Within the last week, two members of our community are trying to stave off a depression and another returned from three weeks in hibernation. There may be others; these are just the ones I know about. As I thought about them, I have felt great empathy and compassion. I remember so many times when I could feel a depression coming on and wondered what I could do to stop it before it took hold.
I always tried my usual fare: playing music, spending time outdoors, forcing myself to walk--if only for a few blocks, racking my mind to determine the trigger, trying to talk it away, trying to write it away, gardening, doing physical labor, praying, trying my own form of meditation, trying to ignore it, going to films, watching funny videos, spending time with people who love me and whom I love, seeking out friends who make me laugh, and the list goes on.
Sometimes it worked; other times it didn't. I wish I could figure out why.
Coming back from a depression isn't easy either. For me it seems to go in stages. Once the really bad part is over, I don't feel happy or sad. I'm able to accomplish tasks although I don't have much enthusiasm. I'm able to read, which is one of my favorite ways of escaping from life as well as a primary source of pleasure. I'm able to see selected friends. I may email a few people I haven't been in contact with, who I know won't pressure me. I try and complete small tasks so that I have a sense of accomplishment. I write--another saving grace.
Also... and this is something I have never publicly admitted, I watch Westerns on TV. I've seen almost every film that John Wayne has ever made. I've seen almost every version of Wyatt Earp. My favorite is Tombstone with Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer--who in my opinion is the very best Doc Holliday ever--Sam Elliott, and Bill Paxton.
I've watched dozens of John Ford Westerns. I love Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, Randolf Scott, Clint Eastwood, Audie Murphy, Kurt Douglas, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Gary Cooper, Alan Ladd, Burt Landcaster, Lee J. Cobb, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, William Holden, Glenn Ford, Sam Elliott, and dozens of other actors.
Since I'm too busy to come up with my list, I'd recommend anything from 30 Great Westerns because I've seen them all.
When my husband once asked me about the allure, I said, "Westerns are morality plays, plain and simple. It's about good versus evil and the good guys win."
I realize that these days it's not politically correct to watch Westerns because of the treatment of Native Americans. But that's never been what it's about for me. I guess it's just that my illness defies rationality and I enjoy the simplicity of Westerns. I also love the great outdoors and on vacations, I enjoy horseback riding.
I'm not sure that Westerns can bring me out of a depression but they sure can entertain me. Maybe it's just that I see myself as a "good guy who's fighting a bad guy" (I think a little anthropomorphization is probably okay) and I live vicariously through the cowboys.
The bottom line is that I'm a huge Western fan. Kinds of shocks you, doesn't it?