Home » Uncategorized » Trying to Remember That Blues Are Colors Too

Trying to Remember That Blues Are Colors Too

I’ve just read an article by Abby Norman on Medium called Teach Me How to Feel. It’s one of several ones I’ve read lately that make me feel a little less alone in my struggles. Not less alone in the world physically, but less alone in knowing that depression causes awful pain and suicidal feelings, and that the antidepressants doctors prescribe can shadow you into a shell of yourself that you barely recognize and sometimes despise.

I would include a link to Ms. Norman’s piece for those who would be interested, if I knew how, but Medium is, so far, a strange little place on the web, a strange little club of sorts that I don’t quite understand and don’t think its creators understand yet. I don’t care about explaining Medium’s whys, whats, and wheres. I don’t know yet if I even want to belong there, but I got an invitation a long while ago (marketing ploy, I now understand), so I belong well enough for them to send me reading suggestions. Ms. Norman wrote about the thing I’ve been wanting to write about and trying to share with my friends in these past few months of waking up. She wrote about it so well that I’m resisting the urge to copy large blocks of her piece right here. We all know how wrong that would be.

If I want to say something about depression, I have to write about my own. It’s as similar as all deep bouts of depression are. It’s as different as they all inevitably are. I used to take solace in the fact that I could kill myself if my mental pain got any worse. The closer I got to it, the calmer I felt until the realist in me really understood what it would do to my daughter and my sister, my closest family. There were times when I called myself a coward because I couldn’t leave my daughter that way. I’ve said that to myself lots of times. “You fucking coward.”

A doctor prescribed an antidepressant when my cancer diagnosis came in. I had tried a couple before then, but they always stopped working for me. Cancer was like the ultimate iron rod stuck in the gear. I was in no position to resist trying something new to ease the pain. This new medication pushed me farther away from myself than the others had. It made having to pee my ultimate motivation for getting out of bed. The doctor said it was working because suicide wasn’t foremost on my mind anymore.  My writing seemed to slip away before the date came for my surgery.

Knowing I wasn’t allowed to have reconstructive surgery because my insurance wouldn’t pay for it made me feel useless. Our money-based society makes me feel useless. Doctors inadvertently make me feel more useless.

“You have to get out and do things.”

“I don’t get out and do things because things to do aren’t close and I don’t have the $2.00 to get on the bus and the $2.00 to get back.”

“You need to get out and see friends.”

“My friends are in other states, and another country.”

“You need to get out and make new friends.”

That’s when I agree with them, usually in tears, in order to stop what feels like an onslaught, not only because of my lack of money, but probably because of the depression.

“You have to get regular exercise.”

“I try. I know how, but I have so much trouble getting started. I didn’t use to have so much trouble getting started.”

“Just do it.”

“The medication makes it so hard to just start.”

“That’s not really true. There’ve been studies.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“You should get back to your writing. It’s what you want to do, right.”

“I want to.”

“Then start. Just do it.”

“The medication makes it so slow, so hard. I have trouble getting ideas out of my head and onto the paper.”

“Just start.”

“I’ve begun a million times.”

“Try again.”


I’ve been writing the last few months because I ran out of the meds around Christmas, and I don’t want to find a doctor I like and then have to change again on June 1st because my insurance and my medical providers parted ways. I can go back to where I was reasonably comfortable and where my records are on June 1st. But really what’s worse? Me feeling so much pain but actually able do the work of writing? Or me walking through jello, anesthetized and reaching for words that slip away behind thoughts of inadequacy as a writer, as a friend, as a person, as a mother?

I’m not sure how well this all communicates. It just feels like more than enough for now, for anyone who wants to read it. It didn’t come out the way I wanted, but I don’t want to edit the heart out of it and I don’t want to read it over again. It’s true and it’s not me holding the important part inside like I usually do. For now, that may be all that matters.



19 thoughts on “Trying to Remember That Blues Are Colors Too

  1. 1) When the meds are working, you do not feel like that. Your assessment that the meds were not working is one thousand percent accurate.
    2) Fucking hell. It’s absurd that your insurance refuses to pay for surgery that should be considered an absolutely necessary part of cancer recovery. I would spiral over something like that.
    3) I’m very glad you found and keep finding things that keep you from feeling so alone. Alone is empty. Alone is wretched.
    4) Finding a new doctor is a bitch. I’ve lived in Alabama since 2008. I still have no regular medical provider. I have a great Ob-GYN, though, because I’m determined about those annuals. And, because I have meds that do work, and I need someone to sign the prescriptions, I fought along and found a good shrink. Holy hell I nearly didn’t, because what you said is true. Every one of them wants you to start all over from square one, and it’s maddening. (I like this one. She didn’t do that to me.)
    5) Keep writing. As difficult as it is sometimes, please, keep writing. That said, I had the opposite experience of you. There came a time when I ran out of words and had none for four years. It was mental illness that stole my words and finding decent meds that brought them back. So I know that when the words go away, the words go away. There was one day I copied over five pages of an encyclopedia in the library just so I’d be moving my fingers on a keyboard, I got so desperate.
    6) Hang in there. You have an amazing voice, a beautiful, lyrical one, and I never want it silenced. You are not a fucking coward for finding reasons to live. You’re a brave woman fighting for the chance to be heard. There is nothing cowardly in that.

