Something borrowed, something blue.

LI RAL 2016 0420

I’ve been considering loose structures for a regular blog.  I feel like having a loose structure would be easier to maintain than the current ‘when I’ve got something to say‘ approach.

Even if I don’t have much to say, a loose structure would provide me a nudge toward something, right?

But none of the loose structures I’ve imagined have inspired me.  For some reason, I keep coming back to “tell me your peach and pit” or “what are your top ten whatevers?”

The problems with a top ten list are obvious.

What if you can’t come up with ten items?

Sure, I know. You can change the number.  You can make the top ten list into a top three list. Or a top seven list.


But what if you can’t decide on the theme of the list?

Top movies, artists, comics, shows? Top favorite cuss words?  Top YouTube videos?  Anything can be communicated via the mechanism of a list, and yet I’d have to constantly make a decision about what subject matter today’s list would be.

That sounds like a lot of work.

So what about the “peach and the pit,” as the Kardashians say.

I’ve heard the concept conveyed in many ways…you know, reporting on the high and the low of your day.

What’s the rose of your day and what’s the thorn? Blah blah blah.

The problem I have with the recap of the highs and lows is that the exercise basically only works if you’re not too low.

I guess I’d have no problem telling my peach and pit if  I were a Kardashian.  I’m not saying Kardashians don’t have bad days. I’m sure they do.  But I’m guessing the basic Kardashian is light years ahead of me in terms of surviving a bad day with grace.

I might not mind a bad day so much in one of their houses with one of their fully-stocked kitchens and access to a private pool.  Plus, if you watch their shows, you know they get huge salads delivered every day.  I definitely wouldn’t mind bad days so much if I had big salads delivered.

But if your lows are really low, and you don’t have the fully stocked kitchen or huge salads or private pool to ease the pain, the recap is just depressing.

For me, living with depression, my lows are capable of really and truly sucking.

Luckily, I manage them well most of the time.

Sure I think about killing myself anytime I’m reminded of death, but I’m also able to distract myself from the thought.

I wish I was joking when I say I think about killing myself and then distract myself by looking at the CVS weekly deals.  It’s kind of funny if you don’t mind the first part of the sentence.

But mentions of death are a 100% trigger for me. Unfortunately.

Luckily, CVS weekly deals are pretty much a 100% guaranteed distraction!

Thank you, CVS!

P.S. If you ever need to know the CVS weekly deals and don’t feel like looking them up, just text or email me.

So highs and lows of my day?


My official daily wellness plan rejects voluntarily considering lows.  It’s just not helpful for me.  It’s not soothing either.  AND it  could be a trigger given the right combination of circumstances.

But I still like the idea of a structure.

A basic, not-too-difficult-to-follow structure.

A structure that provides room for interpretation.

Then I thought about “Something old, something new…”

It’s kind of like a little rhyme-y checklist.

Here’s the actual meaning, according to The Knot:

This tradition comes from an Old English rhyme (“Something Olde, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, A Sixpence in your Shoe”), and the four objects that the bride adds to her wedding outfit or carries with her on the big day are just good luck charms. Don’t stress too much about them—they are the little tokens of love your mother, sister, other relatives, and attendants will give you at the eleventh hour (although you can give them to yourself, too). Something old represents continuity; something new offers optimism for the future; something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness; something blue stands for purity, love, and fidelity; and a sixpence in your shoe is a wish for good fortune and prosperity, although this remains largely a British custom.

So the rhyme is comforting. And using a structure of something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue (SOSNSBSB) would nudge me to talk about continuity, optimism, happiness borrowed from others, and love.

That sounds good to me.

Here’s a SOSNSBSB mid-weekend short:

Something Old:

Yesterday I watched Steve Martin‘s Shopgirl for the billionth time.  While I was drawing cartoons, I needed something in the background that would feel familiar, not too stimulating and just the right amount of sad, poignant, hopeful and edgy.

Shopgirl was one of my favorite books and is one of my favorite movies.  I love the narrative and I love two of the three characters.

I think loving two of the three characters get it right.

Maybe I recognize the story and I definitely identify with the main character.

