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image by picspree

My daughter got angry with someone recently, in a situation where I thought her anger was justified. She wanted to confront the person, a family member, immediately, and I urged her to wait. I reminded her that she was likelier to say something she’d regret if she tried to talk when she was so angry. I reminded her that the family member is a loved one we haven’t seen recently because of COVID, and that preserving the relationship seemed important. …


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When I was in the hospital recovery from surgery, a nurse told me I should not be hesitant to ask for pain medication when I needed it. “It’s better to get ahead of the pain, because once the pain is severe, it can be really hard to tone it down again.”

I have learned the hard way that depression is like that.

I had my first bout with severe depression when I was a teenager, and many episodes later, I have learned to keep a vigilant watch for the early signs that I am beginning to spiral downward. For me, increasingly negative thinking is usually what happens first. A person’s temporary distraction when I’m trying to tell them something becomes the idea that they don’t care about me. …


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Is COVID thwarting your plans for spending holidays with your loved ones?

I can relate. Over the years, I have spent holidays married and unmarried, living in various places, with and without children in tow. But the upcoming holiday season will be the first in my lifetime in which being with family will not be an option. And because this year finds me in a new home in a new state with a new job, I am longing for family togetherness this year more than ever.

Add the fact that winter is a time when I am prone to depression, and you can imagine that I’m having some trepidation as the holiday season draws nearer. …


On the subject of unfollowing

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The guy I unfollowed had a birthday today.

We had started to get to know each other in the murky terrain of online dating, but then he met The One and did the honorable thing of telling me right away. Suddenly, my Facebook page, where I had recently enjoyed photos of his dog, was offering a steady diet of newly-infatuated-couple pictures and I-finally-found-my-true-love posts, and hell, I was disappointed.

But he hadn’t committed any online dating crime or hurt me in any intentional way, so Unfriending seemed, well, unfriendly. …


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I wrote for a year on Medium before I killed my writer self.

I didn’t even realize I was writercidal at the time.

But depression was siphoning life out of me a little at a time, and then the pandemic hit, and I was gone before I knew what was happening.

We are fragile. Writers, I mean, but also, we humans. We need a certain amount of sunlight and air, and, if we are honest, people who’ll admire the way that we’re growing.

Which is to say, we have to be growing.

When life as I knew it went remote last March, I had every opportunity to write — if I hadn’t already flatlined. But all that was left of the writer me was a few publishing credits, some journals, and a list of stories on Medium. …


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Before the awfulness of 2020 had even descended on me, the growing pains were happening. A several year relationship dissolved. The doctoral program I had entered two years prior, full of hope, seemed increasingly lacklustre. And I could no longer pull into the parking lot of the complex that was supposed to be an emergency landing place several years earlier without thinking about the discrepancy between where and how I was living, and what I wanted for my daughter and me.

I felt like I had outgrown my own life.

But what could I do about it? I was not a disillusioned 25-year-old. I was a woman in my “middle ages”, a point in life when I was supposed to be settling down, not shaking things up. Not only did I know longer know who, what, or where I wanted to be when I grew up, I didn’t even know what direction to head in. …


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When you don’t want to let go of a relationship, breakups are not like being struck and killed by a car. They are more like doing a face plant and then having someone rollerblade over the entire length of your body over and over, until you’re either crushed or you starve to death, whichever comes first.

And that’s just the first phase.

During the second phase, you sleepwalk through your days while the rest of the world is buzzing around. When you picture your ex, he has none of the irritating qualities that drove you crazy while you were together. Instead, you imagine him flawless and enthralled with every detail of his newfound freedom. You, in the meantime, are an apparition, fading away to nothing. You understand now what the words “dead to me" mean. …


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Image by Richard Reid- Pixabay

When I was little, I liked to put jigsaw puzzles together. I liked watching the colors become shapes, the shapes become identifiable people, animals, and things. Most of all, I liked that instant of finding the place where the edges of one piece clicked into the grooves of the other. The pieces, made for small hands, were thick cardboard, and would connect with a satisfying pop.

Then I am became older, and something happened to puzzles. The pieces were miniaturized, the picture, stubbornly hidden. …


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Susan Saybrook is the pseudonym for an off-duty therapist. Go figure.

So, should you ask your therapist about your diagnosis?

Welllllll. That depends.

First, you should know what a mental health diagnosis is and isn’t. Some people think a diagnosis is some sort of answer to a puzzle that is really a person. But a diagnosis is descriptive, not explanatory. In other words, it’s just a list of things that you reported or showed about yourself, grouped into a particular category and given a name. …

About

Susan Saybrook

Things you might find in this writer's catch-all drawer include: child's artwork, university ID, dog treat, half-written list, & poem on a napkin.

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