One Step Ahead

Fall is beautiful and wonderful. It’s filled to the brim with family hikes, delicious foods, the incredible smells of fall. And it’s also the time of year I struggle. I don’t know why, but there it is.

I thought that this year I might be immune. My fall is packed with good things. I’m meeting up with people I adore for a whole weekend, I am going to my first out-of-state professional conference for the first time since I had kids, and I may even get to take a challenging eight mile hike I’ve never completed before. Depression can’t bite if I’m in my insulated happy-suit, right? Wrong.

For some inexplicable reason, it sneaked up on me early this year. Maybe it got a peek at my calendar of awesome and knew that this time in the waiting was its only opportunity. Depression is a sneaky little you-know-what. Anyway, it got me. Suddenly yesterday I found myself tangled like a bug in that all too familiar web of self-doubt and despair, all my personal failings both real and imagined playing in a continuous loop.

But I’ve got a secret weapon; stubbornness. This time I refuse to play by the rules. Just because it’s got me doesn’t mean it gets to keep me. There is still good in my world, even if it wants to hide itself behind a mask of inconvenience or disappointment.

I went shopping for a new book but didn’t find anything I wanted to buy. Instead, I found a book in the free bin at my favorite used bookstore.  It was a book sj has mentioned a time or two, but I had never read it.

It rained on Saturday. Poured for hours, knocking outdoor activities off the schedule. Instead, I spent my day in bed reading my free book. And said book turned out to be my first five-star book of the year. It is also on my personal top 10 ever. Ever. It made me cry, it made me think, it made me wonder.

This morning I woke far too early with a sudden, jump-out-of-bed illness. After such a jolt of adrenaline, going back to sleep was impossible. So I canned eight jars of pumpkin butter and did three loads of laundry. After taking Squish to school, I dug in to my afternoon chores. Now my floors are steam-cleaned, laundry is finished. By 10am, all my chores for the day were done. Now I get to start a project I’ve put off for a while, and I get to play.

There weren’t near enough jars for all of my pumpkin butter. A breakfast of hot pumpkin butter, coffee, and fresh bread is divine. And I can do it again tomorrow.

Some of the photos I took last year and had high hopes for are unusable. But the contrast between my old camera and my new are vast. My new camera has incredible capabilities, and I have just scratched the surface of what it can do. There are tortoise books in my future. Plus, by clearing out the bad photos, I’ve made a bit of room on my computer.

I know that positive thinking isn’t a cure. Depression is not exactly a choice, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a choice to be made. I can focus on what’s good and try to stay afloat while I ride out this storm, or I can give in and sink. For today, I am stubborn. I am counting those blessings as fast as I can see them. For today, I’m one step ahead.



*Update – As I tried to publish this post, Chrome and all its extensions crashed, taking part of my post with it. Depression is a sore loser.

19 thoughts on “One Step Ahead

  1. I was surprised to find – late in life – that being happy was a choice you make every morning. Joy is possible regardless of the circumstances. Good for you!

  2. I’ve written a lot about this lately, after nearly two years of depression. Of course, it came in waves, but for a while there I was drifting in it, more than not. For me, there was only so much I could will or schedule or think away. I think Fall makes it harder, because we shift out of that warm, easy season and expectations rise, while temps fall and things get grayer. I hope you find your way out of this. Until then, kudos for you for being stubborn, and… there’s always the tortoises. 😉

    • Fall is the precursor to the little death that is winter, and we know it. The warmth and the life is going away for a little while. Or maybe that’s when our local football team starts losing and it’s hard to get away from the moaning. 😉

      Some days it’s easier to keep going than others. I move forward as hard as I can today in case tomorrow leaves me at a stand-still. One step forward, one step back sometimes.

  3. As a sufferer from chronic depression, I can well relate. Unfortunately, hubby doesn’t understand & wants me to just “feel better” – like you I wish it was a choice. Keep focusing on the little things, like a beautiful unusual leaf & this too shall pass.

  4. You may have already seen this, but Louis CK was on Conan the other night and they start a rant about cell phones, which kind of turns into this beautiful analogy that sometimes you need to let yourself feel sad/lonely in order to come through it. I’ve been through some deep depressions before and I know it’s not as easy to just go through it to get to the other side that easily, but I do think it’s important to let yourself feel sad sometimes and go through those emotions.

    Anyway, link to the clip is below and it’s pretty funny, so you should watch if you need a little pick-me-up!

