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Carrion Comfort. Wednesday October 21, 2015

Let's be clear about one thing: none of us chose this.

None of us stuck our hand up and said "Oh yes, I choose to be abandoned, abused, betrayed, bereaved, crushed and to have cruelty inflicted upon me."

And that's just the words up to C. I could go on. Hey – we could all go on, couldn't we?

We did not choose to suffer, yet we do suffer.

None of us chose depression to be a constant visitor in our lives. Yet here we are, reading this (oh – I'm writing this, so yeah, me too - even more so).

But there are still choices available to us.

We can choose not to go on to D.

Oh, yes, we get the depression. We don't have a choice about that. But, we can refuse to help ourselves to its traditional accompaniments of desolation, despondency and despair. We can choose not to give up.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, Victorian poet and Jesuit priest was no stranger to depression. He was no stranger to suffering. His religious choices estranged him from the family he loved. That same religious vocation forced him into a career for which he was unsuited. His health broke down. That same vocation denied him the comfort of marriage and children. His faith, if it did not actually desert him, often seemed ephemeral. There were many times when it was tempting just to give up. It was tough hanging on. He wrote about it in his desolation sonnets.

Not, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist — slack they may be — these last strands of man
In me or, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.

(Carrion Comfort 1885)

Yes, depression weighs heavy on us, so at times we feel first cousin to Atlas. Depression is the thief that takes away our light, takes away our joy; it takes away our love.

Depression can take away everything.

Except our choice not to let it take away ourselves. We can decide not to despair. We can choose to hang on for just one more minute, one more hour, one more day.

We can choose to hold onto our faith that, one day, the depression will lift. Light, joy and love will be restored.

Oh, they won't look the same as they did before. Life moves on. We can't turn back the clock, bring back those who have left us, reverse the damage done.

But we can choose to move forward, to face that light. We can refuse to drown in past miseries. We can choose to be open to new joys and new loves.

Now is our night of darkest sorrows. But, if we allow it, joy and light and hope will come in the morning.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Pennie-Lynn Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 7:02am

Not everyone has depression for the same reasons. I personally have never been "abandoned, abused, betrayed, bereaved, crushed [or had] cruelty inflicted upon me" or had a need to reverse damage done to me. Still, I understand what you are saying about remaining positive and moving forward.

Mary Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:03am

Absolutely right Pennie-Lynn! My own depression is part of my bi-polar disorder and has absolutely nothing to do with circumstances. But on Moodscope we do have members who have been through some terrible times and experiences. I was hoping to acknowledge this in my post today.

Kelley Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 7:06am

This caught my eye for a number of reasons...recently, we had a possum run over on the street corner our house sits on. I had noticed it when I came home that night. I even walked over to see if it was playing dead, mostly dead, or quite dead. There was graphic evidence of the latter.

The next morning, the vultures came. There were 10 of them, perching on the power lines, our roof, nearby trees. Husband scooped the roadkill to the roadside, so that the vultures could access it more easily and not have to fly off each time a car went by.

The vultures watched from their perches. I videotaped it. I posted on Facebook about the importance of vultures and carrion eaters. In the process, I looked up Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) on Wiki, and noticed the name. I mean, what's in a name?

Then something came up in therapy. Call it a breakthrough, but something happened, and in exploring my own disproportionate response, we've identified *another* series of trauma in my past.

Later, in talking to a friend, I looked up the genus Cathartes, who are a genus of carrion-eating blah blah blah. Cathartes is the Greek word ????????, for "purifier," referring to these vultures' role as "cleansers" that "tidy up" decomposing corpses in nature. Those same birds are protected by treaties in the New World, especially the carrion eaters.

We are many of us in the process of catharsis as we recover from depression, or stay well after depression, or tidy up after what I call a perfect storm.

A perfect storm for me is a set of circumstances that make it more likely for me to relapse or have an episode. It's when there's many external changes, higher internal pitch and throw in a health issue or two. There's the perfect storm.

How many of us are in the perfect storm, or tidying up the wild places like vultures and other carrion eaters? Maybe carrion is not so bad, maybe it's a sign that life is happening and a little tidying up is needed.

Mary Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:06am

Beautiful Kelly. Yes indeed, the scavengers of our world are a necessary part of the life cycle. Hopkins in his poem though was (I believe) speaking of the unhealthiness of wallowing in despair. He was gritting his teeth and carrying on, rather than crying "woe is me."

susan Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 11:57am

Kelley, i love what you've said here about a 'perfect storm'. Already today i've quoted you twice. I am now in clean up mode after a perfect storm where life was very much happening:) Thank you for sharing your thoughts. xx

Ruth Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 7:41am

I find Mary's beautiful blog difficult to read. I'm not sure if I'm weak or a quitter but I don't really feel I can make choices or hang on to hope when I'm in the pit.

