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Moments of Joy (Bring Me Flowers). Wednesday September 10, 2014

None of us can be happy all the time. In fact, we would probably drive everyone else crazy if we were – and it would be wrong, because the correct response to some life events is grief, or sadness or anger or frustration.

The thing about depression is that it supresses all feelings and emotion. When suffering from a bout of depression very often we can't feel joy or grief, anger, sadness, happiness. Well, at least I can't; everything retreats behind a six foot thick wall of dirty grey glass. I can know I should be feeling something, but at the most there is just a vague despair.

But even in that place (literally sitting on the sofa, shaking, all day) it might be possible to take some sensible decisions, based on the intellectual analysis of what makes us happy.

Turns out (unsurprisingly) that it's not the big things that make us happy. It's not a new car or a big cheque, although I'm sure we would all like to try those out, just for purely scientific experimental purposes, you understand; it's the little things.

I remember buying my very first car. When I went to pick it up what made me happy was not the car itself, but the big bunch of flowers the sales team had placed in the back seat. Well, to be honest, it's not that easy to get excited about a third hand Ford Fiesta in Beige now, is it?

A recent study by the Chicago Journal of Consumer Research of things that make us happy include sunshine, clean sheets, and conversation with family and friends. Like many studies before it concludes that happiness lies in experiences rather than possessions, but it also shows that, especially as we get older, it is ordinary experiences that contribute most to that happiness.

So, even when we are depressed and cannot feel anything, it makes sense to subject ourselves to "happy" experiences. Hopefully it's like putting money into the bank which we can draw on later.

What I remember most from my most recent bout of depression (apart from the days and days on the sofa), were moments when I dragged myself outside and sat in the sunshine, when a friend came round and brought me flowers (and put them in a vase for me too), when my twelve year old daughter would give me a gentle hug. I remember too the lovely comments from Moodscope readers as I wrote my way through that bad patch.

At the time those things happened I was numb and couldn't feel anything, but now I'm better, I'm incredibly grateful for them, they shine out in my memory like sunlit flowers (see, flowers again) in the midst of that marsh or swamp of despair.

Go on, ask a friend to bring you some flowers; you'll be glad you did. Well, unless you have an allergy to pollen, of course.

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 7:04am

Mary, I am so glad you are out of your cloud. I always love reading your posts; you have a real knack for writing. A very talented lady.

Anonymous Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 7:11am

Was going to say I'm glad you're off the sofa and how much I enjoy your posts but someone beat me to it! Stay well and thanks for your honesty and wit - at least as good as bunch of flowers. Ellie

Lex McKee Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 7:29am

More beautiful prose, Mary... The little things is one reason I use Flickr for almost all my photos. Many would argue that Flickr should showcase one's work as a 'Professional' Photographer - but I use it as my timeline journal for all my little 'moments' - most of them happy. Being able to review them as a slideshow is a great way to remember that there have always been good moments (if not whole days) in between the gloom... and I'm still here.

I was intrigued by your "six foot thick wall of dirty grey glass" - is that great writing or also an accurate description of how you 'see' it? Irreverently, I was imagining how amazing that wall would clean up and become an admirable architectural feature - if lit properly... am I barking? Oh, look, a box of frogs....

Naomi Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 8:19am

Mary, I always love your blogs. For me depression is moving from too much time in bed to too much time on the sofa - feeling guilty that the chores need to be done, taking weeks off from my voluntary job as I had no motivation at all watching rubbish television day and night. When I am in this state my best friend and neighbour fills my fridge and disappears like a good fairy.
I didn't know if it was depression actually. As a result of a recent blood test my lithium level was 17mg below the therapeutic range. I felt so relieved that this latest bout was due to the low reading and I am now back on track with the increased dose and all is well with the world. Bi-Polar is an organic illness and being on the right level of Lithium makes the the difference between the impossible and the possible.

Rupert Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 8:20am

Brilliant piece Mary and one close to my heart. My father died a few months ago and I felt ashamed that I felt no emotion - as if in such a low place anyway that my emotions couldnt go any lower. As a result I feel it is important to embrace any small thing that actually has an effect on you - whether good or bad!