Oooh! And Shopgirl introduced me to The Volebeats!!!

So thank you, Steve Martin, for a really good and inspiring couple of hours.

Something New:

Well, now it will seem like all I do is watch movies and tv shows, which is kind of true. But my something new is actually a blend of old and new.  I spent the weekend (and am still) watching Seinfeld‘s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee on Netflix.

I had watched Comedians before it was on Netflix and just discovered it on Netflix now that I have a Roku stick.

P.S. I love my Roku stick.

I am officially adding Comedians in Cars to my collection of stuff to watch while cartooning.  My collection is pretty small, actually.  It’s mostly Gilmore Girls, Ally McBeal, Beverly Hills 90210, Teen Mom and Melrose Place. I just watch these shows on loops.  Every few weeks I shift from one show to another.

The life of a cartoonist.


Something Borrowed:

It’s hard to borrow things in this weather. Mostly I just hibernate in this weather.

But I had a visit from my sister-in-law Kakki whose amazing book on discipline is coming out this spring and was able to borrow some humor from Kristen Wiig for use in my convo with Kakki.

I am sorry to say that Kristen Wiig does not have her own website because if she had one, I would have perused it this afternoon and used it to delay getting other tasks accomplished.

But I did find the scene I almost acted out for Kakki.  I didn’t act it out as much as I described it.  It’s the airplane scene from Bridesmaids. Specifically, it’s the part where Kristen Wiig’s character Annie makes fun of Rose Byrne’s Helen. Right before she gets into it with the airline attendant Steve. Before she sees the Pilgrim woman on the wing of the plane. You know…….  Click here to watch it.

So I guess I borrowed some of Kristen Wiig’s humor and some of my sister-in-law’s happiness, which I tend to borrow since she usually tends to have extra.

Borrowing happiness is a good thing to do.  And it’s better than borrowing other things.

Something Blue:

With regard to blue, I’ll just say I’ve been paying attention to blue a lot lately.  I have about ten new blank canvasses that are ready for paint and my plan is to cover them with shades and layers and lines of bluish grays.  I like bluish grays and especially like to see them come to life on canvasses.

So blue may be a theme for this January, maybe longer.  I’ll try to share as much of the blue as I can, as I create it.

For now, I’ll just share my most recent painting, which has some gray.  It’s the last painting I finished.  She might look familiar since I’ve drawn her and painted her a few billion times now.



Hope your weekend is going well and that your week ahead is a bit warmer.

It’s already feeling warmer here in the 20’s.  This week’s promising 30’s and 40’s.

Plus, if you pay attention, you’ll notice that the days are getting longer. Every day is a little bit longer than the one before.  You’ll notice if you look for it.

It’s a good week to think about relativity, eh?

xoxo, d

P.S. Thank you to Netflix for automatically starting the next episode.  That’s a really great feature that makes my quality of life better.  Or worse.  Not sure which.


Fa la la la la ly2…


I’m a big fan of leaving the house.

I don’t do it often, but I enthusiastically support the practice.

One of the great things about leaving the house is witnessing other humans’ experiences of life.  Other people are a good reminder about how little influence your own perceptions could have if you’d just give them less rope to run around with.

This morning I left the house.  I went to an office I go to now and again.

I parked in the underground lot of the tall office building and waited for the elevator that would help me ascend to a day in the real world.

A sign by the elevator warned that all cars should be out of the lot by 10 pm on this coming Friday night.

No kidding. Be out by 10 pm.

A polished and polite, young(er than me) woman joined me at the elevator.  She was reading the warning.  She looked confused.

I laughed a light, little laugh.

“Yeah, lets be sure to be out by 10!”

She said “But I thought they said 7. I could have sworn they sent an email that said 7.”

Welcome to Washington, DC.

This is where I live.

I live in a land where people are nervous about what time they can work up until on a Friday night.

I still think it was funny.

But I guess I wouldn’t have thought it was funny a decade or two ago when I basically lived at my office.  I was more-often-than-not the first car in the parking garage in the morning and the last car to leave the garage at night.  That included weekends. I was competing with myself, I think.

Anyway, that’s not what this essay’s about.

This essay is about paying attention to other people.

