Don’t tell anyone. Smile through it and look okay. Put on mascara while wishing you were asleep again. To not be depressed, tell it to stop, even though you know that fighting only feeds the long shadows. To not be depressed, stop crying every day, just stop.
Or try this. Try telling it in words. Try writing it out as clearly as you read out a favorite poem, as slowly as you search a lover’s face. Try lacing up its shoes while it sits on the bottom step, late for school, again. Try telling it You don’t have to go. You can stay here, while remembering with every breath: this is not me. This may not have me.
On Thanksgiving, try sitting up and letting a shaft of morning sun hover your pen over the page. With a lump in your throat, watch the light land on the coverlet. Trace its brilliance across the wrinkles of blue fabric heaped around your knees.
Try spinning in reverse up a hill you coasted down in summertime.
Try not caring. Then, tell the weight that heaves inside your chest and marbles onto your belly to be welcome, to have another cookie.
To not be depressed, do not see the fur of the cat standing needle bright in that same ray of sunshine. Slow your breath to the pace of the dog’s dark rib cage, and imagine inside its cave the pure beating of her heart. Accept that one day she will die, and you will die, and the planet will die. And today? Today. Today’s mug of coffee rests on the winter belly. Today’s fresh notebook sits wrapped in cellophane with her sisters, three sets of blank pages sealed together. Try cutting through the clear plastic, pulling one away, and beginning.
To not be depressed, think of calling the kind therapist of decades, but don’t. Think about sleeping through the afternoon dusk. But don’t. Think I understand why people give up. But don’t. Don’t give up.
Stand near a sunny window and look at the succulent jade. Think of your mother, and try shopping. See her lines on your face. Love them into deeper grooves.
Try remembering that you might miss this depression when it’s gone. You may long for this very morning, and crave the comfort of warm animals on your bed.
7 replies on “How Not to be Depressed”
Thank you, conscious and beautiful human!
Really like this one
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The bittersweet seduction of melancholia, the part of us that wants to surrender, hauntingly captured here, in every careful and lovely line. Mug of coffee on the winter belly. Fresh notebooks wrapped in cellophane, waiting. Understanding why people give up, but not giving up. Bravo!
Yes, ’tis bittersweet! And helped by chocolate. I so appreciate your presence here, Pat!
Reading your post this morning, towel-swathed and fresh from the shower, I was swept up and carried from the bathroom back into my bed. I was crying by “Put on mascara while wishing you were asleep again,” but it didn’t stop me from reading the whole thing three times. When my husband found me, he unknowingly echoed your words: “Oh sweetheart. Why don’t you stay in bed for a bit this morning? I can set an alarm for you. You want two hours? One? You don’t have to go just yet.”
It wasn’t sorrow. I think it was relief to see my struggles so beautifully captured and soothed, like a bird with a broken wing.
Oh, Emma, thanks so much for reading and for letting every precious tear flow. I see you flying through your day with grace, right now!