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Please Don’t Open This Can-O-Worms!

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Monday, March 01, 2021

How wonderful to live in a perfect world, surrounded by beauty, caressed by blue skies and warm sunshine.

These were happy times a few years ago when I made this hanging basket for a friend.

And a chapter of my life as a photographer-having a love for nature and capturing people being natural.

But we all know life has many shades, and just as there is day, night follows.
“Don’t open a can of worms” was the tone after someone asked for help in a virtual group of writers that I belong to.

A woman asked for help in creating a fictional character who experiences severe depression and reaches a pivotal point. She said she knew little about depression, therefore, asked for insight. She said she was afraid of offending anyone who had suffered with depression. “Any advice would be greatly appreciated.” Read on to see some of the comments:

“You need to do some research.” (said by several)
“That is too sensitive of a subject to broach so you should find something else.”
“The person who is depressed just needs to have their thyroid and ferritin levels checked.” (three people agreed)
“I would avoid the subject altogether.” In other words, “do not open this can of worms!”
I have to say I was stunned! She asked for help and I had something firsthand to offer. This was my reply:

"Imagine the worst day of your life and multiply it by 365 days! That is what it was like until I eventually got through it."

“ I know how it feels to feel alone and hopeless. Slept little. But when I did, had nightmares. Had no appetite and the smell of food was sickening. There is a pervasive feeling that no one understands. It was a time of darkness thinking the sun would never shine again. It went on forever—months into over a year. Some just looked at me. I saw a therapist who scribbled on her notepads while I talked. We made little eye contact, but I noticed her often looking at the clock. So textbook. I was put on medications which worsened the situation. I was a zombie. I did not laugh nor did I cry—for one solid year.”

But for the few people I have met in my lifetime who have said, “I can’t relate to depression. I choose happiness end of story” … I can only say:

I had an in-law tell me to “Nike Up!..."Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!" ... Yet ironically this same person recently told me she has been dealing with depression and was put on ‘mood elevators.’ Also keeps tranquilizers on hand. I refrained from telling her to “Nike Up!”

Were it not for my husband's undying love, I shudder to think where I would be today. I doubt I would be here sparking!

Depression and anything considered "mental disorders" unfortunately still remains a stigma for many. It is safe to tell someone that you just got over a bad cold, suffer with allergies, but depression has a face all its own.

What can we do to help others and ease their pain? I think the first thing is to be aware; make note of changes in someone you know. Withdrawal is a classic sign. Be willing to listen. I try to keep in mind: I have not walked in their shoes—judgment is not mine to make.

"The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said" --Peter Drucker

I found this to be an extraordinary story of deep love and devotion between a man and his chocolate Labrador, named Denver. The author experienced the lengths and depths of undying love, but sadly was plummeted to the depths of despair at Denver's sudden passing. In his beloved pets honor, he made the trek of the Viking way-186 miles. I am fortunate to have gotten to know this wonderful gentleman from UK and had some meaningful chats.

With spring soon to come, I wish you blue skies and sunshine. emoticon Thanks for reading.
P.S. I am ever thankful for the spark community where no one should suffer 'in silence' but find a listening ear--full of support and kindness. I have found it here and made some wonderful friends!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
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    59 days ago
    I was depressed and made a couple of peitful attempts to end my life when young. Isn't it funny that it seems to be an illness more of the young than the old. There is so much to live for but you just can't see it.