Other people are a good reminder of lots of things.  And other people need your attention.

This is a stressful time of year. And people get really stressed out.

Some people do the basic type of ‘expecting too much’ stress. Others have more specific  stress related to a particular event or circumstance.

Some people are sad at this time of year.

Some are lonely.

Some are grieving.

This essay is about paying attention to the people around you and doing what you can to make a difference.

It’s not about making grand gestures. You don’t need to do anything too huge or awe inspiring.

Although, if you feel like doing something huge or awe inspiring, do it in my direction.

But most of us can’t do the big lifts at this time of year. Most of us are tapped out financially and emotionally. Hopefully we’ve got enough left to make the time fine, but most of us don’t have too much extra left to give.

So the good news is that you only need to do one teeny tiny eensy teensy itty bitty thing. #ttetibt

Just say hey.

Send a message or an email or a text. There’s no wrong way to do it.

Just say hey.

Let somebody know you’re thinking about them.  Or wondering about them. Or wishing for them. Or praying for them.

Just let somebody know.

Too often we think of someone but we don’t let them know. And what s the good of that?

Let them know.

Your #ttetibt might just be the one that helps make someone’s day a bit easier or, at least, not so hard.

Fa la la la luv and stuff 🙂

xoxo, d

Giving power to personal stories of thriving
through wearable, shareable art.

Anything But Quiet


I don’t think I need to say that it’s been anything but quiet around here.  My little corner of here and the greater world of here have been loud and chaotic, demanding attention.

But you knew that.

And I said it anyway.

Because it helps me to process the noise if I first acknowledge that THERE IS NOISE.

The constant noise has been like a game for me, as I keep trying to decide what to focus on and which skills to use in mitigating the impact of that particular noise.

Should I focus on the country’s grand campaign to abolish sexual harassment or on the sad and disruptive remnants of the water that poured from my ceiling just a few weeks ago?

Sorry, Kevin Spacey, but the home front wins every time. I need to get my ceilings, walls and floors put back in place before I can even ponder how many people you had to silence in order to get away with hurting so many young men.

Should I focus on the savory juice of long-awaited indictments or on the light bulb situation that has left eight out of the nine track lighting bulbs lifeless?

I’m figuring you guessed that the life bulbs had to win. You gotta fix your lighting situation so your view of the post-indictment CNN circus is really fine.

Every day I do a basic review of stressors and states. I check the relative environments and how I’m handling things, basically.  I divide everything up so that I can pinpoint the trouble spots and get resources to those trouble spots asap.

For example, this week went like this:

The Big World:
Medium/High Stress given indictments, Halloween, upcoming holidays, nuclear war, weather threats, domestic terrorism

The Local World:
Regular Stress given the status quo

My Part of the World:
Medium/High Stress given the fact that my home got flooded and the damage isn’t fixed yet and I’m having trouble breathing because of the dust.

My Body:
Working pretty well. Whew. Except for not being able to breathe.

My Brain:
Working pretty well. Whew.

My Mentalness:
Pretty good (!!!)  I have a list I use to measure how I’m doing mentally. It focuses mainly on things like sleeping problems, waking up problems, ruminating, obsessing, feeling paranoid, and more fun activities. And all of those are running on a very low speed way in the background. I need to give thanks, I suspect, to the recent addition of NAC, a supplement, which appears to be giving a huge boost to some or one of medications. Thank you to the doctor who suggested that. And I highly recommend you research it. Maybe you can try it too. I love it for its boost and for it’s lack of side effects.

My Mood:
My mood and tolerance have been pretty lousy, somewhere between negative and icky, but not too too bad in either respect. I would say mildly icky. BUT….I’ve been living in a torn apart depressing environment for almost three weeks now.  So it’s probably reasonable for me to feel a bit down. And it’s reasonable that my version of down is slightly more down than other people’s.  I have spent an awful lot of my life being down, after all. I’m used to it. I’m overly practiced, if not perfect.

