A vacation isn’t going to help

Recently, a friend posted on Facebook that someone she knew had committed suicide.  Among the comments of “I’m sorry” and “That’s awful” came this reply:  “I had a friend who once said, ‘I don’t understand suicide.  I’d rather go to Jamaica, weave a basket, and smoke weed all day if it were to get that bad.’  He makes an excellent point.”  No, he doesn’t (unless his point is that he is an asshole).  If my friend’s friend had, say, succumbed to cancer, no one would suggest that this person should have just taken a vacation and then they would be cured.  That doesn’t work for someone who suffers from depression, either.

It seems like a lot non-depressed people think depressed people are simply sad and that they just need to do something pleasurable to feel happy again.  But sadness and depression aren’t the same thing.   Remember that scene in Moonstruck when Cher slaps Nicholas Cage and tells him to “snap out of it!”?  I think a lot of non-depressed people feel this way about depressed people.  Believe me, depressed people would love nothing more than to just “snap out of it,” but that’s not possible. While depression does affect your mind, it’s not something you can make go away just by thinking differently.  I can no more cure my depression by telling it to go away than I can mend a broken bone by willing it to heal.

This comment also suggests that if you commit suicide, it’s your own damned fault.  Non-depressed people sometimes assume that depressed people just aren’t trying hard enough to make themselves feel better.  People who suffer from depression are working hard.  It’s when you do all the shit you’re supposed to do and you still don’t feel better that suicide starts to look like the only option you have left.  I really don’t believe suicide is anyone’s go-to solution for their depression.  Most people who commit suicide have suffered for years, and during that time they’ve most likely seen several therapists or doctors, taken an assortment of medications, read all the self-help books they could find, prayed, meditated, exercised, changed their diets, gotten a light box, consumed various vitamins, and even been hospitalized or had electro-shock therapy.  And many who struggle with depression do much of this hard work alone.  Because there is such a stigma attached to mental health issues, some people are reluctant to seek help or lack the support of friends and family.  Others can’t afford treatment (much less a trip to Jamaica).

Depression is a hard thing to understand, even for people who suffer from it.  I’m sure a non-depressed person doesn’t get it at all.  And that’s okay.  You don’t have to understand to be understanding.

I write the songs that make the whole world cringe

Little-known fact:  I was a rock star when I was a little kid.  I was the lead-singing, tambourine-wielding, Marsha Brady-hair-having  member of a kick-ass band.  Backing me up were a guy named Poppy on guitar and some other dudes whose names I don’t remember.  We had a regular gig on the kitty cat rug in my bedroom and we freakin’ rocked that place.  Some kids have imaginary friends; I had an imaginary rock band.

Although I was best known for my inventive vocal style and mad tambourine skills, I also penned many original songs for the group.  Tragically, most of them have been forgotten.   All that remains are these brilliant fragments from a few tunes:

“Cow Town Boogie”  This was, of course, a disco number.  It included such groovy lines as “Take me down to Cow Town” and “Everybody’s gettin’ down in Cow Town.”  Clearly, I had no idea what a Cow Town was, but I think if someone had given this song to the Bee Gees, they would have recorded it immediately.

“If You’re Ever in Manhattan”  This one had a whole Cole Porter vibe going on.  This part alone (which, sadly, is the only one I can recall) could have guaranteed it a spot in the Great American Songbook.

“If you’re ever in Manhattan

Come see me.

I’ll always be around

‘Cause I’m never on the town

Since you left me.”

“Boloney”  This was a reworking of Andy Gibb’s “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” and contained the profound lyric “Love is thicker than boloney/Love is better than cheese.”  Andy might still be with us today had he known this revision was out there.

I think I missed my calling.