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Commentary

Two Steps Forward, No Going Back
By Mitch Traphagen mitch@observernews.net
Dec 7, 2006 - 5:42:00 PM

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I am still hearing from people about the article on clinical depression a few months ago.  I have no regrets about baring a part of my personal life to 100,000 or so people through the pages of this newspaper — in fact, I'm glad I did.  I've met many wonderful people since then because of that article.  The issue is truly something we need to be able to talk about.


Right now, I'm in two steps forward mode.  The anti-depressant I was prescribed provided a much-needed kick-start but a short while ago, I decided it was time to handle things on my own.  I learned the hard way why doctors recommend tapering off anti-depressants.  It was a rough lesson but worth it in the end.  I feel like I am seeing things from a new perspective.  I am on my way back.

In the past few weeks I have repeatedly witnessed the incredible beauty of this place we call home.  Before doing something about the depression, I generally didn't notice the sunsets or the subtle humor of my friends — and I certainly wouldn't have taken the time and energy to see some real mermaids.  It's easy to take for granted, but this is a seriously cool place we have here.

No, not everything is puppies and rainbows but that's OK — that's life.  The old saying about making lemonade from the lemons in life is true wisdom, indeed.  And sometimes,those lemons simply don't matter.

Case in point, almost a year ago, I wrote an article about the slowing real estate market.  It was generally a positive article saying that while things have indeed slowed, it's not the end of the world.  People are still moving here, houses are still being sold, and so on.  After that article, however, I received an angry email from someone blaming me for the slowing market.  If I didn't publish stories like that then, apparently, things would still be humming right along.

Well, after a year now, I can tell you that it's not the news stories that are causing the real estate slowdown — it's the fact that no one is buying houses. 

Our house has been for sale for six months and in that time, we had one showing.  Michelle and I cleaned for four hours, loaded up the herd of dogs and left a quiet, pristine environment for the potential buyers.

The showing lasted eight minutes.

But here's the lemonade:  Before Christmas arrives, I'm going to walk out to the front yard and take down the for sale sign.  For the holidays, this will be our house.  I'm going to decorate the landscaping with lights and we will put up our tree and simply be at home.  Maybe we'll list it again, maybe we won't — but for now we'll simply enjoy it.

That's not such a bad thing.  It always seems to me the pace of life is increasing to the point of frantic abandon.  Perhaps, however, that feeling is self-inflicted.  Perhaps it is time to sit back and enjoy the season — enjoy the crowds while shopping for gifts and enjoy the madness, peace and love that is Christmas.

Every year there are news stories about how the perfect and happy lives depicted in holiday television commercials depress the hell out of millions of us.  Whenever I read those stories, I immediately think of the Ernest & Julio Gallo wine commercials.  The setting is always a dream — friends knock on the door as a gentle, picturesque snow falls — and the door opens to a scene the absolutely spews warmth and comfort.

But you know, the reality really isn't that far from that.  Friends knock on our door, too, and they are always eager to get inside — not to get out of the perfect, picturesque snowfall, but rather to escape the swarms of no-see-ums that are working with frightening organization to remove huge quantities of their skin.  And no, we don't have a welcoming fire burning (at least I hope not since we don't have a fireplace) and a perfectly decorated Christmas tree — but we do have a bunch of dogs that maniacally greet our friends with:  "HI! HI! HI! PET ME! PET ME! PET ME! HI! HI! HI! HI!  That goes on until just before escaping to the no-see-ums starts to look like a good alternative.

In other words, it's almost like the Ernest & Julio Gallo commercials — except without the beautiful parts.  The important part, however, is still there.
I'm all for wishing on stars but sometimes I think we tend to wish on the wrong ones — as in my hopes for selling our house.  With just a slight change in perspective I can go from being sad and frustrated that it didn't sell to being happy that I can find a way to make this little house a home.  

The right stars for me are all around - in the form of my wife, friends and family.  The important part is right in front of me.  And now that I think about it, that's the beautiful part, too.

The holidays can be a tough time for those suffering from depression — but try, really try to set your sights on the stars that are important and ignore the ones that are causing pain.  If you know someone suffering from this, a few kind words can change an entire day.  I know that to be true because I have experienced it.  Talk to your friends, surprise someone with a phone call — miracles often begin with a simple gesture.  If you feel you have no one to talk to then write to me.  I probably won't have answers, but I do understand and I do care very much.

Love and beauty is out there but sometimes we need a little help to see it.

My email address is mitch@observernews.net.



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