Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover


Break time

Yesterday was my 5 year blogiversary. You know how I celebrated? By not writing a post, not commenting on a blog, by not doing a single damn thing. 

I know. But I’m really okay with it. 

You know what else I’m okay with? Deciding I need to take some time off. My depression is ruining, and ruling, my life right now and the more I try to fight it, the worse it gets. So, for now, I need to just own it and deal with it how I know best. And that is to stop, avoid, and regroup. 

Blogging, and reading blogs, is too overwhelming for me right now (we won’t even discuss how hard managing daily life is and how it’s taken me a week to make 2 appointments because I just can’t or the fact that sleeping is something I can’t do or the chronic stomach issues from all the anxiety). I’m struggling with reading about another amazing weekend or workout or whatever and since I have nothing positive or constructive or even halfway witty to say, it’s best that I just don’t say anything or read anything that’s not a book. 

I’m also tired of my tired blog. I still love writing, and have a compulsion to write, but my blog is stale. It needs a new look and a fresh direction and the best way to figure all that out is simply to step away so I can look at it objectively.

So that’s what I’m doing. For the next month, posting around these parts will be sporadic. I’ll be checking in with Show Us Your Books (of course) and my monthly playlist with Erin and maybe another list or two but that’s it. I’ll still be around weekly on The Armchair Librarians and Instagram (and Twitter sometimes) but the blog needs a break. I need a break. 

I’m not typically one for dramatic announcements like this but I’ve been pretty vocal about my depression struggles and I didn’t want anyone to worry. 

So that’s it. Thanks for sticking with me and I’ll see you soon.

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Interview with a depressive

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Although I don’t need a special month to talk about my struggles with depression and anxiety, I’d be remiss if I let it go by without doing something. Since it’s easiest for me to explain things in a Q&A format (see my whole interview with a bookworm series), I decided to once again interview myself.


Hi, Jana! Thanks for being here and agreeing to do this! 

Not a problem. Happy to be here. 

Let’s kick this off with a simple question. What’s depression? 

Not exactly a simple question but okay. Clinically, and I’m paraphrasing because I am NOT a doctor, depression is defined as chemical deficiency in the brain, primarily of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, that leads to chronic sadness and loss of interest. In layterms, depression is a lying asshole that makes you give zero fucks about anything and everything. And you give zero fucks not in a good way. It makes you just not care about a damn thing. 

That sounds terrible. 

It really is. 

When did you first realize you had depression?

If I’m being honest, it’s probably something I’ve battled long before I had an official diagnosis. But the first time I sought medical help and got a diagnosis was in 2004. I had just turned 27 and my husband and I were in NYC for my birthday. We went to see Moving Out on Broadway and were having dinner at a restaurant I can’t remember and while I should have been ecstatic, I just didn’t care about any of it. My affect was completely flat. My husband wanted to know what was wrong and I had no answer. I just knew I was sad and had no motivation to care about being sad or anything else. 

I battled that on and off for about 10 years. Then, in 2012, after a series of events and a panic attack at work, I once again got help and a diagnosis that made more sense than the one in 2004. That’s what I’ve been living with since.  

But couldn’t you just say that maybe you were in a rut? 

Maybe. But a rut is short term and it’s usually attributed to feeling stuck or that your life is repetitive and those circumstances bring you down. And you feel like you can do something about it. With depression, it’s chronic and long term and it’s not so much a matter of feeling stuck. It’s a matter of feeling sad or for a lot of us, just not giving a damn. With depression, there’s also the feeling that nothing will ever improve, you deserve all the shit you’re being dealt, you’re an imposter, you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop (to use a cliche). With a rut, you can look at your situation more objectively and make changes. With depression, you’re flooded with all kinds of false beliefs that, while false, feel completely true and trying to make changes is futile.

The worst part of depression is wanting to feel better and not being able to. When you’re in a rut, it’s easy to do something to feel better. With depression, it feels impossible. 

Can’t you just choose to be happy?

NO. And all that pop psychology stuff that tells you you can cure your depression but just making one small change to your thinking or having a positive thought or that if you’re not choosing to be happy then your depression or sadness or whatever is your fault does more damage to a depressive than anything else. You would never tell someone with a medical illness they can’t cure to just choose to feel better. So why would you do it to someone with a mental illness? To be honest, it’s kind of a dick thing to do, telling someone with an illness they can’t control that it’s their fault. 

No one with depression chooses it. Why would we choose something that makes us feel the way depression does? 

So if you can’t fix it by choosing to be happy, how do you manage your depression? 

First, if you need medication to help manage it, then take medication. There’s no shame in it and again, you’d never tell someone with a medical illness not to take the meds they need. Depression is an illness. Take the meds. I did. For quite a while. Same with therapy. If you need to go, then go. I did. I hated my therapist so I didn’t find that it did much for me but don’t let that sway you. There are plenty of qualified, good, helpful therapists around. 

