(warning – this post is grody to the max).
Depression: the more people I get to know (really know) the more I see how difficult life can be and how common depression is. Curling into bed tonight with a fresh ginger tea and fighting off the final touches of a lingering cold/flu, I started to ponder gratitude — and why people say that it, along with empathy, is a cure to depression. There was even a cartoon (which I loved) making the FB rounds that explained that telling people they shouldn’t feel down because others have it worse is like telling people not to celebrate because others have done better (paraphrase). I agree with this!
But, I have many things for which to be grateful and also many things for which to be hateful and bitter, so I wanted to give the gratitude cure a try. As I considered what of the many things in my life I should feel thankful for first (and then got more depressed and started watching Top Chef re-runs), a friend called to tell me about her day. A couple days ago she developed a boil on her arm, her dominant arm, upper right, near the triceps. Not just a small, eeeny-weeny boil, but a huge festering disgusting bulging sore thing that erupted out of nowhere and got so big that she had to rest her arm on a pillow as she talked to people at work. She called her doctor and they were like GET THEE TO AN EMERGENCY ROOM.
So, she went into the emergency room, and the growth on her arm was so disgusting that the doctors looked unhappy to have to help her. But if you don’t treat these cyst-like things then the infection they contain can get in your blood stream. So they decided they had to lance the thing, which they did. And then they took an actual pump, like a sump pump, and they sucked all the yellowy pus out of her boil, and then there was this giant gaping hole in her arm. They didn’t want that to get infected so they actually stuffed cotton balls into the hole in her arm. She was in pain, and her partner had to leave, but he took the bus and left her the keys to the car without telling her where the car was parked. She wandered around the parking lot for half an hour trying to beep beep her car. Eventually, she found it, but she was in so much pain that she drove home left-handed and woozy from the meds, endangering many pedestrians.
After I berated her for careless driving endangering hipsters, we laughed! She said that, ironically, she’d been going through hard times mentally and emotionally, and now she felt a lot better because the physical pain was somehow distracting and focusing her attention on other things. When she finished telling me this tale, I asked her if she would write a short story about a woman with a boil. She said that there was no way. So, I said, could I do it? Would she please send me a picture? She said that she gave me full right and permission to write a story about a woman with a boil. So I said YAYAYYYYYYYY! Then I felt a lot better and realized that I am lucky that I have friends who have crappy things happen to them and then call me to laugh about it and yeah I feel better, but not at her expense, but because my friend called to tell me about what was going on with her, and she shared even the grody, yucky, hard stuff. I am truly grateful and waaaaay less depressed!
© Serena W. Lin
p.s. I hope she posts the picture on my FB PAGE!