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Open the Toolbox

I’m prone to depression. Are you?

I think a lot of people are, especially creative people.

Last week, I had major-panic-meltdown-oh-my-god-I-am-an-epic-failure moment. Many, many moments. All week long. ALL. WEEK.

Thankfully, I have a great support network and my friends and medical professionals are pretty handy at talking me down.

Essentially, the moral of the story here is…get over yourself and out of your own way, Karma.

So after a good 24-hours of pity party pouting, I slowly crawled my way out of my depression cave and am happily back in the world.

I am probably the most stubborn person I know, especially when it comes to my health. After decades of struggling with the beast known as THE SHOULD MONSTER, this last weekend I had to truly admit to myself I actually know how to defeat THE SHOULD MONSTER. I just need to actually remember to pack my toolbox.

So maybe I should back up. I think we all have a “SHOULD MONSTER. For me, it’s this ugly snarling being with long, yellow teeth and green eyes. It’s half wolf and half dragon and the sort of thing you avoid and from which you hide in your cave and cower. It has the sort of voice that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It whispers in your ear. It says things like, “You should workout more. You’d look better.” Or “You should wear more modest clothing. You’re not thin enough for what you have on.” Or “You should cook at home. You don’t need to eat out tonight.” And my personal favorite, “You should give up. You’re not smart enough or good enough to meet this goal.”

Every Should Monster has the ability to make you feel hollow and empty and worthless…if you let it.

Last week, my panic was triggered by a couple of things. I was feeling bad about my body and felt like I should have lost weight over the summer. Also, my son was struggling bit in school, so, obviously, I should be a better mother. The Should Monster was not just whispering, it was screaming in my ear. I fell apart. I grabbed a large bag of chips and went to my depression cave.

My depression cave is a nice place for me to visit when I need a break from reality. Staying there is dangerous. Very dangerous. Last week, I stayed a bit too long.

Thankfully, I knew I had overstayed in the depression cave and made my way to the doctor’s office. My health care provider is a lovely PA named Stephanie. She reminded me that I carry a fully stocked tool box and knew what I needed to do. Essentially, she said, “Stop having a pity party and open up your toolbox.”

Initially, this pissed me off. When I’m living in my depression cave truth is rather irritating. When I’m there I think I need to stay so I don’t want to hear that I can just, you know, leave….


I have all sorts of things in my toolbox. The toolbox is partly real and partly exists in my heart. From the heart compartment, I remembered I know I have to do a couple of things daily to keep from moving into the depression cave and crawling in bed with the Should Monster.

First, I have to exercise. Nothing unreasonable. Thirty minutes or so each day is fine. Preferably outside. If I go for more than 4 days without some sort of physical activity I will move into the cave. Second, I have to create something. Every day. Sometimes, it’s as simple as coloring a page in one of my cool coloring books. Maybe I need to write. Sew. Sometimes cooking is enough, but not always. Playing in the dirt works. Spending six hours on Pinterest looking at other people’s creations, does not work.

In my real world toolbox, I have a phone. I called my best friend, Nancy. She reminded me that I tend to hyper-focus on the goal instead of the process. I need to do things that make ME happy and not do things that feed the Should Monster. For example, she reminded me that my son is one of those kids who will create something in the garage that will make the world a better place. He’s like an Einstein or a Bill Gates. He might not do great in the classroom, but that’s because his head is somewhere else doing something magical. Instead of worrying what his grades “should” look like, I need to remember he’s an awesome kid. Spending time with him makes me happy. Worrying about his grades, does not make me happy and it doesn’t help him at all.

The other thing I have in my toolbox is my crown. Actually I have two crowns. I am the Queen of my universe, AKA KarmaLot. One crown is my dressy, going-out-to-dinner crown. The other is my “magical thinking cap”. (Ok – just to be clear, it’s my magical as in: fun, festive, creative. Not “magical thinking” as in “I can eat 4 gallons of ice cream and feel great.)I can just wear it around the house. It makes me happy.

When I wear my crown it’s a physical expression of my divine spirit. It reminds me I’m loved and I’m not alone. It reminds me I’m stronger than The Should Monster. In fact, when I wear my crown the Should Monster disappears.

This week, I’m challenging you to make yourself a crown. It should be personal to you. Maybe you have a baseball hat that you love. That can be your crown. Maybe you want to make one out of beads and pearls. That’s cool too as long as it’s just for you. This isn’t a competition. There is no judgment. Find a crown that makes YOU happy. Wear it. Wear it when you need it. Wear it when you don’t. Just know that you’re divine because you exist. You’re important. You’re Royalty. And you’re going to be alright.

Be sure to send me pictures of your crowns if you’d like! I’ll even post them here or on Facebook if you’d like! You can see my crowns in this video: Queen of Karmalot on Facebook

Here’s the Song of the Week

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