hey, maybe that’s too harsh.

I catch myself before it’s too late. It’s probably a talent. I catch myself thinking, “stupid, stupid, stupid” because I forgot to do that one thing I said I would do. Mid self deprecating thought I stop and go, “hey, maybe that’s too harsh.”

I find myself doing this all too often, and it usually is a sign that I’m falling into a pit of depression yet again. If I catch myself soon enough, I can manage to escape that deep, dark pit of emotional turmoil that is a depressive episode and continue on as a normal human. Sometimes, more often than I’d like to admit, I don’t realize it until I’m a month deep, surrounded by isolation and self-destructive tendencies.

I find myself laying on my floor at 1 am, lights off, listening to a playlist of mopey songs singing about how terrible everything in their lives are. It’s usually in a moment like this that I come to the realization of, “oh, right. I’m depressed again.”

I’ve been down so many times, I know how to deal with it. When you’ve been depressed for nearly a decade, coming out of a depressive episode becomes a regular practice. Everyone’s brain works differently, but for me that’s usually taking a day or two for myself. I’ll do whatever it is I want to do that day and not feel guilty for it. Because once you’re that deep in it, you should not feel guilty for taking a day to just watch your favorite feel-good show on Netflix or sit outside with a cup of tea and watch the wind blow through the trees.

Coming out of it isn’t always a pretty sight, either. It takes time, just like it took time to fall into it. I’ll catch myself along the way isolating or overreacting and I just take a step back and rewire my brain into Positivity Mode again.

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Things I Love

Warm summer nights,

the heat of the blazing sun has subsided,

but the warmth still radiates.

Sitting around a campfire,

conversing with friends.

 

Going to sleep after a productive day,

knowing I’m loved and cared for

even though I have my flaws,

knowing my friends don’t mind

they have their own flaws too

and that’s what makes us unique.

 

Being able to reflect on the past,

without being burdened by it’s misfortunes

Knowing I’m in a better place now than I was years past

and being thankful for the bad times as well as the good

because now I know how bad it can get,

so these little problems I encounter

they don’t seem so bad anymore.

Sure, sometimes life still gets me down,

but now I’ve a whole array of skills to deal with it.

 

Having a cookout on a mild day,

the shining sun and friends’ laughter filling the air.

Sunsets that turn the sky shades of pink and purple.

Looking up at the sky on a cloudless night,

stars twinkling as we relish in their beauty,

the moon full and illuminating the surroundings.

Knowing this isn’t time wasted,

I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Summer mornings.

Hot dewy air,

fresh cut lawns,

birds chirping,

hopeful breezes,

unsure what today will bring

but it rained over night

and the humidity finally broke,

so maybe it’ll be a good one.

 

Sipping coffee outside,

groggily making plans.

Trees green and lush,

flowing in the gentle breeze.

Taking in the moment,

remember this feeling.

 

Winter is soon,

these trees will be white,

the breeze brutal.

No more sitting outside in the morning,

waking up and feeling whole,

so remember how good it feels.

The Never-Ending Race

I don’t know where to go from here,

It feels like I’m running a never-ending race.

Every time I think I’m at the finish line,

The road turns and shows another five miles.

There’s always obstacles,

There will always be.

I’m not surprised.

That’s how life is and I’m not complaining.

I just wish I could take a break.

I have these dips in my mood

Every couple weeks,

Where life becomes too much

I get overwhelmed

And I wish I could pause time.

A letter to my past self.

There’s so many mistakes you’re going to make,

so many things you wish you said

and so many things you could’ve done better,

but you’ll get through it just fine.

To me from a year ago:

Good things are close,

do whatever you can to keep yourself busy,

and you don’t need an excuse to do what you want.

If you want to spend all day watching YouTube,

who’s stopping you?

Don’t move in with your boyfriend three weeks after he betrayed your trust.

Just because he’s going through a tough time doesn’t mean he should be your responsibility.

To me from two years ago:

You don’t need a boyfriend, 

you need a friend.

Reach out to people you’ve lost contact with.

Don’t date that boy just because he’s nice to you.

You’ll hate your summer job,

but it’s good money for the time.

And for fucks sake, don’t listen to that boy you’re going to date-

you don’t need to buy weed, he does.

To me from three years ago:

Let it go.

That annoying person shouldn’t ruin your day.

Yeah, he sucks but he’ll make for a good story.

I’m proud of you for getting through your first big break up.

It was months ago, 

but I know you’re still dealing with it.

You’ll be over him soon.

He still texts you every couple months, though.

To the future me:

I hope things are still going good.

I’ve been trying to set you up for success.

I’ve fallen into a routine of positive coping skills,

and I hope you stick to them.

Derek Westerly (Part 1)

I’ve never been one to care about mundane tasks. I always just hired someone for that. Cleaning my house? Hire a maid. Mowing the lawn? The neighbor’s kid could use an extra $20. I bought two cars in one year just because I wanted to. I was living my best life. But then my job went under. It all happened so quick; one minute we were on top of the world, the next we were bankrupt. 

