Dear Family and Friends

The first Christmas I remember is the year I turned four. At the time, my mom, brother, and I were living in a yellow house with French doors and—of all things—a carpeted kitchen. Ever the insomniac, I crept out of my room sometime after midnight and discovered a mound of aggressively pink Barbie accessories. And to tell you the truth, I loved them. I loved them hard. 

I don’t expect dolls this year. In fact, I don’t expect anything. It’s been more than two decades since “the year Santa brought me the Barbie pool,” so I’ve had time to learn that Christmas is less about getting and more about giving—about sharing love, time, effort, a kind word. It’s about selflessness, and about spending time with those whom you love. And, as we all know, it’s a celebration.

I’ve had “Birthday Party of the King” stuck in my head for a few days now, and I was humming it earlier, when I tested strands of lights and consequently glared at the ones that didn’t work. That aside, there’s a lot to be grateful for. At this time last year, I had already slipped into what would be a year-long depression. As you may know, I took a six-month leave of absence from my job at the state. Things were just too much, and I resigned in June.

In July, I started writing for Pivot Marketing (whose office is a ten-minute walk from my apartment). Getting used to “#agencylife” has had its challenges, but I love it. I’m so thankful that my boss is understanding, flexible, and encouraging. In the few months I’ve been there, I’ve written newsletters, blog posts, NPR radio scripts, ad copy, web copy, and video scripts. My clients include an architectural firm, a Jewish nursing home, an Episcopalian church, and a Lafayette-based law firm that gives me an excuse to swing by Purdue. 

Outside of work, I’m involved in a few preservation groups. I’m actually a board member for a non-profit that is trying to revitalize a historic theater that’s been vacant for 20 years. This means I attend meetings, listen to folks talk about tax credits, and then find a way to insert a joke about cats. I’m also involved in the Instagram community here in Indianapolis; I help plan monthly “Instameets” (photo walks) and help manage the account. It may sound trite, but I am thankful for Instagram, too. The heartfelt conversations that resulted from starting #depressionisalyingbastard helped me fight through an incredibly challenging time.

Things are better now. I laugh. I eat. I put on pants before 4:00 in the afternoon. I’m still head-over-heels for Ty, who’s been my “other,” my better three-quarters, for more than two years. And I’m madly in love with my brother’s son, Max, named for our grandfather. He was born in October, nine months after my brother told me, “You need to get your shit together, because you’re going to be an aunt.”

And I did, just in time. After months of desolation, I find that I’m filled with love—for my family, my friends, my “other.” I couldn’t have gotten through this last year without them, without you. So thank you, too. For your patience, support, and understanding. Thank you. I wish you the happiest and merriest of Christmases. May every strand of lights you own work, and may your days be filled with the things you love. 

Merry Christmas,

A Thank-You & A Holiday Giveaway

photo by Paul Itkin

It's a snowy day here in Indianapolis, our first of the season. The flakes are colossal, falling hard and falling thick.

It's beautiful.

Ty is here this weekend, down from Chicago (which is set to get several inches of snow). We're having a lazy day: pot roast in the crock pot, NPR podcasts, Christmas movies. There's a good chance we'll put up the tree, too.

I'm also excited for the ornament swap. This year, 115 individuals signed up, making it the most successful swap to date! Thank you, thank you, thank you. To show my gratitude, I am hosting a handmade holiday-themed giveaway!

Here's what you can win: 

a How the Grinch Stole Christmas! magnet 
12 gift tag stickers from Pearl & Marmalade 
a sweet, hand-stitched T-rex ornament from World Finds 
coconut oil popcorn from gourmet popcorn store Just Pop In 
10 peppermint chocolate chip marshmallow puffs from 240sweet
sensual, handmade ginger souffle soap from Get Lathered Soap Company
a variety of handmade cards & stationery (featuring Kate Funk and Green Bird Press

The items in this giveaway were purchased from either Global Gifts, a fair trade store, or Homespun, a shop and workshop devoted to contemporary handmade goods. Along with the items above, I'll throw in a few surprises! Good luck, and have a happy weekend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fourth Annual Ornament Swap

Sweet fancy Moses, it's time for fourth annual ornament swap!

The swap is an international event in which two people trade holiday ornaments through the mail. Anyone can join (my mom even participates)! "Swappers" from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, Trinidad, Spain, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, and Romania have all participated, and you will be partnered with someone who shares your shipping preferences (domestic vs. international).

As for the ornaments themselves? They can be handmade, store-bought, vintage, crafted, or nontraditional, but they shouldn't cost more than $10-$12. If you are looking for ideas on what to send your partner, check out the 2012, 2013, and 2014 ornament showcases!


