Ruminations of a Red Dirt Hussy

November 13, 2014

Pull yourself up by the boot straps and quit whining. Seriously.

Somebody—maybe Janeane Garofalo, or Magaret Cho—once said that if depression were people, she’d be China. Sounds nonsensical, but if you’ve ever been depressed you totally get it. You get that, and you get that when you’re depressed, it always feels like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s deep dark night of the soul, where it’s always three o’clock in the morning.

Winston Churchill said depression was a black dog. In the lyrics of a song by the Manic Street Preachers are the words, “There’s a black dog on my shoulder again/Licking my neck and saying she’s my friend.” The song goes on to talk about the black dog getting out of control. Again, I resort to a rough approximation of a Churchill-ism: “That is something up with which I will not put.”

In truth, that is something up with which I cannot put. I can’t afford to see depression as a black dog on my shoulder because that’s too scary. I don’t dislike dogs, but neither do I trust them not to turn on me. So, for my purposes, I transform that dog into a homeless puppy that follows me everywhere. Because, you know, even if a puppy turns on you, what’s it gonna do, lick you to death? Not a bad end.

My own thoughts about depression are not nearly as eloquent as any of those above. It’s overwhelming, sure. Dark, too. But not black. Black is the color that makes everybody look good, goes with everything. Not gray, either. Gray is too neutral or—I don’t know, soft. Welcoming. Gray is something you want to sink into, let it cover you.

So . . no. For me, depression is brown. Unyielding, relentless, never-ending. Brown like dirt. Brown like shit. Brown like many things that won’t come to me because I’m, you know, blanketed in brown.

Apparently, there are alternatives to depression. I mean, what do you have to be depressed about? You have a wonderful husband, a beautiful home, a job you love . . . I mean seriously. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and stop whining.

Tried that. As you know, I have more boots than you can shake a stick at. None of them is worth a damn at pulling me out of the brown.

Since I am unable to pick myself up by the bootstraps, how about I slap the living shit out of the next bone head who dares tell me to pick myself up and get with the program because don’t I know I have everything while there are people starving in Bangladesh? That would make me feel a little better, but it would take away the brown.

Maybe science can do for me what I can’t seem to do for myself. Seriously. Life with the appropriate pharmaceuticals should be a perfect life. Drugs to get you up, put you to sleep, make you pee, make you not pee, lower your blood pressure, raise your hormone levels, give you an erection, and, presumably, deflate said erection should it last more than 4 hours (an arbitrary number of hours if you ask me, but hey. It’s not my erection).

My point is that there are pills for everything. From what I can tell, particular drugs tend to target specific problems. Depression, not so much. For that, you have take the scattergun approach. Just fling pills at those neurotransmitters until they straighten up and fly right, damn ‘em.

Come on. Balance that dopamine and serotonin and norepinephrine.

Look here. You got your selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and your selective serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. You have to be careful, because this one might cause weight gain/weight loss, increased appetite/decreased appetite, sleepiness, hyperactivity, itching, skin rash, and convulsions. The other one might cause suicidal ideation, agitation, hostility, changes in mood, increased libido, decreased libido, irreversible, uncontrollable movements of the tongue, abnormal bleeding, tachycardia, arrhythmia, glaucoma, confusion, psychosis . . . and on and on and on.

But come on. Try one. Or five. What do you have to lose?

Well, if you’re not depressed (in which case you wouldn’t need any of them anyway), you’d say, “What’ve I got to lose? Um . . . my life? My sanity? My ability to function as a rational, sentient human being?”

But if you’re depressed, you say, “Meh. I got nothing to lose. Toss me a handful.” And then you wait. Two weeks. Maybe three or four.

My neurotransmitters are on high alert, positively quivering as they anticipate the arrival of . . . well, of whichever chemical hits them and sticks.

In the meantime, I’m going to put one foot in front of the other, remember that the lens through which I view the world now is temporary, and behave as if until as if becomes is.




  1. I get this. I sincerely get it. I just love you.


    Comment by Michelle Harris — November 13, 2014 @ 2:57 pm | Reply

  2. I get this 1000%. Sorry. I’m here if you need a shoulder, an ear, or a whole damned person.


    Comment by gloriateague52 — November 13, 2014 @ 8:19 pm | Reply

  3. I have been clinically depressed my whole life.It doesn’t feel clinical, but there it is. I think it is in our DNA. MY family is rife with drinking, drunks, and suicide. I won’t come out an play that way. I choose to take a tiny capsule every day so then I don’t resort to biting the heads off baby chickens. It also helps to keep me from driving and crying for no fathomable reason.
    I have to take a pill to be even partly normal. It is FINE with me. I am grateful one exists.
    I love you Miss Carol! You are special to a lot of people so keep on keeping on, for all our sakes.
    I am all yours if you would like a kind non-judgemental ear.xxoopony


    Comment by pony-tale — November 14, 2014 @ 9:14 am | Reply

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