Why is it so hard to be depressed around here once in a while?

Come on– best title ever, right?

One of the things I’ve recently learned about being married: it’s much harder now to be quietly depressed for a day.

Just a day, here and there. It shouldn’t be so difficult.

My emotions are mysterious. An ancient civilization would probably have interpreted them as evidence for like twenty different persnickety gods. I get randomly really happy whenever I’m driving alone, listening to my ipod. Which doesn’t happen a lot, since I live in Manhattan. I get randomly really stressed out and remind myself of one of those middle-aged men who work too hard in the New York Times Health studies. The ones who die of stress-related ailments and are then compared with all the women who don’t die because they handle stress a lot better, naturally.

Sometimes I get horribly depressed, for about a day, and walk around with a blank look, muttering, “Why have you failed at everything?” to myself. This happens pretty much every time Dan from Modern Love rejects another one of my perfect pieces about modern love. It also happens, well, randomly.

(failed at getting the jeans into the drawer. And that is way too close for a good excuse)

It’s always been this way for me, dating back to the moment I discovered that I was doing things that I could fail at. Traceable to when I learned that life is about winning. At everything. And if you don’t win at everything than you’re a big, stupid loser who will probably develop a mid-life obsession with tiny ceramic animals and start collecting them and arranging them on strips of green felt.

I’m kidding. I don’t think that.

(failed to hang the second picture. For a year.)

It’s always been this way for me, except that now it’s worse. Because of marriage. Because of Bear.

Because every time I start wandering around with glazed eyes and whispering about how much God failed when I was born, he’s like, “Hey– are you OK?” And then, “You look sad. What’s going on?”


“Tell me what you’re thinking.”


“Why are you upset? Did I do something?”

“Nothing. I mean, no.” (Argh. Just let me say “nothing” incessantly until I die of inane repetition!)

(failed to clean up. Well, of course.)

And he will not leave me alone. And then, after a while, he gets depressed because I’m depressed. And then it’s my fault that the entire household has come down with the bug and everyone’s just lying around, groaning and aching with failure, crying on themselves, and barely able to drag their pathetic carcasses off the floor and into the kitchen in order to haul the refrigerator open and gasp, “Why is there no more soda?! Why? Why? Whywhywhywhywhy….”

And then….and this is the new part, I feel guilty.

For being depressed. And for feeling like a failure. It’s this complete, separate layer of badness. I am a failure for feeling like a failure. I should work the word “meta” into this somewhere.

(failed to update the photo of my friend’s baby, who is now A LOT older)

I am a bad wife.

Good wives do not get randomly depressed and think that they are a failure because Dan at Modern Love is determined to reject everything they’ve ever written (has he never been held? Does he hate Jews? Am I a terrible writer?). Good wives think that they are a success because they have love. Y’know, like, actual modern love. Not some really sad story about being a Mormon who has never had sex even though she’s forty-three, because of the Mormon church and brainwashing and stuff.

Good wives think they are a success because they can keep things in perspective. Which is how they’re able to get married. Because they’re grown up. They’re grown up, mature people who act rationally and don’t throw temper tantrums.

(failed to hammer the nails all the way into the wall. both times)

“You know,” I told Bear sullenly, on Sunday when I was being randomly depressed, “If you weren’t here, it wouldn’t be like this. No one would even notice I was miserable, and then I’d get over it by tonight and everything would be fine. But now it’s a big deal.”

He didn’t really have a response for that.

This is the biggest benefit, I think, of living alone. Who knew? So if you live alone, enjoy your depression. At least you don’t have to feel crushingly guilty about spoiling someone else’s Sunday, too.

(failed to figure out what to do with the wedding dress on the back of the bedroom door. people are going to start thinking I’m crazy)

Also, you don’t have to keep thinking, “What if he thinks I’m, like, actually depressed now? What if this is how he comes to think of me? What if he’s thinking, ‘She’s probably been like this all along, but is finally comfortable enough with me to let me see how terrible she is’? What if he starts buying me tiny ceramic animals?”

Marriage: Making it harder to be depressed, since, um, forever.*

(worst of all, failed to appreciate the view.)

*Probably not, though, since being married doesn’t mean you have to care about the emotions of the person you’re married to. But Bear does. And now he will suffer, as a result.

*  *  *

Un-roast: Today I love the way I feel when I’m walking. I like being in motion.

Some amazing un-roasts recently. One of my favorites is from Kellie: “Un-roast: today I love my brain… and I fancy my eyes. :-)

P.S. See? Photos! I’m trying, here.