Debs Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:52am

You are stronger than you think Ruth, your choice is that you can't make choices when you're in the pit and that's a choice in itself. I do the opposite - I try and push myself too hard to make choices and end up doing too much and falling further. I will learn to do what you do - not make any choices but instead just be. It's a much more compassionate path so thank you for the reminder. With love, debs xxxx

Nikki Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 8:21am

I've been in a dilemma the last few days, i have a stinking cold and feel really dreadful, I've also had a argument with husband and a stressful time at work. I'm having to make a choice that to be honest I'm unsure about, I can feel I'm slipping into a low period and would like nothing more than to hide in my bed, not make the pack lunches, go to work or be the the kids taxi service but go cry into my pillow and wallow in self misery ..... Now part of me says you have a cold go for it .... But another part of me says no ....get on with the day, take it slow but do it, do your chores, go to work and then have an early night ..... New use I'm afraid if I don't I'm making the wrong choice and the dark will get me.
Thank you for listening to my thought process .....

Mary Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:30am

Thank you for sharing your thought processes Nikki. You are a hero - but yes, take it slow while not giving up.And, looking after yourself is not wallowing in self-misery. Take that guilt and throw it out of the window!

Hopeful One Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 8:36am

Good morning Mary-brilliant as usual.Its true that 'stuff happens' in our lives over which we have no choice.It is our interpretation of that stuff which decides whether we will react with depression or choose another path and see if we can locate a positive something, anything that lifts the gloom. It needs an effort,I admit when we are flat on our backs but in my experience worth doing as it halts the downward spiral at least temporarily and sometimes for good.

Although one does not have to be Buddhist in doing meditation one inevitably comes across some of it's philosophy as the Buddhists employ meditation more than most in their practice. One of the concepts the Buddha developed was that pain and suffering is part and parcel of the human condition. His solution was to accept that in meditation and always wish all " May you be well, may you be happy" In doing that I find it takes the sting out of pain and suffering as one realises that one is not the only one in that situation.

I have rambled on too long so the joke for you today is very short.

Two women were at a bar. One looked at the other and said, "You know, 80 percent of all men think the best way to end an argument is to make love." "Well," said the other woman," that will certainly revolutionise the game of hockey!

Mary Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:30am


Anonymous Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 8:43am

Many creative people suffer from depression; comedians,actors, artists. Perhaps one has to have that personality predisposition to depression to be creative. Perhaps we are born with it. I just do not know. But perhaps there are more people in this world who suffer from some kind of mental illness than not. Even those who have that classic Waltons family upbringing, will suffer from depression too. Maybe we do choose depression! Maybe it gives a meaning to our lives. Maybe we should look at it more positively. There's a whole bunch of us out there on Moodscope, the tip of the iceberg. We are nice funny kind loving supportive clever people. Has anyone thought of celebrating it for a change?

Mary Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:31am

Good Point. Yes - it does often seem to be the flip side of creativity.

Norman Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 11:45am

I have read some stuff on the evolutionary purpose of depression. Does anyone have any more references/insights?

Anonymous Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 11:57am

Sounds very interesting Norman. I haven't read anything about this but will google it soon.

Debs Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 12:35pm

Norman - I was going to blog on the evolutionary purpose of depression at some point so good prompt! It is my belief that depression evolved as a way of keeping the body's energy levels in reserve in times of limited food (winter for eg). It was a time of rest and stillness. I don't have references to hand but if I find any ill forward them on xx

Anonymous Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:00am

To expand on this theme!(Which could be seen as tongue in cheek but must have some truth in it) Maybe our high achieving bosses who on the whole do not have depression, their face fits, they are dynamic etc, go getters etc and those people who say they are great and feel great most days, are the ones who should seek therapy and counselling. Perhaps we are the new normal (like red is the new black for the current AW15 fashion season) (Jul)

Debs Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:28am

I love these two posts anon!! So brilliant. A friend of mine, I'll call Jayne (beacuse that's her name ;-)), said to me once - 'I'm only friends with people who have experienced depression, because they are the interesting people'. The older I get the more I feel the same. I'm inadvertently drawn to people who have experienced mental health 'challenges' as invariably they are the ones with depth, the ones with compassion and the ones who take on world issues and who - when the depression abates enough for them to see the light - think about others above themselves. Why is it that the artsists, writers, big thinkers, world leaders are often crippled by depression? My theory would be, because we care. Perhaps too much. We see the problems in the world and in people and - if we are not doing anything to contribute - get floored by the futility of life.

