Let me make myself clear: I’m not suicidal. I am clinically depressed. I also live with generalized anxiety disorder. Prescription pills work most of the time, but this is an exceptionally stressful period.
I’m out of work. I’m trying to learn a new career at middle age. Arthritis squeezes my knees and tendonitis stings my Achilles.
My temper is short. My days vacillate between a general melancholy with a dash of sudden rage to a disengaged desire to interrupt sleep just long enough to turn over and take a nap.
I reached for a facial tissue in the bathroom and realized the box was empty. I went to the closet and it was bare. I realized I couldn’t afford Kleenex until my tax return arrives.
Forgive me if I’m skeptical of the federal government’s promise of May 5. I’m supposed to be getting paid unemployment benefits by the state of Iowa. But some rogue algorithm stole my identity and tied my account up at Iowa Workforce Development, where the bureaucrats can’t tell me when my benefits will resume.
I apologize to regular readers who’ve seen nothing but stacks of paragraphs about these problems for a month. But believe me when I say I am more tired of living this successive series of disconcerting events.
When the melancholy becomes malignant, I phone friends. I text random compliments to people I love.
JANE BURNS: You’re one of the best people I ever met, and I learned so damn much from you. I miss sitting beside you at Drake women’s basketball games. Seldom have I known a keener observer who could also translate those observations into readable copy. Thank you for being my friend.
TRACEY DOYLE GORRELL: Thank you for being my friend. You are one of the wisest peers I know. You made my life immensely better with your broad mind and big heart. You are one of my true Super Friends.
MEGAN GOGERTY: To be serious for a moment, I love you. I mean that in the friendliest way. Like everyone, I’m going through a lot of shit right now. Your skating videos, your writing and the light you project in the world helps me hang on. I know you’ve got your own woes, but it takes a special person to take a few minutes every day to write a joke or make a funny video. Thank you for sharing.
SARA SLEYSTER: Thanks for being my friend. Thanks for sharing your faith and hope with me. And especially thanks for editing the foul-ups out of my blog posts.
KEN QUINN: I remain honored and humbled to count a man of your astounding accomplishment, unmatched intelligence, insight and kindness as my friend.
Naturally, these messages disconcerted some of my friends. They were worried the expression of love was an indication I was suicidal.
That’s good insight on their part because that sort of thing can be an indicator. It just isn’t for me.
I feel better when I say nice things about people I love.
This is one of my depression repression techniques. Most of the time, there’s nothing I can do in the moment I’m feeling depressed or anxious to address the cause of my depression or anxiety.
What I try to do is solve what can be handled in the moment. I wish I could tell you I think positive thoughts about myself, but that’s rare.
But I do think all the time about the people I love and who’ve loved me.
You always hear people at funerals say that they wish they had told the dead person something deeply personal while they were alive.
So, I’m doing it. I’m texting. I’m sending letters.
I may not be able to fix my problems, but I can put a little positive energy out there.
Check your inbox.