29 November 2011

Are you able to filter out the good memories from your depressed periods and enjoy them? How long did it take before you were able to do that?

by Nia and Soledad

Nia: I can now but it took a long time. For high school, which was the worst period, maybe 15 years. Later periods did not take as long.

A possible factor in this long delay might be that after high school I rarely spoke with any of my friends from that time, so had no one with whom to relive and strengthen the positive, shenanigans-related memories and thus create some counter-balance to my Extra-Large-Sledgehammer-of-Mental-Doom memories.

But eventually they lost their hold over me and I could recount amusing stories like normal people do. There was the otherwise prim-and-proper friend who made up obscene lyrics to the theme from "MASH" and sang them on the bus, and the time I was set up on a blind double date with the closest thing to a feral human being I've ever seen.

A while ago I realized that I've loved perfume since grade school and can remember every scent I've worn at any given time in my life, but strangely I had never registered this before. I just considered it a necessity, like bathing regularly or Oreos. I had the same experience with science-fiction movies. I saw almost every one that came out, back when they were considered two steps above zombie movies, but never thought of it as a hobby until a lot later.

Maybe that's normal? Or maybe it's due to a blunting of emotions early on by the depression, or because none of my friends have ever shared these interests so I had no one to talk with about them, except for a guy in college who could name every perfume I wore. (Which should've been a tip-off.)

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Soledad: I find that I am able to filter out the good memories from bad when the bad times are several years past.

Lately I often tell terrible tales from my dating days. Thankfully they are from long ago and I can laugh about them now! But at the time they really depressed me. It was incredible to me how many morally bankrupt people I encountered, and how many people just didn't seem to care.

When you can look back at a terrible time and laugh, it means you're moving forward, feeling good about where your life is headed, and yet still aware of the lessons learned from those darker times. I think it often takes a few years, sometimes longer, depending on the nature and cause of a person's depressed periods, to really be able to look back and say, "Hey, it sucked at the time, but I learned a lot about myself and what not to do. And it now all seems so ridiculous because I am a different person now, and I'd never do what I did back then that contributed to my sadness."

You just have to arrive at a place where you give yourself a lot of credit for everything you've been through, and give yourself a pat on the back for staying strong, surviving, and emerging victorious despite all the bad crap that seems to fall into every life at various times. Crap happens. So you may as well learn to live with it and laugh at it when you can.

Here's to happy living and laughing despite the crap. Happy holidays!

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Photo: detail of "William H. Egberts examining trepanned skulls in the anthropology laboratory at the National Museum," 1926, photographer unknown, National Photo Collection, Library of Congress. No known restrictions on publication.