• americanrecluse

    I wish I could come walk with you! But I sent some pennies. We (us crazies) need all the help we can get.

    I posted that same link to my FB wall a few days ago and the commenters eventually settled on #9 (the unending cycle) as kind of summing things up (without being quite as depressing as the “chained to the bed” one).

  • Breanne

    My best friend told me today that “we need to talk.” I wish I could send him #9, but instead, “I’m fine.”

  • Alison

    Reading your words just helped me realize something about myself. There’s a name for it and I can get help. Thank you.

  • Jen

    Thanks for the link, needed that today!

  • Jessica

    I’ve been reading since the beginning. Although I’ve missed a little here & there because, you know, life! I am in awe of how you’ve turned this into such a meaningful platform for so many people.

  • Courtney Harris

    I’ve seen Boggle before, but I hadn’t seen the list of cartoons. I’m realizing now (with tears building in my eyes, threatening to spill down my cheeks) that I shouldn’t be reading these at work. I wear my “happy, well-adjusted” costume here and I can’t let anyone know that I’m not okay. The comics are heartbreaking but ring so, so, so true for me. These make me feel not quite so alone AND completely alone. I hate this disease, and I hate calling it a “disease” because can’t I just snap out of it and be happy? Being unhappy can’t possibly be categorized as a “disease”, right? That’s just silly. Yet it completely consumes my life. Thank you for being a voice for a lot of us and showing your vulnerability and being so candid with your struggles.

  • Heidi

    Having been to the depths of hell and back with that illness, I want to wrap my arms around each and every single person who could identify with even one of those illustrations. In my experience, if you could relate to one, you could probably relate to all of them. I would wrap you all in my arms and let you cry, or numb out, or do what it was you needed, and then promise you—PROMISE you—it does get better.
    I know for a fact, things can and will get better. I’m living proof of it. My love and prayers to those who are suffering and especially those who are suffering in silence. Reach out to anyone, to everyone. Help can be found. Don’t give up. Please.

  • Jennifer

    Thank you for advocating on behalf of all of us who suffer from depression. I shared that article on facebook yesterday, too.

  • Heather Armstrong

    You’re not alone.

  • http://malisams.squarespace.com malisams

    Depression blows. I’ve suffered from it my whole life, sometimes circumstantially, sometimes “for no reason at all”…but always the same. Always debilitating. Always hopeless. UNTIL. Until! I see a Chinese herbalist — I call her my hippie doctor — and with my last bout, after I had my son a year ago, she suggested I try Sam-e. It’s all natural. Amino acids that help balance mood (as well as do some other stuff, like ease joint pain). I get it off Amazon. Jarrow brand. Anyway, I’m NOT a salesperson or a marketer or a doctor or anything…just someone who gets depressed and tried something natural that actually worked, and I feel like I have to shout it from the rooftops. Obviously it may not work for everyone, but it worked for me, so I thought I’d share. Sam-e. 400mg a day works for me, but my hippie doctor said it’s safe to take up to 1600mg a day short-term, to pull you up and out. Anyway, good luck, y’all. And thanks Dooce for starting a dialogue again. Hopefully every time you bring it up and we all post, at least one person feels less alone and a little more hopeful.

  • Dee

    Kudos to you for bringing awareness of this to the forefront. THIS is what we need – real information and support, and a lack of stigma attached to mental illness. I have family members who suffer from depression and I used to, also, and it’s SO important to eliminate the stigma.

  • Britiney

    You’ve been on my mind so much this weekend. When I read your “Stuff I found while looking around” from last week, it seemed . . . sad. Sad in a way it doesn’t usually. Usually I laugh at them all, and there were a few that made me laugh. But the falling scenes and sad lunches and ptsd and Michael Wright’s article. I just know you’ve been struggling (because you’ve shared with us a little) and I want you to know we’re all here, with sticks outstretched, praying you’ll keep fighting against the darkness and choose to live. <3

  • Heather Armstrong

    I say, whatever works! Meditation, medication, therapy, herbs, exercise… seek out and find whatever helps. If prayer helps you, pray. It’s awesome that you found something that works.

  • Holloway

    Dooce, these posts are an absolute lifeline to me right now. My bf, an incandescently wonderful human being who has never been depressed, isn’t sure how to deal, and your writing helps him, too. He can’t fix it, and I have anger problems this time of year that make transparent efforts to “help” me a risky proposition.

