SYW: A Depressed Dreamer Makes Someone Cry

Here are Melanie’s Share Your World Questions this week and my responses.

QUESTIONS

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.


GRATITUDE SECTION

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.

SYW/HP: On Household Chores, Love & Marriage, Speaking One’s Mind and Happiness

Here are Roger and Melanie serving up some interesting questions this week in Share Your World Meets Harry Potter.

HPHBPSYW

Roger’s Magical, Mystical Questions

  1. You have just been gifted a magic wand that specializes in completing household chores. You can request the completion of only two household chores. Which chores would you assign your wand to complete?
    Laundry and vacuuming/sweeping. We don’t usually cook anymore, and when we do, Dale enjoys being the “short-order cook.” Thanks to him, we eat omelettes every Saturday and sometimes pancakes on Sunday! And for some reason, I don’t mind cleaning up. I would rather tackle it alone – the only thing I don’t like is emptying the dishwasher!
  2. At the local Wizards-R-Us store there was a sale on handshake shockers, instant darkness pellets, and levitation pills. Which of these ‘party thrillers’ are you more likely to purchase?
    levitation pills – I am somewhat scared of the dark and handshake shockers aren’t my thing. Besides, no one is shaking hands these days! Levitating would be like flying, which would be cool. If I were walking and got really tired, I’d take a levitation pill and “fly” over the trees and bushes directly back home!
  3. In the alley behind Wizards-R-Us, there was a tradesman selling a Love Potion. The sales pitch was too much for you and you yielded and purchased one vial. What do you do with it?
    I would give it to my son. He needs love in his life!
  4. You are the Great Clearinghouse Winner of a new ‘good luck’ potion – Felix Felicis. It has to be used within the next thirty days or its potency becomes diminished. Do you use it? Do you give it to a friend in need?
    I like what Fandango* said, so I’m going to copy it: I’d go out and win the lottery! Then I would give some to a friend or others in need, and with the rest, I would travel the world!
    *Fandango, you do know that copying is the highest form of flattery, don’t you?

Melanie’s Mundane Muggle Questions:

  1. If everyone spoke their mind, would this world be a better or worse place?  Why?
    I think it would be a better world if people were honest, but such bluntness could hurt a lot of people. Not everything we think about should be voiced, but on the other hand, we should give voice to issues that are important and necessary to discuss, issues that too often people suppress because they don’t want to hear about them. Controversy isn’t necessarily bad and is sometimes necessary.
  2. Can achieving nothing make a person happy?
    A sense of achievement is what makes a person happy, I believe. When you accomplish something, something you did yourself, it boosts your self-esteem. So achieving nothing probably will not make a person happy. More likely a person who thinks or talks about “achieving nothing” is clinically depressed.
  3. How do you know if you love someone enough to marry them?
    That’s a great question and is asked all the time by teenagers in the throes of romance, but generally their parents don’t have an answer except, “you just know.” If you love yourself (you must if you want to have a healthy relationship with someone else) and are ready to recognize your inner gut feelings, you are probably going to know when you have found an enduring love. If you have any doubts, get those resolved before you marry someone (I’m speaking from personal experience here!), and if you can’t resolve those doubts, don’t marry that person.

    Love is not just passion; it is respect, it is companionability over the long term, and a recognition that the person you love also has faults. But passion is important too and probably the most pleasurable part of your relationship!
  4. GRATITUDE SECTION  (as always this is optional)

Please feel free to write about or share an image of something you’re grateful for!
I’m grateful for sunflowers.

SYW/HP: On Snowballs at National Parks, Gratitude for Summer, Wisdom & Happiness

Share Your World Meets Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  1. One of my favorite gifts that Harry Potter received came from the Weasley Twins; and was “Mrs. Mooney’s Marauder’s Map”. This magical document showed every classroom, hallway and secret corner in all of Hogwarts. It also showed you the location- by name- of every person in Hogwarts.  If you had such a magical map of your town, what would you use it for? If you would not use it, is there another person to whom you would gift it?

I think this makes more sense to have at a school or at a large company, both of which are rife with gossip and in both places, you might like to know where everyone is so you can continue the gossip! As for my town, GPS does well for me.

