Tangled Up In Blues: Dealing With Depression

by Honest Mom contributor, Linda Roy – writer, musician, mom, and blogger at elleroy was here

Tangled Up in Blues - Dealing with Depression - by Linda Roy, blogger and HonestMom.com contributorEach week, clean slate, right? Ideally, maybe. But in reality that’s not how life works. We’d all like to flip a switch, turn a calendar page – new week, new month – anything to wipe that slate clean and begin anew, washing away life’s disappointments, fears, mistakes, sorrows, anxieties.

The sad fact of the matter, quite literally, is that this time of year can be tough for those who suffer from depression. You’d think that summer would would coax a huge sigh of relief; time to put on a happy face and get on with it already. Still, thoughts weigh heavy on our minds and hearts as we carefully tiptoe through the minefield that is life.

Sitting at a roundtable during a comedy blogging conference last year, I asked the question: “Should I broach the ‘depression topic’ when what I’m writing is ostensibly a humor blog?” The answer I got from seasoned bloggers who’ve been there themselves was a resounding “Yes!” After all, as one roundtable member pointed out, The Bloggess, for example, has dealt with depression and anxiety very publicly within the framework of a humor blog. She has done it so eloquently while reaching out and touching all those readers who are there themselves, and in doing so, created a community and a safe haven to discuss a once taboo subject.

And of course, the question arises as to how public to go with something so personal. But depression is such an integral part of a person’s life. It’s an integral part of my life.

I have depression. Big surprise? Probably not. It’s no secret that many who are drawn to comedy have battled depression, anxiety, and crummy childhoods, and used humor as a coping mechanism. Even so, people are often surprised when the person they feel comfortable calling “the life of the party” suddenly shows their dark side.

Believe me … you don’t know the power of the Dark Side. Or maybe you do.

I was diagnosed with Dysthymia several years ago; a low grade form of chronic depression that often begins at childhood and goes undiagnosed because it’s mistaken for moodiness. I was that moody kid and worse? I was the arty-farty moody kid. That’s what my family and I chalked it up to. If “emo” was a thing in the 70s and 80s … and 90s … that would have been me – Hello! – clad in black and brooding, sitting in my room all day writing songs with stupid titles like “I’m Not Bitter.” Uh huh. Oh, I’ve got notebooks full of diatribes to sorrow, resentment and anger.

Depression has held me back, held me up, held me hostage. But I truly believe it has played a huge part in shaping who I am creatively. Ah … that so often goes with the territory too, doesn’t it? The list of creative people who have hung depression on their doors is seemingly endless.

As each year unfolds in front of me, I sit in my PJs wrapped in the safety of my comfy soft blanket, pug at my side (oh yes … multiple small animals are a sign of neediness, didn’t you get that memo?) and try to fight off the thoughts swirling in my head. All the various ways my monkey mind likes to remind me of the mistakes I’ve made, how I haven’t done or become enough, how I should be and do more. Blah blah blah. How even all these years later, at the start of a new year, I continue to feel the fallout of past missteps after so many attempts to make amends. How I still can’t come to a place of acceptance and peace over so many things. That putting those things out of my mind is a band aid and not the solution.

Today, the leaves are green, earth’s renewal is all around me, encouraging me to regenerate a positive energy. For now though, I’m learning from the words and shared experiences of others, in  hopes that as I float in and out of the dark and white puffy clouds that inevitably await me, this will be a safe place for others to land and know that they are not up there floating alone.

But me, I’m still on the road
Headed for another joint
I always did feel the same
I just saw from a different point of view
Tangled Up in blue…

How has depression shaped who you are?

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38 Replies to “Tangled Up In Blues: Dealing With Depression”

  1. Other than the angsty teenage poetry, is this (the shaping)?

    I think you're right though – the humour helps massively and although it can become something of a crutch, it also provides weaponry and armour against a world which can feel (and sometimes is) very hostile. I learned at a young age.