1. Email with the subject line ORNAMENT SWAP.

2. Include your postal address.

3. Include your shipping preference (international or domestic).

4. The deadline to sign up is Saturday, Nov. 14! 

5. Encourage others to sign up by using the hashtag #ornamentswaparoo! 

On Choosing Anderson Orchard

Appearing on The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is the phrase "nodus tollens." It's described as "the realization that the plot of your life doesn't make sense to you anymore — that although you thought you were following the arc of the story, you keep finding yourself immersed in passages you don’t understand, that don’t even seem to belong in the same genre — which requires you to go back and reread the chapters you had originally skimmed to get to the good parts, only to learn that, all along, you were supposed to choose your own adventure."

Last week, I started flipping through the pages. So many of them were filled with words about darkness and self-doubt, about shortened hours of sunlight and about the time I sat in a gravel parking lot in southern Indiana and screamed about abandonment. About the time my medication made me hallucinate for seven hours. About the time I threatened to jump off a bridge. About the times I sank to the floor in complete sorrow, begging my hollow apartment for company, for someone to love me.

The words were too much.

I quit rereading, slammed shut the cover, and threw the entire story — the words, the pages, the pain — across the living room. It flew, awkward and heavy, a bird with a broken wing. I watched as it crashed to the floor; I was never one to read horror stories.

Turning on my heel, I went into the kitchen, where I opened a prescription bottle and took, with a full glass of water, a tiny, salmon-colored Celexa. Depression is a lying bastard.

Later that morning, I chose Anderson Orchard.

Depression, Part Two

A few hours ago, I called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It was a number I had seen before — on TV, during commercials. On posters wallpapered to the guardrails of bridges. I'd even seen the logo — that green phone masquerading as the letter "C" — on the Red Line, just across the tracks.

I'd seen the number for years.

I didn't know it was one I would eventually end up dialing.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     * 

Five weeks ago, I started a new job. Unfortunately, the only thing I've felt in regards to my new position is an overwhelming paralysis. I've yet to go to bed at night and wake up refreshed, ready to the conquer the day's challenges. Instead, I hit my snooze button again and again and again. I wait until the absolute last minute to emerge; all I want to do is lie, and bury, and nest. Quiet the world.

Today, I rode my bike home, wheeled it into the garage, unlocked my car, and climbed in.

And then I screamed.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     * 

Before calling the national lifeline, I tired to talk to two different crisis centers here in Indianapolis.

My calls went unanswered.

When I dialed the lifeline, I was connected to a counselor, a woman named Angie. We talked for awhile; she listened. It became apparent, however, that she was actually four hundred miles away. I assume this occurred because the lifeline uses phone numbers to automatically route calls. Since I still carry a southwest Iowa phone number, I was routed to Cedar Rapids.

Regardless, I talked to Angie about what was going on, and she asked if I were suicidal.

"No," I said, truthfully. "See, it's not so much that I want to die. I'm terrified of that, and terrified of hurting myself and having to go through the effort. It's more or less that I ... just ... don't want to exist. That I don't want to hurt anymore, I guess. Does that make any sense?"

"Yeah," she said, "It does." And in those few words, I heard a genuinely soothing voice. In the months I had been talking to friends, family, therapists, and doctors, I found in Angie the understanding I needed to hear.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     * 

As Allie Brosh depicted in her post "Depression Part Two", talking to others about mental illness — and especially about suicide — is wrought with emotion. "I was ... extremely ill-prepared for the position of comforting people," she says. "The things that seemed reassuring at the time weren't necessarily comforting for others."

I couldn't agree more. When describing my current state to others, I sometimes end up being the comforter, instead of the comforted. I've also had to answer questions like "Why would you even consider that?" "Don't you think drugs will fix everything?" and "Have you tried being not sad?"

One of the biggest "insults" I ever received, however, was from a dental assistant. Back in May, I went in for a cleaning. They asked the usual questions — "Had any surgeries since we last saw you?" "Any issues with your gums or teeth?" "Any new medications?"

"Yes," I said. I told them about the Zoloft. And the Wellbutrin. And the Klonopin.

"Are you ... depressed?"

"I'm, uh, actually not working right now. I'm on mental health leave."

"Oh. Well, you don't look depressed."

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     * 

At this point, I wish I had an eloquent conclusion to this post. The truth? I don't. Not at all. Mental illness isn't easy, and neither was writing this blog post. But at least you know I'm still here. That I'm still breathing. And that I'm still fighting, damn it.


Candidly Clyde All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger