Tag Archives: depression

man box thumb

Does Anyone Know Where I Can Buy A Man Box?

I find myself in a dreary space as I write to you today. It doesn’t often come to me, but when it does I am gracious enough to entertain it for just a few hours before I remind it not to let the door smack it in the rear end as it leaves. For now, Cranky Pants, come and sit for a while…

It is on these uncommon occasions that I desperately wish for a Man Box. I’ve heard of them, I’ve even witnessed the use of them, yet never have I seen one and for the love of all that is holy, I would like to own a few.

man box
See how carefree he seems?

A Man Box, as I understand it, is a box, or a whole slew of boxes, where men put things. And when they put things like feelings and worries and snacks in the boxes, they are not thought of again until the box is purposefully opened at some later date.

Heaven. This sounds like heaven.

The way it works for women, at least this woman, is not at all like a box, or a room full of boxes, but like a big, oversized duffel bag. I think mine’s sort of a brick color, tattered and frayed on the handles from toting it with me everywhere I go.

In this duffel, I carry all the thoughts about all the things in my day, many from my week, a few from this year and there are even some that poke out the end from the beginning of time.

My duffel has room for the threat of natural disasters, fears for my children, my GPA from high school and some house projects that aren’t getting done as quickly as I’d like. So I carry them around with me. Every day. All. Day. Long.

The duffel rubs, scrapes and while it’s only a metaphor, I’m pretty sure carrying it around with me is the cause of an actual knot in my shoulder.

For this reason I would like to go to The Man Box Store. There I would pour my cash out for pretty boxes that could store natural disasters and GPA’s alike. I would put in them my worries for my children and I would store, even if it was just for the evening, my concerns over organic food, travel and pet vaccinations.

This would be far superior to snuggling up to a lumpy, brick colored, duffel bag that pokes me awake from time to time and takes up too much space in the bed.

If I could in fact find The Man Box Store, I am not at all convinced they would let me buy those pretty boxes, or even let me in. It would have something to do with XY chromosomes or some such nonsense. Rude. I imagine I would be sent away, woefully dragging my duffel bag behind me.

I suppose there’s nothing to do but empty out my tired, old bag, rifle through the things that matter, dump that nonsense about zombies, maybe review my actual food storage and get on with the business of happiness.

Their boxes probably aren’t even pretty anyway. Who needs ‘em?


Far Better Things Ahead

It is said that if we are depressed we are living in the past and if we are anxious we are living in the future. Or maybe we’re depressed because we’re living in a future in which we have no faith. I don’t know. I don’t know who said it and further, I don’t know if there was any credibility to it.

But it sounds right…

Most of the time I am living in the present and it is here they say one finds peace. Or was it peaches? Depending on the season.

It is definitely not living in the past I’m experiencing, but I admit I have lots of anxiety about the future. This future I am imagining, it’s full of new things I’ve never done before and many of which I’ve never even dreamed before. As such, you can imagine it’s pretty scary sometimes, what with new baby dreams running around making a ruckus in my mind.

Because I don’t know what I’m doing I spend quite a lot of mental energy trying to figure it all out. Well, at least I try to figure out the next few steps. And from all these mental acrobats, I think I have a few, just a few things, I do know for sure.

What I know for sure is that our plates are only so big. Once we’ve filled up the metaphorical plates of our lives, if we want to add in something else, we’ve got to clear something off that plate. Historically I probably would have tried to eat it, but experience has shown us this will only result in a stomachache and regret.

If we want something new in our lives something old has to go. What I’m finding is that the person I want to become wouldn’t have room for some of the Old Michelle things. Things like time wasters, keeping up appearances and empty relationships.

If we want to live lives we’ve never lived, we have to make choices we’ve never made and think thoughts we’ve never yet entertained.

Recently there have been days that have worn me out so thoroughly, I long for the comforts of the past. And then I remember living there would be depressing. There are times I am so perplexed by how I am to do the things I plan to do that I become anxious and sometimes overwhelmed.

But when I live right here in this moment and I remember to do what I can with what I have and start exactly where I am, it is then I can imagine living a life that simply astonishes me.

And you have to ask yourself, Why not?

Like, share, comment, tweet and dare to be the best you imaginable.

michelle & mary on stage

wild rumpus

Get Down With Yo Bad Self ~ My Therapist’s Prescription

Michelle At Play came about at a time when I was all out of . I was woefully low on dreams. Life was so hard I couldn’t see the magic if a rabbit popped out of the tophat in front of me.

I was worn out, washed up and began every day just as tired as I’d ended the one before.

A year at a Buddhist monastery wasn’t on the radar and so I limped through my own version of reparative therapy. It involved actual therapy along with plenty of exercise, prescription medication and an aversion to doing anything I didn’t want to do.

That part was actually an ongoing assignment from the therapist I was seeing at the time. “Don’t do anything you don’t want to do,” she told me. I think I looked at her as if she’d grown horns on the spot or started speaking Vulcan or something.

“What’s that you say,” I asked? “Don’t do anything I don’t want to do?”

Happy Girls WMShe patiently explained that some basics like brushing my teeth and general care of my children might be required, but beyond that, nothing.

I practically had an anxiety attack on the spot.

This, my friends, is why I preach what I preach. Playing through life does not come naturally to me and perhaps it’s the reason I feel so strongly about it. Maybe it’s why I know exactly how important play is, because I forget to do it. To this day.

I hope that play and joy and a natural belief in magic is your strong suit. I hope that today you don’t just preach happiness but that you live it. And if it doesn’t come easily to you, as it doesn’t for me, I hope you declare today a play day and even if it’s just in one, tiny, little way, you allow your inner child out to romp for a bit.

You won’t regret it. I know I won’t.

Let the wild rumpus start!

Like, share, comment, tweet and put on your tiara and have a dance party with yo’ bad self.

be kind

A Clenched Fist Instead Of A Heart

I knew when the whole jail thing was going down that it was, and would turn out to be, a good story. It would have been ridiculous not to see that possibility. What I could not have known, even when I was being Princess Pollyanna, was the generous gift that it was.

It was all just too traumatic to see and feel the gift. In retrospect I should have been saying, “Thank you,” every day. Possibly through the tears. But saying it nonetheless.

Today, the things that might have, at one time, put me completely off my game, I can see them more clearly as the favors and opportunities that they are.

But in that painful time, I remember quite distinctly driving down the road on a cool spring morning and feeling so distraught inside I thought my heart was a fist clenched so intensely it might turn to dust.

Though I was wound pretty tightly, I had the wherewithal to evaluate the “truth” of my circumstances. I was safe, my family was safe, we had resources, we were fine. Not great. But you can’t always be great. That’s just a fact.

clenched fistAs I progressed along the drive the clenched fist that had replaced my heart loosened just a little bit and I knew in that moment that we were all going to be okay.

The wisdom of the situation had not yet been fully absorbed ~ I don’t know that it has yet ~ and so I couldn’t know that we wouldn’t just be fine. We were, and would be, greatly blessed.

Every day I reap the rewards for having my heart stomped on, painfully, publicly. Every day I look at my life and though I might feel uncomfortable or concerned about this child or that condition, deep down I have been given the gift of knowing. When we know we are capable, when we know life is simply an experiment and an opportunity, fear takes a back seat and so much more can be had.

No matter what the situation is, I know we will be okay. And on the good days, we will outstrip okay, and there are times we venture into the land of flourishing and abundance. And we do this not despite our setbacks and the grief we have known, but because of them.

Like share, comment, tweet and know that it’s just the same for you as it is for me. Let us venture into abundance together.

bill murray awesome

I Bet You Did THIS Today

As I write this I am thinking about you. I’m thinking about the friends I know who read these musings on a regular basis, I’m thinking about the “friends” I have never met, yet still find time to wander by my corner of cyber-reality.

bill murray awesomePerhaps I have never seen your face or heard your voice. And even so I want to commend you. While I might not be familiar with your specifics, I know you try. You try to be kind, do the right thing, give and serve and love. To one degree or another, you try.

For every time you’ve said, “Yes!” to life, every time you’ve stepped up to the plate, I want to give you a virtual high five. Whether or not you thought you were successful, whether or not you won the prize, got the promotion or succeeded on that diet, here’s to you.

