the handy-dandy guidebook for loving someone with depression
1. Bake them a cake and for each candle they blow out, give them one reason to get out of bed every morning.
2. Act like their phantom limb: be there for them physically when they need you, and leave when they want to be alone. But always be thinking about them, so, like the ghost of an amputated arm or leg, they’ll feel some small measure of your presence still attached to their side.
3. Go to Hallmark and buy them as many cards as you can with your allowance, humorous ones, laugh-out-loud ones, romantic ones, cards with cats in party hats on the front, cards with red balloons, cards with gingerbread houses. But under no circumstance should you buy them a get-well-soon card. Tell them in words, out loud, with your own voice, that you hope they will feel better. Do not feed them some plastic sentiment that is sent out to 24,000 people every year.
4. Dig a hole in the backyard and invite them to bring along a shovel or two. Then step back and watch as they rip their sadness out in handfuls and bury it in the hole.
5. Fill it in. With dirt. Plenty of it. (This is a funeral.)
6. Say a eulogy.
7. Go slow; they’re probably new to this.
8. Cook a romantic dinner for two and turn all the lights off. Play the recording that you made of just your voice saying I love you, you are the apple of my eye, endlessly, until the needle scratches.
9. Buy one-way plane tickets to Somewhere Else and take them for a long vacation. They deserve it.
10. Spend a few extra minutes in bed.
11. Remember that depression fucks more violently than any sex-crazed maniac. Rub their back.
12. Turn down the new job and stay home with them instead.
13. Fill the bathtub with roses and hot water, light some candles, and remove their clothes one by one, so gently they can hardly feel your touch. Press your fingers into their spine and massage the sad out of them. Then cover their mouth with yours and transfer your love into theirs, as much as they can handle.
14. Take them rollerblading at night, in between the lanes of cars on a quiet night, and feel the wind blow over your skin and theirs. Hold their hand and don’t ever let them spin too far away from you. Keep them close by like a satellite.
15. Visit the Eiffel Tower. Stand at the very top and encourage them to drop notes down to the pavement, folded-up scraps of paper full of their worst feelings. Things like Fuck, I hate myself, or I don’t want to be here anymore, and watch them fade out of view.
16. Be patient. Things like this take time.
17. Feed them chicken soup, spoonful by spoonful, until they feel warm and whole again.
18. (Don’t forget the bay leaves for extra flavor.)
19. Send them an anonymous letter in the mail that says Your progress is going swell. And I bet you never thought you’d make it this far?
20. Invite your in-laws over to dinner and inform them that they’ve got a lovely daughter or son.
21. Don’t spill gravy on your father-in-law’s lap this time. Offer to do the dishes so mother & daughter or mother & son can spend some catchup time together.
22. Wait until there’s a full moon. Take all your clothes off, theirs too, and lie at the top of the tallest hill you can find. Trace all their scars and for each new one revealed, say you’ll stay for another year.
23. Then tell them that even if they only had one scar, you’d stay for the rest of your life.
24. Bring out the telescope.
25. Find Mars.
26. Become astronauts and fly to the moon. Touch down on the soft dust and plant a flag declaring your support on the most visible crater.
27. Label it.
28. Make it say: We were here.
List your favorite—
Peeled oranges, coffee, petrichor, sea water, cinnamon, vanilla
Birds chirping in the morning, waves rushing back to the shoreline, the laughter of people you love
3. Things to touch:
Pages of books, furry dogs, hands
Stuff I Got. Most years I draw one of these lists of gifts I received, on American Elf. For some reason I skipped it last year… I think because last year the kids got better presents than I did. Oh, just realized one awesome gift I forgot to draw this year… a champagne drink with triple sec and lime peel, over at a friend’s house. That was awesome.