@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
Remember, Remember, What Happens In November
There are patterns. And they can’t always be chalked up to coincidence. To see it that way would be foolish. November and February. The notoriously rough months. It’s rare I can escape either month without some sort of depressive episode and/or a nervous breakdown. Blame it on the darkness. Blame it on the cold. Blame it on the regrets of the end of the year. Blame it on the anxiety of the year to come. I’m sure they are all at least part of the reason.
And yet. Thank Christmas time for pulling me out. Thank those colored lights and cookies and re-uniting with people missed that you didn’t even realized you missed so much until they’re there in front of you. Call it childish. Though I never thought being childish was necessarily a bad thing. To see it that way would be foolish.
February, I understand the misery. I actually think if you live in New York and you’re not miserable in February, there’s something wrong with you. I mean, it’s terrible. It’s been cold and dark for so long. The trees, without any life, don’t look down upon you with sadness. They don’t look down at all. They are brittle and dead and creepy with their bare branches like the long skinny fingers of the grim reaper. But that’s an illusion. They will come back. So February makes sense. As much I love New York, I would be glad to be gone for the entire month of February, that dreadful month.
But November? November is a bit more mysterious to me. Or maybe not. Maybe I’m hiding key information from you. You’re immune to what you don’t know. Still, I’m haunted. Haunted by the former versions of myself. Ghosts that visit in November.
Though I can tell you this: During a depressive episode you’re not just in the midst of the current episode, you’re reliving the previous ones too. And so, even if you’re prepared, even if you know it’s coming, there’s no actual way to deflect it. It’s hard to trick yourself. Because even though I’m stronger and wiser than years past, so is the darkness. It knows you too.
But I’m no fool. I can learn and I can take notes and I can remember, even if I want to forget. If you’re especially affected by Winter Blues, or even, regular blues, there may be ways out— or maybe, at least, ways to make it easier, and/or shorten your stay in the rabbit hole.
Get Enough Sleep
Rule number one. More than half the time my mind runs amuck with delusional, paranoid, and negative thoughts, it’s because of lack of sleep. A good nights sleep can cure many a minds maladies. Personally, I don’t have a regimented lifestyle, so a simple sleep schedule is basically impossible. But this doesn’t mean I don’t keep track. Sure, I can go a couple nights with little to no sleep, but if I keep that up, it’s a sure path to crazy town. It’s amazing how simple this one is.
Get The Fuck Out Of Bed
Now, I realize this slightly contradicts my previous rule. Once I had thought contradictions could not exist. That one had to be wrong. I’ve since redacted that thought. Life is full of contradictions… that’s why it gets very complicated sometimes. But I digress, I simply could not count how many times I wake up in the morning and wish I could just go back to sleep— FOREVER! Life and dreams and happiness and companionship just seem hopeless, or at least, not as good as staying in bed FOREVER. It would be hard to find someone my age as enthusiastic about death more than myself. It’s in these scenarios where it’s especially important to get up. Many times, the dread of ever getting up is cured by just getting up. Within an hour of actually leaving my bed (where I wanted to stay FOREVER), I’m blasting music and cleaning (I love cleaning, very therapeutic for me) my apartment and dancing around, and I am actually completely fine. Which seems crazy and bi-polar (ahem). Moral of the story, GET THE FUCK OUT OF BED. Even better— go outside.
Create Things To Look Forward To
This goes hand in hand with the previous rule. It’s easier (or maybe necessary) to get out of bed when you have proper reason to. My top reasons are: doing comedy, surfing, moviegoing, running, writing, some more unhealthy reasons I won’t go into. All of these are relatively solitary activities, but it’s definitely helpful to throw in some quality social time with people you like to laugh with. Of course, I don’t look forward to leaving my apartment to go to my job, but that is also motivation. Motivation is healthy (mostly). If I am not doing comedy one weekend, I try to make plans in advance with one of my closer friends, because I know, I will get depressed if I’m not working, and then I won’t get up, but if I already made plans before I’m stuck in bed I will (probably) go. In conclusion, don’t let your calendar go blank. The black hole will get you.
Take As Instructed
Not everyone is one meds to help stabilize the overworked gears in their mind. And that’s great. GOOD FOR FUCKING YOU. Though I know a number of people not on meds that should be, and visa versa as well. Trouble is, you have to be disciplined about it. And that’s hard when the reason you’re on meds is you’re a little batty in the first place. When you’re in an up phase, you think “I don’t need these,” and when you’re down, you think, “what’s the fucking point anyway?” Say, I don’t know, you live alone and have no one to be like, “hey, are you properly taking meds, you fucking psycho,” (ahem) it’s even more important that you’re self disciplined enough that you do what’s necessary for you. Because missing doses or changing them based on your own “rules” is almost always a bad idea. Also, if you do decided you want out, slowly wean yourself off, don’t drop it cold turkey. I learned that shit the hard way.