    • Thanks for your kindness in writing to me, Jessie. You said so many things here, so many understanding things, that it helps me to hear. Sometimes I feel like everything I think and feel is wrong. It helps to know you’ve had some similar experiences and that you understand my feelings about the others. Even more than that, I hope that if someone else who needs to hear these things stumbles on this post, your words and maybe mine might help them. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for talking to me. ❤

  2. Firstly, Ré, to pick up on the previous comment, I too am glad you are back writing even if it does feel like pulling words through a wringer or something. I enjoy what you write.
    I can also empathise with the meds that make wordsmithing in any context so difficult. Difficult just to express what you want in a personal way, in everyday life even. My wife was once prescribed something that made her forget the names of people she’d known for years. She couldn’t form a cohesive thought, and this from a highly educated woman in a high profile role. She knew it was the medication and it scared her too. (Matters came to a head when we were buying a painting from an artist and throughout the discussion regarding price she couldn’t bring herself to tell the artist, or me, that we were talking about the wrong picture ! We bought the painting – it is now in the loft – my wife ditched that particular medication, pronto.)
    But it is frightening, I know.

    It has taken a decade or so but we have now learned to recognise the early signs of The Black Dog and have developed strategies to keep him at bay when he is thinking of calling. These strategies kick in whilst she still has the energy. And yes, silly as it seems, even a half hour walk around the village works to some extent….. and we get the paints out, and we paint landscapes…… Your own creativity is what will reaffirm you in the end…… walk around the neighbourhood and take some shots with your camera…… I have no doubt you have a great eye, too.

    • Thanks, Al. It helps to hear experiences others have had, and different points of view. And about the camera, I hadn’t thought of that. I’ve been wanting new pictures for Words One Hundred, and something besides words to satisfy my imagination. Thanks for pointing out the forest. ❤

    • Thanks for the link, Ellen. I see so much dark beauty in this poem. As with my own poetry, and sad songs on the radio, something about the darkness being expressed/described from the inside like this gives me hope for the future, even though the darkness hurts so much when I feel so alone in it. Thanks for sharing and talking to me. ❤

  3. Radiation treatments and the aftermath stole writing from me for a long, long time. I found my way back slowly, in baby steps through a blog. Little snippets with no deadlines, no rules, no expectations. Like you’re doing here. I also learned to simply smile politely and walk away from any friendly suggestions that included the words ‘you need to’, ‘you should’, ‘just do this’ – all the things you’re bombarded with. Putting up cold, hard boundaries to protect ourselves is so, so extremely difficult but necessary. Of course, it took forever for me feel strong enough to do those boundaries. It infuriates me that an insurance company can influence our quality of life. It saddens me that I can’t reach through these words and give you a huge hug. I hope you find ways to keep writing, even if it’s just in these pages, because your honesty touches others going through the same thing and allows them to see they are not alone. Just like you’re not alone.

  4. Damn it Re, i understand this all too well as i am going through my own bout. i can’t add anything beyond what the others have written here except for that i do hope you are googling as to what avenues are open to you for financial assistance. i send you a big warm hug. xoxo

  5. What can I say? There’s so much to say and so much “not to say”…depression is an ugly, kick-butt illness that so many people absolutely DO NOT get. The cancer, people “get”, but depression, people usually “don’t get”…somehow it’s “a MENTAL problem” and we all know what many people think of “mental problems”. I do think that the suggestion that you keep writing and “try to connect” were good ones, but I’m surprised a Dr. recommended them…until the depression is under control, you really are “unable” to do things. I’m wondering if you’ve had the opportunity to connect with any type of support groups??? SOMETIMES you can find people (or a person) in the group that you can connect with. I’ve been to a number of them. Some are good. Some (unfortunately) are toxic…..You’re a talented writer. I sincerely hope/pray that you find your answers. Sending you hugs….Many thanks for the follow. I hope my brand of silliness brings a smile to your face once in a awhile. It would please me to no end to know that I do….Namaste…. Lucie 🙂

    • Thanks for leaving such kind words. Your post about coming out with its humor and the regard for people that comes through in your writing, was a bright spot in my day. After reading it I knew I had to follow. Thanks for visiting here and for your kind encouragement. It helps. ❤

  6. Dearest Ré, I’ve been so behind on blogs that I’ve only just come across your post. Big hugs, big, big, hugs. I’m so sorry you’ve been fighting this and that our system is such that you had to waste time and energy dealing with doctors and insurance companies who don’t have your best interests at heart, or even care about you as an individual. But we all know you for a loving, creative, capable, worthy, intelligent person. And we’re here, reading your words and sending you love. You’re not useless. The world is a better place with you in it, even if you can’t believe that at the moment. All of our lives are improved by you being here.

    I’ve heard from other friends of the terrible place depression can put you in, not just because of the depression itself but because you need the medications and yet they make you feel like something’s missing from yourself or your ability to engage with the world. You’re not alone in that, either. I don’t remember whether you know (in the blogging sense) my friend Kuukua, but she’s written about depression and mental illness with intimate familiarity.

    I have also heard from other people that Allie Brosh’s depression pieces on her webcomic, Hyperbole and a Half, helped them feel less alone. Part 1 is here and there’s also a part two.

    If it makes you feel any small bit better, I don’t really understand Medium either.

    I’m glad you felt able to come here and write what you did. I’m grateful for your honesty (not just in this post but in others I remember too). I’m glad you’re here. ❤ ❤ ❤

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