How to Trudge Through a Depression

How to Trudge Through a Depression

Watch ScrubsScrubs is the perfect depression TV show. It’s funny enough to make your facial muscles twitch upwards every few episodes, but dark enough to remind you that people die — often early and unfairly.

Ignore the diet that’s actually been working really well for you. Pick up a sorrow pizza instead. Get a side of sorrow chicken fingers to go with. Extra dipping sauce. Overeat, and go to bed curled on your side with a pillow around your stomach that aches from the grease and the carbs and the sorrow.

Stay up too late and fall asleep with your phone in your hands, watching Scrubs or Youtube videos you don’t really care about. Make sure to push your eyelids open as long as possible, until you can feel your lids get heavy and your eyeballs achy and dry. Don’t wear your cPap machine, so you stay restless and light throughout the night.

Grab your laptop in the morning, and bring it back into bed. Work with it propped up on a pillow. Don’t sit at your desk with its organized pens, purple stapler and framed picture of your dead husband.

Don’t shower. Wear the same pair of pajama pants two days in a row. Don’t wear a bra unless you have to go out in public.

Don’t go out in public.

Skip the dog’s long morning walk, and instead take them on the medium route. The next day, do the short walk instead of the medium. Eventually, resort to just letting them out in the tiny patio and give Pascale a bone to chew when stares at you with pent-up energy.

Tell yourself you don’t have the mental fortitude to write today. Repeat tomorrow.

Go to the barn on the days that you have to, and look over every angle of your horse for things to worry about. Count his ribs to see if he’s gaining weight. Take obsessive pictures and analyze the angle of his hip and shoulder. Poke the tiny stocked up area below his left front knee. Put your ear against the side of his belly and listen for gut sounds if he so much as grunts strangely.

Nap often. If you’re not napping, lay on the couch or on the bed. Be so still the dogs think you’re sick. Stroke Pascale’s head when she curls up next to you and sighs as she nuzzles her chin down on your stomach.

Stop wearing your late husband’s wedding ring, without realizing it.

Leave the chapter of your book about the dog dying untouched. Ask yourself if writing it is worth it. Ponder the value of a life long dream.

Do a short hack in your new tall boots — the ones you’re deliriously excited about even if you’re depressed. Feel them cut into the back of your leg when you bend your knee. Run your hand down the smooth leather wrapped around calf. Enjoy the gentle throbbing, your circulation tight and controlled, humming down your leg when you step into the stirrup. Post the trot as the leather scraps against the back of your heels. When you get home, peel the socks off and look at the open sores dotting your ankles. Realize it’s nice to have something burn a little.

Go get an MRI on your knee, and be still as the technician slides your body into the machine. Watch the clock countdown above your head as the lasers click and churn around you. Practice holding your breath to pass the time. Your lungs start to stretch around thirty seconds. Realize that’s not nearly long enough, and remember how when you were a kid you used to practice holding your breath underwater so you could be a whale trainer at SeaWorld one day. Make a plan to go to Monterey Bay in the fall, so you can see wild Orcas since you’re going to miss them this spring and you refuse to actually visit SeaWorld as an adult… even though it’s a short drive away. Push the earplugs further into your ears as the MRI growls around your leg. Make a note to google how long whale trainers have to hold their breath when you get home. Take a deeper breath. See if you can make it. Last a minute and twenty seconds before your lungs expand, desperate to pull the air back in.

Crawl into bed, and turn on Scrubs. Thump your hand on the empty space next to you and kiss for Pascale. Rub the angular ridge of her skull between her floppy bat ears after she leaps up into the covers. Take out your phone, and google “Seaworld swim test requirements.” 

Feel Pascale’s lungs push against your side as she takes a deep breath.

Listen to a monologue about love on Scrubs.

Read that trainers need to hold their breath and swim the entire length of the dolphin pool, approximately 125 feet.

Wonder how long that is in seconds.

Place your hand on Pascale’s side, and watch it slowly rise and fall with her breaths.

Close your eyes, and imagine you’re swimming.


** a very non literary note to add at the end of this — thank you for well wishes and nice messages. i am doing okay. trying to not be so hard on myself, but also getting back in the swing of things so i don’t get fired from my job or fail all my classes… you know, the basics. 

i’m writing these pieces, of which this is the second, because i wanted to do something i found a little bit joyful in a space of the web that i actually control. it’s funny that writing about the saddest parts of my life in interesting-to-me ways brings me some level of joy. the fact that i can write this tonight at all means that i’m doing better. 

i also hope it helps at least one person who reads this, because sometimes our lives are really awesome and we have great things like cute dogs and nerd horses and graduate school fellowships… but we still feel really shitty. having good things in your life does not invalidate feeling bad about said life. ask me how i know. 

but anyway, i wanted to add this little note at the end to say thank you and ease any concerns that could possibly arise from a weird essay/blog post hybrid that ends with a depressed person closing their eyes and thinking about swimming. it’s not that i’m thinking about swimming into the great beyond, i promise. i mean – i still have to write the third installment of this series and blog about my latest horse show. i’m hanging in there, and i hope anyone else out there having a rough time is too. **

12 thoughts on “How to Trudge Through a Depression

  1. I am glad you are doing a bit better and I look forward to your horse show recap!

    I am struggling lately with being incredibly angry and I don’t really know why. I’m pretty much at the point of feeling sorry for myself constantly. Feeling like everyone around me keeps getting good news, but I’m excluded from that. Feeling like everything is just actual shit day after day is getting exhausting.

  2. sometimes it really is just about putting one foot in front of the other. I am glad that you have the horse and the dogs to force you to leave the house.

  3. Thank you for the endnote. Sometimes writing about a problem/event helps the writer process the information & let go. At which point the writer posts & moves on. Then, readers come along and think Wait, What? … and the writer is all, Hey that was days ago, I’m over here now. As you say, ask me how I know.

  4. I was very happy to see pics of your show – you’re doing a great job being with what’s so while at the same time seeking out the light.

  5. This winter has been brutal and I have done almost the same as you. Self-care in the form of “whatever it takes to trudge through this and get to the other side” – it’s not as glamorous as getting your nails done or eating an exquisite dessert or splurging on something but dammnit, trudging through is sometimes all you can do and it’s self-care not to knock yourself for trudging through.

  6. Thank you for writing these posts. The first one really resonated with me. I moved to Los Angeles for the ‘dream job’ 6 months ago and I’ve found myself in the worst slump I’ve ever experienced in my whole life.

    Reading these let’s me know someone out there understands some of the struggles I’m having. While it’s not depression, it has been difficult for me.

    I know this won’t last forever and I do take comfort in knowing this is a temporary stasis but sometimes it just takes too much effort to not wallow.

  7. Checking in, hoping things are going better for you and the livestock. I feel that great things are out there for you, when you are ready to go find them.

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