deal with depression Archives - Page 3 of 6 - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

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Hard-won depression tactics you can actually use

Oh hey there! Today, I’ve got a very special guest dropping by: Depression Me.

Depression Me likes to wear a fuzzy Princess Leia onesie and watch Bravo TV episodes on loop, vaguely glancing at the dog I feel guilty for not walking before lurching back into ‘reality’ world.

Depression Me likes to move back deadlines, cancel appointments, table projects, and otherwise delay all of my professional work. She HATES being told what to do and when to do it.

Depression Me has IDEAS:

It’s cloudy outside? Let’s skip work.
Raining? Oh GOD no, we can’t work.
Woke up early? Didn’t sleep well? It’s Monday? We’d better wait until tomorrow to get started.

If Depression Me were a cereal, she would be Cap’n Crunch, minus the part where you actually get to eat it. She would just be those gross remnants stuck to the scraped-up, oddly-coated roof of your mouth.

Depression Me has been visiting way longer than usual this year, as Seasonal Affective Disorder is all, “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH 12 DAYS OF CLOUDS AND RAIN IN A ROW!!! MY FAVORITE.”


When there are hard deadlines — clients waiting, classes I’ve promised to deliver, and otherwise non-negotiable shit — Depression Me is willing to sit up and take note.

Hard-won depression tactic #1: make non-negotiable deadlines.

While at the peak of the worst depression I’ve experienced since 2001, I wrote and delivered six classes for M-School. AND THEY’RE REALLY FUCKING GOOD. (You can even pick up the whole Magical Education for Entrepreneurs course here, because it’s truly helpful and spurs deep work in a short period of time.)

I didn’t create those M-School classes because I thought I had them in me (I was sure I didn’t), or because I simply wanted to get them done (I would rather be late with fantastic materials than deliver shit to my peeps), but because I refused to cave into what depression said was true about me. I refused to believe that I couldn’t.

I chose what mattered and pursued it with every ounce of my being.

I drank five times as many green smoothies. (No exaggeration. Every single day: with kale, with vanilla, with honey, with chia, with hemp seeds and millet and coconut. You name it, I’ve green smoothied it lately.) I went back to bikram yoga. I refused to cancel lunches and dinners with friends. I rushed outside and stood in the sun when it came peeking out from behind the clouds once every three days.

Most importantly, I cut myself slack in every other area of my life. Which brings me to…

Hard-won depression tactic #2: cut yourself slack to make room for what you’ve deemed most important.

My e-mail reply time went up to three or four days.
My blog posts didn’t go online as scheduled.
I let my toilet bowl get gross and my household dusting duties go undusted.
Hermione didn’t get luxurious 45-minute walks.

I made space for the really important thing — bringing M-School to life — and let everything else take a back seat.

So often, depression says we have to do ALL THE THINGS or we might as well give up. That’s not true.

Depression often points us toward what’s really important.

What do you immediately lose the time or energy to do when you’re depressed? Can those things be jettisoned permanently? Do you REALLY need to part of that committee, or say “yes” to that request, or take that class, or watch that video, or steam-clean your carpets right now?

Depression Me helped point me toward what’s really important at this moment: teaching, writing, and nutritious food.

So, friend: what is Depression You pointing you toward?

Also, please note: I’m not saying I like depression or Depression Me. I’m not pretending I’m grateful to be fighting this battle. I’m merely saying that this struggle has helped me bring my life priorities into the single digits because that’s all the energy I have right now.

If I could just press a button and jettison this shit, I would
. Because Depression Me lies to me every day. Even when I’ve done things — good and remarkable things — it says I haven’t done anything at all.

Hard-won depression tactic #2.5: prove your brain wrong.

Instead of trying to reason with the insane-o voice of my asshole brain, I ran some numbers. What had I accomplished in quantifiable terms?

I wrote 21,256 words in 3 weeks. BUT DEPRESSION BRAIN SAID I’D DONE NOTHING.


My brain is an asshole. Yours is, too.

Depression You says similar things. You’re ugly, you’re fat, you’re lazy, you’re stupid! You’re a failure who’s never done anything! You’re slacking and should be doing more! You’re never going to change! You can’t make any progress! You don’t need to shower today! You’re going to go broke and have to move in with your parents soon! You should probably give up!

Run the numbers and gather the facts.

What have you done, created, shaped, tackled, cleaned, organized, or handled in the past month?

My guess is you’ll end up saying something like, “Actually, Asshole Brain, you’ve taken an average of 3.4 showers per week, which still puts you in the top 25% of the world’s population in terms of hygiene. Actually, Asshole Brain, you’ve written 2 blog posts or made 3 podcasts or written 1,423 words or walked 4,256 steps today/this week/this year.” That’s not nothing.

Depression lies to all of us, which is why it’s so important to keep your closest peeps in the loop.

Hard-won depression tactic #3: share your innermost.

Share your innermost thoughts and feelings. Tell on the wibbliest, shakiest, least stable bits of yourself that you’d rather hide. Take another human into your confidence and share what your brain is saying, when it’s saying it. Let your beloved human(s) remind you that your brain is an asshole, that you’re doing your best, and that yes, of course they’d be willing to do the laundry. (Why didn’t you ask sooner?)

This means you can avoid pulling away emotionally in order to pretend that everything is fine. This means they don’t make fun of you for looking sad or unshowered when you manage to get yourself out of the house. This means they extend some form of understanding to your suffering (because it IS suffering), and it means they help if you ask.

Depression Me loves my friends and my love more now than I did eight months ago. Regular Me does, too.

Make hard deadlines. When you create non-negotiable timelines for yourself, you can rise to the occasion.

Cut yourself some serious slack.
When you focus on what’s truly important, you have more energy to use for your best bits.

Share your innermost.
When you share your innermost, you connect with your beloved people in ways that will surprise and amaze you.

You might not sparkle as much.
You might not have any extra energy when you slide into bed at night.
But you’re here.
Doing the work.

And depression can’t stop you from getting it done this time.

Also! I have to tell you: at yesterday’s yoga class, my teacher was correcting my form and casually said, “You’re almost doing this, you’re strong, there you’ve got it, now hold for 5…4…3…2…1…” and all I heard was “You’re strong.”

I am? I mean, I’m still here. I’m not dead yet, and depression hasn’t won, so yes. Maybe I am strong.

And you? You’re not dead yet, and depression hasn’t won, so yes. Maybe you’re strong, too.

P.S. Depression and running a business is all about keeping the wolf at bay.

6 ways to keep going (and 1 way to quit)

In this week’s episode of That’s What She Said, I hit a reader question hard, and it’s a really freaking good one:

…when you do hit those business funks/blues/frustrations.. the SERIOUSLY am I shit? or am I good? and want to keep moving forward, what/where or how inspires you to keep moving forward without giving it all away? — Lorraine

I’m sharing six ways to keep going (and one way to quit) in this week’s episode of That’s What She Said.

To get all bullet-pointed on you, I’ll explain:

+ why asking the wrong questions could be sabotaging your every effort
+ when and how to make space for a pause in your business
+ why taking your business to Tokyo (metaphorically) is a really, really bad idea
+ simple changes to the scope of your projects that might make all the difference
+ two questions to ask when you feel overwhelmed by all your ideas
+ getting out of the ‘how do I move forward AGH’ mental quagmire
+ my favorite way to quit, as well as my top reminders to help you keep going

BOOM go listen.


P.S. It’s difficult because it matters.

photo // Jon Canlas

Magic Often Feels Like Broken

I was once in a circle of business women and it was my turn to speak to all of them, so I got up and said I wanted to give half my business away. Not 3 percent or 10 percent or any of the more reasonable numbers they suggested. Half.

That statement was met with a lukewarm awkward-glances-around-the-room reception. No one is going to outright shame you for being generous enough to give half your business away, but they can shame you by reminding you that making money is REALLY FUN and DON’T FORGET THAT, and then everyone in the room can cheer and then you’ll wonder what the fuck is wrong with you for not feeling so excited about money.

You’ll be so intimidated by your obvious brokenness when it comes to this idea that you’ll table it for years. You’ll have a (storied, much sought after, holy grail of business, etc, etc…) six-figure launch with a product you’re mildly excited about having made, and you’ll wonder why MAKING MONEY ISN’T SO MUCH FUN FOR YOU. Sure, it means you can buy cool shit, but your money-making feels appear to be broken.

So long as we’re talking about broken: your trusting yourself feels are broken and you doubt everything you want because it appears to be the opposite of what everyone else wants. Your generosity feels are way out of proportion with everyone else’s, and so you beat yourself up and tell yourself to stop giving so much away and just invest in your retirement plan already.

Why do you feel so broken? Because you’re magic, friend.

Because magic — when you’re magic, when you’re different, when you can look at the way other people work, tilt you head to the side, and say, “Huh, I don’t work like that at all” — often feels like broken.

Let’s talk about that in today’s episode of That’s What She Said.

P.S. This is the introductory episode to M-School, my magic school for entrepreneurs!  Start with episode one, stop drinking the unicorn blood.

I’m proud of you.

I’m proud of you.

For waking up. Every day. For showering whenever possible.
For seeing the mountains of work to be done,
morning after morning, and going to it.
For holding her up when she couldn’t climb any further.
For shouldering his pack when you were exhausted.
For smiling when
inside, you were breaking.

I’m proud of you for greeting this morning with something like kindness.

I know it’s easier to fling yourself into despair
and berate the world for all it’s done,
to give up on living a better
or more interesting
or engaging life.

It’s easier to shut it down.
Close it down.
Lock it down.

I’m proud of you for opening, again and again,
in the face of all the world’s frustrations;
for staring all those reasons to give up in the eyes and standing
again, today, in the middle of the mountain.

I’m proud of you for putting one foot in front of the other
despite having lost the summit in the clouds long ago.

I’m proud of you. No caveats, no despites.

I’m proud of you.

P.S. It’s okay to stop hiding.

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The tender mercy of house calls

“He’s suffering.”
“I know, but I can’t…I can’t send him to die on a cold, hard table with fluorescent lighting. I CAN’T.”

I fall into his arms, weeping while another minute passes.

“…didn’t doctors…didn’t they used to make house calls? Do you think there’s anyone who could do that?”
“I’ll look into it.”

The doctor will call back in five minutes.

He’s in bed, barely breathing. His fur rises and falls, hardly perceptible, while he survives another sixty seconds.

I light candles and put on some music. I congratulate myself on the choice of unicorn sheets, brand new, and think this is how I would want to die, if it came to that.

They’ll call in half an hour to give a time.

I’m petting him softly and hoping it doesn’t hurt. The ceiling fans need to be cleaned. The floor should be mopped. I should pick up the house before the doctor arrives. My brain lists endless tasks, anything to get away from the presence of death.

I stay in the room. He doesn’t even smell like himself — most cats smell like cats but he always smelled like some mixture of sweet and magic. I rub my face in his fur one last time. The minutes tick by.

They’re coming in thirty minutes.

I stay with the horror of watching him die. I watch the taxidermied version of him take hold. I beg him to give it up and go all the way out of this world.

I whisper about what he’s done for me, how he’s seen me through more than a decade, how he’s loved everyone he’s ever met and how we love him back as best we humans can. I give him permission to go, over and over, more and more desperately, but he will not leave.

A few minutes to go.

Lines of poetry come to me. Another and another. I should be writing. The ceiling fan. It still needs dusting. The house isn’t ready for strangers.

