Empathy Cafe

How Depression Deepens Empathy

In Ernest Hemingway’s story, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” a young waiter wants to close the café early and go home to bed. He’s fuming that the one remaining patron, a […]

Tree

Let Go of That Tree

When a friend told me once that he thought I was too attached to my negativity, I reflexively (and a little crossly) disagreed. Depression had co-opted my identity and his […]

Wolf

Okay, this really pissed me off…

So Salon published an article by psychologist-author Jonathan Rottenberg yesterday. It’s a perceptive, eloquent piece about the evolutionary underpinnings of depression, and how western society’s impatient, demanding Serenity-Now! standards for […]

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Thrush

Jane Kenyon and Seneca on Gratitude and Acceptance

Jane Kenyon chronicled her struggles with depression in many of her poems. She eloquently evokes the dialectical tension between thankfulness for the great gifts of her life and the gravitational […]

Ramp

Runaway Depression Ramps

I love the mountains. Motoring up Allegheny slopes, humping Appalachian ridges, pitching camp in the Smokies—no other terrain so reliably restores my peace. I read somewhere that medieval travelers averted […]

MLK Birmingham

A Dream Tramples Depression

I always find it helpful to discover that someone of great attainment or laudable character, someone I’ve admired, has struggled with mental illness. It’s one thing to know they overcame […]

Eye

Shift Your Vision, Shape Your Reality

In his capacious book The Passion of the Western Mind, Richard Tarnas describes what he calls “a radical plasticity in the nature of reality.” What we see as reality, he […]

Joanie Stubbs

A Friend to Yourself

In the third season of Deadwood, Joanie Stubbs, a kind-hearted character with a tragic past, finds herself slammed by a vicious depression. She tells her friend Charlie Utter, “If I […]

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The Snoop Doggy Fraud

Last Friday my wife and I took a walk through the neighborhood, and down to the campus of Eastern University. An overnight snowfall had blanketed all the lawns and streets […]

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Auld Lang Syne and Busted Dreams

In Nick Hornby’s novel A Long Way Down, a character named JJ finds himself atop a London high-rise on New Year’s Eve, intending to “fly off that roof like fucking […]

Money Tight

Coining Depression, Cashing Recovery

Money struggles, debt, unemployment—these can plunge you lower than the subterranean homesick economy of 2008. Many studies have shown the strong links between job loss, fiscal stresses and rates of […]

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Silver Linings Playbook, Film Criticism and Willpower

In his smug, dyspeptic review of David O. Russell’s movie Silver Linings Playbook, New Yorker film critic Richard Brody huffs that “without a word of religion in the script, [the […]

Silver Lining

Depression’s Adaptive Payoffs

This NYT story describes the strange case of Ashlyn Blocker, whose rare condition, congenital analgesia, prevents her from feeling physical pain. Stirring noodles, she drops a spoon into boiling water […]

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How Gratitude Gives Depression the Bum’s Rush

To someone who’s depressed, gratitude is a tough sell. How do you manage to feel grateful for anything if you’d rather just swap it all for oblivion? Depressed thinking traffics […]

The Film #2

The Film

Imagine you’re going to a multiplex to see a movie of your life. When you get there, you find eight films are playing—each one a cradle-to-grave biopic about you. You’re […]

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