All Gold Everything (Notes on Depression and Feeling Broken)

allyrlongFlourish in Progress on Instagram

I really hate being outdoors. Not the “Great Outdoors” outdoors with grass and Magnolia Warblers and shit, but “any expanse that puts me in direct contact with air that has not been recirculated and filtered” outdoors. If I have to sit on a restaurant patio because indoor seating is not available, I will just go home and eat white bread and uncooked lentils because, fuck no, I’m not paying money to be subjected to leaves falling on my head.

But for the past year, I have forced myself to sit on my bedroom balcony for five to ten minutes each day. My home is extremely quiet, and the sound I hear most is the noise inside my head. I stepped on the balcony to get away from myself (This totally seemed like a doable and reasonable goal at the time. I have no idea why.) and after ten minutes, I wasn’t dead or anything, so I went out again the next day.

I started snapping a picture of the same tree every day with my phone. Since I’m not a fan of looking at pictures of the outdoors either, I didn’t even bother to look at them again until recently. When I opened the album with my collection of trees, I couldn’t believe how varied and beautiful they were. Also, I was extremely impressed with myself, but this isn’t about my on-point photography skills right now.

I assumed that all the pictures would look pretty much the same, since this tree never even lost its leaves over the course of the year. But it wasn’t the tree that made each shot so stellar (still not tryna brag). In each, the sky changed. And it made the tree seem different and, at times, unrecognizable.

All of my hours seem to be running together these days. I used to think that my life was unstructured and spontaneous, but that’s not the truth. I get up at the same time each morning to get Cal ready for school. I eat the same breakfast most of the week. I travel the same path to pick her up from school each weekday. And I didn’t realize that my days had structure until they started to lose their form.

So far this new school year, I haven’t gotten out of bed in the morning unless I absolutely needed to do something like help Cal with her picture day hair. School pictures are, like, so expensive it’s kind of unreal, and once I get over my depression, item number one on my to-do list is staging a protest against these pricing shenanigans. ONE 5×7 for the special reorder price of $20? Y’all some fuckin’ robbers.

I can pull myself together for a few hours at a time. During these pockets, I tell myself to keepgoingkeepgoingkeepgoing as I brush my hair or change out of the drawstring pants I’ve been wearing for so many days in a row that the ass section has become baggy and droopy. I can smile and remind Cal not to forget her water bottle.

Maybe I still look the same on the outside. All year round, I try my best not to lose any of my leaves. But I feel so very broken. And I am different and unrecognizable to myself.

Upon finding out how broken I felt, my friend, Aaron, showed me this word:

kintsukuroidef
I’ve spent a lot of time looking at pictures of once broken and now beautifully repaired bowls and cups and vases. The delicate gold veins add a note of beauty to each piece, but the original finish is still dominant and apparent.

My biggest fear is that once all of my pieces are pushed back together, I’ll just be all gold everything because I was too broken.

I thought that I could somehow will my way out of this trench, but I guess that’s not how depression works. I also thought that high fructose corn syrup would remedy my mental malaise, but that didn’t seem to be the right answer either. I haven’t stopped my extensive research on that one. I’ll get back to you. I thought about shutting down the blog, but for now, I’ve decided against it. All of these thoughts would have to go somewhere, and it would most likely be to Harv, and hasn’t that poor man suffered enough by being married to me? One day, I hope to wake up and feel like my old self again. But better. Cuz I’ll be all gold lacquered and shit.

P.S. If this post resonated with you in some way, please share it. If something helps you feel less blue, please share with us below. And if you are feeling blue, please know that you are not alone. We can be all gold everything together.

P.P.S. Subscribe to Flourish in Progress on BLOGLOVIN or FEEDLY.
Not only can I be a downer on this blog, but I’m pretty good at it on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page and on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress). Let’s get connected if you’re into that sort of thing.

P.P.P.S. Winner of last week’s giveaway: Lauriewrites. Please email me at flourishinprogress at gmail with your mailing address and which set of cards you would like.

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  • TheCourageousLion

    I’m a fairly new follower and look forward to reading everything you post. I still didn’t realize (silly me?) that you were struggling with depression. I just wanted to send some internet hugs your way and tell you that I think your writing is beautiful and honest and it inspires me. Sending wishes for peace and starting to feel whole again. (If all else fails, my back up plan would be to spend a few hours in a sugar coma from Sour Patch Kids.) ;)

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Internet hugs are my favorite right now because I don’t even have to pop a breath mint or brush my hair. Thank you for your encouragement and kind words. Also, just finished a box of Nerds. I feel the sugar coma comin on.

