The Pain of Progress

Forever ago I found a cable knit sweater at Target. It was mustard colored and I loved it. It fit well, and it just had a sense of comfort. I went back and over a few weeks collected as many colors as I could find. Blue, green, beige. Sad I never found a red. The off white sweater was one size larger than the others but that made it even comfier.

I wore it all winter. I wore it to work and I wore it at home. In the summer I would find the lamest excuse to wear it. When I went into the “grippy sock jail,” aka hospital it was one of the few items of my own that I had.

Wearing that sweater gives me comfort and security. It was armor and it was what I knew.

Depression, for so long, feels like that too. It still makes me want to die, but it is also familiar, something I know, and at times, something that keeps me warm.

Last week, I visited my sister, who lives in a kind of remote paradise. My daughter was living there for part of the summer, and some of my trips purpose was to help my daughter move back home. It was an amazing visit. I spent time with my daughter, but also with my sister and her wonderful family. I took walks, I sat on a porch and read, and just sat there appreciating peace. I wrote about my childhood and about canoe trips, in an actual book.

I had two days of.. Nothing. Depression and anxiety weren’t there. At the end of these days I would be so exhausted that I could feel them, but it was only as I was going to sleep.

The closer I got to home the more the anxiety grew, and the depression poked its head out. Remembering that I had nothing to be, except broken.

“Getting better” has always scared me. So this development is very overwhelming. I worry that people will see me being more alert and active, and think “Great, he’s better now!” I worry the life I awaken to will be so very different from my old life. I will have to recreate myself, learn who I am and how I live my life.

I do know that I have more energy, but that a lot of it goes to wearing my “human face” and interacting with others. Ironically, the better I look, the better I’m putting on a good show. It feels a bit like I’m just going back to the time I was depressed but able to convince others I was fine. Back into the sadness closet.

I’m not there (“Better”) yet, obviously. It’s a long road. And I’m still not sure how I feel about walking that long journey. Or even if I’m willing to.

What to say and do for your depressed friend

I haven’t seen him more than a handful of times in the last 20+ years, but he’s been a friend since just after high school. I had to miss getting together recently.

Here’s how the email exchange went down:


Sorry for the late reply. Still pretty rough. Did you get together with <otherfriend>? How was he?


Write anytime you can or feel up to it. I think about you often. I hope things improve soon for you.

<otherfriend> ended up staying here for a week. LOL. Was good to see him.

Even if last minute and we just go for a drive or something if there is ever anything I can do, please please don’t hesitate to ask.

Take good care of yourself, my friend!


Thank you.

And I just wanted to say I get people telling me they want to help, or they know how I’m feeling, or here’s a “helpful web page”, etc.  Not disingenuous but sometimes just doesn’t click.  But there’s something about the way you put it that was exactly the right way.  Thank you so much.  I will let you know when I’m up for getting coffee or something, absolutely.  Have a great fourth of July!


That’s because they know they’re supposed to say it and then don’t think about the words they use. They just borrow someone else’s, and it’s not genuine.

With me, I’m serious. I want you to feel better. I’ve been depressed before and that was bad enough. I can’t imagine what you are feeling or dealing with.

Just know I’m here, and that I truly care. If you’re having an awful night and need a new shoulder to (literally) cry on. I’m here. If you just want to sit in silence and watch cute bunny videos on YouTube, I’m all about it. The difference is that this isn’t about me, I’ll be ok. This is about what you need to feel better.

So, like I insisted before…take good care of yourself. Please don’t forget I’m a text away…but be prepared for me to act if you ask for something. 



Thank you.