Tim Clayton Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 8:32am

Clearly, concisely, and poetically put as usual, Mary. I think lots of people recognise the sofa, the gs, the vase ... and the flowers.

Anonymous Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 8:52am

Every morning i wake up and want to end this life .

Anonymous Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 8:59am

please someone send me some good thoughts and why life is worth living .

heather Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 9:07am

Mary this is so true and so beautiful to read. Thank you.
Love from Heather xx

Di Murphey Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 9:11am

Dearest Anonymous ~
Your life is worth living because you exist. There, perhaps, is a learning from the times we want to end being here. So we might ask, what am I to learn from this? For one thing, you are incredibly strong to admit this level of thinking and emotion. I honor you and all for which you stand. Take a deep breath and, from my heart, thank you for reaching out. We are here, standing behind you, lifting you and supporting you. You are golden.
Di Murphey

Anonymous Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 9:15am

Thank you Di, I am just finding it so very hard , every day ,more struggle .

Anonymous Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 9:42am

Dearest anonymous, you are an important person just because you exist just like Di says. The lesson I have learned on here is that the dark clouds of depression do pass albeit slowly. It's vital to take small steps and move forward a little each day, maybe take a short walk round the block today and try and notice something new. That would be a great achievement for today. Just remember you are good, you are kind and you are important and try to be compassionate with yourself, you truly deserve that. With love Julie. x

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 9:47am

Dear Anonymous, When you are in that place where life just doesn't seem worth living, I'm not sure that me giving you any reasons will make any sense. What I do know (from experience) is that, eventually, the life force does come back: you will want to live and enjoy life and you will look back at this dark time and be grateful that you kept struggling on. You are a hero: every day you don't give in but keep struggling on is a victory, even if it feels like a desolate and hollow one just now. The big thing to remember is that depression is an illness and that it can and does get better. Hold on, friend. As Di says, we honour you.

Anonymous Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 11:18am

Dear Anonymous there have been days in my life when I have felt exactly as you do and I have had a nurse visiting me every day to check that I am OK. All I know is that however awful it is at present when the time passes and I feel a bit better I am grateful that I have not acted on my thoughts. So be kind to yourself and know that other people do know what it feels shitty that can be but remember it's your illness making you feel that way. Look after deserve that.

Anonymous Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 11:29am

Mary, so sorry to hear how unwell you were. It sounds horrible! You do very well to struggle back. I would bring you flowers too. You give us flowers ( your blog) on each occasion you write.

Anonymous Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 3:04pm

Bark on.

Anonymous Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 3:08pm

I know that feeling and I think it's because we are often holding on to so much already that the next thing that comes along is expected and added almost without thought. Do not feel ashamed. Ratg.

Anonymous Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 3:13pm

Anon 8.59
Because you have purpose.
It may not be clear but you do.
Just keep on and it will come clear.
Meantime, we love you just as you are. Standing beside you. Love from the room above the garage x.

Anonymous Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 4:53pm

How I can relate to your posts Annonymous...but you must keep pushing forward and never ever give up....I am bi-polar and the downs are terrible...but I focus on doing the best I can do each day even though it does not meet my expectations or is an illness and can be cured....I am going thru a bout right now but not as low as you...if you would like to visit email me at Peace and strength my friend we all understand and more importantly we all care about you Dave

Anonymous Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 5:24pm

Thanks much for the post Mary......yes a big empty feeling inside which seems to totally envelop any emotions we have and need to find and express...I say a big black hole which I have fallen into looking up and trying to get out....but yes,we must appreciate the important things in life and keep pushing up is not an option...Dave

Otir Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 5:27pm

Hi Mary,
Since I cannot bring you flowers right now, I brought them via here online:

Thanks for sharing with us always significantly.

Caroline Ashcroft Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 6:13pm

Hi Dave, thanks for your comments here, but I need to ask you not publish your email address on this blog. If you would like to get in touch with someone, please ask them to email and I will pass on your email address. Thanks. Caroline

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 8:30pm

What a beautiful flower, and my favourite colour too!

Lex McKee Thu, Sep 11th 2014 @ 8:30am

A lovely way to say 'Thank You!', Otir. Lovely flower too.

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