If you have, indeed, won the prize, soaked in the applause or finally met that one, elusive goal, then I say, “Way to go, pal! Really! That’s totally awesome.”

And if, like most of us on most days, you did what you could, took those painful baby steps and even so can’t tell if you’re closer to that goal or not, give yourself a hard-earned pat on the back. You deserve it.

It isn’t whether or not we reach the top of that mountain that really matters. It doesn’t matter on any particular day that we set out to accomplish what we intended to do. What really matters is that every day we give it another go.

Maybe because when we finally hit that goal there is always someone to give us the “Attaboy” we’ve been longing for, we need one even more when we’re still on the path.

It’s not all Rocky Themes and adrenaline on the road to success. Sometimes we need a cheering section even more for the slow parts.

Today I am thinking of you, I am humming the Rocky Theme and I am impressed as hell that you chose to get out of bed. Again. Go you!

Like, share, comment, tweet and compliment the people you meet for being awesome.

Signs In Your Life You Cannot See

A friend of mine says we teach what we need to learn. While I take exception to this idea, I painfully admit it is true, at least for me.

I teach “play” because I don’t do it naturally. I teach self-acceptance because it is a challenge and I teach no judgment because I judge. I am not proud of these things but I recognize them for what they are.

The holidays are a busy time for all of us. We have expectations and obligations and ideas in our heads of the “should’s” to be done. Of course this year was no different than any of the others.

The Internet is a divine tool for alleviating a bit of that pain and I use the tool. Oh yes, I use it. And Mr Dreamboat shops like a champ and Lucy, themostbrillianthousekeeperintheworld kept my house clean and yet… I was not up to snuff.

I decorated my house, but just a little. I shopped and wrapped and attended my parties but with a mere fraction of the panache it all deserved. I underwhelmed myself.

I felt just like this, only with brown eyes.
I felt just like this, only with brown eyes.

So I wondered if I was depressed. I wondered if the fire of my personality had gone out. And then I judged. I judged my energy level, my Christmas spirit and my ability to get things done. I judged my validity on planet earth and I judged myself for judging.

It can be exhausting living in my head and that is just how I started our holiday trip to the beach. Drained by the obligations and especially the head-trip, I came to what we call “The Great Escape” and I crashed like a beach kite with no wind in its sails.

Ten days we’ve spent at the beach and I will admit for your judging pleasure to never having gotten out of bed before 8 a.m. Sometimes 9. I will admit that it has only been in the last three days that I’ve gotten much work done and only in the last two that I’ve done any painting.

And it finally occurs to me that I am not lazy. The fire hasn’t gone out and I am not depressed. I was sick. I mean literally. The laryngitis was an ignored symptom of some sort of illness and I am at long last feeling better.

And feeling better helps one see things better. And I see I am human and flawed and good on some days and naughty on others. And I am so-bloody-judgmental. Oof! And really, that’s okay too.

Whatever you are, whatever state you find yourself in, today I am preaching curiosity over judgment. Most times when things aren’t going smoothly, there’s something more going on.

Like, share, comment, tweet and prescribe yourself whatever yourself might need.

Easy Lifts To The Darkest Days ~ A List Of Ten

As I write this the day dawns dark and rainy and Mr Dreamboat has been away for a full week. He will not return any time soon.

In the Northwest there are times it seems the sun is on vacation far, far away and we are left with an ill-suited substitute illumination. No one ever likes the substitute.

Adding insult to poorly clarified injury, on top of all of that I have a head cold. Or it’s allergies. Whichever it is, I suffer. Granted, I suffer ever-so-slightly, bordering on no suffering at all, but it is my opinion that once one crosses the suffering threshold, there is no reason to judge the severity of it. Suffering is simply suffering. Or at least it is mildly irritating.

Because I am not one to burden others with my pain, I offer you ten things. Ten nice, sweet, happy, non-suffering things:

1. I love giving dogs treats. I like how their tales wag and they don’t worry about savoring anything, they just gulp it down in unrestrained pleasure. We should try that more often.
2. Yellow daisies are so happy. I have never met a daisy that was anything less than downright cheerful. Would that I could be a daisy in humanity. I fear I am a dandelion. At least they can be cute too…
3. The perfect bite in the middle of a hamburger. You know the one. It has all the best condiments, there’s a perfect bun/beef ratio. Savoring encouraged.
4. Netflix. After a day out and about in the rain yesterday, I laid down on my couch and I unabashedly gulped down old episodes of Gilmore Girls. No apologies.
5. Compliments make me smile. I was at a dinner party the other night when a woman compared me to a “young and beautiful version of Liza Minnelli.” I like compliments, so that is what I will assume it was.