    Here are things he’s done that get me out of the house/bed/mindfuck spiral I face down every morning and night: “Will you come to CVS with me?” “Come tell me who this actress is? She’s my next freebie.” “Can we go to Jcrew? I need shoes.” (<–brilliant). "Don't get out of bed. I'll bring you coffee." He never asks if I'm ok, because he knows there's no answer. He's initiated naked time in the afternoons/early evenings instead of the usual nights/mornings. He climbs back in bed and sits with me a few minutes longer in the mornings, usually making him later than he'd like to be for his day. He holds me without saying anything, for as long as I hold on to him. Mostly, he gives me little things to do with him, and makes time to do what I need to do with me. It sounds like he knows exactly what to do, but sometimes I still bite his head off and spark a meltdown, because none of these things solve my problem

    But I don't expect him to. I don't even want him to–I need to do this myself. Above all, he gets that, and magically, he wants to participate. I think that's true of most partners, but they might feel totally drained and out of ideas.

    For any other partners dealing with this, I thought it might help to know there are things you can do that make the sufferer in your life feel noticed and supported, without also making them feel patronized (more angry, more worthless).

  • Ali

    I had been a clinical social worker providing treatment for multiple mental health conditions for over 10 years when I was suddenly hit with multiple life stressors plunging me into clinical depression for the first time in my life. As I clawed my way back up, I thought to myself, “I get it.” and one of my ladder steps was the thought of using my personal experience to be better for my clients.
    So while I am incredibly relieved to be well above that incredibly low point, I am grateful for the lesson it taught me. Go NAMI!

  • Kara

    Over the past 8 years of reading your blog you have been a source of comfort with my chronic depression. I’m in an okay place right now but I know if I falter again, I can come to your blog and not be alone.

  • ToriL

    I think what is so hard for me when I am in the depths of my depression is continuing to slog along and make the “right” choices…show up for my therapy appointments, make a happy face at work all day, stay away from the alcohol, give a lesson to the receptionist at my psychiatric NPs office on how to bill my insurance company properly, stay away from the medications in my cabinets that I could inhale, remind myself to breath, stop texting my ex boyfriend, pay my bills,etc… It is down right exhausting being depressed, and I want like hell to get better but it is such an effort to do all these things AND feel like people really give a shit about me. I live away from family and a lot of my friends. My ex husband (of 10 months) was my life here in the amazing city I have been in for 8 years. I know desperately that I need a community of friends, support, other single parents (I have a 2 and 3 year old). I am sick of having to be the one to reach out, to make these connections. I (and embarrassingly so) want someone to reach out to me, to hold my hand. Maybe I am just not seeing it. When we most need connection we isolate. One more week in September, just gotta make it through. I have had 3 failed suicide attempts. One in late September last year and two in late March. Those must be my trigger months. I am working like hell to get through the rest of this month, but it’s scary and daunting and I feel alone and ashamed.

  • PhotoCoyote

    What a gift you are, Heather. Truly.

  • sg

    What I have been curious about is the seeming prevalence of this lately. Recently Bloggess had a post on how she seems to only enjoy two or three days each month. She went on to describe the awfulness that prevails the other twenty-eight days. If I remember correctly, she received something upwards of 3100 comments within a couple of days. Her words and yours strike so close to this endless feeling of zero hope. How can so many of us feel this way? I have three very close friends that are in the same situation. We ask ourselves repeatedly how much worse we can possibly feel? We’ve talked about Thelma and Louise. We’ve talked each other off several cliffs. I even called an emergency intervention by a state mental institute to keep my friend from doing what so many of us consider so often lately. It doesn’t seem to end. Why are there so many? Is there an uptick of depression lately? Or is it being more widely reported ? I’m glad the stigma is beginning to soften but it’s revealing a disturbing and ugly truth. If this many people feel as constantly smothered by hopelessness as I do, it seems that the word epidemic must float into the conversation at some point. All of the meds and therapy and support groups and still this feeling fills every part of my being. How did this happen to so many?

  • Kate

    Thank you for this. My husband has been looking for “action items” to help me out. Lately it’s been just giving me time alone by myself in bed to work through stuff… we have a two year old so I don’t often get the down time I need (any down time at all, really). Not too much time, of course, but sometimes I just need to be able to pull the covers over my head for awhile and process.

    The thing is that he thinks he’s just fine, always been fine. But lately I’m realizing how disconnected he is from his feelings, and how often he shuts off instead of experiencing them. He came with me to therapy last week and… wow. This man, who comes across as incredibly strong and stable and together… he’s got his own issues. He cried. He doesn’t feel good enough. He has a hard time facing his own reflection in the mirror. He is struggling with feeling like he’s not good enough for me since I’m depressed. So much going on, and I had no idea.

    On the ride home he shrugged it all off as nothing he didn’t already know, and nothing helpful to share. Nothing could come of wallowing in that, and he certainly wasn’t going to go back.

