Monthly Archives: December 2016

Krampus Schmampus

Today is Krampus day in Germany and a few Slavic countries. Krampus is a mythological devil figure (not THE Devil but a devil) who’s the counterbalance to the generous and kind Saint Nicholas who brings presents to children on the morning of December 6th. Krampus comes the night of the 5th and finds “bad” children and stuffs them in his sack and carries them off, never to be heard from again.

This year, being stuffed into a sack and carried away forever doesn’t actually sound that bad.

Like, at all. Think about it–no responsibilities, and whatever Krampus did to you couldn’t be that much worse than feeling bad from regular depression.

It’s actually really horrible that a scary demon created to terrify children into compliance is less bad than the normal state of your body and head. I just wanted to acknowledge how much this sucks.

And maybe there’s something in here about how being good by not complaining about how awful depression is  doesn’t get us anywhere, because the only upshot of being good is that we’re still depressed. If Krampus’ sack is better than depression, then there’s absolutely zero reason to be good. Complain away, friends.

Love,

Magda

Resilient af

Do you get tired of people telling you you’re strong?

I do. I get so tired of people telling me I’m strong, as if that makes anything better for me. “You’re so strong. I don’t know how you do it.” Well, that’s because I’m mostly NOT doing it, you know? Just because I haven’t lost the struggle to get up in the morning doesn’t mean I’m succeeding. I think constantly about how much better I could be doing things, and how I don’t know how much more I can do.

I don’t know which is worse, the thought of gripping the bar for another 50 years or the idea of what happens if I slip. Don’t think I haven’t thought about getting the sailor’s HOLD FAST tattoo, but it feels like the saddest thing I can think of.

But “strong” isn’t any more of a compliment than “angry” is an insult. They’re just conditions that we may or may not be in at any given time, depending on circumstances, and fetishizing the labels is a way to justify distance. They say more about the people using them than the people to whom they’re applied.

If I get to choose my own label, I choose resilient. I am weak, so many times and constantly. But I keep coming back. I keep waking up and showing up, ready for what’s next (even when I’m not really ready). I’ve never been good at discretion, so I choose to think that resilience is the better part of valor.

I gave one of my best friends this mug when I knew she was struggling, to remind her of what she knows about herself. That she didn’t have to be strong. And she didn’t have to do things right. She just has to keep coming back.

And that’s all any of us has to do. Just keep coming back.

Love,

Magda

Hope

I have three favorite words in the English language:

  1. antimacassar, because it’s an unnecessarily big and obscure word that you find in historical fiction
  2. empurple, because for me purple is more than just a color, it’s a way of life
  3. hope, which I will spend the next several paragraphs discussing

Hope doesn’t mean that you know things will get better. It doesn’t mean you have any clear-cut vision of exactly how things will get better. It means you acknowledge that there’s a chance that things might get better.

Unfortunately, hope is one of the first victims that depression claims. When you’re at the lowest of the low, you lose sight of that possibility of things ever getting better.

Loss of hope is tragic. Without hope, you have nothing.

And yet, hope is so easy to lose. It doesn’t matter if you’re hurting from a personal tragedy, a world situation, or the irrational chemicals that exist in your head. You can lose hope in an instant.

Sometimes I rely on silly little tricks to help me find hope.

For example, I buy myself bracelets that say “HOPE” on them:

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I even scrawl the word Hope on a piece of paper:

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I look to the wise words of one of my favorite mental health charities, To Write Love on Her Arms:

 

hopeshirt\

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can get the shirt here.

You can have your friends remind you that hope still exists. Maybe nature or your pets inspire hope in you. You can find hope by watching heartwarming holiday movies on the Hallmark Channel where a family gets snowed in at the airport and meets a whimsical old man who turns out to be Santa—but if those movies are your source of hope, you and I are different.

I think you see my point. Hope is important. Hope is essential, even.

But I want to emphasize that hope isn’t only reserved for that moment when everything is better. Hope is not just for perfect sitcom endings. You can be at your lowest and still have hope. You can have hope as you recover and climb out of the pit. You can have hope when you’re sort of okay, but sort of not. Hope can save you in the moments where you’re okay, but you worry that any minute you won’t be.

Wishing you hope this day and always,

Shannon

 

 

Watch out, but don’t cry

When I was little and I’d get upset about something and pout about it, my grandfather (we called him Apappa) always told me that if I kept pouting a bird would come and land on my lower lip. I think he intended it to be tough love of the “quit crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” variety (Hungarian-Americans aren’t really known for their toddler-whispering skills) but I always thought it was a combo of hilarious and thrillingly scary (think about their little sharp toe-claws digging into your lip!) and I’d laugh every time.

That is always what I think about when I come across the word “pout,” so every time I hear “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” I think about Apappa and a bird landing on my lip. That makes me laugh off the rest of the terrifying lyrics to the song about monitoring me 24/7 and knowing both my thoughts and actions and punishing me for them but wanting me to want to “be good.” (My teenager thinks it’s a gut-buster that there’s a peppy little Christmas song about the surveillance state. It was funnier last year.)

This is where I am right now, though: Watch out, stay alert, be ready. I’ve cried enough for this week, and now I’m laughing. What else can I do? Being good (especially for goodness’ sake) is clearly not an option anymore.

This is me, not pouting.

Love,

Magda