Kate on March 2nd 2011 in life, marriage

45 Responses to “Why is it so hard to be depressed around here once in a while?”

  1. Mary responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 10:30 am #

    Ooooooh, so I’m not the only one? I love this. Just found your blog through Sarah Von’s Yes and Yes. I’m so glad she linked to you. I need to make my husband read this post.

  2. Erin Block responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 11:08 am #

    Photos, yes! I was immediately impressed…and they are definitely lighten things up! ;)

    I have been feeling like such a … wait..”META”-failure lately. This post was perfect. Thank you….

    And, I think this is quite possibly the best sentence ever written: “My emotions are mysterious. An ancient civilization would probably have interpreted them as evidence for like twenty different persnickety gods.”

  3. Brook @ To Be Dancing responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 11:11 am #

    Can you not just tell him that you’re in a funk and need a day or two to shake it off?

  4. Erin Block responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 11:13 am #

    Un-roast: I love how I look wearing men’s khakis. Comfortable. Relaxed. Sure. Sexy.

  5. Kate responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 11:15 am #

    He is bad at just letting me be upset. He thinks it’s his job to make it better. Which, to be fair, is exactly how I am when he is upset. Clearly, way too much love and attachment :)

  6. Kerry responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 11:51 am #


    I identify with what you are saying here, more than you could possibly imagine.

    My bad moods never bothered me before I had to explain them – I simply knew they would pass and just waited it out. Sometimes now, when they mystify my husband, I feel lazy, like I should be trying harder to banish them right away, the way he does (effectively, with what seems like no effort at all) with his moods.

    I’m hoping we both get a little more comfortable with our different styles over time.

  7. Rachel responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 11:55 am #

    The sharing emotions thing is tough. It works the other way around too: happiness is contagious. But for whatever reason sharing the bad mood stands out more than the good one.
    The longer my partner and I are together the longer we can go unbothered by each other’s funks. When we first started living together ten minutes of grouchiness might have caused the guilt spiral you describe. Several years later we can go a day or two before one of our bad moods brings the other down.
    It sounds kind of calloused, like we’ve learned not to care so much, but it’s about being comfortable with the fact that we aren’t everything in each other’s lives. We can’t control external stress and we are entitled to be emotional.

  8. Katya responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 11:59 am #

    :) Blogs should start having an “I totally identify with this” button.

    This is totally why valium was so popular in the mid-20th century. However, I know that you guys will work things out without mind-altering substances. It’s hard to let people just be [some negative thing] around you, and it’s hard not to feel judged when someone notices that you are [some negative thing] and you haven’t fixed it yet, and you might not even WANT it to be fixed right now immediately.

  9. Ellie Di responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    My husband and I do this to each other. And it totally makes everything take longer to get through, especially with the nice addition of guilt trailing along after it.

    So…how do we get out of that spiral now that we’re married? What do we, as “good wives” in our own right, do?

  10. Meg responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    I and I think soooo many people can relate to this.

    I think almost all the men we live with think it’s their job to make us happy. Sometimes we just don’t want to be happy. But men like fixing things.

    And vice versa, now that I think about it.

    It’s so true about the guilt! I hate it.

    But I love this post. I love that you made me laugh while talking about depression and “failure”. The photos are darling. Good job.

  11. LIT responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    I don’t think I know a single “good wife” by your definition.

  12. B1 responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Here’s my two cents… “good wife” who in the hell determined a “good wife” was happy all of the time? Oh, I know, “Leave it to Beaver”. You are NOT June Cleaver, you’re real and you have real emotions. You’re not just a character in a tightly wrapped up little show that ends happily. Ok, now that, that is off of my chest.

    As you can see, we all have our funks. And as others have expressed, men do like to fix things.

    Best way to handle this, is sit down with Bear and tell him, “ya know, I get into these funks sometimes, or I will cry at a movie that touches me, or cry at stilly commercials, or cry at what’s going on in the world, but it doesn’t mean you have to fix it. Give me a hug and tell me you love me and that you’ll give me my space and be waiting for me when I get out of my funk.”

    If you do that, it tells him how to handle you when you get into your funk and gives him permission to not feel like a failure too because he cannot fix things for you. He loves you and you love him and because of this, you both want to fix any and every little thing that could be wrong, when there is really nothing wrong. Just a tad bit of emotional sorting that needs to take place.

  13. Ilana responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    My mood varies from day to day as well and although I don’t live with my boyfriend, if he notices that I’m not in a positive state of mind he tries to figure out why and what he can do to help. Obviously most of the time there is nothing he can do to help because it isn’t about him but he doesn’t ever believe that.

