The Other Side Of Depression

In my last post, I talked a bit about my parents and their recent struggle with one another. That post made me think about a topic that I haven’t covered but semi-relates to the previous post; depression.

However, I’m not going to write an article that articulates the warning signs of depression, or what it’s like being depressed. Many of you have probably read those articles, or, if you have a family member or friend that’s experienced depression, you’ve witnessed everything first hand. What I am going to write about is what it’s like for those on the other side of depression; the family members and friends (such as some of you reading this) who sit in the emotional sidecar and get pulled every which way. I’ve been there, and I’m hoping that if there is anyone out there with depression that this piece can help demonstrate what it’s like for those that love them.

1. My Mother: I never knew that my mother was prescribed anti-depressants until about a year ago. If you’ve ever met my mother, you’d think she was one of the sweetest, nicest people in the world. When I found out about the anti-depressants, my heart sank. Thoughts of, “am I a good enough daughter?” ran through my mind constantly. I worried that if I caused her trouble or made a rude comment that she would have an awful day and rely on her medication even more.

I felt so lost and I didn’t know what to do to make it better. Should I be spending more time with her during the week and on weekends? What if I volunteered to cook a few family meals? Do the laundry? Wash the dishes a few times a week? Would any of these make her feel less burdened, happier, healthier?

When she retired to care for my brother and the house full-time, I knew she was happy at first, but her joy quickly faded. As if she didn’t think her life was exciting or meaningful before she quit, now, her daily routine consists of household chores and running errands. She was and is lost. She wants to go back to work, but she doesn’t think she has any skills. I constantly worry that one day she will just up and leave because she’s sick of doing the same thing day-in and day-out.

I try to get her out of the house and go on adventures as much as possible, but nothing changes. She’s still lost; I’m lost. I don’t know what to do to make it better. I don’t know how to help her, and every time I ask, I get the same response, “nothing.” But, she’s living in a state of ‘nothing,’ and ‘nothing’ can be a dangerous thing.

2. My Boyfriend: Meeting Matt, you would have no idea that he used to severely suffer from depression. He was a freshman in college and I was a senior in high school. We were living in different zip codes (something we’ve gotten used to) for the first time, and he wasn’t making as many friends at school as he would’ve liked. He had also lost contact with a lot of individuals from our high school, and he felt more alone than ever before.

Almost every night of my senior year was spent sitting by my computer with a TV tray off to the side. While I did my homework on the TV tray, I would be talking to Matt via MSN messenger. The conversations went back and forth for hours. But, the conversations were the same every day. Every day he told me that he had an ‘ok’ day and was feeling worthless. He felt that he didn’t have any friends and wasn’t good at what he was doing. He would then advise a plan to get more friends, or to reconnect with the old ones, and it would fail…miserably…for no good reason!

It was hard watching him struggle. I told him over and over again how much I loved him and gave him advice on what to do about his extreme sadness, or reassured him about his plans for the future. We saw each other almost every weekend, and I even tried bringing a few of my friends to visit him..but nothing worked. On multiple occasions, he brought up suicide. Even though he said he wouldn’t do it because he loved me, I stated that I was the only thing keeping him on Earth. How could I give up on him? What could I do? I thought I’d tried everything.

This pattern continued on into my first year of college, but it got better. I was still on messenger with him every night, but it was hard to see each other every weekend. Eventually, we broke up. But, when we did break up, he was at least on his feet. Of course, we’re back together now, and he’s doing much better.

For both of these beautiful people in my life, I had no idea what I could do to make it go away. I tested multiple ideas, did what I thought was right…what THEY wanted me to do…and no matter what, meds or not, I couldn’t get through to them. It’s something that they need to overcome on their own, but they need help just as much as the rest of us do with our daily lives. Talking to specialists or reading articles can work, but only so much. To those that are depressed, we love you, and we’re hurting because we see you hurting. Communicate with us, help us help you.

Granny Smith – over and out

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The Dreaded Ex

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Ah, yes, the ex. Most of us have at least one or more, and one of mine walked down the aisle last weekend. As I watched the pictures of his lovely day pop up on my Facebook page, I couldn’t help but think, what the hell did I ever see in that guy?  By the looks of the pictures, he’s gotten fatter and more obnoxious. All of this got me thinking about our relationship, and what a disaster it was!

As some of you may know, I’m writing a book about my past relationships and some specific situations I’ve been in where the outcomes were NOTHING like what I thought they were going to be. And, I would love nothing more than to share the story of myself and…(we’ll call him) John with you. Enjoy, and please comment with your own experiences!

