Throwing Pebbles at Dinosaurs: Explaining Atypical Depression

Throwing Pebbles at Dinosaurs: Explaining Atypical Depression

I wrote a longish post on Facebook last night that’s gotten waaaay more likes, comments and shares than anything else I’ve ever written.

Apparently, I hit a nerve.

So I thought I’d share it with you all, too.

NOTE: there is strong language in this.


As you know, depression is a black-hearted fuckshop of a disease – insidious and all-enveloping. After being mostly symptom-free for the past year or so, the last few weeks have been kind of a nightmare. It was a bit shocking to me how swiftly I hit bottom.And because I have “atypical depression” – which despite its name is actually quite common – I can function well in public situations. Atypical depression is not the “can’t get out of bed and crying all day” kind of depression. It’s the “inside a glass box” kind – it looks like everything’s pretty normal, but on the inside you feel utterly alone and completely dissociated. It turns the whole world into a horror show.

I hung in there, though: fought it when I could fight, and laid down quietly when I could fight no more. I prayed, I walked, I did all the stupid things people suggest you do when you’re depressed (take a walk, do something nice for someone else, get a massage, make some art…) all of which are like throwing pebbles at a dinosaur.

Finally – yesterday – the cloud lifted and so far I’ve had 24 hours of non-stop joy.

Here’s what joy looks like: I can taste food. I can breathe. I can feel actual gratitude for my actual life. Nothing fancy. Just the amazing sensation of experiencing energy and desire and being able to think actual thoughts rather than just drown in a sea of self-loathing all day.

Normally I would keep this kind of thing quiet, because it’s private, and in many ways, it’s none of anyone’s fucking business. But I realize that because of what I do and the books I write, people sometimes think that I never have a bad day. Which would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic.

So, to everyone who is forced to make the choice, every day, to stay on this grassy, ocean-y planet no matter how much it hurts, I salute you. I wish you forgiving friends, loving partners and soft landings. I bless your beautiful sensitivity, your aching heart and the spiritual mastery that you are demonstrating every time you don’t just give the fuck up.

I don’t have any advice, because advice is bullshit. But I will remind you of this: the tragedy of depression is that it convinces you that you will never, ever, ever, ever, ever feel better. And that is a giant fucking lie. You will feel better. Maybe only 1′ better, but still – better. And you matter. You matter to me.

Thank you for listening. I love you.

Lentils, Monastery Style

Lentils, Monastery Style

It’s not uncommon after traveling or completing a big project I feel a bit depleted. Ever feel this way? I am sure you do, most of us do even if we don’t always admit it.  

I have a little secret weapon though to get me back on the move I wanted to share with you.
I make “Lentils, Monastery Style” from “Diet for a Small Planet” by Frances Moore Lappé. (I know – that’s real, old-school vegetarianism, right?)

My mom used to make this when I was a kid, and it was always one of our favorites — the cheese makes it feel like there’s a secret treat — and everyone I’ve ever made it for falls in love with it.
Lentils, Monastery Style
(serves 4 as a main dish)
In a large pot, sauté 3-5 minutes:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 or 2 onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Add and sauté 1 minute more:
1/2 tsp. dried thyme & marjoram
3 cups stock or seasoned water
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tbsp. dried parsley)
1 lb. canned tomatoes
Simmer in covered pot until lentils are tender (about 45 minutes or an hour).
1/4 cup sherry
Have ready:
2/3 cup grated Swiss cheese.
To serve, place 2 tbsp. of cheese in each serving bowl and top with soup.
It’s simple and hearty and you can improvise on this recipe endlessly. It’s very forgiving.

You can add sausage or kale or ham or more veggies or whatever else you’ve got lying around. You can switch out the cheese – I love to use Goat cheese – or skip the cheese completely.

Although, of course, I am from the Midwest and the phrase “skip the cheese” has never once crossed my lips.

Here’s to simple comforts —