Thoughts by Richard Bleil
When I was an undergraduate, my university installed electric shelves in the library. It was a fairly new idea back then, designed to help conserve space. The shelves were electric, opening when one steps on a pad (not unlike the pads you see in grocery stores) and close automatically as needed. To prevent the pads from closing on a student, there were pressure pads in the shelves that prevent them from closing when somebody is standing there.
Unfortunately for one of my classmates, she was too small to be detected. Apparently, there was a minimum weight requirement to activate the safety, and she just didn’t make it. Yes, the shelves closed on her. I guess the mechanism jammed, because she spent an hour or two in the shelves as firefighters tried to figure out how to get her unstuck.
Have you ever felt like that? I’ve been feeling that way for several days now, that I just am too small to be noticed. The world is a big place, and it moves on its own. It’s easy to feel crushed as the world moves in on you, stuck and unable to move by forces larger than you could ever be.
I wish I had advice on what to do as the world closes in. I don’t. I’ve spent several days binging on a mini-series and avoiding eating. The weird thing is that there have been so many good things happening that I feel guilty about being depressed to the point of being nearly paralyzed. A new heat and central air system was installed a few days ago, today my new shed will be installed, things are very good. So why am I so blue?
The truth about depression is that it doesn’t require a trigger, and can hit at any time for any reason, or for no reason at all. Today a friend of mine told me I shouldn’t feel guilty for being depressed in good days, and she’s right. Depression is often, as it is in my case, caused by a chemical imbalance. It’s a disease and should be subject to no more shame than any other disease. You can catch a cold at any time, and you can be depressed at any time.
Regardless of how “stuck” I feel, life marches on. This is the reality in which we live. Today, I ran out of pants so, whether I am motivated or not, I have to do laundry. I’ll be honest, it’s tempting just to live in my underwear for a while, but, no, I did laundry. Which reminds me, my pants are still in the dryer. They came to install my shed today, although all they did so far is unload the truck and lay a few boards out. I’ll have to be up tomorrow morning in case they need something as they continue the process. They stopped for rain, so the grass will continue to grow, and I desperately need to mow the lawn. But, hopefully, I’ll have a new shed in which to store my lawnmower which is currently in my guest bedroom, a bedroom I created never expecting it to be occupied.
It’s somehow comforting to know that I’m not alone. Although I would not wish depression on my most bitter enemies, it helps to know that my struggles are not unique. This seems odd, even to me, but it’s the way it is. I suppose it’s akin to working when you know other people are working. I’ve noticed that it’s so much more difficult to work when I feel like the only person in the world doing so, like late at night, but during a workday I am much more productive (when I’m not stymied with depression).
We will get through this. If you are suffering as I am, it helps to remember that it’s temporary. Just as the Tao te Ching suggests, every down is followed by an elevation, just as every up mush eventually come to an end. I’ll keep writing my blogs, I’ll mow my lawn, I’ll move some things out to the new shed, and it will be okay. Heck, maybe tomorrow I’ll be motivated enough to even fry a couple of burgers up with an experimental recipe.
Keep the faith. If you’re down, just remember you’re not alone, and people care about you. Don’t do anything rash. And if you know somebody struggling with depression, be there for them. Let them know that you care that you are there for them but don’t push. Trying to force somebody to accept the help you believe they need is sometimes worse than doing nothing at all. Remember, we’re all in this together.