  5. I don’t know how I manage to forget a year after year that my depression is just a result of the fall beginning. I always tend to forget that and to give in. It seems your post came just in time to remind me. 🙂 I love your way of curing it. I cure mine just by writing. I am happy for your new camera as well. I am also a huge fan of photography, but I had my new camera broken just a week after I bought it. I’m still mourning over it. 🙂

    P.S. I would feel more than honored if you would peek into what I write:

  6. So, I was going to say something really helpful, but Wonderbutt keeps farting next to me. And, unlike the usual ones, these are the loud and deadly type, so my thinking is a bit foggier than usual. But, yes, I definitely think you have tortoise books in your future. The difference between those two photos is stunning!

  7. I totally understand all of this. Depression and I are old friends. Well, frenemies, really. We fight, we make up, we fight again. It never seems to end. You’d think we’d break up, but apparently, much like those sexy cowboys, I don’t know how to quit it, you know?

    Sending you good thoughts. You’re stronger than it is. Plus, pumpkin butter, dude. PUMPKIN BUTTER.

  8. Fall overwhelms me, too, sometimes…I think it’s all the changes that happen this time of year: The end of the relaxed summer, the start of the school year, the weather…I guess I just have to focus on the positive aspects of the season, like warm blankets, hot chocolate, and (stealing my son’s) Halloween candy!

  9. I always imagine there’s a crowd of people inside your head and if they get too interested in something depressing, you plant the seed of something more cheerful and interesting somewhere in the crowd and if you are lucky one or two get interested and say to the others, “over here, over here!” Eventually they all gravitate over to see what’s going on and almost forget about the miserable thing.
    I guess what I am trying to say is that distraction may be the best strategy – seems to have worked for you! Well done – but what IS pumpkin butter?
    Keep up the good blogging 🙂

    • That is a brilliant image!! I love it! In fact, now I’m imagining a crowd of the minions from Despicable Me in my head, and if they start fixating on something bad, I’ll distract them with a photocopier. Of course, then I’ll be hearing tiny voices saying “Butt!” all night long 🙂

  10. I had some gut-wrenching news yesterday. The sort that really pummels you and I just fell completely flat. All the joy and excitement in life got sucked into that whirlpool of awfulness.

    So last night, before I went to bed, I followed my FLYlady routines completely. I put all the dishes away. I shined the sink. I cleared my table. I put out nice clothes *and* accessories for today. I got together all the bits needed for today and put them in one place. It wasn’t easy, but I just had to follow the routines.

    Today I got up, and when I went downstairs, my sink gleamed and winked at me. My nice clothes said, “Hey, you are going to look fabulous today.” My pile of bits and pieces all ready meant that even though I hadn’t wanted to get out of bed this morning, I still wasn’t in a rush and a panic getting Cherub to school.

    One step at a time, one day at a time, one routine at a time. (And if you haven’t heard of FLYlady, I highly recommend her free website:

  11. I can so relate to this post – staying productive is HUGE for me in terms of fighting the ‘big sink’ and feeling self-worth. By the way, I thought of you this weekend because I went to the zoo for the first time in years!

  12. Oh yes, this can be a more difficult time of year for me too (more winter than fall, in my case). It doesn’t necessarily happen every winter. It’s just the time when, if I do start feeling moody, the cold and reduced sunlight sure don’t help.

    Those situations you talk about, when you manage to find the bright side — that’s exactly what I’ve had to work on, too. And it can really feel like a one-step-forward, two-steps-back process. For a little while I’m all proud of myself for dealing with road blocks calmly and confidently, and then suddenly I have a meltdown over cancelled plans, and then I have a few more good moments, and then another slip off the wagon…

    I love how you were able to turn your road blocks around. Like how a rainy day gave you time to read a really awesome book. And this: A breakfast of hot pumpkin butter, coffee, and fresh bread is divine. Oh, good heavens, that DOES sound divine!! That’s one of the things I love about fall — everyone brings out the pumpkin spice. Ooh, and gingerbread and peppermint closer to December! Pumpkin lattes and gingerbread lattes and peppermint hot chocolate (Denny’s — was it Denny’s or Ihop? I think it was Denny’s — has an amazing peppermint hot chocolate. At least, I hope they still have it!).

    And also this: As I tried to publish this post, Chrome and all its extensions crashed, taking part of my post with it. Depression is a sore loser.

    That made me giggle so much. Again, you win at finding the funny in a frustrating moment! I need to start thinking of depression as a character — like the Flying Dutchman in Spongebob Squarepants! At first he’s all lightning and evil laughter and about to eat my pet snail, but after a while it’s just the annoying guest who keeps trying to scare me with his mediocre pranks. Eyeballs in the cereal box? Whatever. A giant effigy of me with spiders coming out of my eyes? Never seen that before /sarcasm.

A penny for your thoughts! And by penny, I mean a warm-fuzzy in your heart.

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