Anonymous Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:30am

Oh great Debs!You expressed what I was trying to say so much better then me. Thank you! (Jul)xxx

Mary Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:32am

Absolutely brilliant - you two. Fancy writing a blog on it, Debs? You've got most of it up there already. I love the idea of celebrating depression.

Debs Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:34am

And yes, I second putting the high achievers into therapy! I'm starting to develop an almost chronic allergy to people who are relentlessly positive and ego-driven. I wonder what they are hiding? What's lurking under the need for power and control? I'm not saying being positive is a bad thing but to be that way exclusively, never admitting to things being less than 100% is as damaging as being in the depths of despair. Neither is healthy and neither is realistic.

Debs Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:38am

Oh Jul and Mary - you've got me crying again (in a good way!) I will blog about it.... I feel strongly that its us - all of us that are experiencing these extremes - that are most needed in the world. We are the game changers. If we can just turn our feelings and push them into good, we can be the change needed in the world. People might think we're bonkers or that we don't belong but most of us feel like that anyway so what's to lose!! Ha!! Come join me in my crazy mission ;-) xxxxx

Debs Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:41am

And Mary - I agree, we don't necessarily have a choice about depression showing up but like you always say we can be happy in it. We can ask ourselves, is there a reason why I am so sensitive... Is it because its a gift? Was I born to write? Help people see things differently? Bring empathy to the world? You do that in spades Mary - it's a MASSIVE gift. You are incredible, inspiring and off-the-scale talented. Who are you to hide away and keep that gift from people who need you? xxxx

Debs Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:43am

Not better, just different ;-) You ignited a spark in me that I really needed this morning Jul so thank you. I'd love to chat more... maybe we can find a way to connect? xx

Anonymous Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:59am

Do write a blog about it Debs. I think there will always be a need for Moodscope. Blogs for instance like Lex's which help us see life for what it really is are essential for me. His humour and funny little quips are what is needed.I have just been out on my bike and kept thinking things like Self effacing is the new self confidence; being frightened to speak up at meetings is the new leadership; not being sure of oneself is the new happiness. I could go on. I was thinking someone could write a blog asking us all what we could come up with. I in no way want to make light of depression, rather to set the cat among the pigeons (NOT in a CBT way) and see it differently and almost as an asset. Let's turn the tables on those who profess not to be depressed, who say they have never had a depressed day in their life and don't know what we are talking about. We look up to these people and aspire to be like them..if only.. one day. We perhaps should pity them and look down on them. Enough Jul.

Debs Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 10:03am

write it Jul!! Go do it.... or if you want to collaborate on it we could write it together ;-) x

Anonymous Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 10:11am

I am travelling again today, going to Chartres, staying overnight then coming back here. I will be really time consumed for the next week so I may write it but if you can before me, please do. It's an important subject and needs to be out there.I am out of practice with my writing. It would come better from you. You are very kind suggesting we do a joint blog. Someone else on this site whom I am very fond of has asked me to do a joint one with her and I have failed miserably to take up the challenge. I have to rush now. Sorry Debs.I will always be eternally grateful to you for responding to my comment this morning. I honestly thought everyone would think I was totally nuts. xxx

Anonymous Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 10:12am

Can you ask Caroline for my email address? xx

Debs Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 10:15am

I will do. And there's no rush to scribe it hun, you are a talented writer and I believe in you ;-) xx

Anonymous Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 10:35am


susan Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 12:04pm

Jul, this is such an exciting perspective. I'm buzzing from it. There is so much solid truth and wisdom in it. Go for it, Jul and Debs. I, for one, am cheering you on. xx

Mary Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 1:31pm

How2 brilliant is this? Moodscope bringing two talented people together who might otherwise not have met up! I love Moodscope!

Rebecca Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:10pm

I remember someone at work once saying that people with depression need a kick up the backside. Not long after he went off with depression! Wonder if those showing no understanding are hiding something? Love the idea of looking at depression as a positive, can't wait for the blog.

Eva Thu, Oct 22nd 2015 @ 7:16am

My partner doesn't suffer from depression, and while we approach the world from different places I have found many of his views and practices to be inspirational in learning how to cope with my anxiety and depression. He is somehow truly able to live in the moment, he doesn't dwell on the past and doesn't worry about the future. He identifies potential problems and puts plans in place, sometimes reactivate sometimes proactive. All of this I have watched and learned from and it has really helped with my perspective on life. I bring him attention to detail, sensitivity, empathy, my understanding and heightened joy and sorrow. I feel as though together we make quite a balanced person. Some of my friends also have anxiety or depression but many do not, I think we all have something to bring to the table depressed or not, I don't think there is a norm. I like to be with many different types of people because that way I feel I get a better perspective on life and can increase my understanding of being human and the way we operate. Just my tuppence worth.