Perhaps you are not a reader by nature, and in that case, I feel bad for you and also think you’re a bit dim. I love books. You know that scene in Beauty and the Beast when Belle comes across the Beasts’ library and she’s like, “holy fucking shit! This is the bees knees!” (Not an exact quote.) I would react the same way. A vast library gives me a lady boner, if I could put it so eloquently. In fact, if I go to a date’s apartment or a friends for the first time, and see they have a giant book shelf, my interest in them increases exponentially. And then, depending on the books on the shelf, I can immediately tell if we’re going to get along. Reading is a great distraction from your fucked up thoughts. It’s an escape. The shit that is going on in your head is replaced by a story and characters and it’s a wonderful way to be you but also not be you. Reading is WAY better than TV. Because with TV your thoughts can (and often do) wander. Reading requires more concentration and pushing your thoughts to the side. If you don’t read, I can’t help you. And I think you’re a bit dim.
Recognize Red Flags
It’s totally okay and normal to be depressed sometimes**. But if you’re the type where depression becomes crippling and you’re fantasizing about all the ways to die, you should not let red flags go unacknowledged. One of the biggest red flags in loss of interest in things you love, and not only loss of interest, but dreading it entirely. For me, the easiest indicator is when I HATE comedy. And I mean I fucking hate it. I am hell bent on quitting. But upon stepping back and further inspection, I can see I hate everything. I FUCKING HATE EVERYTHING. I’ve no interest in my top interests. I just want to stay in bed FOREVER. This is a giant, rip tide red flag. Often times, there’s little you can do, except, keep doing those things you once loved that you now hate. It will be painful. It will suck. You’ll be a drag to people around you. But you should keep on keeping on. You will remember why you loved these things in the first place if you keep showing up.
**Hey look! I’m doing one of those pretentious asterisk side notes. I want to make something very clear. Just because I write about mental health and my issues and blah, blah, blah, doesn’t mean I’m not okay (au contraire! If I’m writing about it, that is actually a very good sign). But I am honest. Most of people are phony fucks who post all over social media how great their lives are, when they are complete messes because they are pretending and trying to live up to other phony fucks social media posts, and pretending and not being honest with yourself is going to lead to a pretty fucking miserable life that will eventually eat you like a great white shark tearing you to peices. I don’t like that I get depressed. But I’m not ashamed of it either. It’s an ugly part of me, sure. Ugly is a part of life. I’m healthier for embracing it.
Let Someone In
This may be the one I have struggled with the most. Ask anyone who knows me, a lot of them cannot believe I’m the same person who writes dour jokes and blogs, because I keep that side of me behind closed doors, and I’m a loner and a reader and a writer and I spend a lot of time behind closed doors. This is a tricky one to me. Because there’s nothing I hate more than people who whine about shit that is clearly their fault and/or they’re being petty and/or they just love drama and/or they’re big on gossip and attention. This to me, many times, is annoying and selfish to be putting your bullshit weight on others shoulders. I never want to belittle depression, but often times that word is thrown around too loosely. Being sad or heartbroken or grieving sucks and you want to die. In depression you want to kill yourself. And there’s a mighty big difference there. You’re lucky if you don’t know it. Yes, I write about and joke about my reputation of being an “ice queen” or “princess of darkness” but part of how I deal with my demons is I mock them. They’re not so scary if I can laugh at them. This is my way of dealing with my shit. Which is my shit, and no one else’s shit and I hate to bother people with problems I created in my mind. Conversely, it is important to let a couple people in. Other people have been down the dark and lonely road. There is something to be said about having a few good people you can talk to. And I mean really talk to. Someone who can help you open up, acknowledge those red flags, make you feel better and not alone and make you laugh. A person who is not just a friend, but a listener, who doesn’t judge or belittle you, they make you feel comfortable and safe, but most importantly, they don’t try to FIX you. These people might save your life one day.
The Feeling Is Fleeting
My mantra. Probably the most important thing to remember, at least for me. Remember you have been here before. Remember that it doesn’t last. Remember that you come back. Something about depression puts logic on hold. I pride myself on being one of the most logical people I know. This is confirmed by pretty much everyone I know as I’m often a go to person for advice between family and friends as I am usually very fair and logical. But depression drowns logic. And it numbs the love you feel. It numbs the love you give. It numbs everything. Everything is pointless and tiresome. While the you you identify as still exists, somewhere in your head, you’re not sure you will come back this time. You feel that this is last time. This time you don’t come back. This time, it’s over. But you mustn’t give into that. It will kill you. You must remember that it goes away. Yes, it sure as shit is gonna come back, but it will always go away. How do I know? Because the past predicts the future. And the past is proof that it will end.