My Management of My Mentalness and Mood.
This is an especially important category. I mostly can’t control my mentalness and mood, but I can manage them better at times. And this week I managed them very well. I did an especially good job at distinguishing between feeling bad about a depressing situation (my home got flooded) and feeling depressed. I can feel that the situation is depressing, but it’s nowhere close to actually feeling depressed. Apples and oranges. My home getting flooded sucks. But I can still wake up, add 2+2, write sentences, laugh at jokes, and enjoy coffee.

So that’s a very good report, obviously. I’m very lucky this week in that I’ve been able to focus on managing stressors.  I haven’t had to be distracted by a bad brain or volatile emotions. The timing just happened to work out in my favor.  I was able to really focus on distinguishing between living in a depressing situation (the mess at home) and being depressed. As I said earlier, it’s apples and oranges.

Sometimes the timing of events is helpful and sometimes it’s not.

But now, finally, the home front is getting fixed, so that stressor will soon be mitigated, giving me more resources and energy to work on building reserves. As I type this, I hear the lovely sounds of paint being laid upon drywall…..ah, music to my ears.

So now I can build reserves.

Building reserves is important ahead of the holiday season. Whether you like the holiday season or hate the holiday season, there is no escaping the fact that it’s highly stressful. Even if you love it, the people around you at work and at home are more stressed out than usual. One way or another, you have to deal with it.

I happen to love the holiday season. I like the cold, the threat of snow, the music and the tinkly happy Hallmark movies. I especially love when most of DC leaves DC.

But I know that I’ll get blue, since a part of the whole season is the sentimental part …and I have trouble experiencing sentimental feelings. There’s something about feeling sentimental that feels too much like depression and my brain gets confused.

So, I’ll do some practicing of ‘feeling sentimental’ in the weeks leading up to the holidays. I’ll try to get used to having sentimental feelings without being freaked out over the feelings. And I’ll come up with a temporary list of things I can’t really think about. A trigger list, of sorts.

So that’s the deal.

That, and apparently sexual harassment has officially ended.

Woo hoo.

As much as I would love to write on that subject, I won’t for now.

I will just say, everyone must practice being aware. Awareness must be an action, not just a state.

Teach everyone to respect everyone. And teach everyone, female or male or fluid, to respect themselves. Learn about power. Learn about your power. And beware the power of others.

And stop being a silent witness. We’re all silent witnesses at one time or another. Let’s stop doing that.

Okay. Go relax. Live your Saturday. Or whatever day it is when you’re reading this.

xoxo, d

Giving power to personal stories of thriving
through wearable, shareable art.


Know Thine Enemy

My Facebook feed has recently been adorned with enthusiastic, bold t-shirts for suicide awareness.

The t-shirts shout out loudly that nobody fights suicide alone.

So there.


And I’m glad.

Obviously, I’m glad. I encourage any bit of awareness-raising, particularly around the topics of suicide, depression, and pain.  I am pro-awareness generally and, for personal reasons, I am personally pro-awareness.


(There’s always a but in these darn essays.)

But what do we do with the raised awareness? Where does the raised awareness go?

If the raised awareness results in donations of money to the cause, then that’s great. The cause needs funds. Funds can help those who need help.  Funds can push forward the critical research that can hopefully someday alleviate or mitigate the problem at the root.

But what else?

What else does raised awareness do? What do the newly aware do with their new awareness, caring, concern and commitment?

I can suggest an answer.

The aware – whether newly aware or renewed in their awareness – can study the enemy closely. Study the enemy in preparation for the next time the enemy rises. Prepare to seriously fight the enemy in an efficient, effective and meaningful way.

Study the enemy.

Study the enemy while things are good.

I know, I know. It’s tempting to just feel good when things are good.  It’s like thinking about rain on a sunny day. Nobody wants to do that.

When I’m in a good space, I definitely don’t want to spend my time revisiting depression and suicidal thoughts. I want to spend time with my family and friends, enjoying the absence of the bad things for a change.

But it’s smart to regroup on a sunny day. Make sure your umbrella and rubber sole shoes get back to wherever it is that you’ll need them on your next rainy day.

There’s no question that I have to keep my eye on the enemy at all times. Because my personal medical history shows that depression and suicidal thoughts come back on a fairly regular schedule.

I have to be ready for the return of depression and suicidal thinking and I have to be in top notch condition to fight them when they appear.

More importantly, I need for those in my support system to be ready to fight.

Why is it more important that they be ready to fight?  Because one of the first things I lose during recurrence is my own will to fight.  Two hallmarks of depression are losing hope that fighting will help and losing the energy it takes to fight.

So I need my support system to be ready to act in my stead, ready to jump in to fight the enemy on my behalf when I become unhelpful.

And there will be a point where I become unhelpful. Because that’s what my enemy does to me. My enemy does not fight fair. My enemy makes me turn on myself and want to destroy myself. It’s hard to imagine and hard to believe, but any family or friends who have witnessed major depression or suicidal thinking will recognize the precarious nature of the condition. The condition feeds on itself, helping destruction to thrive if not fought against mightily.

So be aware, yes, be aware.  But don’t wait to take action. Take action now.

Hunker down and identify both the enemy and target. Find out now what to do when things get rough.

Learn the enemy. Know the signs.

Plan your strategy and understand how your attack will work.

Practice if possible and keep your toolkit with you.

We prepare for all sorts of events that are statistically less likely to happen. We prepare for active shooters, fire alarms, tornadoes and floods. We know that taking steps to prepare could make the difference between life and death if conditions get worse. And generally, we don’t want to play the odds.

So when it comes to depression and suicide, let’s not play the odds. Let’s not play around with the chances of things getting worse. Let’s not play around with statistics.

If someone is hurting, let’s fight the enemy when the enemy rises and then, when the enemy backs down, let’s regroup, re-energize and let’s be prepared to fight even harder next time.

Because it really is true that nobody should have to fight alone.  And we can prevent that from happening a statistically significant portion of the time.

P.S. It’s sunny where I am today. I’ve got one umbrella by the door and one in the car. Just in case. 🙂

xoxo, d

Giving power to personal stories of thriving
through wearable, shareable art.


#metoo #notyou

Sophia S02

This week I lent my support to the #metoo campaign of women and men helping to make more women and men aware of what we all supposedly already know, but apparently also don’t know.

Really? We still don’t know?

I’m sorry. I guess I thought we all knew.

And honestly, I thought one of the reasons we all knew was because it had happened to most, if not all of us.

I don’t say that to sound either naive or cynical, jaded and negative.  I say that because almost all of the women and many of the men I know have had experiences that I believe must have included some degree of sexual harassment at the very least. I also say that because almost all of the harassers I know came into contact with many more vulnerable people over the years than just me.

I honestly wish I had more to offer during this ‘ ‘watershed moment’ of awareness’ or whatever the media is calling it. I certainly have my own stories, but I don’t really want to tell my stories. I don’t enjoy telling my stories and I don’t get much out of reliving the details of them.

Now if I thought telling my stories would help anyone, I would tell them in an instant, of course.

So maybe someday I will tell my #metoo’s.

But these days I’m surrounded by kids who do most of the talking. I’m surrounded by kids, thanks to two pro-procreation brothers and a few local cousins. I’m surrounded by a few teens and pre-teens who talk to me and who graciously let me hang out with them from time to time.

Maybe I’ll tell them my stories when the time seems right. Like if they ask a question or seem curious or seem in need of that sort of information.

Usually, the questions of the teens and pre-teens start because of song lyrics or a particular episode of Catfish or because of a snicker in the car about something somebody said or didn’t say.

And of course YouTube prompts billions of “I didn’t know you knew that” kind of moments now.

Luckily, the cool thing about kids is that they talk if you let them.

I’ve been thinking about how valuable my words could be to the young people I have access to…but then I’m really not sure.  I’m really not sure if I can help because I can’t quite identify the words that might have kept me from having some of the experiences I unfortunately had.

What could someone have said to me that would have kept me safer?

Well, I guess someone could have warned me not to be alone with men older than myself, even if they were family friends, neighbors, relatives, etc.

That would have been helpful.

And really, there’s not much reason a young girl needs to be alone with men older than herself.

Maybe I would tell the kids in my life to never be alone with any adult or kid they felt any sort of discomfort with.

I know, I know…you’re thinking “well then, you can never do anything since that’s too broad.”

To that I say this:

I was talking to a teenager today and she said something really smart to me. She said that kids her age need curfews because bad things happen after a certain time of the evening. 

Now THAT is smart.

Even this teenager knows that bad things are more likely to happen under certain circumstances.

So yeah, I would say to kids just don’t hang out with adults or kids where it feels weird or uncomfortable or more likely that something uncomfortable might happen.

Let kids know it’s okay to feel weird and leave because you feel weird.

And that not knowing if it feels weird is reason enough to leave.

And oh yeah. I also wish someone had told me that sometimes an adult will say something that just sounds weird or makes you feel creepy.  I would say to kids that at those times, it’s no longer necessary to be kind or polite. At those times, you are allowed to say “eeeeewwwww….that sounds weird or makes me feel creepy” before you run off (fast) to look for your friends or your parents.

Okay. So those are two helpful pieces of guidance I didn’t have when I was growing up.

I talk to my sister-in-law about issues like these pretty frequently.

We talk about how to protect the kids without smothering them.  How to keep an eye on them without limiting their experience of the world.  How to keep them safe without making them scared to go out of the house.

She may or may not know that whenever I can, I remind them that I am a safe and non-judgmental adult. I remind them often to call me if they ever need an adult to call. I tell them I will come and get them or that they can come to me or that they can use me as an excuse to leave wherever they are.

Because sometimes kids are stuck and just need an excuse to get out.

I tell them to remember I am a safe adult if they ever need a safe adult to help them in an unsafe or uncomfortable situation.

Today I told the teenager I was with to count me in as a safe adult. I told her to call me anytime of the day or night and promised that I would be there.

After a week of #metoo, I plan to now say  ‘I’m a safe adult’ so many times that the kids in my life get sick of hearing it. I want them to hear my voice saying it when they are in precarious situations, the way I here my own protective voice these days.

And I think I’ll start sharing more with them about how to trust your gut.

Unfortunately, I didn’t learn to trust my gut until decades after it was too late. When I was growing up, I was told to trust adults, not my gut. 😦

But now I have a gut worthy of trust. And maybe I can lend it out to the kids in my life.

Maybe I’ll say “If you’re not sure what to do, think about me. What would your Auntie Dee say?  Would she say ‘no big deal?’ and laugh this situation off?  Or would she say ‘I’m coming to get you right now?’

Maybe I can’t come up with the guidance for how to avoid bad situations entirely, but I think I can do my share to help the kids I love to know bad situations when they see them.  And, more importantly, maybe I can help them to feel those situations are WRONG when they happen.

And they will happen.

Because no matter how many of us say #metoo, there will always be people out there who know that someone younger or more vulnerable is just that….vulnerable.

#metoo. And hopefully #notyou.

xoxo, d

Giving power to personal stories of thriving
through wearable, shareable art.



What took you so long?



There’s a great scene in one of my favorite movies that’s been playing in my head.

The movie is Singles and it’s the part of the movie where Campbell Scott‘s character has been holed up in his bachelor apartment due to a broken heart (and some rejection of his big project at work).

Campbell Scott plays a traffic and transportation expert.  Kyra Sedgwick plays his love interest, an environmental something or other – maybe a marine biologist?

When Kyra Sedgwick knocks at his door,  Campbell Scott opens the door and, in an unshaven, exhausted, ‘losing it’ kind of haze, pleads ‘what took you so long?’

Kyra Sedgwick responds ‘I was stuck in traffic.’

It’s a great dialogue.

It’s pretty basic movie irony. He’s a traffic expert; she was stuck in traffic. Blah blah blah.

The scene also harkens back to the beginning of their relationship when he was chasing after her and they acted out the same dialogue with roles reversed.

Here’s the scene if you want to watch: click here for scene

I’ve seen that scene countless times. It’s a movie I’ve watched over and over. It’s one of my ‘helper’ movies – it helps my mood, so it’s good movie choice.

But it’s not just a safe, helper movie. It’s also a really great movie. Not Chariots of Fire great, but Big Chill great. If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it. The backdrop is Seattle coffee shop and grunge.

“What took you so long?”

