Would you rather be a super nice person and be depressed all your life, or be happy and a total *sshole? (Credit goes to Cyranny for this question, aired on one of her “Cyranny’s Quickies” posts.) I would like to rebel as some respondents have, and try to recombine these choices. But, having a loved one who suffers from depression and because I’m reading a book about the subject in order to understand it better (the cover of that book appears below), I do not see “depression” and “being nice” as a dichotomy. Yup, here I go, taking this questions perhaps WAY too seriously! But that’s what happens when I’m involved in something that is really a very complex question. So please forgive me for overthinking this seemingly binary choice!
I definitely would not want to be an a-hole in any condition and I doubt it would make me happy. Although I suppose there are plenty of happy people who are oblivious to the fact that they are cruel jerks – or they just don’t care. It wouldn’t be me, though. I have too strong a moral compass and always feel guilty when I treat someone badly.
That said, it is perfectly logical to be both nice and depressed. For one thing, very few people are depressed “all the time.” Depression comes and goes. When someone is in a deep depression, they often isolate themselves, cut themselves off from friends and family. People close to them see the warning signs and then may try to intervene.
When someone suffering from depression is NOT depressed, however, he or she seems like a completely different person! When they are not depressed, people who suffer from this mental illness are often quite nice people. Why, you may ask? It may seem like a contradiction, but actually it isn’t. Because there is such a contrast between the depressed and normal states, these people tend to appreciate life and other people more when they are feeling ‘normal’. They feel things acutely and tend to be very sensitive. They are often empathetic (that is, when they are not depressed). They know what it is like to suffer greatly, and know that during their normal state, they should enjoy life and accomplish as much as they can, because they also know that the darkness and isolation – the abyss – will return. The best time for them to seek help with their mental illness is when they are feeling good, because during depression, they can hardly get out of bed, much less do something constructive. When they are depressed and thus miss an event they looked forward to attending, they feel really bad about that, and know that most people at the event probably didn’t expect them to attend, but would have been pleasantly surprised if they had showed up. They live with a lot of guilt, but they usually take that out on themselves, not on other people. (It’s true that the suicide rates are much higher among depressives than non-depressives.) They do invariably hurt people, but usually unintentionally, so you can’t say they are fundamentally a-holes.
So if I had to choose, I would rather be nice and depressed. First of all, the depression doesn’t last forever, and nowadays there is plenty of help for depression, in the form of medications and therapy. New drugs are constantly being put on the market that improve on earlier ones, because medical understanding of depression constantly improves. If one medication doesn’t work, there are others, and different combinations, to try.
Believe me, I don’t desire to be depressed! I wouldn’t wish that on anybody! But as you have posed an either/or choice, this is my reasoning for choosing depression and being nice.
Have you ever made someone cry? Of course – even though I’m nice and not an a-hole, I am not perfect! I’m sure I’ve made my son cry, but I can’t remember the last time that was.
Are you a dreamer or a go-getter? I’m a dreamer and unfortunately, not a go-getter. It would be better to act on my dreams, and to some extent I have, but I am not one of those assertive, in-your-face types.
If you were in a band, what instrument would you play? Probably the piano, because it’s the only instrument I have ever learned to play. But instruments don’t have to be external – I consider my voice an instrument, and so I would be the singer. I sing much better than I play the piano anyway.
Do you feel gratitude is necessary? Yes, or rather I feel it SHOULD be necessary. Everyone should feel gratitude about the good things in life, or the people who have touched them. It is necessary for ME, anyway, to feel gratitude. I try to stop and count my blessings or appreciate my life in some way every day.
I greatly appreciate the following song and am grateful that John Lennon gave us his talents until his tragic death in 1980.
Those of us over 50 most likely remember the old TV series Candid Camera – I can still remember the last line of its theme song: “Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!” Nancy Merrill’s A Photo A Week challenge this week is candids. I offer my submission, first with two photos taken of family members at my grand-nephew’s birthday/going away to college family gathering (that’s him in the second photo); and a few animal candids of wild and domestic furred or feathered friends.
Our cat had been sleeping behind some propped pillows on the bed – she’d never slept there before, and she seemed a bit surprised and perhaps annoyed that we found her hiding place!
It’s question week for me, and every week I look forward to Melanie’s Share Your World. Following are her questions for this week.
Is every piece of truth worth telling? (credit to the magnificent Cyranny for this one) No, not at all. Sometimes the truth is brutal. Telling someone they are fat, for example. It may be the truth but you don’t say it. Instead, you find a way to compliment that person with another (hopefully) true opinion, such as “I love your outfit!” or “That shirt looks great on you!” Can an opinion be the truth? It is if it is your true opinion! 😉
Important truths, however, must be told, brutal or not. Such as the fact that Joe Biden won the U.S. election for president. Such as Trump won’t admit defeat due to his pathological narcissism, which is why he continues to maintain that he won, and that makes him dangerous. Such as OANN and Fox have been lying to you. Who and how these truths ought to be told is another matter. If you want people to believe you are telling the truth, you must be believable to them. A left-leaning activist should not be the one to address the right-wing about what is the truth and what is not. It’s not just politics – people tend to believe what fits their own world view; this has been shown through study after study. Why do you gravitate to certain news sources rather than others that are also readily available? How do you know who is telling the truth? What if it is all a huge conspiracy? There are people who tend to believe conspiracies, but I am not one of them. And personally, although it’s interesting, I don’t really care why Oswald killed Kennedy. The fact that he did it is what determined the future.
I try to be objective when hearing people who claim to be truth-tellers, like the media I choose to watch or read (because those sources fit my world view, I guess – but I think it is more than that). Some things just don’t ring true. Giant conspiracies that would involve coordination between thousands of people across the globe just are not believable. The view of one scientist who is a friend of your brother’s wife’s cousin that climate change isn’t happening doesn’t hold up to the vast majority of scientists in the world who maintain that it is and we must do something about it. Take a moment before forwarding that Facebook post to think, does this sound like it’s true? There are ways of investigating what is the truth and what is not, and the process of learning this should begin in middle school when kids begin to do a lot of Internet surfing and research. Lies are disseminated when social media users feel drawn to a particular concept or meme, and then forward it to others they know who basically think the same way they do. We are all guilty of this, without exception, I think. But I have always had a streak of skepticism in me, and if it sounds too bizarre or ridiculous to be true, I check the source and then fact-check the information, if it’s important enough to me.
Big truths should and must be told, but small ones are up to the teller. Will telling the truth in this case just hurt somebody’s feelings or will it make a difference in their decision-making? If the former, don’t tell it; if the latter, one probably should. Withholding the truth should never be an excuse, only a reason.
Whom do you miss more Freddy Mercury or Prince? (if you don’t know who those people are, just skip this question. It’s cool). I know who both of them are, but Freddie Mercury is not dead. He lives on in the body of one of my grandcats, an orange Maine coon mix who is very frisky, naughty, and loveable!
If you could only email or text people for the rest of your life (no other form of communication), which would you chose? Email might be more practical, but it is also slow and easy to miss in the slew of emails I get on a daily basis and don’t have time to read. I love texting and prefer it even to speaking on the phone.
Would you prefer to work the midnight shift at a really creepy out of the way motel OR work alone for eternity? Thank God I don’t have to make that choice!
Bonus question because yes, these are a weird bunch (no worries – I did Bushboy’s yesterday!) this week: What’s one secret you’re still keeping from your immediate family? (no details required. You could say something like “The lost weekend in 1982”. You can also answer “Why I NEVER keep secrets from my nearest and dearest!”). That I never really loved my first husband. At least, I’ve never told my son (whose father is my ex) that. This may be an instance in which telling the brutal truth is not a good idea. I believe that when parents separate, it’s best not to always trash the other parent to the kids; be honest but try to be positive too.
GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)
Please feel free to share something uplifting that you’ve experienced so far in 2021. I wouldn’t call it uplifting but I am grateful for it – Dale and I have had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19 with its 95% effectiveness rate! We both had a few symptoms: I felt general malaise for a day, with headache. I took a long nap complemented with extra-strength Tylenol. Now we both feel fine!
We’ve finally arrived at the end of this short month, which has seemed at least as long as any other month! This means the last day of Paula’s Month of Lurve challenge.
My final love is games!
Feb. 28: I love…to play games! It can get out of hand when I spend half a day playing games on my phone! But I prefer games I can play with others – good old-fashioned Scrabble or Scattergories or other board games. Games we used to play with each other as kids. I always think of my dad when talking about games, because there is no one who loved to play games more than he did! So I and my siblings grew up with a love for games. We had educational games that helped us learn things, like state capitals and countries of the world as well as the usual Parcheesi, etc. It was a way of sharing time together when we’ve exhausted all conversation topics – or to look forward to at the end of the day. One of my sisters lives in this senior community with her husband, and we often get together to play games. Most days there’s some kind of game going on in our community center.
Word games are my favorite, and I have several different ones on my phone: Words With Friends is my favorite, even though there are inconsistent rules about what words are acceptable, and they have some made up words. I like this game because it’s the only one I play with other people, and it’s like Scrabble. I also have Wordscape, Word Stacks, and Word Scroll.
