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Confession: I’m sad, I’m really sad. I’ve been sad for nearly two months. Ain’t that sad?

It’s like Julia Flyte says about living in sin: “Living in it, with it, every hour, every day…feeding it, showing it round, giving it a good time, putting it to sleep at night with a tablet of Dial1 if it’s fretful. Always the same, like an idiot child carefully nursed, guarded from the world. ‘Poor Steve,’ they say, ‘he can’t go out. He’s got to take care of his sadness.’”

Yarr, I hate being like this: it makes me want to make pirate noises, like Yarr. No, that’s exactly what it doesn’t do. It makes me want to never make pirate noises again, because WHAT IS THE POINT OF PIRATE NOISES when you are SO SAD.

I didn’t want to tell you about it because you’ll be all like “Oh Steve, have you tried giving your life to the Lord and then he will tell you how much he loves you and it will be fine?” and I’ll be all like “Yes, but it DIDN’T HELP VERY MUCH.” And you’ll say “Well but have you tried taking some pills” and I’ll say “Only St. John’s Wort because at least St. John’s Wort is a plant,” and you’ll say “What good are plants when you can have chemicals!!” and I’ll say “I don’t want any chemicals in my brain, just plants!!!”

And then you will go on about exercise and eating right and getting out of the house and having a Support Network and being with friends and thinking positive thoughts, and possibly not believe me when I tell you I have done all those things and am still doing them, but that the sadness still sticks around, like some kind of parasite whose preferred places of residence are the spaces behind your eyes and way up under your ribcage and way down in the pit of your stomach.

I want to kill it, drown it in a bucket of water like a puppy, if I were the kind of person who drowned puppies even when there was a very good reason, which I assume I am not, although I have never had occasion to find out. I want to rip it out from where it lives and grind it into the dirt, like Uma Thurman grinds Daryl Hannah’s eyeball in Kill Bill, even though that was a really gross scene. Take that, eyeball, take that, sadness!

Yech. So, for the advice-prone among you, you should know: this is, for once, not about Having the Proper Perspective or Giving Thanks for the Small Things or Not Throwing a Pity Party or any of those things. Sure, those things are good, and I’m working on all of them, and actually I think I’m pretty good at them by now.

This is something else, because I’m not sad because of being depressed, if you see what I mean. I’m sad because I’m in a rotten situation, and it’s one I can’t tell you about, at least not yet, and it’s one I can’t get out of, at least not immediately. Oh, how I’m trying to get out of it. You’ll just have to take my word that I’m doing the best I can. I don’t know when it’ll be over, and I don’t know how long it’ll take me to recover after it is over, and it’s hard not to know those things.

Meanwhile, all I’ve got is trust in the Lord. Also disgusting metaphors about eyeballs and puppies. Well, that’s something. Oh, actually, I’m feeling much better now.

1 I’m assuming that “Dial” does not mean soap, because that does not seem like a very helpful thing to do to a baby, even if it is antibacterial. I mean the soap, not the baby.

49 thoughts on “Yarr

  1. Paige

    Well, the first thing you’ve got to do is… ;) just kidding. Praying the seasons change soon for you. Glad you’re free to ‘yarr’ here.

    Reply
  2. Kevin Aimes

    Did I ever mention that you’re quite the dynamic writer? I mean, using such images to describe inner turmoil gets an A+ in my book!

    But on a more sober note, you’ve got my prayers. I’d offer to draw you up a bucket, but I like puppies.

    Reply
  3. Liz

    Steve, have you ever listened to any Ram Dass? He’s not Christian (Hindu), but in terms of talking about dealing with sadness…well I really learned a lot from him.

    I’m not crazy about his really early stuff, but starting in about the mid to late nineties he had some really good talks. I think he would say that you, perhaps, just need to be sad for awhile. Not particularly uplifting, but refreshing, I think. He always said we are too quick to try to push away feelings we find uncomfortable instead of just being with them. Pema Chodron is another good one (Buddhist nun I think?).

    I’m a devout Catholic, but both of them have been helpful to me at different times in my life.

    Liz

    Reply
  4. Melissa

    Wait, you want PLANTS in your BRAIN?!

    and praying for you…pray for me, please, too, there is a big patch of very scary uncertainty in my life!

    Reply
  5. Liam

    Dear Steve–Gotta love Lynn’s comment, echoing Cordelia, where she offers to say a decade of the rosary for you. I’ll throw in a decade for you too. You will get beyond this situation, and we’ll keep you in prayer.

    Reply
  6. Ron

    Steve, you have my support and my prayers. And don’t worry, not my advice. Know that many have gone before you on this road and many walk the same road with you.

    Reply
  7. Joe K.

    I guess I’ll be the lone voice here. Don’t make it some religious thing. Don’t use prayer to improve your mood. There’s nothing you can genuinely overcome by being optimistic. Sometimes things are just bad.

    Man up or fail. That’s the only thing you can ever actually do. There’s no secret answer.

    Reply
  8. Matthew

    I have been sad and anxious for four years (with a few breaks). I’ve done the therapy, diet, and exercise, even (briefly) zoloft, but I don’t like chemicals either. Then I heard the Radiolab program on “guts,” here: http://www.radiolab.org/2012/apr/02/
    The relevant story, “gut feelings,” starts at about 18 min., and it’s illuminating.

