Category Archives: Humor

When the Going Gets Tough…

“When the going gets tough/ The tough get going/ When the going gets rough/ The tough get rough.” – Billy Ocean

Depression level(s): Moderate to severe.

Here’s what’s real for me right now: My writing muse must have gone on vacation because, I swear to the heavens above, I can’t think like a writer tonight. You’d think she could have given me some advance notice, like, “Hey, Patricia, you’re on your own, ‘cuz I’m heading to Cozumel for the summer. Hope your neurotransmitters are up to snuff! Yuk, yuk, yuk.” But noooo….

Absent inspiration notwithstanding, because I want to honor my commitment to post something on this blog at least once a week, preferably on Tuesdays, let me share with you what I wanted to say.

What I wanted to tell you was this: When the going gets tough, it’s okay to distract yourself in reasonably healthy–or at least non-destructive–ways. Distraction can be a godsend to pull you away from your pain and negativity for a while.

Take music, for example. I defy you to remain completely down while Billy Ocean’s “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going” is playing on your stereo. Come on, go ahead! Put it on. Don’t you just want to get up and dance? Okay, maybe you don’t really want to, but at least give yourself the opportunity. Stand up, if you can (i.e., if you have two working legs). Turn up the volume. Start moving! The song is 4:08 long; by the time it’s over, you should not only be breathing hard, but also have a smile on your face and perhaps a germinating sprout of hope in your heart.

Distraction–healthy distraction, that is (put down that package of Oreos and step away slowly, please)–is a divine gift of sorts. When you’re hurting so much in your mind and heart that you just might do yourself some harm, give yourself permission to divert your thoughts from their usual ruinous rumination to something that feels better, even if it’s just for a little while. Here are some options:

  • Movies: Go for the comedies. Norman Cousins (Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient) famously healed his life-threatening disease by watching Marx Brothers films. Rent feel-good DVDs. Don’t be afraid to go to the movie theater by yourself. You will have nearly three hours outside of the dark and dangerous neighborhood that is your mind; it will be well worth it.
  • Books: Again, lighthearted is the theme here. There was a 2-1/2 year period when my depression was at its worst during which I simply could not read anything but the lightest of books because my cognitive processing abilities were shot. Back in high school and college, I was a romance novel addict; reading those books after I became ill with depression made me feel lonely, however, so I turned to “cozies”: mystery novels that were upbeat and funny, and not all that violent. Ask your local librarian or bookstore clerk to turn you on to some good cozy series. One of my favorites was “The Cat Who…” series, by Lilian Jackson Braun; the first book in the series is The Cat Who Could Read Backwards.
  • TV: Good TV, that is. Stay away from the gory crime dramas and stuff like “48 Hours.” You don’t want to feel worse, do you? Yeah, I know: “Good TV” is an oxymoron. Nevertheless, there’s some good stuff out there. A friend of mine who was in an abusive marriage in her younger years told me that watching M*A*S*H episodes prevented her from committing suicide. British comedies can be very funny. PBS is nearly always a safe, non-triggering alternative. Rent from Netflix or Blockbuster those titles you can’t find on the viewing schedule.
  • Music and dance: I put these two together because unless you are moving while the music’s playing, you’re going to be thinking too much. Line up a few get-up-and-boogie favorites for when the going gets really rough.
  • An outing: Any activity with a friend or by yourself. Get out of the house and out of your head.
  • Laughter yoga: Find a club near you and learn how to laugh on demand. It increases healing endorphins and helps you connect with others. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. Check out this laughter yoga video, in which my friend Gita Fendelman is teaching the “Ha ha ha mantra”:

So, that’s my article for this week: Not planned, not particularly well constructed, not too clever. Not even a photo. But hey, I figured out how to add a video to a blog post! Did you check it out? Didja? Huh? Huh? At any rate, it’s done. The article, I mean. I hope you got something useful out of it. Maybe you were even distracted for a little while. I hereby give it the Good Enough Seal of Approval!

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Filed under Humor, Making Tracks

Top Ten Things NOT To Do When You’re Depressed

Indulge in gallows (or guillotine) humor! It's good for you.

“Laughter rises out of tragedy, when you need it the most, and rewards you for your courage.” – Erma Bombeck

In the life of every person with chronic depression comes a time when you are so miserable, all you can do is laugh at yourself. This laughter is not a funny, light-hearted kind of laughter, like that of a delighted child opening her birthday presents (wouldn’t that be nice). It is more a gallows humor, a grim yet wry acknowledgment of how absurd our plight is and how powerless we are to rise above it in any given moment. Marie Antoinette must have felt just so on her way to the guillotine.

The paradox, however, is that in acknowledging our powerlessness by laughing about it, we can then begin to take constructive action on our own behalf; soon, we feel better. (This assumes your hands are not handcuffed behind your back.) In the name of feeling better, faster, here is an ironic list of the top ten things you should not do if you have depression:

#10:             Do NOT invite friends or relatives over for dinner. See, the thing about your friends and relatives is that they tend to expect little things like clean dishes, cooked food on the table, an absence of dirty-kitty litter odor, and a roll of toilet paper on the holder in the bathroom. A selfish lot, to be sure. On top of that, they may distract you from your ruinous ruminations and make you think of something besides your own misery. Having company over is to be avoided at all costs.