Give the puppy a treat...
Give the puppy a treat…

6. I like lattes. Hemp milk lattes. They are frothy and nutty and make me feel ever so slightly like a character from Portlandia. Probably one who resembles a young Liza Minnelli.
7. It’s sort of silly, but I like to give to the charities at the grocery store. I like saying “Yes!” to people who get too many “no’s” and I like a surprise opportunity to do just a little good in the world, even if it’s just 3 dollars at a time.
8. Inside jokes are happy. Vague references to obscure events in the past make me feel grounded and connected to the people I love.
9. Surprises, the good kind. I like surprise visits and activities. I like opening up the mailbox and finding something from the people in my life.
10. I like writing this blog post and thinking about the people that read it. I like to think about the people I know and those I wish I could know. I like thinking about you.

May your days be merry and bright and may you find at least ten things that make you smile today. I know I’m going to be looking for mine.

Like, share, comment, tweet and scratch an itch and give in to a craving.

My Buddy Suffering ~ BFF’s

I am currently in a state of wonder over the tenets of Buddhism. In particular the idea that life is suffering. And I feel oddly relieved over the thought. Somehow, it takes away the unrealistic idea that we must always be happy.

In the spirit of transparency and our truly intimate relationship, I admit to you that I am in a doleful mood today. Not overwhelmed by any dramatic issue, still I am weighed down by the details of life. I am poor company. Especially for myself.

It is odd to me, then, that it is somehow comforting to know that there isn’t something wrong with me. I don’t need to fight against this feeling. It’s not something to be cured or erased.

On the contrary. My mood, my worries and the impact the ups and downs of living have on me are normal. To be expected even. If I am living, then from time to time, I will suffer. End of story. Say goodnight, Gracie.

The fact is that the more I embrace this inevitable piece of living, the more comforted I feel. Kings and rulers suffer. Waifs and stormy beachservants suffer. We are human and there’s simply no getting around this particular fact of living.

Historically I’ve considered my suffering to be weakness. So hell-bent on being above grief, there were times I simply ignored and denied it. Big girls don’t cry, dammit.

Inevitably this only exacerbated the problem. Swimming against the current simply wears one out. Perhaps I have finally and permanently learned the lesson that to work with the current, to give in to the tide is to ultimately find our way on to the beach, firmer ground and safe haven.

So I’ll admit it to you, my friends. Today I am world-weary. Today I find life a burden and I embrace that I am, in my own small way, suffering with the best of them.

And even now, as I float in the current, I know there is a beach in my future. I’d even bet the sun will shine and just as sure as life is suffering, it is a gentle breeze, a friendly smile and it is rejoicing.

I’m in no hurry for that though. Because sometimes, life is just suffering.

Like, share, comment, tweet and give in to the inevitable kick in the gut from time to time.

The Macabre Way To Happiness ~ A List Of Ten Things

One time, and in relativity not a very long one, I suffered from clinical depression. To call it yucky, painful or horrifying really wouldn’t do it justice. To those of you on the longer road of a disease that robs life of all its color, I salute you. You are no stranger to bravery. You are no minor hero in life.

My adventure in the Land Of Awful was short-lived. Even so, each of us struggles with occasional situational depression. Even the sunniest disposition drags from time to time.

As sunny as I imagine I can be, I have a taste for the macabre, a penchant for the dark. Which is where I found myself a few days ago on what I like to think of as “NCIS Day”.

direct the sailNot really an entire day, it is a two-hour venture into the surreal doings of Gibbs and his team as well as a spinoff to round out the second hour. Sure, the characters are endearing. Yeah, the cases are interesting. But the truth is, there is blood, guts and horror.

I do not recommend these ingredients on a dark and dreary day.