Some games are good to keep one’s mind sharp, although I don’t believe that crap in ads about games that your IQ is based on whether you score well on their games! I added a few additional games recently, including one that hones geometry skills.
This challenge has been fun, but also challenging since I often had a hard time keeping up! Thanks, Paula, for hosting it!
Getting into the groove again with Paula’s Month of Love. Although I must say, I’m glad February is a short month, because I’m running out of things I love, mainly because my categories were too general in the beginning. But today is a special one..
Feb. 21: I love…photography, although I am not very good at it. I belong to a photography club here at our community, along with Dale, who is a better photographer than I am, but he doesn’t do much with his photos. My love for photography started when I was in junior high school. I had a Brownie camera and took lots of photos of my friends doing goofy things. I had enough to fill an album! Part of the fun of photography, for me, is making photo albums and scrapbooks. When I got to high school, I met a guy that was a serious photographer (he rarely went anywhere without a camera around his neck), and we became friends (and eventually more than friends, but I digress…). My school had a darkroom and this friend taught me how to develop my own photos. By that time, I had purchased a better camera – an Olympus SLR and did mostly black & white photography because that was what I learned to do in the darkroom. We never used color in those days. B&W was considered appropriate for “serious” photographers. I only bought rolls of black & white film, usually the one that had the most photos, which I think was 36. Then I would close myself in the darkroom to first develop the film, and then the photos.
In college, I was able to mount a small darkroom in the small bathroom of a two-bedroom/2-bathroom apartment I was renting with friends. I didn’t have enough room for film developing, so I took my film to a camera shop, where they developed the film. Then I processed the photos in my tiny darkroom.
After that, I stopped doing my own film and photo processing and began to shoot mostly color. I put many photos in scrapbooks/photo albums. Many of them deteriorated over the years, which is a shame. Now there are companies that sell high quality photo albums with non-acid paper. Meanwhile, I’m scanning the old ones.
In late 2006, my Fuji SLR stopped working and I graduated to digital. Dale had been using a digital camera for three years already, and he took photography classes, which were mostly about how to use Photoshop software.
I am proud of some of my photographs and if I were to get fancy photography software, they would probably look even better! I keep telling myself I will someday. Now, however, I have two cameras – a Sony alpha 68 with a detachable telephoto lens and my cellphone, which is often enough. When I travel, I take both cameras, but on occasion I leave my Sony behind in the room wherever we are staying, because I’m sick of carrying it. It is actually astonishing how high quality the cameras are in top-of-the-line cellphones these days. We recently purchased small Zoom lenses to attach to our cellphones. Still, for fine photography, I still prefer my Sony, so I can take photos like this:
Feb. 22: I love…my son, Jayme, whose birthday is today! He is 36 years old and has had – and continues to have – many problems in his life due to mental illness. However, he is good-looking, kind, intelligent, and creative. He writes poetry, and after our trip to France in 2019, I gave him my old camera because the photos he took on the trip were fantastic! He has good observation skills and an good eye for how to frame his photos. He loves music and movies and has an eclectic taste.
Here’s a gallery of his life: clockwise from upper left: age 2; kindergarten picture; age 8 or 9, with his cousin Eric and a doe; 8th grade picture; at his sister’s wedding 2019; high school sophomore year picture
Have you ever ‘butt dialed” someone? (‘butt dialed’ means have you ever made a phone call that you weren’t aware of making, because the buttons on the phone got pushed by your sitting on them (in your pocket) OR having something in your handbag press against them?) Geez, who hasn’t? I’ve gotten them several times too, and it’s usually the person I most recently talked to who stuck their phone in their pocket and some movement dialed my number again.
If you were given 1000 acres of land, what would you do with it? I can’t even conceive of how much that is. (I’m not good with area measurements.) But let’s say it’s large enough to build a manor house with outbuildings, and a large manicured garden – i.e. an “estate.” I would NOT do this, although I’ve been known to drool over properties I’ve seen on the road or in a magazine.
It depends where it is. If it were somewhere abroad that is beautiful and the kind of place I’d like to visit, I would probably build a modest house with a garage on it, maybe a pool too (depending on the climate in the area), and go there every year to spend several weeks exploring the surroundings and other countries. The rest of the time I would rent it out through Airbnb or something like that.
If it were in a poor country, I would probably donate it to the city or state or country through a reputable organization that would use it for whatever is needed in the community.
If it were in the U.S., I would want it to be in the Southwest, so I could build on it, have a cactus garden, and spend my winters there – I’d become a snowbird!