What took you so long?

The fact of the matter is that things take time. And often, they really seriously take even more time that you would have thought.

And sometimes, they take so much )(*&^% time that it’s a total *&^%$# annoyance.

Sorry for all the (*&^%$-ing.

Yesterday I saw my brother-in-law.

Oops….shifted the focus just there. Sorry if I lost you.

Anyway, I saw my brother-in-law who isn’t really my brother-in-law.  But I have no other good title for him.

He’s the brother of my sister-in-law, the gal who married my brother.

What does that make him?

If you happen to know what I should call him, let me know. Right now the explanation of our connection takes too long to say.

So anyway, I saw him yesterday.

Let’s call him Chris… since that’s actually his name.

I see Chris a few times a year when he visits DC from the far off and exotic places where he lives, works and visits.

It drives me crazy that Chris, in recent years, has had the unfortunate timing of seeing me when I was really just ugh (i.e., really getting the run around from my life partner, depression).

I really don’t like for people to see me when I’m not feeling like myself.  It’s embarrassing to me and makes me feel worse. At those times, I feel like my being down detracts from all of the times I was fabulous.  Even worse, I worry that my being down distracts from everything else that might be going on around me.

Luckily, Chris is just like family to me. He loves me and he likes me no matter what my mental temperature is on any particular day.

So yesterday, after one meaningful hug and a few brother-sister type teases, I was able to tell Chris that I was having a positive experience with a particularly important drug I have more recently tried. I was also able to share that general conditions were contributing to a ‘positive depression management experience.’

Of course I was also able to report on yet another drug that I will never ever ever get close to again. Yet one more drug that I tried only to find that it seriously spoiled a few (i.e., five) weeks of my life.

Chris was happy for me, obviously. News that depression is being managed effectively is always good news.

But he was also upset.

He didn’t understand why it had taken so long to get to a good place. He might have been mad at the depression for taking so long to cooperate.  He might have been mad at the Gods for making me work so hard just to feel normal. I’m not sure what his anger was aimed at, but he was clearly frustrated on my behalf (thanks, Chris!) and he was a bit indignant.

He was bold enough to ask ‘why does it take so long?’

So, you know, there are many questions I really hate in this world.

But this particular question is one of my favorites.

It’s one of my favorites because I really want people to care about this question. I want people to understand the importance of this question. And I want health care providers, scientists, researchers and policy makers to get me better answers than I’ve been given most of my life.

Why does it take so long to recover from a period of depression?

Well, let me explain what I know from my experience and from the experiences of some others I know.

When things go south in depression and life becomes a crisis, all of the focus, energy and resources must initially be directed at relieving the immediate pain and/or stopping the immediate threat to safety or health. In some cases, the focus must be on avoiding harm to self or others.

And it’s hard to get out of a crisis state.

It takes a lot of energy at the exact same time as the person in crisis has the least amount of energy.  It’s the worst timing ever.

It’s difficult, in the depths of a crisis, to keep going to work, managing a household, and maintaining a normal, functioning life. But all energy and resources must go to precisely that.

It may be a relatively short time of a few days or weeks to get out of crisis.  Or it may take closer to months or years to get out of crisis.

The recent flooding in the southeast provides a good range of crises for comparison.  Some individuals who have lost everything will have the benefit of a strong constitution, a variety of tools for managing stress, and quick access to excellent resources. If you think about it, you probably know people who can be described that way.

Then there are people who do not have a strong ability to handle stress. They may have excellent resources for getting out of a fire or flood, but they may not be able to make the most of those resources because of their own weakened state.

Of course there are folks who have little access to resources.  For them, the greater their ability to manage stress, the better the odds of gaining access to limited resources.

The bottom line is that getting out of a crisis is hard for anyone by definition. Crisis is difficult by definition.  Add to that extra stressors such as lack of resources, lack of support, lack of assistance, or a myriad of other factors, and getting out of crisis can get really tricky and take a long time.

After the crisis, there is usually a bit of space to breathe a sigh of relief as the pressure begins to subside.  In the case of depression, efforts to feel better may be starting to take effect as the pain of crisis is decreasing.  Medications may be starting to work, changes in diet, sleep, exercise or routine may be helping. Changes in treatment may be helping.

The recovery experience for most people is not a straight line but a jagged or winding path, filled with constant steps backwards.  It’s the typical one step forward, two steps back.

It is especially this way for anyone being treated with medication. Any change in medication, no matter how slight, may result in an array of effects, most of which cannot be adequately prepared for.

I should note that not everybody uses medication.

And I get that.

But some of us have experienced enough and tried enough to know that we actually need medication.  I am one of those people who cannot live safely without certain medications. No amount of supplements, exercise, being outdoors, meditating or yoga will do for my brain what certain medications do.

Now, I should say that it’s possible a vastly different lifestyle could take the place of medications for me, but the fact is that I’m living my life and I can’t easily change the life I’m living.

I work full time and prefer working to being on disability.

I also live in a very expensive area of the country (Washington, DC).  I could move to a less expensive area, but that would mean losing my primary support system, which would be a really bad decision in terms of health management.

So it’s not an easy formula. Every decision requires analysis.  And analysis is especially difficult during crisis or recovery, when the focus is on getting better, not prevention.

“What took you so long?”

What took you so long?

For me, the average time it takes to tell a medication is NO GOOD is at least a month.

With any new drug, I begin with a very low dose to avoid triggering a worse episode of depression or a new crisis. I stay on a low dose for days or weeks or longer to acclimate. The period has to be long enough to isolate that drug as the cause of any changes.

As the dose goes up, so does my body’s response. And as my body responds, the analysis of benefits versus side effects begins.

Do the benefits outweigh the side effects?

It sounds simple.

It’s not.

The thing is, you want the drug to work. You REALLY want the drug to work.

Every new drug you try is a new possibility that you’ll be feeling better soon and that life will be better.

But the side effects can be awful and can be debilitating.

Some side effects make even basic functioning impossible. Some side effects make going out in public embarrassing.  Some side effects feel worse than the condition that requires them.

One promising drug was amazing for me until the fourth month when I had a dangerous reaction. I had to stop the drug immediately, get treatment for the reaction, and clear the drug from my system. I can never again take that drug, knowing I have a reaction.

I remember being so upset afterwards because the medication had been working so well otherwise.  And a medication that works so well for your unique chemistry is just so hard to find.

But a bad reaction is a bad reaction.

Bye bye drug. Bye bye four months of my life.

The most recent horrible (for me) drug only ruined five weeks of my life.

But it was a really awful five weeks.

So, you might ask, why would you try to change drugs that work? Why not just maintain drugs that work and not rock the boat by making changes?


Personally, I would be overjoyed if I found a cocktail that worked and that I could always be on.

But it doesn’t work that way. 😦

Drugs stop working over time for many people. Or new episodes of the condition require different types of drugs.

It’s challenging and frustrating and it takes a ton of time.

And that’s the answer.

And I hope that in my lifetime there are more treatment options that are free from side effects.

In the next few years, I’ll be able to try Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). The treatment is available now, but only to those who can afford the high cost (or the high copays if their insurance covers it). TMS has no side effects and has been effective for a lot of folks. I hope TMS or something like it will some day be a replacement for some of the drugs I take so that I can be finished with some side effects that slow me down (and not in the good way).

So that is the short version of why it takes so long.

And I’m hoping to help the cause of getting better access to better treatments with fewer side effects. Because we need them.

A really great place to start reading about some of the work I support is here:

Hope for Depression

Through my non-profit, Living Broken, I make art to help raise money for the important work of Hope for Depression and other organizations with similar missions.

Because if I want to live a meaningful, productive, independent life, I need to be able to take one step forward without having to take two steps back.

Thanks for listening.

xoxo, d
Giving power to personal stories of thriving
through wearable, shareable art.







Because they want to stop the pain.



“Did you really want to die?”
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?”
“Because they want to stop the pain.”
― Tiffanie DeBartoloHow to Kill a Rock Star


Hotline 1-800-273-8255

For Deaf, non Verbal, Autistic folks and those in unsafe situations for talking:
National Crisis Text Line
Text “HELLO” to 741741