I was having lunch with a group of co-workers today when the subject of clinical depression came up in conversation. Over the years I’ve learned to take a breath and just be completely honest about my experience with the issue. Why not? Social stigma can get stuffed. I can at least lend an ear when depression is spoken of in weird, hushed tones and then offer some perspective. I don’t wear depression like a badge that navel gazers earn in an overly emotive version of the Boy Scouts. Perspective simply comes from having lived with the disorder for most of my life. Sometime during my foggy Bell Jar winter of 1994 a doctor stamped the paperwork and made the diagnosis official. Still…a diagnosis is only as good as what one does with it. Cancer of the mind can be treated. I was 21. Not willing to live in bed indefinitely and certainly not ready to die and become another notch on an actuarial chart. Remaining alive and at least partially upright never seemed good enough goals to me, though. Somewhere in those mad 20’s I decided to speak up when depression was thrown around like some terminally taboo freak illness. I didn’t just wake up one day feeling down and decide to take time off from life because I was “feeling” depressed. This is who I am.
The thing that I can tell a depressed person is that there is hope. Not clichéd, hokey, unrealistic hope. You won’t wake up happy one morning and then go out and start dating chick-lit cover models. There isn’t any kind of magic pill to make you un-depressed. Some days you’ll argue and battle within yourself only to lose. There always exists hope, though. One day, with the love and support of humans, some you don’t even know personally, you’ll see life as with possibility. One day, when the tenuous bonds of friendships are repaired and the threads that hold together the mind are re-stitched with proper medication and care, hope will become life. My hope and happiness are renewed each day I travel farther from 21. The other day, during a standard health questionnaire, my doctor asked if I generally lead a “pleasurable” life. My reaction was to shake with laughter. Yeah, life’s happy and full of purpose. Each morning, when the sun burns away the old fog, I own my depression. I own hope.
I’ve been a WordPress blog user since early 2009, both on the .com and self-hosted .org platforms. Through the many iterations of my writing life, notably Mostly Teachable and Spatula In The Wilderness, I’ve always tried to maintain a sense clean design and purposefully used space. Over the blogs, there have been numerous charity banners for causes that I care deeply about. I’d rather that people were respected, cared for and uplifted by everything that appears here. Commercial advertising wasn’t considered because it’s never proven in the past to be anything more than cheesy and obnoxious. There wasn’t anything in the spirit of fun and giving back value to friends and readers (and if you read this blog, trust me, you’re a friend). WordPress recently rolled out WordAds, which change the game. WordAds places advertising on the blog, which is another way for the blog to make friends and get into the hands of people who might like to read 320 daily words of silliness and good cheer. The Mostly Teachable Plan for partnering with WordAds is simple. Whatever proceeds come about because of the appearance of advertising, and from other revenue sources, my small portion goes to the following:
- Tithing and local support for the Do Something program in Berrien County, Michigan ( see *Do* Something, Posted 6/10/12).
- Support for charities that I have cared for and talked about on WordPress previously including To Write Love On Her Arms, The Trevor Project, It Gets Better, and The American Red Cross.
- Right Back into the blog, in order to keep things fresh and provide a fun experience for Friends of Mostly Teachable.
In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.
For all the sarcasm, cynicism and mental mischief I dole out on Mostly Teachable, I believe wholeheartedly in God. He is and will be for eternity bigger than any problem I can imagine (or more likely, cause). One of things I do in my life away from this blog is help out with different causes and make myself useful in the community. This is not an easy task, because I prefer the quiet of being alone in reading, writing and running. Each year, my home church in Saint Joseph, Michigan, First Church of God, hosts a formal Do Something work day in the surrounding area. This year 1,400 of us from FCOG and nearby churches went out and did what needed to be done around the county. Jobs ranged from painting lamp posts and hydrants to weeding and cleaning up areas that had been abandoned and weakened by misuse. For Do Something, if the job required picking up glass, needles and garbage, then that’s what we did. We are at the wonderful point in Do Something where the local municipalities realize that this isn’t our one weekend a year feel-good project, but a lifestyle we’ve adapted our gifts to. The calls having been coming in all year and we’ve found people to meet every need. In some cases the needs have been noted and taken on by grade schoolers who work without the excuses adults give. There is no bragging when we look out and can attest to 50,000 hours of service given to the community over the last calendar year. If you like the idea, well then grafting a branch of the idea can be yours. Think of yourself as a Doer and then Do Something. I’m going back to having more altruistic Do Somethings on the blog, including the return of the Social Vibe bar where you can support my favorite cause, To Write Love On Her Arms. Religious, curious or just happy to be, I’ll put the First Church of God info here, so you can learn a little about Doing Something in your own life. http://www.myfirstchurch.com
First Church of God
2627 Niles Avenue
St. Joseph, MI 49085