 

Uck, John. Do I have to talk about him? Fine; here goes nothing…

 I met John in history class my freshman year of high school, and coincidently, we had three other classes together that year. I thought he was cool because he had on some dumb shirt about AC/DC and farts…I don’t remember how they were related, so I’m not even going to try and explain…Anyway, the two of us became close because I loved his charm and sense of humor and he loved my hair and how polite I was. But, not even a month had passed in the start of my new adventure called “high school” and I found out that not only did John not see me as a sex object, but he preferred my dork ass neighbor, Becky. Becky is probably one of the nicest girls you will ever meet, but she’s really into stupid shit like reality TV, snorting while she laughs, and wearing crocs and a tube top…not real cute.

Needless to say, their relationship didn’t last long, and after they broke up, I was looking forward to pouncing on that man meat! And, while John was taking his sweet time healing his broken heart, I was making sure that I was constantly on his mind, or at least in his line of vision. Like I said, we had half of our classes together that year, and our lockers were fairly close, so we were almost always in the same vicinity. Many months were spent comprised of constant flirtation and “buddy buddy” jokes. This period in my life was probably nauseating for some, and I get that, but what else was I supposed to do? I wanted him, so I had to play along!

On one particular day, I went to school and I was SURE that he was going to ask me out. We had been flirting for a long time and friends for what felt like eternity! As I was gathering my books for the beginning of the day, I noticed him standing in the hallway near my locker. As I looked up to make eye contact, I witnessed him cross the isle and lock lips with another girl from our class! THE FUCK! Really? Again? I’d been that bastard’s best friend! I responded to his cues correctly every time without missing a beat! Who is this bitch and how do I get him to realize that she is NOT the one for him? She’s not even PRETTY!….So much anger and confusion was all I felt for the next few days. I later learned that her name was Bethany and they had been in a class together all year. But, he’d never mentioned this “Bethany” girl to me before! I felt played, used, and once again, like I wasted my precious time and energy. I was done!…or so I thought.

Bethany and John dated for about 9 months, which in high school time is about 3 years. And, needless to say, their relationship came crashing down all because of me. One weekend right before school started, my family and I went to the high school to catch one of the first football games of the season. That summer, even though John was still with Bethany, I had tried to get his attention multiple times by visiting the park near his house and waiting for him to come outside…creepy, I know, but these we pre-Facebook days!! As my family stumbled into the stadium I kept thinking that the summer had been a complete loss because I never got his attention, and now we would probably have to start back at square one when we entered the upcoming school year. But, to my surprise, as I looked up into the stands I saw John and his best friend Chris enjoying the start of the game. I tried to pretend like I didn’t notice him, but he caught on and came to visit me and my family.

As we started talking, John became extremely overbearing when discussing his plans for the upcoming school year. He talked about how he was going to play a lot of sports, take multiple AP classes, oh yeah, and he was going to take me to homecoming. I was in complete shock! “You’re still with Bethany,” I said. “Yeah, I’ve been thinking about dumping her,” he said with no shame. “I’ll have to think about it,” I replied…and just like that, there was my cue. The game was over and my parents summoned me to the car. “THINK ABOUT IT!” he called after me, and I began running towards the exit.

About a week later, a new school year started and on one of the first days, John and Bethany broke up. When I asked him how everything went down, he told me bluntly, “I just told her that I was into you so I couldn’t date her anymore.” “YOU SAID WHAT?!” I shot back. And then, literally, every day for the remaining semester, Bethany would give me the stink eye every time I passed her in the hallway. To think that I had been the cause of someone’s breakup NEVER would have crossed my mind in a million years. Sure, I’d seen shit like this on TV, but I never thought that it would happen in MY life!

The next obstacle to tackle was homecoming. John would not let up! He asked me to go with him every day. “I don’t know,” I said. “Bethany is like REALLLLLYYYYYY pissed at me.” I feel like, if I go with you, she might attack me during the dance.” “Don’t worry about her,” he calmly mentioned, “I’ll deal with it.” Whatever the hell that was supposed to mean.