      • http://ellaprettyblog.blogspot.com/ Ella Pretty Blog

        Just wanted to send another internet hug your way! I’m on your cheering team “keep going!”.

        • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

          Thank you so much! Much love to you, homegirl.

  • Laura Bezzeg

    This post in particular hit home hard and left me with a lump in my throat. I have been dealing with severe depression as a result of becoming disabled, so I will never be my old self. Perhaps I can work through and get used to my new lot in life and be a better self, time will tell. I will have to think about kintsukuroi, a lovely sentiment.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Homegirl, we can be all gold everything together. Dazzling, blinding, and very, very expensive.

  • Misty

    Oh sweetie. You are a beautiful soul, no matter how many pieces you are in. We are all broken. Nobody gets put back together the same. But we learn and grow and create a new masterpiece. I truly believe that is what you will be once you find your way out of the hole. I’ve been there, as you know. I got help in many forms, and I am finally feeling more together. Different and changed, but the pieces have started healing. I am sure the same will happen for you in time. You are too wonderful not to find yourself again. Please do whatever is needed to become whole. Much love to you.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      For a long time, I used substances and men and partying to fill in my gaps. It’s really embarrassing to think about it now. These days, I don’t use those crutches anymore, but I hope not to replace one bad habit with another. Candy and Candy Crush….and lots of therapy. xoxoxo

  • rinley77

    Depression has been a lifelong struggle of mine as well. It’s part hereditary, and also the circumstances of my childhood. My past seems to have not only shattered me, but left me in constant search of missing pieces. Not trying to say anything really, just that I relate to what you wrote. I’m a huge proponent of exercise endorphins to help keep the demons away, or at least hovering in the doorway a little longer before the fuckers make themselves at home. Praying for you.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I really hate exercising and moving my body in general. To be honest, I sometimes call downstairs to whoever is there to bring me a glass of water cuz walking a flight of stairs…I ain’t about that life. But knowing that it’s helped me compels me to give it a shot. I hope you working your way out of this trench and feeling a little bit better every day. Love and peace to you.

  • HH

    I love your writing, however I missed the part about you being depressed. I’m going through it again, not sure why? Seasonal? I have the best life I’ve ever had. A wonderful man, home, children, and two pretty awesome cats that if they weren’t there everyday to talk to, I may be in a hospital. What I know at age 50, is this shit really doesn’t leave. It ebbs and flows, and right now I’m in the rapids, but this too shall pass. As long as I don’t kill anyone for looking at me wrong, I’ll be fine. Eventually. And you will too. Do you read The Blogess? You must. Why are depressed people so damn funny? It’s how we deal. Thanks for sharing your stuff!

  • Andrea

    Thanks for sharing this, Elizabeth. I have to admit I see your pics on FB and ig and think, “Dang, that girl has got it made- gorgeous, hot hubby, cute AND smart kid, fun nights out, and good friends.” I haven’t suffered from depression before, but I was in a definite funk throughout October. My son just got his driver’s license and that milestone highlighted the reality that in two years he’ll be away at college, and I’ll be by myself. Not an exciting prospect when I’m four years divorced and not feeling very hopeful about my prospects. On top of those constant thoughts, I broke up with a friend, second friend break up in a year. So, the constant voice in my head is, “What’s wrong with you? Losing friends and no man, you suck.” Finally snapped out of it, gonna try and do my best as a mom for the next couple of years and hopefully the friend issue will get resolved. Stay brave and know that you do so much to help your online followers. oooo

  • http://www.baablogblacksheep.blogspot.com/ Renee Crowdersmith

    All gold EVERYTHING! Fuck yes, I’m in, with all my broken pieces.

  • Lady Wendylyn

    I thank God you have Cal

  • alexandra

    You’re not a downer, you’re sharing with us. Because it’s your safe place, and you know, people like me, follow you. This time of year is very very hard for me. The fall always is. I know I must have SAD, and I really need to rent the UV light lamp again. It makes a difference. So does medication. ANd exercise. And sleep. BUt it’s so much work. ANd depression sucks. I HATE DEPRESSION. BUt, long story short, it goes way way way way back, doesn’t it? I love you, girl. Take care. You’re not the only one. xo

  • http://www.elizabethaquino.blogspot.com/ Elizabeth Aquino

    A poet and writer I know just told me that Isak Dinesen said “to approach the future without hope and without despair.” I’ve been mulling that over all night. Love and comfort to you.

  • QP formerly of Gburg

    So glad you’re keeping the blog going. Not so glad you’re still struggling with depression. I’m as WASP as you are street but your beautiful writing has really touched me and has articulated my own hurt and pain. I want to share with you a quote that has really helped me: “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” ~Khalil Gibran. Lots of love!

  • LaVoyageuse

    Thanks for sharing this! I’m also one of those people who looks like I have it all together on the outside, but on the inside I still feel so empty. When I’m alone, none of my accomplishments make me happy anymore; instead, I feel like it’s all so meaningless. I don’t really know who I am or what I value. I hope you get the help you need. Have you considered therapy? They say that a spouse shouldn’t be your therapist. ;)

  • Ashley Evans Mattocks

    This is beautiful and you are too. Depression is such a Sisyphean bitch. I wish I could shank her ass once and for all. Meanwhile, it’s comforting to know I’ve got homegirls like you in my posse. Kintsukuroi grillz for everyone. xoxo

  • Sheriji

    I think that, like many of us, if you painted the broken shards together with gold, you would be surprised how many, and how large, some of those pieces actually were. You shine, and probably partially because of all those broken pieces and all the ways you’ve triumphed over them. I suspect perhaps you’re already at least partially kintsukuried. (Is that a word?)(It is now.)

  • Andrea H

    Made me all teary this morning.You are a beautiful soul. I needed to read this today.

  • BlissInSuburbia

    I have followed your blog for a long time, when you were avoiding the mall. You are an amazing writer with a beautiful gift. We are all broken in our way. You have already shown how beautiful you can make your life from broken beginnings (Cal and Harv for example).
    Hang in there sweetie and keep the blog coming. I don’t feel so alone when I deal with the same crap.

  • Jennifer Folmar

    THIS. THIS! The last year has been one of the worst as far as extreme highs and lows, but I have to keep going. One day, we’ll come out of it and feel okay again. There might be more shit to deal with later, but I live for those good days. Thanks for your big truth. <3

  • Melis

    Wow. I can so identify with this. I feel broken sometimes too. I have a shit ton of issues, that to others might not seem like a big deal, but they suffocate my little world. Tomorrow I start seeing a therapist. I’m trying not to go the pharmaceutical route straight off the bat (I will if it comes to that) and changing what I eat, taking a 5000 mcg fast dissolve B12 daily (supposedly that helps with serotonin somehow)… girl, you’re not alone. Keep breathing.

    • Melis

      And please sign me up for some of that gold shit. Rose gold, preferably. Won’t that look pretty? We’ll be gilded beauties together.

  • Mandy

    I really enjoyed this post. Not your pain, of course. But knowing that I wasn’t alone. I, too, suffer from depression and it’s no fun. Nor is it for the weak. You gots tah be strong to come out on the other side of that shit.

    You’re strong. You’ll come out on the other side.

  • Robyn Chilcoat

    Thanks for keep it real as always! Know that you have people out there that care about you and only wish you the best. Keep on, keeping on hommette!

  • Jacqueline LaBatte

    Many people don’t understand these feelings. I’m (sort of) glad that someone relates. Try reading “Darkness Visible” by William Styron. A friend just lent it to me. It’s only like 90 pages but it can really help you feel like you are understood, that a lot of us struggle with this- even if it’s supposedly “shameful” to admit. It’s like it’s a weakness or character flaw… and it’s difficult to treat, so that makes it so much more challenging. Keep blogging, even when you might feel like you are being a downer. You are being a voice to many of us that feel alone and can feel a tiny bit better by knowing we aren’t struggling with this alone, that it is not embarrassing or shameful to have these thoughts and feelings. As selfish as that might sound- we need reassurance that we don’t suffer alone. Thank you for this brave post.

    • Jacqueline LaBatte

      I re-read my post and realized I used the word “alone” numerous times. I think that’s how we feel a lot… “alone.”

  • MHarvi MHarvi

    No matter how badly you may be broken, you can always build yourself back up. It takes time. Don’t let your struggle become your identity.

  • http://countryheartgypsiesoul.blogspot.com/ SissyMoo

    I can’t even highlight one quote of this post, or any other post…simply because you give my “dark and empty hole” a voice with so much graceful honestly. i admire you and i BEG you to not shut this down. had I not known a whole world of people like me existed, who knows what would have become of me this year. thank you. thank you.

  • Jen Reinmuth

    I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life, self-medicating in the past with alcohol and bulimia. During my marriage to a man who was both physically and emotionally abusive I spent many a night lying in bed thinking of the best way to kill myself without making things “inconvenient” for anyone. It took getting away from him, getting sober, and getting a life of my own before I was able to start pulling my ass out of the Bell Jar. I still have crippling bouts of depression, but now I have friends, activities, my tribe of female bloggers, and some pretty fucking spectacular prescription meds to get me through it. And when I look at the life I’ve made for myself since leaving my husband, I can always feel better, knowing that it could be so, so, SO much worse. Sending love and light to you from my rainy city to the North.

  • Abby Heugel

    I just wrote about this myself. If I had the option to never leave my house or my yoga pants, to escape into myself and slip away, I would. But you have to find something you want more, or something that needs you more. You have your daughter, and others have a friend or a job or a pet or a blog. Whatever it is–as tiny as it may be–use it to remind yourself that yes, there can be gold among the shit. Hang in there. I will try, too.

    • Jen Reinmuth

      And you have us too, Abby. Meeting you through the interwebs has meant more to me than you’ll ever know. I’ll always be there to talk you off the ledge just like I know you’re there to yank me off of mine.

  • nano

    It’s not just the blues, it’s not something that will power or eating a green smoothie or going for a jog will fix. If it’s a depression that can sap the life out of such a vibrant and feisty lady as yourself, it’s a depression worth seeking professional help for – be it cognitive or medical.

    I was there. For years, for as long as i can remember, it was a struggle to just be. Everything was gray all the time. I finally talked to my doctor about it and she put me on an antidepressant. It changed my life. It didn’t change me or my circumstances, but the gray clouds just… Cleared. I was finally able to look at life how it really was….

  • Meg Fox

    When life gives you lemons, you paint that shit gold- Atmosphere

  • KateAnn

    Thinking of you and sending good thoughts your way. Hang in there.

  • Eileen

    Thanks for this :) I struggle with depression. Sometimes it’s hardly there. Sometimes I can’t believe I ever was depressed! Other times, like right now, the life has literally been zapped from my body and mind. But during this last bout I feel like I’ve learned so much about what depression really is, and how much stigma surrounds it. I know it’s misunderstood, because it turns out I’m the ignorant one! Yeah, even though I’m the one who actually has it. I always told myself that I’m just being lazy, and that I can be cured through natural things, like sunlight and yoga. By the way, I HATE yoga. It is SO SO boring. But it is a life threatening disease that can’t be cured by will power alone. It really helps that more and more people are speaking out.

  • http://inpursuitofhappiness.net/blog Miss Britt

    WOW. You cover really, really well.

    What gets me out of depression is medication, rest, medication, going outside, medication, eating low carb, medication, a project worth getting out of bed for.

    xo

  • Kait

    I think I’m probably more gold than original pieces. When I mentioned this to my (long suffering, saint of a) husband, he said “Good. Now your outside matches how radiate your soul is.”

    I mean, seriously? Doesn’t he realize I’m trying NOT to cry so much?

    But that’s his job, right? To look at me and see the gold and remind me that it’s beautiful even when all I see is how broken it looks. I have to keep reminding myself that those veins of gold are there to radiate out to others, like a beacon to those who struggle like I do.

    And if nothing else, I remind myself that I’m like the family on Lilo and Stitch – little and broken but good. Yeah. Still good.

    Thank you for sharing your gold with the rest of us, shining a light for the rest of us to come out of our own shadows.

  • Sass E. Minx

    Two things to remember: Depression lies. That’s it’s number one job, to lie to you, constantly fucking your shit up. Second, it’s our flaws that make us fabulous. When you have a shit ton of damage going on in your head, all the lies rattling around, read your posts. People are attracted to you – because of how fucking fabulous you are, because you are real and beautifully flawed. Just like all of us – you are not alone in this, no matter what Depression is saying

  • Melicious Chronicles

    There’s definitely something in the air. The change of seasons. The impending holidays. I’ve dealt with depression for 10+ years and I know what I need to start climbing out. I need to allow myself the luxury of wallowing… but just for a little while. I still go to work and fulfill my responsibilities of existing, but I wallow. I allow myself to go to bed at 7. Or stay home all day on Sunday. But I always work out (sometimes I cry at the gym). I have to see the sun (I often cry at the park). These things are my steps up and out.

    Much love as you find your way. You’re not alone. And you’re important. And you deserve whatever time you need to remember those things.

  • christina D

    I know it sounds really self help, but I’m in the trenches with you. Mom to a 12 year old, downsizing home to another state, career life feels like I’m on the stand in the Salem witch trials. In a word, shitty…but people like you who are real make the experience here. I appreciate your honesty. i got nothin but love for you baby:) Times have been better and it’ll cycle that way again. and if it helps Cal sounds like an awesome kid, thanks to her momma:)

  • Josh D

    Hello lovely,

    I wanted to share with you a quote from Truman Capote.

    “…of all things this was the saddest, that life
    goes on: if one leaves one’s lover, life should stop for him, and if one
    disappears from the world, then the world should stop, too: and it
    never did. And that was the real reason for most people getting up in
    the morning: not because it would matter but because it wouldn’t.”

    I don’t know why but I thought of it when reading this post. You may not remember me but my name is Josh and I live in Brisbane, Australia. You sent me a magnet. I’m 25 and that was one of the most beautiful moments. It meant a lot that you went out of your way to do that for me. You are beautiful.

    Josh.

    Much Love

  • Meredith Gordon

    I’ve had everything from the blues to knock down drag out depression. The only thing that helped me was a quote from my good friend Tony The Tiger, “Keep on truckin’, Sugarbear.’

    Keep no truckin’.

    xo
    Meredith

  • Brittany Rae

    I am grateful you aren’t shutting down the blog. As a fellow person who isbthinking holy shit how did I get this depressed yours is one I look forward to. And that is so interesting. I try to pride myself on useless tidbits of trivia in every fllield of life and I knew nothing about this. I must research. :-)
    Keep on….

  • Minoukatze

    I’m there too. Keep going, hon.

  • http://www.kplovingit.blogspot.com/ Kayla Carruth

    Everyone needs gold somewhere or another, no matter how happy they seem. I think it’s great that we live in a world now that we can be open about things we are struggling with, and have a way to connect with a family of support filled with people who are going through or have gone through something similar. Keep being real, because even if it doesn’t seem like therapy to you at the time, it damn sure may be therapy to someone else.

    P.S. I think you are hilarious, clever, and beautiful. Hope you are feeling better soon.

  • Marci Phee

    Thank you for writing this. (I met you briefly at Camp Mighty. I was the overly enthusiastic red head with freckles who did not have a card.) I, too, am deep in the shit hole of depression but faking it till I make it for my family and work. My favorite line of your post: “We can be all gold everything together.” My favorite part of today: reading this post.

  • kate

    wow- sending your big, big hugs, girl! this is really powerful and i’m cheering for you. i know you said you’re not much for the outdoors, but walking daily works really does work wonders. xoxox

  • mommyonthespot

    This post resonated with me. Depression is sneaky. You’re clicking along and don’t even realize that your slipping slowly underwater. Next thing you know, you are drowning.

    I’m so sorry you are feeling this way. If we lived closer, I would take you out for a coffee drink laced with high fructose corn syrup. Big hugs, my friend!

  • Angela V

    Depression feels like such a vague and thick fog. It is such a relief to read it articulated by women who regularly make me laugh, like you and Allie Brosh. I have been struggling with it since childhood – runs in the family – and I’m in the process of yet another relationship splintering because of it. I feel very alone, and I wish I could break that feeling like a glass jar for everyone trapped by it. Thank you for sharing this glimmer of hope, the beautiful spidery gold. I’ll be all gold everything along with you.

  • J8d

    I’m a new follower as of today and this post is exactly how I feel right now. I know I’ve been depressed for a long time now but I always put up a pretense like everything is fine especially around my 3 year old son but I feel like I have crumbled and only a shell of myself. It’s ironic that at my lowest the past 3 weeks, I found your blog post. How do you get out of it? The melancholy, depressed, lonely mood?

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  • Sandra B.

    You were able to put into words what I had felt for so many years. Follow you on IG and FB and not a hint of all of this. My kudos to you, you are stronger than you could ever imagine Thank you for letting some of us out there we are not alone.

  • Wu

    Prayer for hope that never fails:
    “St. Jude, glorious apostle, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the person (who betrayed our Lord) has caused you to be forgotten by many, but the true Church invokes you universally as the Patron of things despaired of. Pray for me, who is so miserable; pray for me, that I may finally receive the consolations and the succor of Heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly (ADD YOUR PERSONAL REQUEST HERE), and that I may bless God with the Elect Throughout Eternity.”
    Never give up!