At least one good thing happened in 2011

by Michael Bérubé on December 31, 2011

On the home front, the year opened with the inexplicable rupture of a whole-house water filter on January 2, a mishap that left four inches of water in the basement, ruining a bunch of Jamie’s books and DVDs; it closes as I return from visiting my father, who is intubated and unconscious after triple-bypass heart surgery.  We didn’t know he would be unconscious for my entire visit — I learned that via a phone call from my sister only after Nick, Jamie and I had gotten halfway through a seven-hour drive.  Our assumption was that at some point he would be conscious but unable to communicate, which is why I did what any dutiful son would do, namely, bring a copy of <i>A Year on Ice</i>, Gerald Eskanazi’s chronicle of the New York Rangers’ 1969-70 season, to read to him at his bedside.  When that plan fell through, we videotaped a bunch of messages for him (including my rendition of the final game of the Rangers’ regular season, April 5, 1970, which was the most exciting thing a nine-year-old kid could possibly hope to see — thanks for taking me, Dad!) and I’ll go back when he’s back home, which should be in a few weeks.

And oh yes, in March Lucy the Dog died after thirteen and a half years of faithfully guarding the house, playing with Nick, tending to Janet whenever she had migraines, and talking to Jamie when no one else would understand him.

But there was one good thing about 2011, and it was a world-historical event.  I refer, of course, to <strike>our family’s decision to topple Qaddafi and plunder Libya</strike> a milestone we had been anticipating for approximately twenty years:

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If Your Holidays Aren’t So Happy

by Tedra Osell on December 31, 2011

It wasn’t too many years ago that I was suicidally depressed. Because this is a public forum, I won’t go into what finally got me to a psychiatrist (I’d seen psychotherapists for years, but hadn’t been diagnosed with clinical depression) and onto medication, and I had to try several different pills before I found something that worked. Recently I’ve switched meds again, and I’m really having a great holiday season.

But for a lot of people the holidays suck. Sometimes that’s temporary, but often it’s not. Please take twelve minutes to watch the video below, and please take the time in real life to listen to the people you love. I think one of the profoundest difficulties we have as human beings, despite all our ways of communicating, is that ultimately it’s horribly easy to hear someone say they’re unhappy but not really understand that they are deeply in trouble, especially if the things they seem unhappy about seem small or temporary or like minor fillips in a pretty great life.

It’s impossible to know how someone with depression feels if you haven’t been there. And if you are there, it’s impossible to realize that it really doesn’t have to be that bad. If you think you need help, please ask for it. And if you think someone you know needs help, please listen–because when you’re way down that well, it can be almost impossible even to whisper.

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