    I do live with a roommate though and when she is around she will inquire about my funk mood. When I lived alone I could mope around all day long and no one would be there to even question it but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Someone questioning your grumpiness can lead to you actually thinking and reasoning your mood rather than just feeling it. This can snap you out of it and give perspective to an otherwise consuming black hole of negativity.

  14. Meg responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    Maybe you should describe your mood as ennui or melancholia. I know I’ve found that the word “depressed” makes people think they have an effect on that state, even if they didn’t. If I just say I have ennui and tell them it means, they don’t have the same kind of reaction.

  15. Megs responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    I just found your blog through “Yes and Yes” and YOU KNOW MY LIFE! Well okay not exactly because I am no longer married but I STRONGLY identify with this post. I love it when people put things into words. Things I have been trying to find words for but haven’t yet.

  16. Jen responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    My husband and I are exactly like this. And we both have the guilt. The big, bad, black, pitiful guilt of bringing down the other person.

    But I think being a “good wife” is doing exactly what you’re doing. Being a “good wife” means being human and recognizing your emotions like an adult and not pretending like you’re a Stepford and then going crazy years down the road and running away with your yoga teacher. Being a “good wife” means accepting the ups and downs of marriage, sometimes gracefully and sometimes terribly. Because you’re husband married you – and not some terrible pod person.

    At least, these are the things I tell myself. :D

    And I’m thrilled that Sarah from Yes and Yes linked to your blog!

  17. Zoe responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    Wow I had never thought of it that way but its so true.

    And I as well got to your blog via Sarah.. My favorite link of hers so far I think! I love your writing! The first post I read was the ode to a grilled cheese and I loved everything about it!!!

  18. zoe (and the beatles) responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 4:40 pm #


    everyone experiences periods of funkatudes. it’s lame and really, sometimes the only proper response is “nothing”. usually when i am in a funk and feel like it might rub off on someone else, i steal away for a moment of “me time”. i go on a walk, i do some yoga, i write, i deep breathe. i do anything to attempt de-stressing. because i’m with you — bringing down the mood of others just because you happen to be in one hell of a mood sucks. AND it’s easier feeling your feelings when you’re alone. when my roommate came home after three months away, it was an interesting transition because suddenly, i had to be conscious of myself again.

    but you know, feeling doesn’t make you a bad wife. or a bad person. it just makes you human. as much as we like to think we’re above getting upset over small things, we’re really not. we all have off days! keep your head up!

    unroast: today i like that i am choosing to see the light at the end of the tunnel! and my ability to forgive. double whammy today!

  19. Zoe responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    Oh also I love the idea of having ennui! Thats how I will tell people I am sad from now on.

  20. oonaballoona responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    i agree on the whole identify button thing.

    ruggy & i will take turns being down, it seems, because we know what happens when we both get down. it’s BAD. no more of that, now one of us has to keep the other afloat. or, if we really both can’t handle it, we open more wine and watch more battlestar.

    i don’t know who dan from modern love is, but he should read your comments and see how much readers respond to your writing! also, he should never hate Jews.

  21. Katie responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    just want to chime in and say, i’m not sure what you’re implying about that article by the Mormon girl, but i’ve read it (and i’m Mormon) and i think it sounded like a bunch of tripe from someone who was dissatisfied with her life and unfortunately blamed it on her religion. just putting that out there, in case you think “brainwashing” is what made her unhappy. in other news, i’m terrible at hanging things up too. but it’s good to have big plans, yeah…?

  22. Ali responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Reading this post made me soooo grateful for my relationship and my honey.

    I used to resent that he never seemed to notice or care when I was upset/in a funk. But that wasn’t actually the case – it was just how I chose to interpret his reaction to my doldrums. He’s very good at giving a strong hug and giving me the space that I need to just breathe and let it pass on its own time, all the while making me feel completely and totally (albeit silently) supported.

    And now I can see that for what it really is.

    So thank you. And I hope that you and Bear can work out a system that makes you both feel loved and guilt-free.

  23. Rebekah responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    Personally, I LOVED the article about the ex-Mormon lady— there are many, many kinds of modern love, and maybe yours will be published soon. Cross those fingers!

  24. elk responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    Hello, erm, hi :)

    I’m not married (or even in relationship), but I can appreciate what you’re saying. I think we all have (and need, to some extent) those days where it seems like we’re caught up in the mute button and just want to lay on the carpet staring at the dust bunnies under the sofa (because really, who hoovers under there?!)