I stay with his eyes, begging him to go, please, to go before the vet arrives.

They’re here.

The vet is wearing jeans and a button down shirt with rolled-up sleeves. He is older and kinder than I expected. He makes brief eye contact and asks serious questions.

“A thrown clot, nothing you could have done.”

If it’s a lie, it is the kindest one offered in all of human history.

The tender mercy of house calls // Kristen Kalp

His wife handles the paperwork and brings me a tissue. The minutes stretch thick like goo, endless, as he refuses to close his eyes. I squeeze my love’s hand. The tears cover at least half the bed’s unicorns.

Another dose.

“He has no heartbeat.”

He gasps and wheezes, coughing and working his tongue as if he’s been given peanut butter. Clearly, he has a heartbeat. The wife is fighting tears as she touches my shoulder and rubs it a little.

Another dose.

“There’s still a faint heartbeat.” We make jokes about what a tough guy he is. Point taken, Big Kitty. You don’t want to go.


He sputters and coughs, defeated.

This time.

There isn’t one clear moment like they say there would be, no spark gone out all at once. There’s only a gradual slide out of this world and into another, that place none of us have visited but wonder about while we’re cleaning our ceiling fans on Wednesday afternoons.

The doctor’s wife says she has 17 rescue cats and 17 years ago, she married her vet. That’s how she knows about sending animals into the great what-comes-next, how doing it at home is kinder, somehow, she thinks.

My love pays the bill, shakes the hands, ushers people to their places, returns. Death is still in the room, but it’s softer now. He’s slipped away and this useless, furry shell means nothing at all.

We wrap him in a blanket, gray and soft. We’ve chosen to bury him and so there’s a garbage bag to wrap around the blanket, to keep him dry, and I cry so hard I might break, the thought of him, in the ground, wet and cold, suffocating in some flimsy plastic sheet from my last trip to Target. I would have bought the fucking Hermes of garbage bags, had I known.

He asks if I want to put him outside or leave him inside.
Inside, and somehow I remain standing as I answer.

My love has to go, to plans and work and fixed adult commitments.

The texts begin: she’s coming over. He’ll follow after work. They’ll bring a shovel and spade and whatever is required for digging in the night, outside the back windows.

Doey arrives, too, still dressed in her muggle costume from corporate work.

She holds my hand while they take care of things in the dark. The candles continue to burn.

We go to dinner, after, and they even let me think I’m paying. We manage to laugh, to get just a few steps beyond it and be together. They drop me off and we hug in the street, one by one, before they return to their cars and drive home.

I’m tired, vulnerable, afraid of waking up with that cat-shaped hole in the house.

But I’ve learned about the tender mercy of house calls.

How, if you do this living thing right, people will help. They will surprise you with their gentleness. They will look into your eyes and hold your pain while you share a room with the end of life. They will put on boots and quite literally bury your dead.

This is the place beyond what you can buy at any cost: a friend’s clammy hand clasped in yours, while outside the dirt piles up on what is still beloved.

You will never find a way to repay them.

There is no way to return the favor.

The tender mercy of house calls

I suppose that’s the nature of love, through the years and right down to this very minute: putting on your boots and wading into the thick of it, refusing to keep score.

You have held her hair back. She’s driven you to the funeral. He’s wept in your arms. You’ve planned her wedding. She’s officiated yours. You’ve made her laugh on long car trips when she wanted to tuck and roll. She’s loaded fresh baked goods onto your plate without saying a word. He’s sent you silly packages when you were thousands of miles from home.

There is no way to repay it: any of it. And that’s the point.

This jumbled and tender mercy will leave you humbled and vulnerable, deeply seen and utterly loved, when it crawls into your lap and stays a while.

There is no way to repay it, no price tag high enough, except to breathe deeply. (And again.)

You are alive.
You are loved.

May the house calls help you remember, when they come;
and may you purr softly with that knowing, glad simply to be in the presence of Life itself.