• author
    • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      Columnist, Editor-in-Chief
    • July 28, 2013 in Columnists

    When depression hits, I reach for joy

    They had me on Percocet after my gastric bypass and make no mistake, this is oxycontin, the same drug that has destroyed lives, particularly in rural areas, for some reason.  I got addicted immediately as I always have, but I am blessed in my response to addiction.  I never stay addicted because I just walk away.  I ignore it.  I don’t know why I am so blessed when so many strong, bright people are devoured by it, but when I hear oxycontin’s wheedling little voice, I shrug and reply “So what?”

    I know that if I am patient, within a few days, this addiction will be gone, to trouble me no more until the next surgery (may I never need it).

    Nonetheless, in the process of kicking this latest prescription-drug addiction, I did have a couple of pretty miserable, restless nights.  I was spoiled by the instant sleep offered by this soothing drug; now I was on my own, my body had grown adjusted to it with merry alacrity and I was miserable.

    My HMO offers a consulting nurse service, which I consider a godsend, but this time, when I called to see if these sleepless nights might be a consequence of oxycontin withdrawal, it did not go as I had expected it to.

    Me:  “Could my insomnia be related to percocet withdrawal?”

    Consulting nurse (CN):  “Do you wish to cause harm to others or to yourself?”

    Me:  “WHAT?!?!?!?  NO!  No, I don’t want to kill myself or anybody else!”

    CN:  “We have to ask that…”

    Me: “For INSOMNIA?”

    CN:  “Insomnia can be a symptom of depression…”

    Me: “I’m not depressed.  I have insomnia!”

    CN:  “Are you allergic to krill?”

    Me: “What?????  NO, I’m not allergic to krill!  I’m not a whale either!  I’m a big woman, but I’m not a whale and I do not eat krill!”

    I thanked the woman for her kind attentiveness and got off the phone as quickly as I possibly could.  No, I was not homicidal, although if confronted by someone harming someone else, I can’t be entirely sure I wouldn’t be.  No, I am not suicidal.  In fact, I am annoyed that, as Bill Clinton once said, “I have more yesterdays now than I do tomorrows.”  And no.  I do not eat krill, thank you very much.  If I am a whale, then I am a very small one indeed, and most whales my size eat fish.

    But actually, yes, I am depressed.

    Most of the time I don’t recognize it right off the bat.  I get tired.  It’s hard to get anything done because this feeling of malaise makes it feel as if I am wading through cold molasses.  I cry over small things and feel embarassed about it, even though I realize those small things are that last straw and I am the tired camel who just cannot deal with one more burden – even a small one.

    I do have some reasons to be depressed.  I am in debt due to stupid life choices.  My house is a nightmare both intrinsically and in its need for a deep cleaning and a great paring down of objects.  I had a gastric bypass and haven’t lost even four pounds in the last three weeks.   I feel a bit as if I am drowning.

    But for the most part, I have fewer reasons than most to be unhappy.  I am rich in love and family.  People I love and respect love me back.  I get to write columns, which is an enormous life dream of mine.  I get to be an editor here at iPinion, which is another great life dream fulfilled.  My husband is in love with me.  Even my father, who disliked me greatly for most of my life, loves me now.  My pets are generally healthy.  I am, too.  I am also gifted with enough talents to keep me busy and entertained for a lifetime.  When I weigh my positive list against my negative list, the positive list trails on behind me while my negative list fits on the back of my hand.

    Sometimes depression is life-circumstance.  Sometimes it’s biochemical.  Most often, it’s a bit of both.  My depression used to go on and on and on, but not so much anymore.  It’s like a noxious visitor who comes and perches, soggy and cold, on my heart until I can turf it off of there.

    I am one incredibly determined and persistent human being and I deeply dislike being at the mercy of biochemistry, so what do I do?  What I have always done.  I reach for joy.

    I will hold my doggies near to my heart and believe those meltingly tender looks that say, “Mama, you are my everything.”

    I will get a sweet, juicy hubby kiss and tender hug and I will choose to believe him when he tells me I’m beautiful and that he loves me.

    I will call my daughter and remind her how much I love her, and I will remind her to pass that on to my granddaughter.

    Tomorrow, I will call my father and lovely stepmother and tell them I love them, too.

    I will step outside my chaos to the beautiful land this crazy old house is on and I will celebrate that it is gorgeous and I get to live here.

    I will find reasons to be happy again, and I will allow them to work their magic.

    Sometimes, when depression gets too much, you have to reach out for help.  Medication may even be necessary to get your biochemistry back on an even keel.  There is no shame in it and the rewards of renewed joy in life cannot be overstated.  It is not weakness to get this help.  It is the very essence of strength.

    As for me, I’m lucky.  I discovered years ago that I just need to rattle my own cage, kick myself out of my dour thought habits and embrace happiness.  It’s right there, arms outstretched, ready to lift me up and make me whole again.

    Joy is everywhere, and it’s always been mine.  I must simply remember that…

    Even when I'm not so sure about myself, Yoda thinks I'm marvelous.  I choose to believe him.

    Even when I’m not so sure about myself, Yoda thinks I’m marvelous. I will choose to believe him.



    • Maya, you are wonderful in your sharing of your musings. I love your joy. Keep on sister friend. You will continue on your path. Can you exercise yet? That might help with more weight loss and mild depression. Love all your stories.


        • Maya North

        • July 28, 2013 at 7:36 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you so much, dearheart. I never give up. I learned a long time ago that my version of depression, which has not always been so mild, that thought patterns have a lot to do with it and I determinedly change those patterns. Life is too short to waste on misery; I’ve had enough of that. I am trying to get my walks in at work — we have a mile+ walking track — at least when I can. I don’t do well in direct sunlight, so I have to get them in the morning and that’s difficult with only a short break allowed. Big hugs <3



    • You have a wonderful spirit Maya. You have inspired me to go into the garden despite the fact that it is July in Berkeley, which means day after day of depressing fog! Yes, my damn biochemistry is linked to changes in the weather.


        • Maya North

        • July 28, 2013 at 7:38 pm
        • Reply

        Oh, thank you, love. I am the exact opposite, even though I, too, am influenced by weather — I get overwhelmed by too much sunshine and yearn for rain! You know as profoundly as all of us who have lived enough to suffer such losses as we have that life will give us more than enough misery — the only way I know to fight it is to find every single blessed thing I can to rejoice in and embrace. Big hugs…


      • Sonya

      • July 28, 2013 at 5:27 pm
      • Reply

      Beautiful…. you pretty much just described my every day life… my battle each day…


      • Maya North

      • July 28, 2013 at 7:40 pm
      • Reply

      Oh, Sonya, dearheart, it *is* a battle and we must fight it. It does not deserve to win. It is a rare life without something of wonder and delight; reach for it. Truly, it only awaits your invitation. Big hugs and, because I think it might be helpful, nose smoochies on top… <3



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