Goodbye Canyon, Dust Roads

I have only one photo to show you today... Mainly as proof that we are in Flagstaff.

It is pouring rain. And thundering. And lightning. It was a good day to leave the Grand Canyon. The trails all close when there is lightning.

We have the perfect room, finally. It's a Hampton Inn Suite with a kitchen (which we don't need now), two separate rooms, a sofa bed and a rollaway. Lilah squealed with delight and shrieked "I don't have to sleep on the floor!?" But, ironically, at this very moment, she is having trouble falling asleep!!

For all the whining and complaining... It turned out she slept very well on the floor right next to my bed.

This hotel also has a pool! I have been using that as the ultimate reward. "If I have to tell you to stop poking Alex again, you will never see the pool!" Whoa. That worked really well!

The child has always been a mermaid and a water bender. Even in the womb she swam back and forth until she was completely tangled in the cord. I think this ordinary pool was her highlight of the whole trip. :-)

Lilah drew these ladies in my journal during lunch.

So - except for a maze of flights that will take us 12 hours to get home tomorrow - our adventure is pretty much at an end. It feels like it went by so quickly. And with all the shuttle rides and upcoming flights, I will have too much time to think again.

On the shuttle today, I was thinking about Robin Williams. I couldn't get much internet at the canyon, so I was behind on the news. I was thinking more about Depression and my own experiences with it. I wrote a long post about it a few years ago, but I can't add the link from my iPhone.

For a long time, it looked like my depression was brought on by radiation which led to a damaged immune system which led to getting Mono, which is often associated with Depression. I went through all the standard treatments, including every anti-depressant ever made. Nothing ever helped. And I had the added curses of being a gifted kid, over-sensitive to medication and other things, OCD-ish, prone to anxiety, and a perfectionist. Quite a messy combo. But doctors really only focus on their own specialty and depression got top billing. It was the most serious. Looking back, I see that my depression was a symptom, not the actual illness and all the other, ignored, parts played a huge role.

The biggest part of the curse was in the doctors' diagnosis that I was a "walking depressive". Which basically means, I was a total mess... but I was very, very good at hiding it. On the outside, I appeared to be doing everything I was supposed to be doing. Everything.

I could write a whole book on this subject, but what I was actually thinking about on the shuttle today was about how we have no way of knowing what is under the shell that society insists we wear.

By writing books, I try to share what I have learned, my experiences, with others. In many ways this has helped me meet a lot of people, break through my introversion, and find common ground. In other ways, it forms a bigger barrier. People think I am "famous" and on a pedestal. Or that I should be perfect. I am far... Far... from perfect. I keep making huge mistakes and messing up. But I expect that of myself and other people. I don't see the point in doing things the easy way. The irony here is that - when I started expecting these glitches and making room for them - my depression went away (along with my perfectionism).

The year that I decided to end my marriage (the ultimate admission of failure in my own rule book), I also had to close my creativity store, lost three friends who I had considered to be my closest friends, and had to completely reinvent my life and my finances. All really good fodder for some serious Prozac bingeing.

But, no. I wrote three books instead. And I find great pleasure in writing on my blog. That saying about - if you can't be a good example, be a bad example, or some such... I can always say to myself "well, that sucked, but I can write about it on my blog!"

Although I have kept the depression at bay for many years now, I do still occasionally get bursts of panic attacks.  There are actually only two... subjects... that seem to trigger these attacks. And I am only just recently noticing the relationship between the anxiety and the fact that I feel that I am not allowed to write or talk about my feelings on these subjects.

For the past week, while on our adventure, there have been high and low points, as expected. But I have been so busy having my mind blown that I haven't thought about those "subjects". I also haven't thought much about anything back at home or work or the future or the past. Just keep moving.

My anxiety seems to stem from a very small handful of people. Most stress inducing events do not cause the attacks - even giving a talk in front of 112 people at TangleU didn't trigger a panic attack. If I feel like I have options, even options that might be mistakes, I'm ok. But other peoples' insanity, that really has nothing to do with me or my choices, that pushes me off the cliff.

Going back home feels like hanging myself back up as target practice. I just want to scream "This is not MY problem to solve! You are not MY problem! I have my own life and it is not any of your concern what I choose to do!"


Ahh... See? There is something very refreshing and freeing about self expression!

As far as thinking about Robin Williams, I have two things to offer...

If you have a friend who suffers from depression, don't try to advise or fix them. Just let them know that you are there for them no matter what, and just listen.

If you suffer from depression, find someone who will listen. It might not feel like it - but know that there is always someone and there is always something that can help - not just drugs and therapy! There are lots of unorthodox  things - like flipping your entire life or changing your diet - that are more work, but more satisfying than suicide. Puts a new spin on "thinking outside the box"?

Bad pun, I know, but laughing at myself is what keeps me sane. :-)