To add insult to my psychic injury, as a warm up I watched a documentary about a girl who was so neglected as to never have acquired language or even the ability to walk at the age of 13.

For those of you working through depression, I suggest this is not a recipe to follow. Given the fact that I was in a good mood before exploring the underbelly of society, I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone who has emotions at all.

Here are ten things I recommend to everyone:

1. Play nice with others. When people make mistakes, step on your toes or say something that clearly breaks The First Rule*, forgive them and know you’ve scored yourself a karmic star on the scorecard of life.
2. Eat lean meats and greens. You will feel better and sleep better and not have heartburn and be less likely to break The First Rule from being over-tired.
3. Get your hands dirty. Nothing criminal here. I’m suggesting you dig in the dirt, mold some clay or paper mache. Feels so good…
4. Smile. Think of things that make you smile. Say things that will make other people smile. Then think about them smiling and smile.
5. Sing like you’re really good at it. All the time. Get into it. Imagine you’re on stage. Buy a hairbrush and pretend it’s a microphone. Or don’t. But SING!
6. Over-tip. Screw the addition in your head and just give and give and know that the people serving you are working hard and you can be a source of light for them. And then smile.
7. Who do you think you are? Tell yourself! Tell yourself you deserve good things, you have important things to say and that the world is better with you in it. Mmmm…. Feels nice…
8. Watch things that make you laugh. Preferably the kinds of shows that don’t involve grizzly deaths with humor tucked between horrors. Watch funny shows that make you feel good.
9. Is caffeine a valid recommendation here? I once read that caffeinated beverages are the blood of the war gods inciting you to great acts of honor, so… Yes! Caffeinate!
10. Be good to you. I know we’ve read that “other people are fighting a fight you know nothing about,” but you too are fighting for life and for love. Be good to you. And SMILE!

The First Rule = Don’t be sh*tty

Like, share, comment, tweet and if you can’t muster a smile of your own, hold a pencil between your teeth for five minutes. It’s supposed to make you feel good.

January Blues

All last week I struggled with productivity. Well, I struggled with the fact that I wasn’t at all productive. I had the basics covered. Basic hygiene, parenting, I exercised consistently and followed through on all mandatory obligations. I stress the word “mandatory”. 

ImageSince I have what I call an auto-immune “thing”, it is sometimes difficult to tell exactly when I am “sick”. I don’t feel well, there might be some lethargy and even an unattractive mood, so I had to wonder if it was the “thing” rearing its ugly head. As a matter of fact,  I attributed all the disfunction to the “thing”.

Upon closer inspection, this morning I realized I really didn’t want to get out of bed. This is unusual for me. I like getting up and on with my day. I have things to do and paintings to create and dreams to be lived out and I love getting up and at them. Usually.

I’m pretty adept at discerning patterns and there’s a pattern here. It’s almost as old as I am. Well, technically it’s older. It’s called January.

Every year this happens. The days are short. There’s no holiday target at which to aim. There’s just the carrion of indulgence and the grey, rainy days of the Pacific Northwest and the clean up from Christmas. Let’s go back to bed right now…

And yet,

I admit this to you for a reason. Clearly I’d already admitted it to myself. And as I’ve mentioned, every January I get funky so this isn’t my first rodeo with the blues. I admit it because it happens to all of us. Not every day is a dream come true. Some mornings are just mornings to get through, some weeks aren’t successful, brilliant steps forward in the progression to perfection. Sometimes fighting the good fight just means getting out of bed and doing the best we can.

Run away, Boogie Man!

I admit this to you because I think when we say things out loud, as it were, and we admit them not just to ourselves but to others, more often than not it takes the power out of them. I don’t have to be scared of something, even if I don’t have control over it. There’s something powerful about saying the things we fear. There’s magic in it and, even better, when others join in the song and admit they sometimes have the same problem, that’s when the light goes on and the boogie man runs away.

So I’m just going to say it straight out. January gets me down. I’m not really excited about anything right now, except when I get to sit down and shut off my brain and have a fire in the fireplace. 

Oh, and I’m really excited that this feeling is fleeting. I know I’ll see the sun again soon, both literally and figuratively.

Now there. I’m glad we got that out on the table. May your Monday be of the best sort.