“I’m the friend of someone who experienced depression. I know it isn’t a choice.” – Kevin Bieksa

This is important.

Rick Rypien was a forward for the Vancouver Canucks who suffered from depression.  This little tidbit of information pretty much tells you all you need to know about the guy: “The Regina Pats re-named their “Unsung Hero Award” the “Rick Rypien Award” because he best exemplified hard work not just on the ice, but also what it meant to his teammates and all the work that Rick did in the community.” (From here.)

From what I know – and feel free to correct me, people-who-know-more-about-hockey (everyone):  In 2008 he talked to his teammates about his struggle with depression. The team, in what I think is a pretty good show of support, worked around his treatment. Rypien worked hard to deal with depression, and so it’s a sad and frightening thing to say that it’s a fight he ultimately lost.

Rick Rypien committed suicide on August 15th, 2011, after over a decade of dealing with mental illness. He was twenty seven.

This is important. I know I’m repeating myself, but I can’t think of anything else to write. Go, Canucks, go – I would have loved you anyway, but now I like you a little bit more.

“Looking at the signs and looking at the symptoms and trying to get a handle on it right off the bat, it definitely helps out in the long run. That was his goal was to help other people and eliminate that stigma that you have to keep it to yourself.”

Here’s the full article and links to MindCheck:

Big Girl Pants*

(In which I crown myself the King Of Digression and inappropriately capitalize things.)

*In case you’re English: I mean trousers. Not underpants.

Today was Volunteer Gig Day, during which I meander on over to a my favourite office downtown and tap away at a keyboard for a couple of hours while talking the ears off of people about my pets, eating their cookies, and drinking their coffee.

(It’s a good gig. They let me bring my dog in sometimes. And did I mention the cookies?)

Anyway, while I was there I had a fascinating conversation with one of my new favourite people. It seems she had this friend, once – Well. I’m sure she’s had a few over the years – and this friend was a larger woman, who had a special pair of pants. Amongst a closet of slacks, this woman had one pair that I shall call her Big Girl Pants.

These pants were for days when she was feeling fat, or had put on a few pounds, etc. She would put on the Big Girl Pants and inevitably collect a handful of compliments throughout the day. “You’re looking fabulous!” and the like. (I imagine. Look, at this point, I’m really extrapolating. It’s my blog. I don’t care.)

Over the years, the woman put on a few more pounds, but it didn’t matter. She would just buy a new pair of Big Girl Pants, go out and reap the rewards.

Now, before anyone starts writing the pissy little letters about how obesity causes heart attacks and diabetes and earthquakes, let’s assume we all know that Being Unhealthy Is Bad. (Do you like my cheap trick of lending gravitas to things by capitalizing them? Me too.)

(Damn, am I the king of digressions or what?)

Anyway, my point is: Being Unhealthy Is Bad. Right? Good. And now, we move on.

The Big Girl Pants are brilliant. As a metaphor, man. Wait, come back! I have a point. (If the point is obvious to you, skip the next paragraph and stick a gold star to your forehead.)

Everyone has something – a conversation they have with themselves, a great song they listen to, a particular shade of (ugh) lipstick, the perfect drink, or a great pair of shoes. I suppose a really lousy day could call for all of the above. A series of really bad days calls for magic pills, but that’s another conversation altogether.The Big Girl Pants are that thing. That thing that picks us up when we’re down, makes us feel better, and can sometimes turn a whole day around.

On an (I promise) related note: a while back I was asked to think about the things I do – hobbies and the like – that make me happy. Things I do just for me that have no outside attachments. I. Had. Nothing. Not a damn thing. I mean really, who has time? (I do.) Do any of you have these magical hobbies that you enjoy just for yourselves? What are they? I imagine they’re art. Or, wait, knitting. I hear that can be soothing, though personally it makes me want to do horrible things with the needles.

So I’m cultivating things. New hobbies. What do I love? Apparently I can’t just steal things from my friends and pretend that I love them. (Look, I want to love gardening, I do. But it’s so much work. And I don’t like growing things I can’t eat, which means I can’t use any industrial strength slug killers or – right. Digressions.) I’m working on it. No suggestions, please – one of those things, you know?

