When I hear the name Shel Silverstein, I think of Where the Sidewalk Ends or A Light in the Attic, and I visualize the poignant cover of The Giving Tree. What I DON’T think of is Playboy contributor and songwriter. A Grammy-award-winning tune recorded by Johnny Cash – “ A Boy Named Sue” – is Silverstein’s!
Appearances and impressions can be misleading. We assign labels mindlessly, putting folks into confining boxes and assuming they stay there, that they WANT to stay there. We might even let those boxes others create for us determine our paths.
Preconceived notions can be hazardous to ourselves and others in these bizarre times of abrupt life changes. Really listen and look at neighbors and really pay attention to self, too. There is a lot of struggling and juggling going on even though the struggles and juggles might not be obvious ones.
Stress can be a trigger of depression for some of us. In the midst of it we don’t readily acknowledge that depression warps reality. These times are chaotic enough but thoughts can go in a snap from ‘what-iffing’ to “when’ another imagined disaster will occur. We might feel fear and sadness and question why and how others seem to carry on in spite of circumstances when we sense an incredibly slippery slope ahead. Those seeming to carry on might sense the same slippery slope but camouflage it better. Managing can be exhausting. So can pretending to be managing.
John Moe, humorist and author of a book entitled “The Hilarity of Depression” and creator of a podcast by the same name, was interviewed recently on the NPR program Fresh Air. He clarified that depression is something he has but it does not define him. A friend of his offered a grand comparison. Having depression is like having a bad back. Time can go by with no problems, perhaps because one learns what to do and not to do to keep both at bay. When flare-ups happen, we pull out our ‘tool kit’ of medications, physical therapy or mental therapy to tackle the pain till it again subsides.
There are ways to manage depression.Talking about it prevents it from growing unseen like a cancer. Keep in touch with your neighbors, for them and you.