Can I Just Say? #8: Early Waking

Early WakingWhat is one supposed to DO at 4:30 in the morning? The roommates are asleep, the dog wants none of it, and nothing’s open. It’s too early to pass the time. It’s too late to take a Tylenol PM.

Early waking is a common and little talked about symptom of depression. My most prolific period with this blog was a pleasant side effect of a bout of it – but most of the time it’s a huge hassle.

You’re bored. You’re tired. You’re by yourself.

So I’m looking for suggestions. Ways to pass the time when you’re depressed and you’ve got five hours until work starts. Books? TV shows? YouTube Channels? All welcome here. How do you pass the time?

Leave your suggestions in the comments below or email me at Thanks!

Photo by Connie Liegl on Flickr.


Cool Little Depression Videos

You gotta love a video about depression that makes you laugh. Recently a friend of mine (the same friend who learned to love the mean voice) sent me two of those very things.

The first video includes a great depression metaphor for our collection: depression as an online stalker. He is interrupted throughout the video by messages that he is a failure, that even the act of making the video is a sign of weakness. It also has valuable information and recommends a book called The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression that I’m going to get now.

The second video is a little more playful. The backstory is hard to explain, check it out here if you’re interested. On the video, listen to the fantastic John Green of VlogBrothers talk about his experience with depression and give advice to other sufferers, while playing the shit out of some FIFA.

I found the latter inspirational, because John Green has a life I wouldn’t mind having, creating fantastic content for money. Who knew he’d suffered from depression? If he can do it, maybe so can we.

Photo by Pabak Sarkar on Flickr.

Asking for Help #5: A Menu of Asks

Group HugPlanning out what to ask for can be even harder than the asking itself. Big questions like, “What do I need?” can become immediately overwhelming – but it’s easier for people to act when you tell them what to do. Here are some options to pick from. Substitutions allowed.

Ask for pictures – do you have a loved one far away? Ask for picture messages from them. This is especially great for children. A picture of a kid just doing her thing in the middle of the day can help lighten your mood.

Schedule one-on-one time – pick a group of people and ask them each to cover one day a week or every other week. Expect about half of the people you ask flake on you. They’re not ready. That’s ok. Be ready to ask again, or call in a second line of friends and family if necessary. Use the hour or two for whatever *you* would like to do – whether it’s watching TV or having a serious talk about what you’re going through. One-on-one time provides you the space to reach out, relax, or both. And it provides your friends the chance to help.

Ask for things people know about – have a friend who’s in a band? Ask for their music recommendations. Know someone who’s into comedy? Ask for some podcasts.

Ask for daily emails – pick one or two friends who are supportive and empathetic and ask them if you can email them daily, or even several times a day. These friends don’t have to understand what you’re going through, but they have to be able to provide explicit support. Use the emails as a substitute for “charting” your moods, or just a place to vent, or whatever. Be as clear as you can about what you want from the interaction, is it commiseration? problem solving? a sympathetic ear?

Crowdsource your questions – Ask your whole Facebook community for recommendations of books that aren’t downers. Ask the Subreddit on depression about that aspect of recovery that’s really been bothering you. Let the wisdom of the crowd help you out.

Asking is hard. And it’s something to be really proud of. Start wherever you’re most comfortable – an anonymous group of internet depressives, your closest family and friends. Know that you’re worth their time and effort, and know that you’re worth your own.

Photo by Robbert van der Steeg on Flickr.

I can’t tell you where I hurt, but I love it when you smile.

Holding HandsPeople don’t understand depression. Your mom doesn’t understand it. Your best friend. All the people who are suffering, the people who are trying to help or who are avoiding the pain. The doctors and researchers who have dedicated their lives to figuring it out.

We fight with each other about what it means, why it comes and goes.

Sufferers isolate, thinking that a lack of understanding equals a lack of concern from their friends, family, and doctors, a lack of compassion.

I once spent about three months caring for a relative who was terminally ill. There was so much I didn’t know. Cancer throws clots into the blood stream. Yawning is a sign of anemia. Pain in the trunk is hard for the sufferer to locate – she can’t tell you where it hurts.

I didn’t understand. But I did help. Being there. Trying. Tracking down doctors and social workers, making hot water bottles and providing grapefruit juice – so flavorful that she could taste again. Holding her hand.

I can’t tell you where I hurt. But I love it when you smile, show me a picture of your baby or your cat, think of me when you’re going out someplace. I love it when you recommend a book or a movie. When you’re there, just watching TV and hanging around with the least charming version of me.

Understanding how it feels is not a prerequisite for helping. It’s just not.

If you’re wondering how to help – you probably already have everything it takes. Tenderness, Love, and the desire to show it. To send a note. To hold her hand.


Photo by Brian on Flickr

Movies and TV To Chill To

When I’m feeling my worst, gruesome murder mysteries seem to multiply in my Netflix suggestions. Friends seem to be just discovering shows like Dexter and movies like Beaches. Seemingly innocuous little indie films take a left turn three quarters of the way through and are suddenly about the molestation of children.

I can’t handle it. Or, rather – I shouldn’t. Real life is hard enough right now. And you know what? I’m done feeling lame about that. While those shows and movies might be fantastically good, they’re not for me. Not right now.

We don’t have to suffer through media that makes us feel tense. There’s plenty of stuff out there that’ll help you relax, stuff that’ll make you laugh. Here are some suggestions. – Not only do you get tons of free, entertaining, and educational material, you get a chance to support independent content makers.

I Am – An uplifting search for meaning by the director of Ace Ventura and other hit comedies. Available on Netflix.

HitRecord – The first episode focuses on the number one, with themes of interconnectedness and companionship. I’m a sucker for the song at the end. Available on YouTube.

Amelie – The ONLY bad thing about this movie is that it’s hard to fall asleep to because it’s in French and you won’t want to close your eyes. And the soundtrack is what we should all be waking up to every day. Fantastic. Available on Netflix.

Roman Holiday – One of those rare romantic comedies that doesn’t make you feel like shit for being a woman.

Defending Your Life – A strange little comedy from 1991 in which Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks must prove that they lived their lives courageously in order to stay in heaven.

Alaska: The Last Frontier – This is just a little reality show about a family that’s lived on an Alaskan homestead for four generations. Not a lot of drama, just people fixing machines, herding cows, and hunting and fishing. Available on Netflix

Angel’s Share – Though the whole thing’s in English, you might need subtitles for this one. A Scottish ne’er-do-well tries to escape the slums with his girlfriend and his new son. Scotch enthusiasts will enjoy the distillery tours. Available on Netflix

(SPOILER ALERT: This movie did make me pretty tense because it’s not at all clear that the likable main character is going to make it through. Spoiler, he does.)

Other ideas: The Muppet Movie, 30 Rock (Netflix), The Cosby Show, Reading Rainbow, The Joy of Painting (clips and some full episodes on YouTube), Everybody Hates Chris, Myth Busters (Netflix), Antiques Roadshow (YouTube and Netflix), Between Two Ferns.

Suggestions? Know where I can watch or rent any of the above? Leave a comment below or email me at