy passed away last year. Going into February I was aware it was going to be challenging. I had wonderful dear friends who knew that I was going through a rough time and they reached out to me. I  felt a lot of anger, sorrow and an overwhelming wave of grief. I shed a lot of tears, but then it passed. I moved into March with a sigh of relief that February was done and then so many good things happened. I taught my first Dabble class, I was invited to speak at Ignite ChicagoBe You and I started collaborating on a project, I got beautiful art for over my fireplace mantel, and I got to see Breakfast at Tiffany at the theater with a dear friend.

Then I woke up on Sunday and I went back to bed. I woke up again and thought about doing laundry. I thought about taking photos of some items to list in the shop. I thought about cleaning up the kitchen, yet all I could do was curl up on the couch. You see, I have depression. I have been battling with depression since I was fourteen. I really do not know of any other way to describe it besides 'doing battle', because some days I vanquish depression, my old foe, and some days it cuts me at my knees and I fall over.

It took me until Sunday evening to recognize this old familiar feeling and realize, oh, wait, yes, I am depressed. I have been through therapy and done a lot of hard work to reclaim myself and steal back the pieces of myself that depression tore from my grasp. Yet, occasionally it sneaks back into my life. As Holly Golightly would say 'Quelle Rat'. I sent out some texts checking in with people. Then I managed to grab a few items from my pile of mending and fix up some things (one would think since I teach Wardrobe Revamp that my clothes are mended, but no, I have a giant pile) and then a friend called and while we chatted I managed to clean up the kitchen. 

I went to bed at a decent time since I know lack of sleep only compounds the problem. I packed a healthy breakfast and lunch because I know eating better makes me feel better. While I have gotten off the couch, I am still a little off kilter. I have an event to go to tonight and I don't want to go, but I am going to give myself permission to simply show up.

I'm sharing this because most people do not know that I have depression. I am sharing because more needs to be said about this disease. Parker J. Palmer in "Let Your Life Speak" says, "I am no longer ashamed, but I still find depression difficult to speak about because the experience is unspeakable. Yet Henri's spirit continues to call me and many others to more openness and vulnerability, more shared humanity, and mutual healing, even-and perhaps especially- when the subject is so difficult that words seem to fail". More people need to feel like they can share their stories and that they can get help without being ridiculed. Mental illness is a disease and it needs to be treated as such as opposed to something you just need to 'get over'.

Holly Golightly describes the mean reds as, "The blues are because you're getting fat and maybe it's been raining too long, you're just sad that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of." Her response to the mean reds is to go to Tiffany's. What do you do when you have a case of the 'mean reds'?


Originally Published 3/19/13

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