Monday, August 30, 2021


As the title implies, this article is going to be more serious than what I usually post.

I’ve struggled with depression most of my life. By the time I was 18 I’d gotten through almost a decade of therapy, which helped quite a bit and taught me some good coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, depression is never something that completely goes away, and the blue devils are always waiting at the edges for me to let my guard down. I’m not alone in this; a great many people suffer from similar issues of varying severity, and we all have our own ways of dealing with the internal darkness: some are healthy, some less so, and some  are tragically permanent.

This was where I was from childhood all the way through 2019 and leading up to the year that shall not be named or its sequel. Over the past couple of years I’ve taken some severe emotional blows; a number of people reading this know about some of them. So if this is what I’m dealing with now, when the lights go on with the flick of a switch and the internet is there to distract me, what am I going to do if things get really bad? Not just bad for me, but bad in general?

What I’m not going to do is give up. That’s not in my nature. Will I have the occasional pity party? Of course, I’m a human being, but I’ll find reasons to carry on. In a survival situation we can’t afford to wallow in self-pity; we have to get up and get to work to ensure we see the next day. This can be very hard with depression, even in “normal” times. To get me through the tough times, I have resources and abilities:

  • I spent more than the first half of my life without the internet or cell phones, and so I can get used to living without them again if need be. 
  • I was involved with a couple of living history groups over the years and they taught me valuable skills and also helped me add to my reference library. If we’re sheltering in place, I’ll still have access to my books and my tools.
  • Regardless of where we are, I’ll also have my wife and our cats. They are four reasons to get up every morning no matter how much I’d rather stay in bed with my head under the blankets.

The author's three interfering little angels

Ten years ago this August we survived Hurricane Irene, even though our house was the worst hit in our town and the DEC considered ruling it uninhabitable. My wife and I lost a great number of things, and the financial hit was significant, but we carried on and we were there for each other. Which leads to my next point: one of the best resources we have to keep us going is other people, aka our tribe. Friends, biological family, or family of choice doesn’t matter; be there for each other, be kind to each other, help each other through the rougher patches and we’ll all be stronger on the other side.

If you have, or know anyone who has worked the AA program, you’ll be familiar with the phrase “One day at a time.” Dwelling on the past or overthinking about the future will interfere with living in the present. The general meaning of the phrase is that you should  focus on shorter term and smaller goals to help eventually achieve longer term and larger goals. When we can’t control most of what’s happening around us, we can focus on what we can control.

Having a routine helps. These are some of the tricks I leaned from hard won experience:

  • Make lists. Keep the items on them achievable, but don’t get too granular.
  • Try to start each day with a small success; it can help set the mood of the day. 
    • One of the things I try to do every single morning (unless a cat interferes) is make the bed. Is it a little thing? Yes, but it gives me a minor dose of endorphins from completing a task and makes the next one that much easier. 
  • Try very hard to maintain a regular sleep schedule. I struggle with this one in particular, but for those who can manage it, the benefits in attitude and general mood will be obvious.

As Harra Csurik said to Miles when he visited Silvy Vale in the Lois McMaster Bujold book Memory: “You go on. You just go on. There’s nothing more to it, and there’s no trick to make it easier. You just go on.”


  1. I find that Fuzz therapy is a wonderful thing. Our Pets/Family are a big part of our life.

  2. I think that many people have suffered with various types of emotional issues, at times in their lives. One thing that I learned in dealing with my ex-wife is that many types of depression are self limiting. This is not the type of depression you are discussing here, that is clinical depression, but rather the type such as follows pregnancy, or a loss of a friend, a miscarriage, etc.
    That is not to say that it should not be taken seriously, or that professional help is not needed, just that often times, it will go away with no fanfare, and no seeming rhyme or reason.
    I know that for myself, I had a problem with being overweight my entire life. I was able to keep it in check in high school by being an athlete, and working hard to keep it down. But after I got out of school, my weight continued to climb, to the point where I was at over 300 pounds. After many diets and up and down, I eventually had weight loss surgery and was able to keep the weight off and am at a healthy weight.
    A number of years ago, I went to therapy, to get my head on straight. And after some months of therapy, I found out some things about myself, that taught me that I had a relationship with food, due to some emotional things that I had never confronted, and if I had, perhaps the surgery could have been avoided, instead just getting to know why I felt the need to overeat, etc.
    I guess the whole point of the story is that therapy is never a bad thing, and can be helpful for anyone, even if they think that they don't have anything that they need to discover or learn about themselves. And finding the right therapist is of utmost importance. It took me a couple of tries before I found the one who knew how to reach me, and to ask the right questions, to get me to dig within myself and understand why I was the way I was, and how to change my way of thinking.
    I wish everyone all the best and hope that for anyone going through any kind of emotional problem, they will not just suffer alone, thinking that there is no hope. There is always some way and someone who wants to help, and can help.


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