Stay out of the kitchen!

#9:               Do NOT go anywhere near the kitchen. Kitchens demand healthy sorts of behavior, such as thinking about nutrition, recipes, and grocery lists; taking food out of the fridge and cooking it; sitting down to enjoy a tasty meal; and—worst of all—cleaning up afterwards. Shudder. Piles of dirty dishes overflowing the sink and the cardboard relics of takeout dinners and UFOs (unidentified frozen objects) are familiar and therefore comforting. They are to be protected and savored.

#8:               Do NOT get out in the yard to plant flowers or take any walks. The fresh air, sunshine, chirping birds, and cute squirrels are irritating in the extreme and may well incite a desire to rent a paintball gun and take out any small creatures you encounter. As satisfying as yellow cardinals and blue squirrels might be, it’s better to resist the temptation and stay indoors. A side benefit of refraining from any outdoor excursions is that you remain lethargic and couch-bound, and thus within reach of the chips and salsa. Much more satisfying.

#7:               Do NOT take any supplements that may help ease your depression, especially fish oils with omega-3’s and St. John’s wort. I mean, can we really trust what the alternative health industry is saying about these things? After all, they’re not regulated by the FDA, and you know how above-board and diligent they are. Those fish—who knows where they’ve been? And St. John’s wort?? Do you truly want to ingest worts? Do you even know what they are? Better to keep your money out of the pockets of those mega-health companies and spend it on more chips and salsa.

An unmade bed is much more conducive to hiding from the world!

#6:               Do NOT make your bed. Ever. For starters, you’ll be spending most of the day and all of the night in it, so why bother? Secondly, it’s so much more uplifting to walk into your bedroom and see the mounded covers, wrinkled sheets, and punched-up pillows than it is to espy a smooth, characterless expanse. The shed hairs, dead skin cells, and nose boogers that cling to your sheets only enrich the time spent in bed. Finally, this will give you added incentive to leave the dirty laundry in its hamper as you’ll have nowhere to dump the clean clothes when it’s time to fold them. What a relief!

#5:               Do NOT change your sheets every week. Maybe not even once a month. This is a corollary to #6. You’ll be spending most of your time in bed, so why bother, etc. etc. As an added bonus, by not changing your sheets you are doing your part to save the planet. Less laundry means less water, gas, and electricity used; less toxic laundry detergent sent into the groundwater; and less wear-and-tear on the sheets themselves. You’ll need to buy fewer sets of sheets and, therefore, those polluting factories will lower their output. You’ll be a hero!

#4:               Do NOT talk to your friends—not on the phone and especially not in person. The reasons for this should be obvious. Your friends have this obnoxious habit of caring for you. They ask questions like, “How are you? No, how are you, really?” and “Did you eat today?” and “When’s the last time you showered?” As if it’s any of their business! They might try to tell a stupid joke just to make you laugh. And—horrors—they may invite you to join them in some fun activity. Ugh! Unplug the phone. Better yet, cancel your phone services altogether and take your phones to your town’s hazardous waste drop-off site.

#3:               Do NOT watch or read anything funny. It’s very important that your mind be freed up to focus on how crappy life is and what a terrible person you are. This is important work. There is far too much goodness and light in the world. It is imperative that you act as a counterbalance by remaining as depressed as you possibly can. After all, we’ve heard all our lives how important balance is to a well-rounded life. Keep up the good work!

Stay out of the office, too!

#2:               Do NOT do your job. Whether you work for someone else or for yourself, stop it. What were you thinking? By working, you achieve three undesirable results: a) You reduce the amount of time available for staying in bed and being miserable; b) you help people, thus adding to the amount of goodness and light in the world; and c) you bring in an income, which allows you to pay your bills and seek help for your depression, such as beer spas and bee sting therapy. Do yourself and the world a favor by joining the ranks of the unemployed.

#1:               Do NOT take a shower. Indulging in diligent hygiene habits might make you fit for company and inspire you to do something. Are you nuts?! Being proactive is the last thing you want to do. If you smelled better, you might actually begin to have some positive self-esteem. If you removed the grease from your hair and the grime from under your nails, you might feel compelled to participate in life. If you shaved in all the appropriate spots, you just might want to get close to somebody else. All of these behaviors will bring you out of your comfort zone, thus defeating the point of depression in the first place. Stay comfortable by remaining unwashed.

(c) 2011 by Patricia R. Henschen, M.A.

Many thanks to wellness coach Caitlyn V. Johnston for her inspirations for this article!

Note: Did this article tickle your funny bone? If so, tickle others’ funny bones by sharing it via Facebook, Twitter, or other social media outlets. You may also copy and paste the article into an email and share it with your friends and colleagues, provided: a) You copy the entire article, b) you include my copyright statement and this paragraph, and c) you include a link to this blog. Thanks! And keep laughing!

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Filed under Humor, Top Ten Lists