What does depression (and anxiety) look like?

Most commercials for antidepressants show people in despair, lying on a couch crying or dressed in baggy clothing with unkempt hair.

Is that what depression looks like? Yes. Sometimes.

But often, depression can look like a person who has their shit together. A career woman who gets things done. A soccer mom with perfect hair and perfect kids. A lawyer. A doctor. A musician. An artist. A movie star. A writer. Me.

Anxiety medication ads often depict a person having a panic attack, complete with hyperventilating, rapid heartbeat and sweating.

So that’s what anxiety looks like, right? Sure. Sometimes.

It also can look like standoffishness. Indifference. Disengagement. Irritability. Forgetfulness. Me.

Continue reading “What does depression (and anxiety) look like?”

The loss of my stepfather

Ronnie and Opal wedding, 1985.

My father died when I was little, and my mother remarried Ronnie Campbell. Ronnie was born on March 17, 1954, St. Patrick’s Day, and he died June 7, 2009. He was 55. Unlike my father’s death from cancer, Ronnie’s death was an accident and completely unexpected.

 

Ronnie and Opal, yearbook staff, early 1970s.

Mom had known Ronnie since elementary school. He had been one of her best friends. I remember their wedding. My stepsister and I got to be flower girls, which was a great excuse to be princesses for the evening in our white dresses and ballet slippers. After that, my mom and I moved into Ronnie’s house to live with him. What I remember most about that house is the green carpet in the bedroom I used. I was only four, so it’s funny what things stick out in my mind.
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All I know about my dad

Baby Doug.

My dad, Douglas Wayne Easterling, was born on January 23, 1953, the youngest of four children and the third boy for Howard and Pearl Easterling of Glen Rose, Arkansas. He would have been 64 this month. I am writing this post strictly from my own recollection of events and stories I’ve been told. Because of this, everything contained in this post may not be entirely accurate. (Note: I have worked on this post on and off for the past four weeks in preparation for posting today because I knew it would be emotionally draining and would take some time to write.)

Dad died of brain cancer on July 13, 1985, at 32 years old. He was diagnosed with cancer when I was a baby and went into remission for a while after treatment. Then, when I was a young girl—about three—it came back with a vengeance and killed him. There is absolutely nothing nice I can write about cancer. There are reasons why bumper stickers exist that read “Cancer Sucks” and “F%&# Cancer.” It does not discriminate on who it hits. I had turned four about a month before he died, which is how old my daughter is now. I’ve always thought that his first remission experience was God’s way of letting me remember him, though I won’t understand in my lifetime why he had to die so young. I’ve lived longer than my dad did and this year, he will have been gone longer than he lived. Continue reading “All I know about my dad”