To tie it in: I think having the things that make us happy makes a big difference in day-to-day life. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a hobby; maybe it’s a five-minute dance party in the kitchen by yourself. So my first question is: What are the day-to-day things that you do just for yourself?

And if all that fails, we bust out the Big Girl Pants.

My Big Girl Pants fall somewhere between a really, really great song played really, really loudly in the car, and my brown leather boots. They just make me happy. They make clopping sounds when I walk, and that makes me feel like I have somewhere to go, and that’s reassuring to some sad  part of me. (Sorry, sad part. Didn’t mean it.) My second question, in case you didn’t see this coming a mile away, is:  What about you? What are your Big Girl Pants?

I’ll get back to some more depression-related stuff soon. I just took a week off the internet as part of a writing challenge, and now I’m back with a bunch of ideas. This one came up today, though, and needed to be written (before it was forgotten!) so thanks for bearing with me.

Root Facts

Root Facts. The things you believe, or know to be true, without ever examining them. Because it would never occur to you to examine them. Because they’re true. Obviously. In your head.

They are little germs of things that were planted in your brain, maybe by someone else, or maybe you did this to yourself. They’re not always bad – sometimes they’re just dumb. For example: for longer-than-I-care-to-mention, I was certain that babies were born with their eyes shut, and didn’t open them for a few weeks. This fact stuck with me until . . . well, like I said. Longer than it should have. Simply because I never saw a newborn, lacked any interest in learning about newborns, and never had any reason to examine something of which I was sure. You know what I had seen? Newborn puppies. And kittens.


Well, anyway. Suffice it to say that it came up in conversation with a friend of mine who was kind enough to clarify things for me without mocking me too much. (Unlike the friend who laughed hysterically when I said the word ‘subtle’ but pronounced it … like it’s spelled. The hazards of reading more than you speak.)

That’s a root fact. Now, the root facts of depression are far less benign. They could be something someone said once, in jest – like, ‘Move your lazy ass!’ – never in a million years thinking that someone like YOU would ever believe it. But depression, the bitch, gripped that little comment and filed it away for future late-night-ceiling-and-soul-examining times, so that when you had the following conversation with yourself:

Flailing Brain: “I’m so lazy. Lazy and useless. Well. I’m not really. Except I kind of am. Am I?”
Sneaky Depression: “You must be. Remember that time when that person you love said that thing? About your ass, and it’s lazy, lazy habits?”
Brain, No Longer Flailing: “Shit.”

Depression sneaks in and tells you all sorts of things while you’re not paying attention. You’re useless. You’re lazy. You have no worth, no ethics, no hope, and therefore no future. And then it uses tiny things throughout the day to reinforce these facts –  like that moment where you decided to just leave the dishes. The moment when you cut your workout short. That time you forgot to walk the dog. Those things prove the point that depression was trying to make! The root facts dig in deeper and deeper and soon, you don’t notice that they’re there. They are part of you. You know these things as surely as you know that you breathe oxygen.

Although really, you breathe more than just oxygen. Else you’d be really lightheaded and ALERT ALL THE TIME.

See? Another root fact, shot outta the sky.

It takes work, and self-examination, and work, and sometimes medication, and work, to find these little buggers and dig them out and pour citric acid on the soil so they can never grow again. I mean, you can’t go digging around your brain for all the things you are sure of, you’d go batshit. But. You can wait, and lurk in the shadows until you notice something in your day that makes you feel like hell, or makes you want to go lay down, or makes you hate yourself a little bit, and then pounce! on it. Find out where that root came from. Then get it! Sic!

Well, that was all a little more violent than I meant it to be.

So, insert something about nurturing and loving and, um, fertilizing the soil of your mind. (Read into that sentence what you will.)

How about you? Does any of this make sense? What are your root facts, if you have any? If you don’t know what I’m talking about feel free to give me a rating of ‘crazy’ on a scale of 1-10. But I warn you: None of my root facts think I’m crazy. We’re pretty good that way.


p.s. On the off chance that anyone has been getting this in e-mail and then replying to the email to comment? Stop. I never, ever get the e-mails, and I do so very much want to know what you had to say!