  1. When was the last time you made a snowball? Were in a snowball fight?

    I don’t like snowball fights – I’ve always been a wimp! The last time I was in a “snowball fight” was at Yosemite (pronounced yo-SEH-mih-tee, in case you, like Trump, have never heard of this place!) National Park in 1998. Our family was on a trip to California for our nephew’s wedding and we did some traveling around in the state. Even though it was early July, we thought it was really cool to find snow in the upper altitudes of Yosemite – so the kids and I got out of the car and started throwing snow at each other – very ad hoc, not really “snowballs.” The last time I made a snowball was probably two years ago at another national park – Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, where again at the higher elevations there was snow. I think I just made a snowball with my bare hands just to prove to myself that it was indeed snow, in spite of hot weather down below! I promptly dropped it because why would I have gloves with me when traveling in June?
  2. Many cultures set great value in each child of the family having godparents. Did you have godparents? Are you a godparent yourself?
    I may have had godparents, I don’t know. I am not a godparent, at least I hope not…I did actually agree to be the godparent for the daughter of a sort-of friend who was very persuasive and I remember attending an informal “ceremony” in her living room. I lost touch with her soon after that (for which I am grateful) and never saw nor heard from her or the little girl again.
  3. You have found a secret tunnel under your house. Where does it go?
    Someplace where it’s warm when it’s winter here, where there is no or minimal Covid-19, that I could crawl to without having to get on an airplane. (New Zealand, here I come!!)

Muggle Questions (of a more philosophical bent this week):

Is intelligence or wisdom more useful?  
Both are useful. Intelligence can lead to wisdom, but intelligence can exist without wisdom, at least early in one’s life. Wisdom requires that you have had experiences in life that you learned lessons from and you can look back on. Intelligence is just having knowledge and knowing how to apply it. So children may have intelligence, but only when they are older will they obtain wisdom.
How important is play in living a healthy and fulfilling life?
Play is as important as work. Play is when you learn things while enjoying yourself, or engaging in a hobby or interest. Breaks from work are necessary to be healthy, physically or mentally. Some workaholics would say they have a fulfilling life, I guess if their work has given them that fulfillment – I think one would have to have a job they really love to feel fulfilled, unless one was lying to oneself. I’m all for play! Take a vay-cay!!

Is happiness just chemicals flowing through your brain or something more?
If you study happiness scientifically as to how it manifests itself in the brain, then the former may be true. But for most people, happiness is an important part of life, without which you would probably be rather unhealthy. Positive emotions are necessary in order to have a satisfying and healthy life. I think everyone seeks happiness. I sometimes ask myself if I am happy – not just that day, but in general. I always want the answer to be yes, but it isn’t always, if I’m honest with myself… I think a lot of people reflect on this because happiness is something we all strive for.


GRATITUDE SECTION (Always optional)
I’m grateful for:
happiness
the ability to play (i.e. find enjoyment in life)
living a fulfilling life
both intelligence and wisdom
it being currently summer with no possibility to be hit with a snowball!

I’m grateful for bright-colored flowers.

A Photo a Week: Happiness Is…

Happiness is an attitude more than anything else. You can choose happiness, or not…

Happiness is a state of mind, not a destination. - Imgur

…which is why I find happiness in many things!

For Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week challenge, the theme is happiness is… so here are some things that happiness is to me.

Flowers…

…especially the ones I grow myself.

Fresh tomatoes in the summer (again, especially those I grow myself, although these aren’t mine).

Animals, especially cats…

my sweet tortie Hazel

…and my grandcats…

…but also dogs – we have one granddog!

Lydia, our new granddog

…and dogs I see everyday on campus.

One of my dog friends, “Iffi” (short for Iphigenia)

Happiness is animal families, near…

…and far.

Elephant family group, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Cheetah mom & cub, Serengeti, Tanzania

Happiness is traveling to fascinating lands…

Karnak, Egypt

…with my (crazy) husband!

“King” Dale in Abu Simbel, Egypt
In front of the kissing statue, Scharding, Austria

Happiness is our new home!

In back of our house – we now have a small garden here and we love to read and have our meals on our screened porch!

FPQ: Satisfaction

Fandango’s Provocative Question #76 is a very personal one, really. I always feel compelled to be as honest as possible. Here it is:

Are you satisfied with your life at the moment. If so, what is it that brings you the greatest satisfaction? If not, what might you do to achieve satisfaction in your life?

Sorry – I couldn’t resist including this. It’s what I always think of when I hear “satisfaction.”

I could answer this question easily without going into detail, but since you asked, I will take the risk of sounding like a whiny, privileged white person.

Five years ago I joined my husband in retirement. With decent income coming in from pensions and investments, we did not need to worry about money, although I continued to budget because I was used to doing it. We had several options for how to live going forward. We could:

  1. Just stay where we are and travel as much as possible.
  2. Become “snowbirds,” going to Arizona for the winter.
  3. Move to another country entirely. (my favorite option, actually!)

Those were the three options I had in mind, but Dale added another one:

4. Move into a retirement community which will take care of us but gobble up most of our income. Meaning, cutting back on travel until our 10-year annuity matures and gives us more income.

I resisted this idea as long as possible. Both of us have arthritic knees so staying in our 2-story home with laundry machines and Dale’s “office” in the basement was become untenable. I suggested we start looking to sell our house and move into a condo. That way, we could stay in the same town, with our kids nearby, and we’d get rid of an awful lot of stuff.