Eventually, since it had been my dream in the first place, and because I heard through the grape vine that he was going to take my best friend, Stacey if I said “NO” one more time, (in his words, “you have to keep your options open”) I went with John to the dance. The night started out great, and I made sure the steer clear from Bethany. Then, while hanging out in the back of the dance floor, John planted a kiss right on my lips. It was my first kiss, but I had no idea it was coming. I felt like I had lost that one moment that every girl dreams about because it was so quick and I had no idea what was happening. I finished the night a little pissed, but happy that we’d made an awesome memory in our relationship. I didn’t realize it then, but I was about to become even more pissed as time went on…

Every day since we started dating, John and I would eat lunch together with a bunch of our band friends. One day, a friend of a friend named Matt asked to eat lunch with us. Matt sat across from me, and we quickly hit it off. I met Matt a year earlier, but we never had gotten the chance to REALLY know each other. Every day at lunch, I would look forward to our conversations. Matt was hilarious and had a wonderfully positive perspective on life. Unfortunately, all of my conversing with Matt made John extremely jealous. “You’re supposed to be talking to me at lunch,” he said, “I’M your boyfriend.” “Jesus, sorry that I’m polite,” I yelled back, “I’m just trying to make peace with a stranger.” From that day forward, I tried to talk to John more and ignore Matt, but it was just so hard, Matt wasn’t “in” on “the plan” and you could tell that he didn’t understand why I chose to ignore him. So, eventually, I gave up and thought Tough shit, John will just have to deal with the fact that I have male friends.

Throughout the month that John and I were “together” we went through a lot of ups and downs (more ups and downs than I’ve had with friends that I’ve known for 15 plus years). The day before our high school band’s big trip, I decided that I was going to break up with John. I had never broken up with anyone before, but I knew it had to end. He was such a cocky asshole. The morning of my planned break up, I couldn’t find him at his locker, so I walked into the band room. “Ah, there you are,” he said, “I need to talk to you.” “Good, because I need to talk to you too,” I shot right back. We moseyed out into the hallway where he stated, “ladies first,” and gave me the floor. And, there it was, my shot to claim the end of our relationship, and I blew it. “No, you first,” I said. “Ok,” he exclaimed with a confused look. “I think we were better off as friends, and I think we need to break up,” he said. “I completely agree!!” I said…with almost too much enthusiasm. “Well…” he said. “Well, ok, see yeah,” I said, and walked back to my locker. The funny part was, I wasn’t even sad. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I could finally go back to living my life. John had sawed the bars off of my jail cell and told me to “run like the wind.” I remember running into John’s friend Chris in the hallway after it all happened. “How you doin’,” he said. “Fine, why?” I shot back. “Well, I know that John broke up with you,” he stated. “What? How did you know that? It LITERALLY JUST HAPPENED!” “John told me on the way to school this morning that he was going to do it,” Chris said.

That son of a bitch.

As always, another failed relationship in my book means another life lesson, and with John, I learned multiple. First off, if someone is pressuring you to date them, there’s your first red flag. Obviously this person doesn’t fully care about your wants and needs (or you in general) if they’re applying any form of emotional pressure. And, for the love of all that is holy, don’t date the jealous type. John made me feel awful for being friends with other guys and not devoting all of my attention to him when we were out and about…and seriously, that’s just bullshit, and it probably means that the person who is the “jealous type” is self conscious. And I’d have to say the biggest lesson of them all, be friends with the person before dating them. Yes, John and I were friends for a year before deciding to date, but we weren’t really friends. I mean, I hung out with him during the school day sometimes, and we had a lot of the same classes, but I never hung out with him outside of school or even during the summer. I never found out who he truly was…and that probably would’ve saved me a lot of time.

Update: Shortly after John and I broke up, I found out that not only was he a huge cocky asshole, but he was also a psychopathic liar. He ended up telling one of my guy friends that while he was dating Bethany, “I used to call him all the time and we would talk on the phone for hours.” He told my friend that it was like he was dating two women at once. Unfortunately, no matter how big John’s dreams get, that one was, nor will ever be, true.

John went on to date one of my worst enemies shortly after we broke up, and I’m happy to report that they’re newlyweds. John also went on to school to become a firefighter, and he currently lives with his (beautiful) bride far, far away from me.

As always, I wish them the best….sort of.

I Want to Win!

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Are any of you contest junkies? I’m really not. But, sometimes I see a contest sponsored by a company that I really like, etc. and I feel COMPELLED to enter it, even though I’m 99.999% positive that I have absolutely no chance of winning. 

Recently, I entered a contest to win a trip to Italy with the guys from the hit MTV series, “The Buried Life.” If you’ve never seen the show, it’s completely inspirational and I highly recommend it. But, a brief overview is that there are four guys (Jonnie, Duncan, Ben, and Dave) who created a bucket list of 100 things they want to do before they die. And, every time they check something off of their bucket list, the help a stranger accomplish something that they’ve always wanted to do. The series was popular when I was in college and has since gone off the air, but the guys still continue to make dreams come true and help people.

To enter the contest, you had to write the guys a letter explaining why you should be the individual who goes with them to Italy. I’ve included a copy of my letter below. Let me know what you think!

