Thursday, October 13, 2016


People in the northern hemisphere sleep more in October than any other month according to some report I read while researching for my auntie who was wondering if she's sleeping more lately because of the season or because she's ninety-one.

I've been sleeping more too: 
besides the dwindling light, I've been a little sad lately because of some sad things. For both reasons, I changed coffee shops back to Bob's, which has big, sunny windows (and an old gas pump):


But aside from getting a little more sun, I don't need to pump myself up if I'm feeling sad; it's better to lie low for a while. 
And I find it comforting to read about other people who live with sadness or even with depression--so yesterday I was reading and watching some of those stories online.

I had to turn a lot of them off though: 
the ones that are full of expert advice to get out and exercise, eat more Omega 3s, etc. just make me feel like a loser.

Psychologist Sami Moukaddem in his TEDx talk on living with depression & suicidal thoughts says the same thing: well-meaning lifestyle advice can make him feel lonelier and worse:
"And the last thing I need is another sense of defeat."

"You find your way back to the shore…"

I'm not depressed, just sad because of circumstances, but Moukaddem's story applies to sadness too--his suicidal depression was caused by circumstances, including being a child in Lebanon during the civil war [via his bio])--and he went on to work with people who've survived extreme trauma.

From the transcript "Sami Moukaddem on Living with Depression and Suicidal Feelings":
"Not all depression is the same...  I see [my depression] as more of a physical illness, and an ailment of the soul and the psyche. In my situation, I was clear that there was trauma in my childhood. So I decided I was going to approach it through psychology work and not take drugs. 
"The best analogy I can come up for depression is that you are in the sea and the current pulls you. When the current pulls you, the common wisdom is that you don’t fight it, because if you fight it you get exhausted and you drown. The wisdom is to surrender to it. Wait for the current to spit you out and then you find your way back to the shore. 
And that is what thirty years of depression means to me. Thirty years of finding my way back to the shore."
Also--look--he has a stuffed animal! 

"It's OK not to be OK"

My sadness is not much related to how Kevin Hines felt when his brain disease (bipolar disorder) drove him to jump off  the Golden Gate bridge (he was one of the less than 1% who survive the jump), but I really liked him and what he has to say too: 

When I'm up for it, I do appreciate the sort of 10-steps lifestyle advice he writes about here, especially since it comes from the inside:
"After My Suicide Attempt, I Made This Plan to Stay Alive and Well"

Kevin is also part of a good article, "Jumpers" from the New Yorker. (Thanks for reminding me, Michael.)

"We love you, my heart…"

And then, from the other side, there's this story about sixty-one year old Julio De Leon, who was cycling across the George Washington Bridge when he saw a young man who'd climbed over the railing.

“I got off my bike,” Mr. De Leon said, spreading his arms, as if he were going to embrace the air. “I showed my hands like that. I started to move to him a little bit.

"I said: ‘Don’t do it. We love you, my heart,’ something like that.

“In one second, only in a second, I just moved and grabbed like this” — his right arm curled like a shepherd’s crook — “and I keep him with me,” Mr. De Leon said.

--"On a Bridge, a Quick-Thinking Cyclist Saves a Life on the Ledge," New York Times, August 4, 2016. 
For more info or help if you are struggling:
"The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals."
Outside of the United States, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.


Michael Leddy said...

There’s a great New Yorker article in which Kevin Hine makes an appearance:

This article has two passages that have long stuck with me. I shared them often when teaching. One is about another Golden Gate survivor, Ken Baldwin:

“I still see my hands coming off the railing,” he said. As he crossed the chord in flight, Baldwin recalls, “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”

And the other, about an unnamed man who jumped and didn’t survive, recounted by a doctor who’s pushed for barriers on the bridge:

“The guy was in his thirties, lived alone, pretty bare apartment. He’d written a note and left it on his bureau. It said, ‘I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.’”

Frex said...

Thanks, Michael, I also read that article long ago and have always remembered those exact passages---as well as the explanation of why you die when you hit the water---the impact breaks and mixes your insides together like scrambled eggs.
I'd never really understood how that worked before.

*smiling at you!*

Fresca said...

I'm adding the link into the post.

bink said...

Powerful stuff!