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When my son was born, my mother-in-law crocheted him a beautiful blue blanket. It was tyke-sized and warm and infused with grandma-love.

It was around that time that I noticed I sometimes felt covered with a blanket of blue – but of a different type.  I had post-partum depression and couldn’t smile for a very long time.

My son is now thirteen and for the last few years, he’s been dealing with depression too.  Even though I blame myself for his downbeat-DNA, I’ve also had to find a way to make him face his issues for himself.

So, the other day when I asked him what was wrong and he shrugged, I left the room.

As I told him last time he shrugged when he felt sad, “I don’t do shrugs anymore.”

He knows that if he can’t articulate what’s wrong and talk it over, I’m no longer on duty as a mind-reader and all-around Mother MacGyver.  That guy could fix anything with a Q-Tip and a paper clip.  I’m just not into playing that thankless, unpaid – and might I add, fictional – role anymore.

The fact is, even if you’re clinically depressed, you can work toward finding a way to feel better.  Circumstances may affect you, but to an extent, you choose how you react to them.  The minute you shrug and act as if you can’t even find the words, it’s like saying “Poor pitiful me.  I have it so hard.”  And you may well have it hard. Perhaps harder than anyone else in the world.  So then what?  You win a medal?  That medal is rusty and heavy and will weigh you down.  Do you really want the Too Bad, So Sad Medal?

As you know from Lori’s post, nobody promised you a rose garden every day of your life.  And as you know from SueBE’s post, you don’t have to be a voluntary victim.  Depression may cover you like a blanket of blue, but you don’t have to wear it like a shroud.

So if you have it that hard, shake off the shrugs.  Don’t define yourself by the bad moments in your life. Never is hyperbole and always hasn’t arrived yet, so don’t get caught in those two black holes.  Keep going.  Keep trying.  Keep talking to the people who love you.  Before you know it, you’ll find a way to climb up out of your funk and get back to life again.

“Always do the right thing.”

Up until the end of last year, I used this phrase almost every day to remind my son of what was important.

Then I did what I felt was the right thing, but it had repercussions that didn’t feel so right after all.

I found myself in a funk. One day, my son said to me, tactfully, “Ma, you’ve been telling me to let you know what’s on my mind instead of holding it in. I wanted to tell you… well, you’re all tense lately and it’s bringing me down.”

Surprised by his candor, I realized that he was right.

So when I noticed today that my son was down, I returned the favor of unvarnished honesty:

“Get your zhoozh back, honey. You’re bringing me down.”

So, really. How do you find your way out of a deep, dark funk?

Well, you learn how to “un-funk” yourself.

Do something to change the channel your mind is on. Get up and leave the room if this is where the funk began. Go out. Walk the dog. Listen to Brian Regan (a rare clean comic). Go to the bakery and ogle the cannolis.  Write a haiku. Watch Keyboard Cat.  Watch Nyan Cat. Watch Ella scat. 

It is possible to climb out of a funk, but it takes time. As of this year, I’ve officially retired the phrase, “Always do the right thing,” since “The right thing” is often subjective and elusive. Now when my son asks my opinion, I say, “It’s your world.” As in, I’m not going to tell you what to do. I’m going to remember that sometimes the best way to encourage someone you love is just to be there. Provide prayer and practical advice and leave it all in God’s hands.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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