You're Not Going To My Funeral.

No matter how you spin it, funerals really suck.

Let’s start with the fashion.

In spite of being the kind of event that generally draws a crowd, rarely will you find someone wearing anything noteworthy at a funeral. The dress code for your standard, someone-decent-has-died funeral tends to be dark, nondescript, and clean- without looking TOO clean. No one looks too anything at a funeral. Except sad. Looking exceptionally sad at a funeral is perfectly acceptable. And while “exceptionally sad” is generally a pretty compelling state to find a person in (example: you walk into into a party store to buy twelve packages of blue and white tube balloons for your cousin’s mid-summer bat mitzvah only to find the security guard at the entrance- why is there a security guard at the party store? what part of town are you in?- hysterically sobbing into his work vest), an exceptionally sad person at a funeral is a bit predictable. Especially if it’s a close friend or family member of the dead person; those people can be extraordinarily sad at funerals. But rarely are they well dressed.

How are you supposed to talk to anybody?

Life is busy, and there are only so many opportunities to catch up with Uncle Tommy about the trunk full of Black & Decker drill bits he found in the attic of the duplex that he and Aunt Helga just purchased in Palm Springs after swearing they’d never move to Florida. Funerals bring people together, but conversations can only be had in hushed tones and should generally consist of pleasant remembrances of the deceased and plans of who’s bringing what cooked food to which surviving family member, when. This is quite limiting. Though a hotbed of opportunity for meaningful conversation, a funeral is no time for catchup. What a tease.

People die everywhere, even far away.

Commercial air travel is an extraordinary privilege that we in the 21st century get to enjoy. That doesn’t make it cheap. Especially when buying a ticket last minute. And while your leftie employer might even let you take additional time off for “processing,” don’t expect the airlines to help you out (from United’s website: “Effective March 14, 2014, United will discontinue the five percent discount previously offered to customers needing to travel due to a death or serious illness.”). So unless you’ve got a strong credit card rewards program to cash in on (how’s that 24.99% interest treating ya?), get ready to fork over some major cash to honor the dead.

Given all this, I’ve decided to grant each and every would-be funeral goer in my life an invaluable gift. Don’t try to talk me out of it either; my mind’s made up, and I’m standing firmly by this decision: you’re not coming to my funeral.

You don’t need that kind of stress in your life. I get that, and I appreciate you too much to bring that on you. Now on the other hand, it would be pathetic to have a funeral that literally no one came to. I know I’d be dead, but still, I gotta imagine that somewhere out there, that would really bum me out, and being recently dead, I really don’t need to be feeling lousy too. Therefore, in order to accomplish my goal of ensuring, as my final gift to the world, that no one need be at my funeral, I’ve come up with an airtight strategy.

I must outlive you all.

Many would call this challenging. Even more would refer to it as impossible. I prefer to think of it as motivating. Unfortunately, I cannot share the details of my plan for longevity. Mainly because the plan lacks any, though so far, I’m finding success with cardio, hydration, and the occasional hug. I’d recommend those activities, for beginners anyway. And talking to someone about feelings helps too.

I’ll keep you posted as/if the plan evolves.

 

Positivity is not the same as happiness. And I smile because I choose to.

When I first started talking about depression, I heard a lot of but you’re always smiling or you’re always so positive. Comments like these immediately signal two things to me:

1) the person speaking most likely doesn’t experience depression. It’s like saying to an addict, Well why don’t you just stop using? Or asking malignant cancer, Hey could you maybe not spread anywhere vital please? The question itself gives away a fundamental misunderstanding of the disease, which in turn suggests the asker doesn’t experience the disease (and probably doesn’t have a close family member or friend with it who has spoken to them about it either).

2) the person speaking associates positivity with happiness. And maybe most people associate the two. I’m a positive person: I’m optimistic, hopeful, I believe in best possible outcomes, and I seek to do good in my work and in my life. But, again, if we’re being honest (and I don’t see the point in writing this otherwise), I don’t necessarily see myself as a “happy person.” In fact, moody, mercurial, and temperamental are all words that probably describe me more accurately than “happy.” For a long time, I felt a bit (and sometimes more than “a bit”) phony as someone who didn’t think of himself as “happy” but behaved so positively and tried to do good. With time, maturity, and heaps of therapy, I can now distinguish the vital difference between happiness and positivity.

Both of these observations have an obvious common denominator: the remarks say more about who is delivering them than who they are about. I’ve been rattled by people saying this kind of stuff to me before. I’ve gone “in the tank” Oh no, did I mislead this person? Do they feel lied to? Betrayed? Am I faking it? Am I a phony? Ugh, why did I even say anything. I don’t think they like me anymore. Maybe they never did. Why should they anyway. I’m such a jerk. Maybe I….. Typing this out in the context of a blog, it’s clearly a distorted line of thinking. But that’s part of the problem. When you have depression, you have distorted lines of thinking, and those distorted thoughts result in distorted feelings. Those distorted feelings lead to intensified and additional distorted thoughts, and the viciousness of depression is already in full-swing.

I can’t control what people say about me or to me, and I certainly cannot control what they think of me. The most I can do is remind myself that it doesn’t matter what other people think or say about me. My responsibility is to my truth, and my health. And for me, that includes choosing positivity and smiling, sometimes even when I don’t want to.