    68 days ago
    Wonderful blog and thanks for sharing an inspiring insight.
    69 days ago
    Everyone needs to be listened to without judgement. From my experience, that and the simple question, "what can I do to help?" are the most effective. When we struggle from mental illness, of whatever kind, we can't always trust our brains to make the right judgment. That's why a safety net of trusted people, docs, and therapists have worked so well for me. If two or more tell me something I need to do to help myself, I listen.
    69 days ago
    Depression...terrible...sad....too many definitions.....be thankful if you have a good friend to listen & not judge
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    70 days ago
    Wonderful blog!! Keep 'em comin!
    70 days ago
    I learned a long time ago .. "Speak from your own experience" .. I can't write what I wanted to say .. I am limited on letters ☹
    70 days ago
    Can’t wait for spring
    71 days ago
  • DSJB9999
    Excellent blog as usual Jan, the book looks a little special too. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    71 days ago
  • FRAN0426
    Thanks Jan for cluing in those of us who have never experienced severe depression what it is like to go through such on experience, it has to be terrifying.
    Our dear daughter had a anxiety problem in her late teens scared the heck out of me the first time I saw it happened, trying to calm her down. After it happened a couple of times she made an appointment to see a doctor at the clinic to refer her for help. Long story short, she got the help and a medication, that she used when needed. Today, she handles it well, hasn't needed to see anyone nor takes no medication for years
    In fact we talked about it just this evening, and she said I know mom that I can call to see someone if I ever feel that feeling starting.

    71 days ago
  • MANGO1960
    emoticon Thank you for sharing your story!
    71 days ago
    Thank you so much
    71 days ago
    Thank you for being so vulnerable. Your writing is always so reflective & beautiful.
    71 days ago
    Thanks, Jan, for sharing your journey out of depression! I still struggle with it. Your story gives me hope! emoticon
    71 days ago

    I so agree with the following:

    Thank you for sharing your story and helping those of us who haven't suffered to know what you have experienced. You have helped me understand what many have gone through.

    I've only experienced it a few days of my life. I KNOW I am blessed. Thank You Jan for helping us, here in Spark Land, understand. That is why we are all such good friends! To help each other UNDERSTAND, that health is not just on the scale! (If it ever was) emoticon
    71 days ago
  • UPTOIT59
    Thank you for sharing your story and helping those of us who haven't suffered to know what you have experienced. You have helped me understand what many have gone through. emoticon
    72 days ago

    As the mom of a child with depression, my experience is different but I can relate to being told to "get over it." I had friends - who are no longer friends - tell me to "put your foot down and be a parent" in order to somehow snap them out of "it." That would be as effective as asking someone to just get on with it and snap out of a cold.

    Very insightful blog post. Brava!
    72 days ago
  • SHARON10002
    Very moving blog, Jan. emoticon
    72 days ago
  • _CYNDY55_
    72 days ago
  • THINCPL2004
    Your story hit really close to home for me, I suffer from depression and sometimes it gets to bleak for me to even say anything to my wife, so I often tend to just stew in my own misery. I used to rely on the bottle and food. Thanks to Spark and all the support I get from everyone I now self medicate by either going out for a walk 🚶‍♂️ or a ride 🚲 and it helps. So again thank you for your story!
    72 days ago
    I agree. Spark is the beat community where you can feel safe and accepted as you find your way on this journey. Thanks for sharing and for encouraging me. Good days are ahead. I am hopeful. Keep up the good work. Spark on!
    72 days ago
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    72 days ago
    Agreed and well said. Better to not say anything if you have no experience with depression. In fact sometimes even if you do listening is better.
    72 days ago
  • MARTHA324
    Depression is serious as you well know and just being told to "suck it up" is so not helpful. Sharing your story hopefully will help others.

    I hope and wish that our society will learn to be more empathetic to all types of illness.
    72 days ago
    Thank you for bringing a sensitive subject into focus. Very sad that most people would rather just sweep it under a rug than have the courage to reach out to someone and help them. Nike Up! is just RUDE. Thanks for sharing. May you always have blue skies and sunshine in your life.
    72 days ago
  • MAMADEE016
    Truly a heart-tugging blog!
    Depression can be a beast! (spoken from experience)
    But it still needs to spoken of. More people are living/struggling with it than ever, so why can't we all talk about it more now?

    Anyway - great blog!