    And once you've had it, and can never un-have it, there is a different depth to each encounter with a low mood. A hazy deepening of the shadows there, which others might not notice. I think it helps me to be more self-aware and analytical of what's going on. It also helps (sometimes) with extending compassion to others.

  2. I so agree, humor can be such a great way to cope with harder times and inner turmoil. I know that I would really be in trouble if I couldn’t laugh. I too have dealt with anxiety and depression throughout my life, it’ sort of a family trait. Thanks for sharing your experience in such a beautiful and honest way. 🙂

    1. Thank you Kathy. For me, humor has been the life jacket that’s kept me afloat. It’s just always there somewhere and it’s vital. No coincidence that so many comedians have had difficult childhoods/lives/dealt with depression. Humor is the ultimate coping mechanism.

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Linda. I am always amazed at how many bloggers write so openly about their depression… but maybe we aren’t really a representative sample, as many of us likely used journaling or writing to deal with depression. I did not have depression until I had PPD after my children…. I don’t see it as something that I’ve always lived with or has shaped me, but it definitely has been a part of my mothering (along with anxiety) to deal with. And think it is great for humor bloggers to share this…. if it’s all laughs and giggles, people might wonder how authentically we are sharing ourselves. Great post.

    1. Thank you Sarah. That’s a really good point. I think it’s important to show the whole picture of who we are. When I was newer to blogging I really struggled with whether or not to address more serious issues but I realized it’s all valuable. People want to laugh with you and they want to be able to relate to your struggles too. Part of what I like about blogging is opening up a dialogue about issues that we are like minded about or have similarly dealt with. It’s such a great thing that JD has given us a forum for that here.

  4. Your struggle feels so parallel to mine and I CAN'T THANK YOU ENOUGH for writing your words. I'm sitting on my summer depression cloud watching it get smaller and smaller. I ask myself daily if I write funny or emotional. Some days I let the words dictate as I see you have. Beautifully. I knew I liked you. oxox

    1. Thank you Kristi! Kindred spirits, right? I think it’s all part of the package of who we are; the whole picture. The whole enchilada. I feel like I’m not sharing my experience authentically if I don’t include the stuff that isn’t all punchline, you know? And summer depresses me too. I’m glad your cloud got smaller and smaller.
      I like you too, sista! xoxo

  5. Hi! mod mom! This is such a well written, personal and helpful post. I love the use of Dylan’s song. I had PPD both times and it was so hard and so scary to deal with that when I “should have been happy.” UGH. Thank god Dooce and the Bloggess wrote about it. I’m forever grateful. To you too!

    1. Funny you wrote about this now… I’m in a gorgeous place on a mini-vacation, & yesterday while in the redwoods (my favorite place in the world), I went dark. Lost job, done nothing with my life, such a loser, etc. I came back in time to at least enjoy the day, but sometimes I just can’t control the dark moods…

      1. Natalie, that’s been me lately too. Today was rough (ironic that this piece ran today). It comes at the strangest times and sometimes there’s no stopping it. I’m glad you were able to grab hold of the reigns and enjoy your day. Being among the redwoods is one of my favorite things too. Enjoy the rest of your vacation and say hi to those gorgeous trees for me my friend! xo

      2. It comes at the weirdest times, doesn’t it? I’m glad you were able to enjoy your vacation. You’re anything but a loser, Nat. Life throws massive curveballs, but you are a strong, smart, funny, talented chica and you will get through this, I know it. xoxo

    2. Hello my friend! Thank you. That’s the thing – people tend to think “You just had a baby” or “life seems great for you” … “why are you depressed?” and it’s not that simple. It’s a switch we can’t turn off. I agree – thank God Dooce and The Bloggess wrote about it. They’ve opened up such dialogue, created communities, help squash some of the stigma and made it easier for more of us to talk about issues that would have been so much more difficult to be honest about previously.