    So: I think it’s dangerous to view anyone as having it all together. Even if they’ve never experienced a sustained bout of depression, everyone has experienced rough times. And anyone that loves you is probably also facing some of their own demons because of the helplessness of watching you. Or maybe they’re experiencing them for their own reasons, but refuse to acknowledge them (like my husband’s job is overwhelmingly, soul-crushingly difficult and endless). And that puts a lot of pressure on them to continue acting like they have it all together, to never let their pain show.

    I don’t know if that’s helpful or not. It helped me if only because I don’t feel so much like a miserable human being who doesn’t deserve someone so perfect. I’m just a human being, and so is he, and so are you. We’re all alone in this together.

  • Debra

    Thank you Heather.

  • Meg

    Thank you, again and always, for helping. For opening up the way so many of us can’t or won’t and telling the rest of the world that it’s not just “feeling blue” it’s a medical problem and it’s not something to shake off in a day.

    For my part, medication helps tremendously (although I wish a particular prescription would work for more than a year or two, I hate transitioning or switching or whatever they call that hell), but the single best thing for depression is the dog currently sleeping on the rug next to me. Without her, I would not get out of bed many days. Without her, I would never ever ever even look at my neighbors, much less chat with them and feel like I should wear something other than pyjamas while walking said dog. Dogs don’t sigh and ask why you’re depressed, they lean their heads on your knee and lick away tears and manage to communicate, “I love you because you are my human, not because of anything you do or don’t do,” which is something we need to know.

  • Jodi

    Thank you. I’m in the depths. Been there for a while now. I’m looking for a stick to fight with, but I haven’t found it yet. Right now, just putting one foot in front of the other is all I can manage because making everything look OK to everyone else is absolutely exhausting. Anyway, I needed to read this. Knowing I’m not alone helps.

  • Michael Mathews

    I don’t have the “pull the covers over the head and stay in bed” desire, but it seems for the last several years, in September my anxiety levels go up four or five fold. Suddenly I doubt everything. Every ache or pain is a heart attack. Every phone call must be somebody with cancer. On and on it goes. I don’t know if it is the seasonal changes or what. I can’t think of anything traumatic that has happened in September.
    Reading these posts and the many heartfelt comments is very informative and at times wrenching. I wish I could offer a stick to anyone who is struggling.

  • Heather

    What a lovely post. I too have suffered from depression, albiet it mild, and i did require medication for around six months. Luckily I am now off it and have worked out mine stems from stressful situations. I am currently going through another stressful situation and i can feel it creeping up. I am doing everything I can to keep it at bay and manage my stress but I may at some point have to return to the GP and talk about the tablets again. There is such a stigma regarding this and i think the work you are doing to stop this is wonderful. Whether it is mild or severe depression, everyone is affected differently and it is a struggle for everyone suffering it, along with their families.

  • Typemama

    Remember, last week, when you asked what you owe your readers? This. This. This is why I read Dooce. Because, in September, when I start to feel this way, I know there is someone out there alone together with me. Because, when my kid tells her therapist she’s thought about suicide, there’s someone out there alone with me. And alone with her. Because someone has words to say things I can’t think and have trouble feeling. All that other, it’s icing. This, this is what I came for, this is what I stay for, this is what you give me. A stick.
    Thanks, Heather.
    (Chokes back tears.)

  • Lauren3

    Your last sentence: it definitely does help. Thank you for your comment. Insight like yours helps me immensely when it comes to living with my SO, who suffers from depression. And I’ve learned so much from Heather over the years.

  • seren

    Thank you for this. I’m now 52 and I’ve struggled with clinical depression since I was a teenager. I’ve thought very seriously about suicide several time. I had a plan made out too. Other folks don’t seem to understand, suicide is not about wanting to die, it’s about not wanting to live any more. Not the same things at all. I loved the cartoon and shed a few tears. Finally, someone gets me. Thank you.

  • Ann

    Thank you for writing about this. It’s something I’ve been dealing with for a couple of years now and reading that other people experience it the same way is such a huge help.

  • Jenny

    I have at times had anxiety and one of the warning signs that I’ve learned to recognize is when I start to feel anxiety hovering and LOOKING for something to attach itself to. It’s kind of an amazing thing to realize that somehow there are chemicals in my body that cause emotions that then look to attach themselves to a reason. Now that I can recognize when this is coming I’m better able to deal with it, but it’s given me a new appreciation of the phenomenon. There doesn’t need to be a cause, anxiety (and depression) exist and sometimes they attach to things (and obviously there are real causes that can also set them off), but sometimes there isn’t and that doesn’t make it less real.

  • Holloway

    Thank you for your words. I am infamous for the “nothing helpful to share” line in our house. Luckily, I really identify with his approach of having it all together, and it’s not a point of (self) judgment between us.

    I have actually appreciated learning from his brain in times like this–what he’s doing is obviously showing me how his brain works when he problem-solves this in his head. So I have a pretty good baseline of assumptions and behavior to draw from later, if or when he needs someone to do the same things.