For me, now that I don’t go to therapy or take meds, I manage it the best I can with exercise and knowing my triggers. I also take Vitamin D, which apparently has a direct link to depression. I found out last year I have a severe Vitamin D deficiency and even if it doesn’t help the depression, it helps other things. Which is nice. 

Do you still have episodes?

You bet your ass I do. I still have down cycles where I can barely bring myself to get dressed or take a shower and it takes all the strength I have to get out of bed in the morning. During those times it’s hard to focus on work or writing or even caring about anything I usually enjoy. And forget taking care of my house. I mean, we never get to the point of living in a garbage pit but it definitely doesn’t look like it should. My self-esteem, which is already pretty low, takes an even bigger hit, and that makes it even more difficult to accomplish anything. Which leads to me thinking I’ll never be successful at anything and then the depression gets worse and it’s a terrible, never ending cycle. 

But I know when I’m spiraling down and while I can’t necessarily stop it from happening, I can tell the people who need to know that it’s coming on and we figure out how to manage it. It’s how I can appear as a “high functioning” depressive. 

How can someone without depression support someone who has it? 

First and foremost, take some time to learn about the disease, both from a medical standpoint and from the depressive’s standpoint. Depression doesn’t look the same for everyone (despite what those medication commercials have you believe. We don’t all sit on the couch for hours on end, looking completely unkempt in oversized clothes, crying uncontrollably or staring into space) and trying to understand what it looks like on the person you care about makes you better able to know when it’s happening. 

Second, don’t get angry at the person. We know this a frustrating disease, in part because we can’t always explain what’s wrong (sometimes it’s not even anything. It’s just unexplained sadness) and in part because we don’t know how to ask or tell you to help us. We wish we could. 

And third, don’t dismiss it. If someone you love thinks they’re depressed, encourage them to get help. Take it seriously. Don’t tell them things like “oh, it’ll pass. You’re just in a bad mood” or something similar. Instead, tell them that you’re there for them when they need you and that you love them and offer to do things like drive them to an appointment.

You can also visit this list for more ideas for helping someone with depression: http://psychcentral.com/lib/10-ways-to-help-someone-whos-depressed/

One last question. Why is important to talk about mental illness like depression?

Well, for me, it’s important to talk about it for a few reasons. One, to let those who are suffering know they’re not alone. No one needs to deal with this in isolation and sometimes just hearing or reading about someone else going through it is enough to keep you going another day. Two, to break the stigma. Mental illness is completely misunderstood and stigmatized. I want people to know that having depression isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s part of who you are; it’s not the entirety of who you are. And three, to disseminate information. By talking about it, I’m educating those who don’t understand it. Fostering an understanding through information is essential in destigmatizing the disease. 

Which is why I don’t mind when celebrities talk about their battles. While it might not look like what I go through, when they share their experiences, they do what I’m trying to do but on a much bigger platform.

Thanks so much for joining me today!

You’re welcome! And if you want more information on Mental Health Awareness Month or some resources, visit their website: https://www.nami.org/mentalhealthmonth

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Friday Six Pack #1

First Friday six pack, a collection of six highlights from the past week. I decided not to have set categories but rather rotate based on the week’s happenings because, as we all know, not every week is the same. 

This isn’t an official linkup but if you’d like to join in sometime, have at it! 

In the immortal words of Tone Loc, let’s do it.

  1. Reading stuff–Finished Liar and We’ve Already Gone This Far. Reading Deep South. Using a new app, Litsy, to track my thoughts in an effort to be more proactive for Show Us Your Books (next one is May 10). We’ll see how it goes.
  2. Money stuff–bought a new Urban Decay lip stick. 50% off and then a $3 rewards coupon for a grand total of $8 rather than $22. Fun fact: the color is called Rush which, incidentally, is also my favorite band.
  3. Food stuff–created a 3 month menu plan. Not sure how steadfast we’ll be sticking to it but it’s worth a try.
  4. Ranty stuff–Tuesday brought the primaries to Delaware. As a registered independent, I am not allowed to vote in primaries. This pisses me off immensely. Why? Why can I not have a say? Because I have opinions and should be allowed to have a say this early in the game. It’s my country, too. Maybe if Independents were afforded a vote, we wouldn’t be staring a Trump nomination in the face. 
  5. My friends do cool shit–this week was National Infertility Awareness Week and my friend Justine has an incredible project going on over at her blog. I shared my story there last week and please go check out the others and if you share, please do using #morethan1in8 It’s a terrible segway but my friend Abby who is a fellow infertility and depression survivor/warrior, wrote a book, Frugality for Depressives. It’s on sale as an eBook only right now but if you know someone who could benefit, please share her book with them.
  6. Funny stuff–

That’s all. If you need me this weekend, I’ll be off at the Pearl Jam concert and then unsure because IT IS A KID FREE WEEKEND!!! 