What’s the craziest contest you’ve ever entered? Did you win?

 

Dear Jonnie, Duncan, Ben, and Dave,

By now, you’ve probably heard hundreds of thousands of reasons as to why specific individuals should go to Italy with you. And, there are hundreds of thousands of individuals who are probably more deserving than I am to join you on your trip.

However, this letter is supposed to serve the purpose of convincing you all as to why I should be the lucky fifth member in your group. So, let’s get back on track. I could select to tell you that “I love you all so much and have seen every episode of The Buried Life,” or that “I’m a Catholic and I need to see the Pope.” While those reasons are both true, I feel the need to tag along for a different reason, a better reason…

My whole life, I’ve been afraid to step outside of my comfort zone, try new things, and basically experience life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve taken the easy way, or the safe way, out. When I wanted to move out to California for college and study theatre, my father suggested I stay at a state school and study communications so that “I’d have an actual chance at getting a job” post graduation. There are even a number of “normal” foods out there that I’ve never tried because I don’t feel like breaking away from the PB&J I eat every day.

After graduating from a local college, I took a job at a corporate office where the work was meaningless, but I got paid a lot! I quickly learned that many Americans take jobs that they’re not truly happy with because of bills, the location, etc. And, I quickly began to reflect on my own life and realized that I had been having the same experiences over and over again because I was comfortable with routine and security.

Needless to say, after seven months on the job, I was let go because my boss didn’t believe that I was “committed” to the position. Now, I’m back at square one, looking for my next opportunity. And this time, I don’t want to hold back.  This time, I’m looking for a crazy adventure. And this time, I want to go after what I want and be a part of something that I really want to do!

Would you like to be the first step in helping me start my crazy life journey?

Granny Smith – over and out

The PTO Debate

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The end of the year is coming, and you know what that means?! Yes, ok, so the holidays are right around the corner, but you also need to schedule the rest of your paid time off!

Having recently started an adventure with a new company, I tossed and turned a bit with this issue. With so many projects going on at work, I felt like I shouldn’t be taking any time off, but, what was I supposed to do? At my place of work, if you don’t use it, you lose it. I was at a cross roads.

So, I decided to level the playing field and take a few days off in November and a few in December. This past week, I used two and a half days, and what did I end up doing?…I drilled out a few work projects.

Was I happy with my progress? Sure! But, when you use your “paid time off,” aren’t you supposed to be using it to relax, or spend time with family, go on vacation, etc.? I know that many people in my office use it for doctor’s appointments, going to the dentist, etc. because they have SO MANY days of PTO that they don’t know what else to do with themselves. On the other hand, some people that I work with end up using all of their PTO before the end of the year because they have children, and their children get sick, have dentist appointments, etc. Either way, they’ll end up working on a project, responding to emails, or doing something work related during their day, or few days, of PTO.

And, in my case, with having to use all of my PTO before the end of the year, our office constantly stresses using it “wisely” and “thinking about all of the projects we have to do” before deciding which days are the “best” for us to leave.

The truth is, there really is no “good” day to leave the office. And, sometimes you just have to use your PTO so that it’s gone. My recommendation is to NOT take a huge chunk of time off during one specific month, but to split up your days between months. But, your PTO time is also YOUR time. If your boss or coworkers want something from you, they need to reach out to you before you leave on vacation.

I recently got in trouble because I scheduled a family vacation during our office’s holiday party. But, like I said, it’s YOUR TIME. What are they going to do? They gave you X amount of days off. It’s the company’s problem if they find that too many people are taking off on specific days. And then, they’re going to try and pin it on you for taking those specific days off? PTO shouldn’t come with rules. It should be considered a gift from the company!

The more hours I work in corporate America, the more I believe that we’re all overworked and underpaid, and we’re constantly made to feel bad about the time that we want to spend with our families. Sometimes, I laugh silently to myself when I think about the unemployment rate in this country. Really? You don’t want to hire a few more people to help out with your work load? I know that I could certainly use an assistant, and I’m not even a manager, I’m on the ground floor!

And, might I mention, what the hell happened to the days where shops were closed on Sundays? What happened to Sunday being known as “family” day? Since technology has come around, it’s caused so many of us to think that work is more important, because our “world” is right at our fingertips.

In the end, our jobs and our possessions aren’t going to be there for us when we’re struggling on our death bed…it’s going to be our family and our dearest friends who will help us, and make us forget about our pain by bringing up the good times that we shared with one another. But, what if we’ve been so wrapped up in what we’re doing, that we never allotted time for the “the good times?” What do you think about that, corporate America?…