    I started taking a probiotic. It has worked for me better than anything else I’ve tried. The “anxiety knot” in the pit of my stomach was gone in a couple of days, and hasn’t been back yet, except in relevant circumstances, and even then not so strongly. Jarro-dophilus on Amazon is cheap enough that it couldn’t hurt to try, it seems to be doing the trick for me beautifully.

    Reply
  9. K

    Seems like every time I read another of your posts, I just think, “well, at least we’re all in this together.” This time, because I’ve been Sad lately too. I get by with red wine and dark chocolate and binging on TV series(es?), but mostly I just realize that there is no cure. Just time and God.

    I suppose that could be interpreted as depressing, but it’s been freeing for me to just embrace the sadness, because the only way out is through.

    Cheers and prayers from a fellow friend in the mud.

    Reply
  10. Sky

    I’ll second Joe K., and add that a pity party is refreshing, on occasion. It’s your party, so cry if you want to. You’ve got our prayers regardless.

    Reply
  11. George

    I hope what Joe K. means is to not go to your prayer just with the purpose of human consolation or improving your mood (in which case I agree with him). But I would not advise ceasing to pray or that by “manning up” you’re supposed to be all stoic or something.

    I know you probably are already doing this … Try keeping Our Lord company in Gethsemene … Or maybe consider how he is there keeping you company in your Gethsemene. I’ll do what I can from here; I promise I will do my best not to nod off like Peter and the rest (but you know how it is). Christ is constant through it all though.

    And then maybe go and do something fun and a little crazy with a friend. :)

    Reply
  12. Susan

    As a fellow, um, neuro-atypical Psalm 88-type, I thought I’d chime in with a plug for Lexapro. I’ve been on it for three or four years now, and it’s been great at taking the edge off my depression/anxiety. And it’s finally gone generic. God loves us, but we can’t pray away diabetes, either, ya know? Well, not usually, anyway :-)

    Reply
  13. Peter M

    I’ll third Joe K and throw in a totally insensitive: “deal with it”. When I lived with a bunch of friends a couple of years ago, every now and then someone would turn to someone else and say “get over yourself” for no reason; never failed to painfully puncture that balloon of self-absorption that we inflate around ourselves. That being said, my house is made of spun glass and if you heaved a similar brick I’d go into a three-week funk and mutter darkly about suicide (“that’ll show ‘em”). So, you know, meh. You’re still my hero. Have a drink and watch “Local Hero”, darn good movie I just rediscovered.

    Reply
  14. singlyblessed

    There is another type of plant out there that makes everything funny… kidding!

    I will be praying for you, but for now, take comfort that other people get sad too. It’s not like your doing life wrong.

    Reply
  15. Caitlin

    Oh Steve, praying for you. I have been “under the cloud” for a long time and it sucks. If I was your real life friend I would buy you some candy. Not in a creepy stranger way of course, just in a “right now at this moment surely some kind of sugar-filled treat will be satisfying way.” :)

    Reply
  16. Babs

    Assvice is what it’s called when you already know what to do. I deal with this garbage in my life too, and honestly different things help. Once I cried out, “God, I suck.” and the image of Jesus came to mind and He said, “Well, compared to me you do.” which struck me as hilarious. I hate this FOR you. I hope God the Father either picks you up to cuddle you, or smacks you upside the head, depending what will work this time.

    Reply
  17. georgeyork02

    Though you alone have to manage your situation, at least you are having some hugs around here. Good to hear that perhaps sharing made you feel better.
    Sorry about other advice-prone. Ok, you may just discard it
    Because of several situations, same strong deep from the stomach sadness, like feeling sth nobody else could so deeply feel. Sometimes (might not be your case) we stay there because it is the only consolation, laying in this deep sadness and we don’t want to jump. No that we want to stay there but if we try to leave, to say I will walk through it choosing no to feel so sad, probably we’ll feel we are being kept back: jump!! not only as a desire, not just waiting “if it works” , choose to move with the imagination from this feeling and perhaps it helps the vision that st Clara pointed out to st. Francis “God alone is enough”.

    Reply
  18. Liz

    Do you have a full belly? A roof over your head? Access to clean water? You’re living a life of luxury. Quit feeling sorry for yourself and go out and help someone less fortunate than yourself. He or she should be easy to find.

    Love,
    Sarge

    Reply
  19. Amanda

    Ok, I know you said no advice type stuff but I can’t help but relate this experience.

    I was at a retreat about a month ago where we discussed Ignatian Spirituality and spiritual dryness. Our Spiritual Director, Fr. T, reminded us that in those points of dryness or sadness not to let go of our normal personal and spiritual practices. So head to the Dojo, dust off your motorcycle and follow through with your normal spiritual routine, in time, even if it seems like a while, all will be well again.

    Reply
  20. Karyn

    Steve, thanks for a great post. It’s the difference between depression and what I call ‘situational sadness’. I get severe depression during the winter and take SAM-e and use light therapy. I know what depression is. But there are times when life rolls a big ball of sh*t your way, and guess what? You’re supposed to be sad. The only thing to do is stay close to Jesus, ask others to intercede for you, lean on friends and/or family and get through it, which is what you’re doing. I will pray for you. Please pray for me too.

    Reply
  21. Richard

    To medicate or not to medicate, that is the question. It’s an interesting one.

    I was stalwart against meds until a sudden complete loss in the feeling of pleasure, such that I couldn’t sleep or eat. Then it was pretty much a fait accompli.

    On the other hand, one could look at depression like St. Paul looked at the thorn in his side, the thing that kept him humble (via weakness). I wonder sometimes if St. Pio’s stigmata was necessary for his salvation, that without the pain he would’ve rejected God somehow. A mystery beyond me certainly.

    Will pray…

    Reply
  22. Maggie

    Offering up some prayers for you, Steve.
    God bless you and your situation.
    You are a witness of hope, it is the least we can do to pray for you when you need it.

    Reply
  23. Maiki

    I understand completely. I’m in such a state right now, too. It sucks.

    “I’m sad because I’m in a rotten situation, and it’s one I can’t tell you about, at least not yet, and it’s one I can’t get out of, at least not immediately. Oh, how I’m trying to get out of it. You’ll just have to take my word that I’m doing the best I can. I don’t know when it’ll be over, and I don’t know how long it’ll take me to recover after it is over, and it’s hard not to know those things.”

    Reply
  24. Melissa

    Well, that big patch of scary uncertainty just turned into a huge patch of scary reality, mixed with uncertainty…I’m being laid off. On top of everything else.

    So I’ll continue praying for you, and please continue praying for me.

    Reply
  25. HannahG

    Dear Steve, I could relate, wish I could tell you my problem. But I’ll pray for you and offer my sadness to alleviate yours.

    Reply
  26. Anthony

    Hi Steve-
    I am so sad to hear you are so sad. I know it’s ridiculous, but I feel like I sort of know you and love you b/c we’re on such a similar journey. Everything you write connects to me and makes me realize I am not alone. You probably know this, but this blog is a true ministry, and it ministers to me. I too deal with the sadness and have been struggling with it for about 8 months now, and it’s finally starting to ease just a bit. I also go back and forth about meds, I know so may people that seem to be on them these days, but my addiction counselor keeps talking me out of taking them for many of the same reasons you probably share. As far as advice, I know that when I am in the grips of the darkest sadness and I just cry all day and have absolutely no control to stop, that no advice in the whole world can stop it (But I can fend it off when at work or in public, but the minute I’m alone, it reaches up and grabs me by the throat). Just recently I have been spending a lot of time praying and thinking about the spiritual battle that is going on for my soul, and for some reason that seems to be helping. At any rate, I offered up a rosary for you today and will continue to pray for you daily. Til then brother, fight the good fight, and I hope you can share more with us soon. Your readers love you and want to help!

    Reply
  27. Lacy de la Garza

    Being sad is the pits. You have my thoughts and prayers, Steve, because sometimes just praying for someone’s special intentions does them more good than listing their entire life’s problems. Sometimes it’s best to leave up to God what God knows best. And He does indeed know us best. Prayers would be appreciated for my situation, too.

    Reply
  28. Lynn

    All the “man up” people remind me of my father saying “You want me to GIVE you something to cry about?”

    Praying another decade of the Rosary for you, an also one for Anthony and Melissa.

    Reply
  29. Sky

    Sorry Lynn, I didn’t mean to sound insensitive. It’s just hard when the suffering can only suffer, and all we can do is pray for them. Wishing I could do more, I guess.

    I heard a great talk about suffering last night, actually, about its purpose. The thing we all took away was that sometimes we don’t see the fruits, the things we learn from suffering, until much later (reminds me of what my priest, Fr. M, says about lectio divina). That all we can do is trust in the Lord, as Steve said, that there is more to be gained than lost.

    Reply
  30. Geoff

    “because of the Lord’s great love for us, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.” -lamentations 3:22-23

    you’re right to keep trusting him

    Reply
  31. Mary

    Steve, I am thinking about you. I too have struggled with terrible sadness and eating disorders in my life, and now a sadness that will always be there because of a “situation” that can never be changed. It is just in the background, and all I can do is distract myself from it…accept it and distract. Hard physical labor helps me. I pray for all people afflicted by the deep sadness. There is even joy in the sadness, but always tempered joy.

    Reply
  32. albert

    I wish I had the gift of insight like you. I think I’m rather worn out by it that I can’t even bring myself to dig deep. Like you do. God bless you, I admire your strength, it’s collossal.

    Reply
  33. Cait M

    When I went through a phase like this I went to a priest because I was so angry that I’d done ALL the things on your list of advice and nothing helped. I was going to daily mass and saying the rosary and how dare God not make me feel better? He told me to chill out. He said maybe I should quit storming heaven quite so fiercely and just say at the start of each day “Please give me the grace to get to the end of today” and then when I had survived a whole day just say “Thanks”. Can’t say life got better. It still sucked. But I did get that chip off my shoulder and that was nice.

    Reply

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