    This post also made me think of a scene in a film (or a book…) where a group of people are somehow bewitched, and all become hopeless and mopey and wailing….and I can’t remember what it was from and now it’s driving me insane. I probably imagined, too, which means I’m going to drive myself insane trying to rememeber something THAT NEVER WAS!!!

    Anyway, I’m growing quite fond of your blog, after discovering it recently. I think it was that post where you were talking about your arse, and this sudden shift in body shape. Thanks for that – it was one of thos sudden DING! LIGHTBULB moments. I’m 25, and for some reason my body is storing things in different ratios to what it used to. I’m kind of liking it though, especially after discovering it’s a common phenomenon ;)

  25. Just Josie responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    Though I don’t yet live with a man — erm, other than my father :P — I can totally identify with this post. Being bipolar, my mood shifts affect everyone around me; bum them out, and they all try to lift me out of it, which of course just puts me into a more vile mood, and makes me feel bad. Sometimes I wish I lived alone for that reason! Because I’m good at talking myself out of moods (even if it requires lying a little to myself), but then as soon as someone gives me a pitying glance or asks if I’m doing better, the mood is back.

    Un-roast: Today I officially decided that I have enough objective ugliness in my face (I have an enternally brooding sort of expression, helped largely by the nose) and whole body to be subjectively beautiful.

  26. Just Josie responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 6:36 pm #


  27. Amy responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    I loved this post–and I agree! Today was my day to be depressed and feel like a total loser at everything. But this too shall pass.

  28. JessB responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    Wow, this is exactly how I felt yesterday. Depressed for lots of different reasons.

    Then I found out that a friend had got the promotion she had gone for, and I was so happy for her. I wasn’t totally out of my funk, but I decided that I was going to let the negatives feelings be overwhelmed by the positive ones. It didn’t just happen, I made it happen; which made me feel even better!

    Really love this post, and so glad I came here from Yes and Yes. Have just subscribed to your blog, and will be wasting work time reading the archives, I think ;-)

  29. Mandy responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    Okay, I am going to put my Crone hat on for a moment, here.

    Loving someone does not make you responsible for their moods.

    You can care deeply about your partner’s feelings without taking them personally.

    My husband puts up with my pissy moods very well–he’s realized that most of the time, it has nothing to do with him when I’m moody, or get the blues. And the reverse is also true.
    It is impossible to be happy all of the time, so the occasional funk is inevitable. In my exerience, getting sucked into my partner’s bad mood doesn’t help. So, I stand back, find something else to do, and let him come to me when he’s worked it through.
    I’m reminded of something my husband said to me once: “It’s better to light a singe candle than to curse the darkness–but sometimes it’s more fun to curse the darkness!”

  30. Wei-Wei responded on 02 Mar 2011 at 9:16 pm #

    I think that it’s always been this way – you’re happy, or you don’t appear in public. But people judge, and now more than ever. So appearing in private is similar to appearing in public…? I don’t know. I feel a responsibility to appear happy to my family all the time. I don’t want to worry them.

  31. Leslie responded on 03 Mar 2011 at 8:27 am #

    On the wedding dress. Mine is in this dry-cleaner-created-hermetically-sealed-cardboard-chamber-with-a flip-top-lid, which we had the pleasure of paying $200 for (and that’s a 1990 $200). When the lid is, well… flipped, a window covered in blue cellophane allows for viewing of the dress. It looks eerily like a stuffed me (um… a stuffed me from 20 years ago).

    I was just thinking about my wedding dress a few days ago, because my girls were asking about it. It’s been spending it’s days in my basement, and I’m wondering if I should go check on it because mice have probably eaten their way into the unpenetrable CARDBOARD (what was I thinking????). I’m afraid to look.

    So… I’m thinking that the back of your closet door is probably a safer spot.

  32. San D responded on 03 Mar 2011 at 9:10 am #

    It’s impossible to realize how wonderful living and life is, without a pity party once in awhile to give perspective.

  33. camelshoes responded on 03 Mar 2011 at 10:59 am #

    Huh..I get this every so often too. I get frustrated with the expectation that people should be happy all the time. I went to a professional leadership thingy and one of the speakers there told us that we should just “choose happy” and then we would be happy and enjoy our life. I wanted to say that it was ok to be sad every now and then, and not to suppress those feelings if you felt them but I wasn’t brave enough..

    I suffer from depression on and off, and a good piece of advice I read in a self-help book (one that actually really helped) said that if you start to feel a bit down, to actually allow yourself to feel that way for a set period of time (a couple of hours, a day or so) and if you liked to write all the negative, anxious, worrying thoughts down. I felt that this was great because I got to acknowledge that I felt crap and I was “allowed” wear my pjs and mooch about for a while without feeling like I “should” be feeling any particular way or doing any particular thing. And then after that set period (which is on when you first notice you feel down) if you still want to hide in bed, then you take yourself for a walk, even if it’s the last thing you feel like and you don’t enjoy it at the time, because exercise will help!