    May we all have blue skies & plenty of sunshine! emoticon

    72 days ago
    You had good information for the woman who asked the question about depression. Good for you. And I've been thinking about reading that book, now I'm sure I will! Thanks.
    72 days ago
    You hit the nail right square on the head, Jan. You're lucky to be on the other side if you feel secure that you are.
    When someone's suicide is reported and the story of their lives is read, I feel for them as I know exactly how their pain felt. Not a day goes by that I don't feel the same. Is it even worth it any longer?
    Sorry. I've been trying to stay positive every day. It's been so hard with so much happening. The world seems to be coming down around our ears. No one listens. No one cares.
    72 days ago
    Thank you so much for being willing to be so open about your experience with depression. I am going to look for that book!
    73 days ago
  • SISSIE21
    “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said". What a great quote and a great blog! It spoke to me for a number of reasons. Am going to look up the book you mentioned. Sounds very intriguing. A book with heart. emoticon

    73 days ago
  • no profile photo RACHNACH
    73 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

    “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all” – Oscar Wilde
    73 days ago
  • 2DAWN4
    Jan, thank you for your post, I know that is was probably not an easy one to write. But your words and experience let us know that we are not alone! You are amazing!
    73 days ago
    I have not walked your walk.
    Greatly appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable and share.
    I got joy and encouragement from the phrase
    'Let us walk with each other'.
    For me, it isn't a year but a fluid reality which has had monumental exacerbations.
    My website is butterflyfuture.com
    73 days ago
  • JUNETTA2002
    Thanks for sharing
    73 days ago
    YOu know I post about being positive. What you may or may not know is I struggle with depression. I was on medication for a few years. Through the help of my counsellor, I have learned to accept and to cope. I appreciate your openness. emoticon
    73 days ago
    emoticon blog. emoticon
    73 days ago
  • JULIEA7201
    Thank you once again for your insights!! I have not had the experience with depression bit I realize it is more than sadness and should be able to be talked about as any disease or condition should!!
    73 days ago
    Was going to comment that, unlike your writing group, folks on Spark seem quite willing to talk about depression, but after reading all the comments, I see it is self-evident!
    73 days ago
  • HEDSTS58
    Thank you for your story. It's sad that mental issues are so taboo. I, too, have suffered with depression. I saw a therapist but it didn't help. I refused meds but I probably shouldn't have. I finally came out of it to a point. May you have 🌞
    73 days ago
    Depression and mental illness is not an easy life. I know a few people that live with this daily. I also have a relative that withdraws from events when we are having a gathering since we think she feels out of sorts and it is a shame since we miss here when she does not share special times with all of us....special events, like birthdays.......we can only pray for people with this problem.....advice would not work since she may be offended if we told her she may need medication or see a counselor or advice.......sometimes only prayers help and being a listener when she needs us all to listen ......God bless all our family and friends that have this sad depression or withdrawal and do not seek help......
    hugs and love, Ei emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    73 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/2/2021 7:51:19 AM
    Thanks for sharing your story.
    73 days ago
    Good morning Jan,
    thank you for this blog.

    Have many "blue skies and sunshine."

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    73 days ago
    So glad you had your beloved with you.
    73 days ago
  • RHOOK20047
    Jan, thanks for this insightful blog. I have been inflicted with depression many times in my life. I have been on medicines but personal contact with others did more good. I will need to check out that book. If you recommend it I am sure it is good.
    73 days ago
    so nice to have a platform with people who understand depression....sharing is so helpful..we are not alone.
    73 days ago
    awesome point of view so well put thank you
    73 days ago
    I've struggled with severe depression and anxiety for years. Every day is a battle to not give up.
    73 days ago
  • LIS193
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    73 days ago
    Thanks so much for writing this insightful and important blog. Too many people do not want to discuss or acknowledge depression. It is a serious disease and not every treatment option works for everyone. My mom was one of the "suck it up" people, even though she herself suffered from occasional bouts of severe depression. My sister's life was transformed after finding medication that worked for her.
    73 days ago
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