I suppose I can blame it on the fact that we were a group of stupid 20-somethings who hadn’t run a business before, but no one could be prepared for what we went through. Everything was going so well, then there was the fire. Our whole building went up in flames in the night. Luckily, no one was hurt, but we never recovered. We got insurance money, and we thought for a while it was a blessing in disguise because we found this greatnew building in what seemed like a perfect location. There wasn’t a store like it for miles, and we quickly found out there was a reason for that: no one wanted it.

I try not to dwell on the past, but if I had been there the night of the fire… if I made sure the stove was off… if I moved the paper towels a foot to the left….There had to have been a reason for it. I’ve been racking my brain for a reason but come up empty every time. It’s taking a toll on my mental health. 

I’ve been applying for jobs elsewhere, but no one wants to hire some washed up, used-to-be rich kid whose whole business went under because of a bad location. My wife is still with me, bless her. I can tell it’s getting to her, too. She’s been picking up extra shifts at the hospital. I’m always home alone with the dogs, at least they’re happy. 

My wife tells me to look on the bright side, she’s always so positive. I love her for it, but honey, what could possibly come from this? It’s almost been two months and I haven’t had a single paycheck. I’m done with dead-end jobs, too, I need at least management. I can’t afford to live off minimum wage. The weather is starting to get better. The sun stays out later and it’s been warm enough for just a light jacket. That helps, at least a little. I’ve been taking the two pups for walks daily. Some days, if I’m feeling extra down, we’ll go for two. Or one long one. 

I’ve gotten friendly with the neighbors. We started just waving at each other when I passed them on my walks, but lately I’ve been stopping to chat. Last week, I had a cup of coffee with this nice elderly lady who lives at the end of the street. She has a tiny Chihuahua. He sat on my lap while we chatted. My two chunky, yellow Labrador Retrievers were unsettled at first, but they were given treats and they were satisfied.

She was very sweet. Her name is Nancy and her husband died a year ago, leaving her with a fortune, but she chose to live comfortably in the house they spent most of their lives in. She gave a lot of money away to charities and local businesses, but also invested a lot for herself. I asked her for advice. It wasn’t like me to talk to strangers so openly, but I hadn’t talked to another person besides my wife in two months and I was missing having friendships. All my coworkers from my old job moved back home with their parents, so I was left with nearly no one. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife more than anything, I just was used to having platonic friends, too. 

Nancy told me to apply to every job I find, even if it’s less than what I want. She pointed out that I could probably move up in the career, I was a CEO after all. A CEO that failed, but a CEO nonetheless. Whenever I began talking down on myself, she stopped me. She made me say one good thing about what happened. 

At first, the only positive thing I could say was that the fire was warm. It melted the snow around us. I chuckled sourly. The insurance money was more than enough. If we did our research…. It was a learning experience. Her words, not mine. I agreed resentfully. There’s nowhere to go but up. That one I came up with. She smiled warmly, offering me another cup of coffee. I declined politely, I had to finish up this walk. We parted ways and I’ve stopped to chat with her for a few minutes every day since. Never that in depth, just her asking how the job hunt has gone and our dogs investigating each other. 

I did apply to a few places. Nothing major, just two sales jobs and a manager at the local coffee shop. The last thing I wanted was to work at a coffee shop in any sense, but I thought about what Nancy had said. It was better than no paycheck. 

One of the sales jobs called me in for an interview tomorrow morning. I planned on calling the coffee shop tomorrow after the interview. I didn’t want the coffee shop job, but I’d rather a manager than a sales person. 

I practiced the interview with my dogs. I smiled politely and shook their paws, chuckling slightly at the absurdity of it. I introduced myself and professionally went over my resumé. They tried to lick my face. 

“Sir, this is extremely unprofessional.” I laughed, patting their heads. I guess I could find joy in the little things, so I wasn’t totally hopeless. And now I have potential jobs in the works, even if the crushing weight of my past still hung over me. 

Nancy asked me last week if I wanted to start again with the business, but in a better location. I told her no, and I had thought about it a lot. It was in the past now, and even if I wanted to, all my partners moved away, I’d need a whole new crew. Not to mention, I lost all my money when we went under, I’d have to take out a loan and my credit has been decreasing rapidly. 

As depressed as I was, I’d never been one to dwell for too long. I pick myself back up after a grieving period and I get myself back out there. Yeah, I was bummed about the company dying, but it could’ve happened to anyone. We were young, just out of college, what else could you expect?

Maybe someday I’ll start a new business. I’ll figure out what the town is in need of and I’ll make some new friends who want to be involved, we’ll save up some money, and we’ll start over. This time, we’ll be thorough. We won’t be hasty for the sake of opening sooner. We had the money to hold us over a few months, we could’ve spent more time planning…. I digress. 

Self Care

Self care is laughing at yourself

instead of beating yourself up.

Self care is going to sleep at 8pm because you’re tired.

Self care is eating when you’re hungry.

Self care is not buying yourself things you don’t need,

in hopes that it’ll cure your broken mind.

It’s letting yourself be upset,

and doing something that makes you happy.

It’s asking for help when you need it,

and letting yourself have a good cry to that one sad song.

It’s reaching out to an old friend,

even though you two haven’t talked much recently.

It’s being honest with yourself and those around you.

Self care is important,

because you’re the only one who will always be there for you.