    I don’t know about you, but I could do better at actually saying “can we go to a movie” or just thanking him for something specific he did that day or week. I require too much mind-reading, and I forget what a thank-you can mean to someone who feels helpless. A talk about the positive things he’s doing can explain some of the negative things I’m going through without having to actually talk about them …

    I hope you have friends who come take you to lunch or get your 2yo for the afternoon. I have so much respect for what you’re doing, and your empathy and awareness doing it.

  • Teal

    “It doesn’t have to have to a reason for it to be real and totally debilitating.” THIS. Totally on point.

  • Holloway

    Heather is a life-saver. Don’t give up–your efforts mean more than your SO might be able to say or recognize.

  • Heidi

    You bring up a very good point. I have often wondered the same. Is it worse that it was 50, 100 years ago and it only seems so prevalent now because it’s (slightly) more acceptable to talk about? More importantly, is there research being done on the cause of mental health issues or is all the research money being poured into meds to mask the symptoms? That’s one HUGE fail in the medical industry of the U.S.: pouring money into masking issues instead of looking for root causes (not just in mental health but all diseases). Perhaps too much money is made by masking issues to search for real causes.

  • Jessica Bates

    I’ve been lucky to have a pretty strong mind or emotional balance, or whatever it is that makes me whatever I am. My husband and sister have not been so lucky. My sister has struggled with what we think is OCD, some depression, and anxiety her whole life, and my husband struggles with pretty severe anxiety caused by (I think) PTSD. When I see them struggle, it hurts me. I want to help and I have no idea how to. I want so badly to take away their burdens, but they are often indescribable burdens. Earlier this year they took a Stress Relief class at a local yoga studio. It was a six-week class (which met once a week) with different topics for each meeting. It seems to have helped them both. My husband has recently been practicing meditation and yoga, and they seem to have helped tremendously. I’ve noticed that there are triggers for both of them — stress, pain, sickness, feeling out of control, change — and they start to retreat back into themselves, start to shake with panic, lose control of their limbs and sometimes their minds. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. Thanks for sharing your story and letting others know they aren’t alone.

    Love and light to you and yours. I so appreciate your space here on the interwebs.

  • Heidi

    Hang on, ToriL, please hang on. I know exactly what you’re saying about how hard dealing with depression is, and then to throw LIFE on top of it all. I have often felt the same. That people can see me hurting and struggling, why don’t they reach out? On the other side of depression, I can see that some were reaching out but to me, it looked like inconvenience or irritation. Others wanted to, but didn’t know how. And still, others were afraid to be sucked into the blackness. Please hang on. Life is wonderful and precious, even though I know you can’t see it now. Trust me on this. It gets better. Love to you and your kids.

  • Heather Armstrong

    Shit, I’m totally crying. Thank you. You just handed be a stick back.

  • Heather Armstrong

    You are not alone, ToriL. We are all here with you. September and March are the worst months for people like us, and knowing that this month is soon coming to an end is something to hold on to. Let that be a hand to pull you through. It will get better.

  • Heather Armstrong

    Thank you so much.

  • Jane

    In 1989, after trying for many years to cope with his depression through medication and therapy, my father chose to end his life. He was a wonderful and creative man. I often wonder how the internet might have been his “stick” had it existed then. You people are beautiful.

  • KMC2

    Are you as happy as I am about new Kings Of Leon (Mechanical Bull)? YEAH!

  • Niki

    Most days I see this site as my guilty pleasure. Until tears start to fall down my face and I realize it’s really my savior because no one says these things to me, or shows me that it’s going to be okay. They look away and I have to find a way to be okay by myself, that is, until I come here and see I’m not alone at all.

  • Kristen

    Heather, are you familiar with the song “a better son/daughter” by Rilo Kiley? It’s my official anthem for my struggles. I don’t live with depression as much as crippling panic and anxiety, and listening to the song always helps. I feel like it understands me.

  • Lynn Bossange

    Hyperbole and a half. My favorite, ever.

  • Lisa Dunleavy

    Sending hugs to everyone who needs a stick right now. I’ve been there and have been lucky enough to come out the other side (going back for occasional, mercifully short, visits). Keep fighting and ask for help, please.

    Heather – keep going, you’re doing a fabulous job. You will get through it all. Hugs to you from England xx

  • Lee

    I’m sorry to say the only time I read your blog is when I come to work and my friend has sent me an email titled “for you”. That’s it. She knows my struggles. So tonight I had one of those and the timing couldn’t have been better. I bring an alphabet soup with me in terms of what I have been diagnosed with and things that I have “survived”. I don’t like the word survived as I am still not certain I have survived. Anyway on my way to work tonight I stopped and bought razor blades and this blog, this cartoon may very well keep me from opening them.