What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen on-line recently? I enjoyed many of the pictures people posted using the Bernie Sanders at the Inauguration meme inserted in them. In fact, I now have a crocheted Bernie, made by a friend, and it sits on my mantle above the fireplace. Maybe I’ll take it out with me and photograph it in various locations.
Have you ever eaten something off the floor? ‘5 second’ rule applies or not (the ‘5 second rule’ is that if you pick up the dropped food within a set time frame, it’s still ‘clean’ and you can safely eat it)? Oh, yes, I do that all the time! Imagine wasting a succulent tomato or a piece of the only chocolate chip cookie I allow myself to have each day! Although at the beginning of the pandemic, I was so paranoid that if something dropped on the floor, I would immediately throw it away and sanitize my hands. I also throw it out if I’d given it to the cat and she rejected it after sniffing and maybe licking it. Also, it depends on how clean the kitchen floor is. Needless to say, I don’t pick up liquids (except to clean up).
GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)
Feel free to share your gratitude with everyone in the form of a quote, a thought or an image. I am grateful today for my family, especially my son, whose birthday is today!
Feb. 16: I love…my house. We moved here in August 2019, a compact, pristine little house (it’s actually a duplex) waiting for us. Everything is new & modern, nothing is malfunctioning (and if it does, we call maintenance who comes to fix it right away and we don’t have to pay for it), there are no stairs, we have a tiny screened porch and a patio with an elevated plot next to it where we can plant whatever we want, and adequate storage space. I think this house is the most satisfying thing about living in this senior community. I was so sick of our old house – nearly 100 years old, it had old plumbing, poor water pressure in the shower, and three levels. The washer & dryer were in the basement, and our bedroom was on the second floor. Now when I want to wash clothes, I just go from my bedroom to the washer & dryer unit off my kitchen. There was always something going wrong at our old house and we had to replace the roof twice. We don’t need to worry about any of that here!
Of course, we had to get rid of a lot of stuff, but I didn’t mind that. It was good to downsize!! The only drawback is having only a one-car garage, so one of us has to park in the driveway.
Feb. 17: I love…my family. I grew up with three sisters and one brother, and both parents. We were not a dysfunctional family, we got along for the most part. My brother was really mean to me when we were children, and my oldest sister was kind of bossy too, but still we were a remarkably cohesive family. Now my parents are deceased, one of my sisters is also deceased, but we all have kids, and most have grandkids. I love and cherish my large extended family!
Feb. 18: I love…my knickknacks. I have a lot of small figurines and other knickknacks that I have accumulated during my travels, or sometimes they were gifts. I have a lot more than pictured below!
Feb. 19: I love…coloring. A few years ago, there started to be coloring books for adults on the market. They were promoted as being relaxing. You can find coloring books of anything from scenes from Outlander to Cats with Hats to Amazing Mandalas and geometric designs. It is really calming, so I tend to do it while watching the news! I bought several sets of gel pens, which are my favorite medium for coloring, but I also use colored pencils a lot – which are good for doing shading in the pictures – and markers. I like experimenting with different color combinations and it also helps me to color small details without going outside the lines – a good practice for when I need a steady hand for doing water colors or drawings. Here is a sampling:
Feb. 20: I love…walking. Walking is my favorite type of exercise. I like walking outside especially, because I can appreciate the nature around me, and it’s possible to find small things to admire, something I can’t do if I’m riding a bike, for example. I walk in any season as long as the weather isn’t too cold – it’s really the wind that keeps me inside!
A new week has arrived and along with it, a new set of questions from Melanie on Share Your World. QUESTIONS:
Do you feel you ask enough questions or do you settle for what you know? I like to ask questions. I am very inquisitive and I often go in search of information for answers. If I didn’t ask questions, what would I know? Questioning is vital to gain knowledge. This is why little children ask so many questions, Why this and why that? They have little knowledge and to get more, they have to ask why, although sometimes the adults don’t have answers.
That said, there are certain situations in which I do stop asking questions. If a very annoying person is chatting me up, for example, on an airplane or a bus, and I don’t want to talk to that person, I say what is polite and then turn away. Or when a meeting goes really long, and everyone is fidgeting because they want to get out of there, but I still have a question, I most likely bite my tongue and settle for what I know, with the thought of finding out the answer to my unasked question later or elsewhere.
Asking questions occasionally gets me into trouble; in fact, I lost a teaching job at least partly due to asking a question that my boss (the new principal of the school) didn’t like, because she thought it made her look bad.. She harbored a resentment toward me the entire school year and found fault with me even when I wasn’t doing anything wrong. She ended up not rehiring me and I wasn’t tenured. But I really did want to know the answer to my question and never really got one.