Hope your weekend is enjoyable, too. See you on Tuesday (and don’t forget that the weekend is a fabulous time to catch up on The Armchair Librarians. This week, we had a spoiler free discussion about Please Don’t Come Back From the Moon by Dean Bakopoulos. Long time readers, you knew it was inevitable)!

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How am I turning into my mother? Let me count the ways.

Today’s my mom’s birthday. I don’t talk too much about my parents or siblings for various reasons but today I have a good one for breaking that general rule since today we’re going to discuss all the ways I’m actually turning into my mother. 

 To be clear, there are worse people I could turn into. My mom is a pretty great person so there’s nothing I’m necessarily ashamed of when I open my mouth and my mother comes out. It’s just fucking weird.

Let’s assess.

  • I burst into song in the middle of conversations. If I don’t do it out loud, you can bet there’s a concert going on in my head. My mom does this except  100% of the time she will sing, even if you’re still talking.
  • My mother will strike up conversations with anyone, anywhere. I do this, too.
  • You know those people who cropdust in stores? My mother is one of them. Also me now.
  • Getting teary eyed at the smallest, most mundane things. Mostly my heart and soul are black but if the right commercial or song or TV character death comes along, add instant tears.
  • When it comes to meal planning, I cook a shit ton of chicken. My mother made so much chicken when I was growing up, it prompted my father to tell her he was going to sprout feathers. I think the husband is one chicken parm away from this same comment.
  • Pregnancy brain. We’re both severely afflicted. Even if we’re not currently pregnant and, in my mom’s case, her youngest is 28.
  • A high level of yenta-ness. My mother loves town gossip and sticking her nose into other people’s business even from afar. I consider this my Jedi training and why I am amazing at clandestine viewing of the neighbors.
  • We’re both huge bookworms. I have nothing snarky to say about this because books.
  • Math. She can’t do it and neither can I. Especially when it comes to a checkbook. Why yes, 8 minus 6 does equal 3. It’s the new math.
  • I spend approximately 8 million hours complaining that laundry is my life. Guess where I learned that?  
  • And then there’s also this concern   

Happy birthday, Mom!! I’m so glad you weren’t born on a leap year because that would be confusing!

Are you guys turning into one of your parents? Is it just me?

Fall projects: The plan

Now that it’s fall and I’ll be spending even more time indoors, I thought it’d be a good chance to finally work on some projects I’ve been meaning to tackle but get too lazy or distracted during the summer to actually do. Let’s face it, though. Being indoors more than not isn’t exactly the best motivation for someone who just spent 10 hours binge watching How to Get Away with Murder to accomplish anything. Which is why all the projects I picked can be done while doing something else, including watching TV because as I’ve said before, I don’t think TV is that bad of a thing and you can totally be productive while you’re watching it. 

All the projects can also be completed for less than $25 because I am a lady on a budget who also has a child with a December birthday and has outgrown all of her clothes (the child, not me) so there goes my money. That said, here’s what I’m working on over the next few months:

  1. Organizing my Pocket links. They’re out of hand. I need to be able to find what I want quickly and efficiently.
  2. Uploading, organizing, and printing pictures from my phone. The frames need a refresher and I am also terribly paranoid that I’ll lose all my photos. 
  3. Creating a TBR jar. I read this post from Heather over the summer and I loved the idea and my TBR is crazy and I always wind up pulling from the front and this would be a good way to mix it up. 
  4. Painting a wooden “L” for our living room. It goes along with the photo wall and makes it more personal. Oh, right. Our last name starts with an L. That’s why I chose that letter. Not because I have a special affinity for it. 
  5. Cleaning out my desk and desk drawers. If I’m feeling ambitious (LOLOLOLOL for days), I’ll tackle our office closet.
  6. Framing some quotes about reading for my office and my one day it will happen reading nook. I found a few free printables and combined with some cheapy frames, it’ll make for some nice art work. See also: pictures for my daughter’s playroom and my laundry room.
  7. Making washi tape pencils. I’m channeling my inner Kathy here. But we have approximately 2340723 pencils that are boring yellow. I figure I can make them a little prettier. 
  8. Preparing for NaNoWriMo. You know that book I’ve been working on? Well, it still needs lots of work so I’m going to do that during November. 
  9. Buying or making a wall mounted coat rack for our front hallway. I will probably wind up buying this one because I can’t find a DIY one in the right size, which is why the other projects need to stay inexpensive. 
  10. I can’t really talk about this one yet but when it’s all done, I promise I’ll tell you everything. But it’s a big one. 

That’s my grand plan. I’m not big on seasonal goals like Steph and Nadine and some others and I don’t have a fall bucket list like Julia but I figure it couldn’t hurt to have some sort of road map for the upcoming months. Plus, it’ll give me something to do and if the child ever says she’s bored, I can ask her if she wants to help me with one of these. 

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