But then our daughter and her new husband decided they wanted to rent our house and buy it eventually.

To prepare for that, I stepped up pressuring Dale to make a decision on one of the before-mentioned options. My sister and brother-in-law, meanwhile, had moved to a nice retirement community in Arlington Heights, and after looking at several places like it, we chose the same community. What an advantage, having my sister nearby! However, I had to give up the fight to move into a condo in order to be able to travel.

Don’t get me wrong – I like it here very much. Those of you who read my blog have seen many photos that I post of the nature on campus. The grounds are beautiful. But in order to move here, we had to take out two loans so we literally have very little in our account at the end of each month.

Which brings me back to Fandango’s original question. The thing I love and desire more than anything else in the world is to travel, while I still can. I’m still relatively young and able-bodied. My husband, while several years older, is also in pretty good shape after recovering from quadruple bypass surgery last year. We try to exercise as many times a week as possible, which is now mostly walking.

So, am I satisfied with my life? Yes and no. I haven’t traveled outside this country for a little under a year now, and I’m chomping on the bit to do so. But now with the pandemic and such poor handling of it on the part of our federal government, we can’t go to most to Europe, and probably would be required to spend two weeks in quarantine in order to go to other places we’d like to go. And I’m a bit scared of taking a road trip because Illinois is one of the best states right now in terms of getting Covid under control (thank you, Gov. Pritzker!). Cases are rising rapidly in many states, including at least one that borders Illinois.

So most likely, we wouldn’t be traveling now anyway. And really, I’m grateful now to be living here. Our meals are delivered to our door each day, everyone has been tested for Covid-19 and not a single resident tested positive, which is better than any of the other retirement communities/nursing homes/senior living facilities in this area, and we have a lovely campus with landscaped grounds and two lakes. I find much joy in walking over to West Lake to watch the swans, geese, and duck families, and I always hope to see the heron than drops by almost every day. So, yes, I am satisfied now with our living situation.

What brings me the most satisfaction right now is being able to pursue my interests without having to worry about time and money, spend time in nature, and being able to see the kids and their cats and spend time with part of my family.

The unsatisfied part of me desires two things: travel (which is impossible right now) and a grandchild. Neither our daughter & son-in-law nor our son plan to have kids.

I am also unsatisfied with myself, a lifelong struggle. I’m very critical of myself and I hate that I don’t do all the things I want and should, that is, to take advantage of the opportunities I have right now. I waste too much time playing games on my smart phone.

But I can’t have everything and I know that I am lucky to have a good husband, family nearby, and money for the future. If I have the patience to wait – wait for Covid-19 to go away, wait for the sale of our house, and wait for more income to travel – I will have a very satisfying life. So I am basically satisfied with my life, but right now I’m bored and restless – like millions of other people right now!

Also, I want the fitness center to reopen because I need to lose some weight!

See the source image

SYW: On Bad Habits, Improving One’s Life, and Anything Chocolate

Here are the questions for Share Your World this week and my answers:

What’s the first thing you notice about a person?
ppl in a crowdWhat they are wearing, especially the color, if it’s someone I know – this is subconscious but if I see that color later, I will think it’s that same person. On the conscious level, if it’s a stranger, basically what they look like: their gender, approximate age, and their race. I also notice what they are wearing, especially if it something I especially like or that I think looks awful on them!  Race is generally obvious, I’m still pretty good at guessing the age of someone under 15, but gender these days is not always obvious.

What three habits do you feel would improve someone’s life?
“Early to bed and early to rise,”  to quote that old adage.water bottles
Drink lots of water.
Appreciate the natural world and count your blessings.

Now if you ask do I follow these three good habits, I can only say I strive to do the last two, but the first one is problematic for me. I go to bed later than I could but I’m retired! If I have to get up to go somewhere by 9-10  in the morning, I grumble about having to rush!

What takes up too much of your time? Would you stop that if you could?
Playing word games on my phone. Even as I’m doing it, I’m telling myself to stop but I don’t. It is an addiction! I have a bad habit of wasting my evenings this way instead of blogging or writing, or watching something worthwhile on TV.

Cookies (biscuits to those elsewhere), pastries, pie or cake? If not, what does your sweet tooth crave?
Cookies and brownies, or anything chocolate. Oh, and ice cream! But please, no peanut butter in anything sweet! My favorite brownies are the ones my niece makes for Christmas every year, with peppermint frosting. I also have a weakness for M&Ms.
cookies-brownies.jpg

Gratitude? Are You Happy? If so, why? If not, why not?
I am happy and blessed with what I have. I know I am lucky to have enough money to live comfortably and travel, to have a good and faithful husband, and reasonably good health.
gratitude.jpg