    3. Hi Outlaw Mama! Thank you so much Christie. I’m glad they wrote about it too and opened the doors for the rest of us. I’ve never had PPD, but I can imagine it’s hard enough to be depressed without the added guilt that comes with the awareness that this is a point in your life where you should be happy and you’re not. I’m sorry you had to go through that twice, Mama and I’m glad you made it through. xoxo

  6. Are you kidding? I JUST wrote this same post on my site today. I knew we were soul sisters, AND, I don’t think small animals are a sign of ‘neediness’. I think they are a God Send! Love ya gal!

    1. Cheryl, we are definitely soul sisters! And those little fur balls are such God sends – you are so right about that. Pug soup for the soul? 😉 I’m goin’ over to read your post right now! xo

  7. Thank you Kristi. There are so many of us out here and we need to know we're not alone. We're in it together. Who was it that said "Support can be beautiful"? 😉 xoxo

  8. It definitely helps us to become more empathic. When we feel that deeply, are more sensitive, have gone through life's struggles…it opens our eyes to the struggles of others. I know that's certainly been true for me.

  9. People who do not suffer from depression simply do not understand how it affects us. And people with depression so often feel they are the only ones in that place. As more bloggers are open about these issues the less isolated we are. You are so lucky to be able to balance the sorrow with the snark and bring to others.

  10. I kept my depression in the dark for about a year but no more! I’m actually seeing my OB told about anti-depressants. I’m nervous and excited.

    Depression has taken a toll on me physically and emotionally. I do all I can every single day to make things at least okay. I’m focusing on not letting it consume my entire body when it happens, but that’s easier said than done.

    But on the bright side, it has made me see things in a different light. I am grateful for the smallest of small things and I’m embracing anything and everything I can.

  11. “Depression has held me back, held me up, held me hostage.” Such a powerful line, especially the insinuation that it can hold us up, be a comfort, a place to retreat. For as many times as I’ve wished away dark moods, I think I’d be nervous if I didn’t have them. They have always been a party of me. They interrupt my life but also help me renew. This essay was incredible, Linda!

  12. l sit here today resonating with your words. While I don't consider myself funny, I do try to encourage and write positively and while I try very hard not to sound too "bumper sticker-y" I don't think many who read from me would know the depth that sadness and darkness has been present and the amount of tears that are shed. I have been here many times before, since my teen years knowing a chronic sadness but always attribute it to something missing in me. Whether it be strength, or measuring up or whatever. Now many years later the sadness is often compounded but the rumblings of all my misgivings and mistakes. But I continue to plow forward for what choice is there? Yes acknowledge it and seek to lessen it's effects but I must get up and dig deep and bring forth the other side of the coin to the world of mine. Thank you for posting. I have yet been able to find the courage to be fully transparent with the depth and breadth my sadness has plagued me. I find strength in your words. 🙂

  13. Thank you for being so open. Depression has been one of those taboos unfortunately. However I’m glad to see many bloggers start to share their story. Depression all but paralyzes me. I feel like I have tunnel vision & that my world is crumbling down. I try to get out of the house the minute I feel this way. Easier said than done of course, but if I stay inside too long, I just go into a tailspin & it isn’t pretty.

  14. Coming clean with my friends and family about my depression forced and enabled me to be myself and stop pretending to be “perfect.” Getting treatment for my depression helped me let go of a lot of sadness and guilt I had from my childhood. Writing my blog about parenting while living with depression and anxiety is making me a (slightly) better parent. Living with depression has made me more compassionate for other people who struggle with mental illness. And I’m finding such a great community online. Thank you for your post.

    1. You’re welcome and I’m going to go and read yours. It is a wonderful thing about blogging that we have a community to share our stories with. Depression is tough enough, but when you throw parenting into the mix, that’s a whole other ballgame. We all need all the support as we can get.

  15. Mary, I'm glad that I was able to ease your struggle in any way. It's a daily uphill battle even if we do wake up feeling okay. That underlying possibility that it all might return is always with us. I guess we just need to try and be easier on ourselves, forgive ourselves the misgivings and mistakes. We're only human, after all. I wish you peace.

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