LillyPet Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:17am

Thank you for your blog tackling one of the deepest and most difficult of issues Mary.

Adults who are able to make choices do,(not, as you say, choosing to be depressed and or anxious, but what we do or dont do in each moment) we're choosing all the time. What do you think about the most vulnerable, young babies for example? Without help to get what they need to grow they wouldnt thrive.

The idea of being in such a dark place scares me. Getting out of the episides that I have had always makes me feel that "I dont want to go there again!" and spurs me on to do everything I can not to, but there is always the knowledge that it can happen.
As a last resort I go to my gp. The right medication for those that need it is important and the right support, which is harder to access, should be there too. Support to find what makes you feel a little better.
I thought the last time that I went to my gp that I shouldn't have left it so long. It shouldnt have been a last resort. But I've learned that now.
Thankfully the combination of the right medication and healthy life choices has helped for me.
I fully understand that the same things dont help everyone and that there are no quick fixes.
Maybe it's just about looking after ourselves as best we can in the circumstances we are in.

It's grey and rainy out there guys! Going out in it, but looking forward to getting in again later. Love and light to every one of you LP xxx

Mary Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 9:35am

Bless you LilyPet. Yes, I've learned to go to my GP too. My rule is that, if I slip below 15% then it's medication time. It's good if I decide myself rather than my buddies emailing me to nag me into doing it. Choices again.

Norman Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 11:57am

I have been on medications for years. I sometimes feel that as long as they patch me up enough to keep me at work and paying taxes that's the end of it!

susan Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 12:05pm

Mary, you've written another beautiful blog. This one felt like a benediction this morning. xx

LillyPet Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 5:50pm

I've thought that at time too Norman! Are they just helping us to put up and shut up! ;) For me it's to acheive the right chemical balance so as to be able to function in day to day life without too much tearfullness and anxiety, getting back to feeling like whats normal for me. LP :)

Dave Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 3:48pm

Interesting and insightful Blog Mary..thanks for sharing.. a few things jumped out at me. I am usually a Type A personality who likes things to get done and accomplished. But when I struggle in those down times I cannot even identify anything to do let alone find the energy or desire to do it. I feel like a Type A personality stuck in a Type B mind and I find myself anxious and frustrated....and muddling thru the day as best as I can Can anyone relate?

To try and cope if I dont know what to do, I try to do what I know how to do....and as mentioned above, I try to really focus on one or two good things in my life which can also really be a struggle...but they are out there...if we look hard enough...Why is it that we focus on the few bad things going on, but our mind will not even let us see the many good things.....

I guess I asked more questions than I answered but felt the need to write today. Peace and wishes to all.

Mary Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 5:00pm

Thank you Dave. I totally sympathise with your feelings of being a Type A trapped in a Type B! Oh yes!

Lex Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 4:58pm

"But, if we allow it, joy and light and hope will come in the morning." Beautiful words to bring a fretful day to a warmer close. L'xx

The Gardener Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 8:51pm

After 6 terrible days I have finally sunk into depression and despair. I've just tried the Samaritans, and, guess what, they're 'saturated', 'please call later'. I've been standing on the front doorstep, looking at the rain, just to be out of the palatial residence which is my prison. I can't put something funny on a DVD, because my poor husband, as soon as I am relaxed, pulls out his new 'trick', 'I'm going to be sick'. Respite failed yesterday, he was sent home 'ill' and I spent the next 6 hours at the hospital. Looking up through today's entries - Anon in Chartres - we were there when they were practicing for a Festival of Light, and Vespers, plus a video of the Millennium of a Bishop. Another mention was of a 'Catharsis' - how useful that would be, a mental dose of Syrup of Figs', that the ills of the day can go into Pandora's box, dare anybody re-open them tomorrow. My diary, foolscap size has a picture of perfection pasted on the front - a top-hatted woman at one with a perfectly pacing dressage horse. At the top I've written 'misery diary, Alzheimer'. All I have tried today has come to grief, so Gerald N H is apt - Why do sinners' ways prosper? And why must disappointment all I endeavor end?

Frankie Wed, Oct 21st 2015 @ 11:58pm

Hello Gardener;

Just finished work; loads of silly deadlines to meet so have only just read you ... I have no experience of what you are going through so can only sympathise rather than empathise ... I will light a candle for you tomorrow (whilst I wade through more work to meet more deadlines) ... each time I look at it I will think of you and offer a prayer ...


Mary Thu, Oct 22nd 2015 @ 8:40am

TG - just sending you thoughts and prayers... I love your picture of the top hatted woman on the dressage horse!

Beth Thu, Oct 22nd 2015 @ 11:09am

Beautiful words Mary! I have only recently discovered my depression and living with my diagnosis is difficult.

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