Monday / March 19 / 2012
How to grow a stout heart and cast-iron stomach
Is it just me or is the latest movie trend to have at least one person throw-up in every movie? I blame the puppet vomit scene in the 2004 Trey Parker, Matt Stone movie, Team America: World Police (a scene my boys thought would be amusing to make me repeatedly watch). If memory serves, that was the moment I started exhausting the phrase, “I have to live with boys!”
In the early 1990s, a group of scientists asked heart attack patients, “What breaks your heart?” The answers of what saddened the patients (for example, divorce or the death of a loved one) paralleled the physical wounding of their hearts. It turns out a broken heart can break your heart, literally.
Known as Broken Heart Syndrome, the risk of having a heart attack is 21 times higher the day a loved one dies. I’m not going to pretend I understand all the psychosomatic risk factors at play, but I assure you I’ve spent time considering, “What breaks my heart?”
Topping the list these past several weeks has been a simple yet tormenting one-word answer, depression. This destructive bully has been meddling in my life recently, declaring itself, “Victor” even as I beat back its repugnant arrogance with my increasingly worn stick.
One of the most depressing things about depression is how close you come to believing you finally have it mastered only to find yourself back in grade school with a mere handful of CliffsNotes.
Using the lessons learned in my first few rounds with this bully — and now being duly grateful for the handful of CliffsNotes — I deliberately let my family in on my latest challenge, being purposeful to share it’s not them or anything they’ve done or said. Such a simple step. Such dividends being paid because I took it.
Earlier today as I realized I was seriously considering buying stock in Tums, I found myself once again pondering the researchers’ question — this time with a twist.
“What makes you sick?,” I quizzed myself. Depression once again topped the list.
Good start, I encouraged myself. But what else? What makes you nauseous, queasy, woozy, sick to your stomach? What makes you want to hug the porcelain god (emotionally speaking, that is)?
A list began to form as I considered everything from child abuse to tortured pets to small-town thinking when big ideas are needed. I named things. Out loud. And suddenly, it was easier to swallow. Easier to breathe. Like I still held the reigns.
I could see rays of sunshine come out to kiss and nourish my budding stout heart and cast-iron stomach. By no means fully grown — but growing. That’s what matters.
I don’t imagine I’ll be giving up Tums any time in the next few days, but I am committed to continue to fight the bully. I am committed to continue the dialogue of depression through my blog. I am committed to be a voice for the many of us, who are sickened by this tyrant.
…Oh, and I’m calling it “Vermin” instead of “Victor”.