When did you fail to speak up when you feel you should have? There was one incident that I still regret not having spoken up – or perhaps if I had realized sooner to put two and two together. I went to a party at a former coworker’s house one summer. When I got there, I was happy to see several of my former coworkers from the school I had loved teaching at, including the principal who I really liked because she had always been supportive of me. I had lost my job in that school district, because they reconfigured the schools into “grade level centers” and by moving people around, they could dispense with nine teachers. I was one of them because after three years, I wasn’t yet tenured. In Illinois teachers don’t get tenure until the end of their fourth year. I was telling the principal about my new job and how happy I was there, even though the pay was extremely low – I’d had to take a program assistant job, because I couldn’t find a teaching position except for substitute teaching, which I was tired of. The principal asked me several times if I was sure I really liked it where I was working, and I kept saying yes.
A short while later, I ran into the other ESL teacher I had worked with at that school and found out she had just retired. I didn’t make any connection at the time and it wasn’t until a day or so later that my dense mind figured it out! The principal had been trying to find out if I would be interested in going back to my former position, but I didn’t realize that at the time. She wanted me to replace the retiring teacher because they really needed a Spanish-speaking ESL teacher, which they lost when I was cut from the district. They had replaced me with another ESL teacher from another school in the district who was tenured.
I realized I should have said something – although I liked the program assistant job, the pay was so low that Dale and I were having trouble keeping a positive balance in our checking account, and if I could have gotten a teaching job in my former district, where I was really happy, I would have taken it. I thought about calling that principal and asking her if the job was still available, but I didn’t. I had convinced myself by that time that in spite of the low pay, I was glad not to have the responsibility of a teaching job. I could go home after work and not have to do more work at home to prepare for the next day or grade papers. I valued that additional leisure time. Even so, I know I would have taken that ESL position back if it had been offered to me and worked for several more years instead of retiring at age 63, when I acquired an inheritance after my mother died.
When was the last time you felt lucky? A few days ago! Maybe “lucky” isn’t the right word. People have no control over what family circumstances they will be born into. I happened to be lucky to be born into a psychologically and financially stable family. The reason I felt lucky a few days ago is that, when hearing the news of the pandemic, of people who have lost their jobs and depend on the stimulus checks for their financial support right now, for people who have no money, I thought about how lucky I am – a retired, 68-year-old married white woman with a good husband and a wonderful home in a senior community (which most people would be hard pressed to afford). This community provides us with a lot of support during the pandemic and our monthly fee pays for maintenance, snow shoveling, etc. We’ve gotten ahead of others in getting the Covid vaccine, we have a housekeeper who comes once a week, and we don’t have to cook because our meals are delivered to us. We have a beautiful campus where we can walk and see our neighbors (when the weather is good), so we don’t feel so isolated. I thank God every day for my good fortune.
What is a boulder? It is a large rock. When people talk about avalanches, they usually call the rocks that hurtle down the side of a mountain boulders. Boulder is also a city in Colorado, home of the University of Colorado.
GRATITUDE SECTION (as always optional)
Feel free to share your gratitude with everyone! See the answer about feeling lucky above. I am grateful for all I have. While people in Texas are suffering from lack of electricity and water during a freak storm, I am watching their distress on TV in my comfortable home. I am warm and don’t lack for anything. The employees of our community take good care of us.
Feb. 14: I love…Dale. Valentine’s Day is a special day for me, because it is my husband’s birthday! I married my valentine 25 years ago, and we’ve been together for almost 30 years total! For our 25th anniversary (last November) we had planned to take a round trip cruise from the Caribbean to the Amazon, but of course it was cancelled due to Covid. We will go in 2022 instead. Years ago, I bit Dale with my travel bug and now he loves it as much as I do!
He can be very sentimental at times, much more so than I. He loves joking with puns, but he has used some of them so many times that other family members have to tell him to stop! Dale is a former high school history teacher in the inner city of Chicago, and retired after 33 years. Since then, he’s had more time for his favorite pursuit – golf! In the winter – especially this pandemic winter – he gets bored!
Dale turned 77 yesterday, and a few unexpected health problems have arisen lately. Still, we hope to enjoy as many more years together as we can!
Feb. 15: I love…animals. I have already written about my love for cats, but we took a safari in Tanzania in 2018 that was the most unique and memorable trip of my life so far! During this pandemic, we are homebound, but we are lucky to live on a beautiful campus with two small lakes. Every spring and summer, I enjoy watching the swans, ducks, and other fowl that visit our lakes. I’ve also made friends with a couple of the dogs who I see on my walks (when the weather’s warm enough!).