  34. camelshoes responded on 03 Mar 2011 at 11:00 am #

    Edit: …(which is *decided* on when you first notice you feel down)…

  35. Kate responded on 03 Mar 2011 at 11:43 am #

    Good advice. I think something simple like going for a walk is always a good idea. It puts you in a different environment, exposes you to a little more of the world, and can give you a slightly different perspective. It’s funny how important those things are.

  36. Johanna responded on 03 Mar 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Loved this post. I often feel the same way around the people I date–it’s hard to remember that to be attractive/a good girlfriend/a good wife/a good friend doesn’t mean that you must constantly pretend to be in THE BEST MOOD OF ALL TIME.

    Also, my clothes never make it to my closet. They end up in a pile directly outside of it, and I like to pretend it makes me look bohemian and carefree.

  37. Kate responded on 03 Mar 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Exactly. Very bohemian and very carefree.

    It’s a losing battle otherwise.

  38. Natalie responded on 03 Mar 2011 at 12:24 pm #


    the timing of this post was perfect. I’VE BEEN NEEDING A DAY LIKE THAT.

    it’s kind of bizarre. the guy i’m seeing said he’d cook me dinner tonight and i told him that it was a really sweet offer but that i haven’t had much alone time lately and i needed to spend the night in my bathrobe feeling like a failure and having a pity party. i also mentioned i needed a good cry. surprisingly, he got it.

    i don’t know if it’s a “woman thing” or the fact i come from a family where no one has the right levels of serotonin or cortisol, but it’s necessary for my mental health to spend time alone feeling really sad for what appears to be no good reason.

  39. Lauren responded on 04 Mar 2011 at 12:03 am #

    Reply that really doesn’t have that much to do with your post:

    Is that a hamsa on your wall…? I love it. : )

  40. Kate responded on 04 Mar 2011 at 8:34 am #

    It is! And it has a little house blessing in Hebrew inside it.

  41. Suzanne responded on 05 Mar 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    Perhaps instead of thinking you failed at all those things (cleaning, picture hanging, putting clean clothes in drawers) you could think that you were succeeding in the art of LIVING. just a thought. :)

  42. Adrienne responded on 06 Mar 2011 at 12:53 am #

    I know exactly what you mean! At the slightest hint of depression on my part, my husband generally goes into full-on “caring clown” mode. First, he asks me what’s wrong and how he can fix it about a million times; then, he does everything in his power to crack the perfect joke/relay the perfect light-as-air anecdote in the hopes of magically fixing my inexplicable foul mood.

    All his effort makes me feel worse, and I usually have to tell him, “I just need to be miserable, ok?”

  43. Isaac James Baker responded on 11 Mar 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    great post! i’ve been dealing with clinical depression and anxiety for years and i’m luckily with a girl who understands that sometimes i just feel like crap. while she is good at cheering me up, sometimes you just need time to get over things on your own. when she’s really having a hard time, i’ve also realized that i don’t always have to figure out exactly what’s wrong and fix it. when my girl is depressed, i’m always there to listen, cook dinner, whatever, but i’m not there to nag. one “are you doing ok? is there anything i can do?” is enough.

    we’re so busy all the time these days that i think sometimes my depression stems from the fact that i haven’t had enough time alone just to think. so if i’m uspet and nagged by people all the time about what’s wrong, it inevitably makes it worse. there’s peace within a shuttered room.

    oh, and don’t feel bad about getting stuff rejected by Modern Love. i’m a writer and i’ve been submitting for years. they keep their policy about who they print and how they select pieces confidential. my guess is it’s like getting a fiction piece in the new yorker. it’s an incestuous cabal. only the primed and chosen are allowed in.

  44. meerkat responded on 23 Apr 2011 at 6:37 am #

    I am completely single and I already feel guilty over ruining everyone’s day with my depression! So is it okay if I get married? Not that that would happen, as I am assured that everyone hates depressed people, and hatred does not generally produce marriage except in rom-coms where it still has to transform into non-hatred feelings first.

  45. Eat the Damn Cake » the thing that marriage doesn’t do responded on 24 Jan 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    [...] I feel sorry for Bear because I want to be happy for him. I feel like that was part of the arrangement. We were going to make each other happy ALL THE TIME. That was going to be marriage. When I’m unhappy, it makes him unhappy, and sometimes this feels like pressure to be happy. [...]