My recent work as an advertising and marketing consultant led me to do some pretty cool stuff in local magazines. I wrote articles about restaurants for a dining guide, a listicle about the benefits of using a pellet stove, and a very fun piece about preparing houseplants for winter.
After doing a difficult sales job for a few months, I soon realized that my skills are better utilized in similarly creative ways. So now I am moving forward on my own and working independently — creating content that is strong, expressive, and market-driven.
Check out examples of my work, and reach out to me directly with questions and ideas!
Caring for houseplants while clouded by depression
Houseplants bring life to the home. It’s a basic fact. As long as they receive proper care, they continue to live and breathe. And they do so despite whatever human nonsense happens around them.
I developed a keen awareness of this fact when I was mired in a fog of depression. Because although I was a miserable, hopeless mess of a human, my house plants were resilient.
Each winter, I endured months of seasonal unemployment and depression. I was broke and barely taking care of myself. I was listless and lost, not feeling comfortable in my own home. I had largely given up on myself and struggled even to self-advocate. I became desperate to at least feel useful.
One of the ways I challenged these feelings was with simple lists. With the encouragement of my therapist, I started my days by listing the things I wanted to accomplish. To start, I kept it VERY simple:
- Brush teeth
- Cook lunch
- Eat lunch
- Wash pan, plate, fork
- Put dishes away
It may seem trivial, but I really did need this encouragement. (If you’re depressed, try it. It helped a bit.)
And when I did something that wasn’t on the list (like, say, respond to an email, or open a bill that came by post), I’d not only write it down — I would then cross it off.
Every piece counted. Every bit that indicated I had done something served as proof that I was not useless and that I was actively working to help myself get better.
And sometimes, that really was enough for the day.
Keeping plants in the house proved a little more challenging. Not only did I need to water them, but I needed to do so regularly and at the right intervals.
Over time — slowly — I garnered a beautiful collection of diverse species.
Each time I purchased a green-little-something on impulse, I was unwittingly investing in self-care. Adopting all those little houseplants from the grocery store grew into a small enterprise — a cottage industry of personal wellness on a minute, almost imperceptible scale.
I didn’t mean to, but I ended up tasking myself with nurturing a band of plants that required varying forms of attention. I had to become their advocate. Even on the cloudy days of depression.
And so my To-Do lists became peppered with ways of caring for my house plants: water, trim, reposition, repot…
As they grew, I felt things I had been missing out on — like a sense of accomplishment, respect, and wonder. These feelings are rare treasures for any depressive. Gradually, my plants began to brighten my days.
It happened to fall on the Wednesday of each week that most of my plants needed my attention. And so, from those meager little To-Do lists sprouted the highlight of my weeks: #WaterWednesday.
It may not have cured my depression or gotten me out of bed every morning with a smile and go-get-em attitude, but those nuggets of positivity made some days a little better, a little easier to endure.
Even in the thick clouds of depression, my plants reminded me to seek light. They gave me some sense of direction and purpose when I was otherwise feeling in the dark. By caring for them, I accomplished something greater than crossing something off my little list.
I nurtured life.
Now, I can carry with me the certainty that it was because of my care they were able to thrive. Because even though they lived in the same environment in which I was floundering, my plants persisted.
I still feel immense gratitude and pride.
In retrospect, my home was brighter because of them. I can see now that although not on a conscious level, their survival and growth signaled to me — every cloudy day — that with my attention and care, it is possible to flourish.
Self-Care Started by Recognizing the Ways I Was Failing
We can find it everywhere: social media memes, bookstores, podcasts, Netflix — even if you’re not having the conversations, self-improvement talk is hard to avoid. And I’ve been rolling my eyes at it all since I was a child.
So what’s changed? Why am I suddenly taking conscious steps in improving nearly every facet of my life?
Well, when I turned 30 I also decided to get sober. These two enormous milestones made jumping on the self-betterment wagon a real no-brainer.
Since turning 30 was largely out of my control, my efforts fell into the Get Sober project. It took serious effort, a lot of outside help from many loved ones and professionals, and cost me more than I can know. But one thing kept me focused and determined.
However, the prospect of a wholly better life was not exactly the motivating factor.
See, I’ve been living with major depressive disorder since my late teens and it had taken a very dark turn at the end of my 20s. Not only had my drinking become a dangerous habit, but I had just about lost the ability to think my life could get any better. And it’s not because I was so happy — I was miserable and felt stuck in it. Going to sleep meant having to wake up and endure another day. It was no way to live.
The gist of what got me up and out of it is that a good friend promised me that I could get sober and I could get better. I still don’t fully understand why that got through to me, but it did. She promised me that I was worth saving and that I actually could do it. And I believed her.
As a habitual worse-case-scenario thinker, I reasoned that at the very least the change would be enough — that even if getting sober didn’t make me happy, I’d at least have extra money and worry a bit less about bills.
And I was right. It didn’t make me happier.
Instead, I became braver.
I began to see — to really see, understand, and appreciate the gravity of how I was hurting myself. I learned that I was not simply poisoning my body with alcohol. I was neglecting every part of myself.
As I got the hang of sobriety, I realized I accomplished something I didn’t think I could do.
Now, I’m learning to nurture myself — because if I wasn’t even trying before, what kind of person will I be if I actually put care and love into myself? I really don’t know the answer, but I do know one important thing about myself now: I have potential.
What I Write About In Here
My experiences in detox, rehab, and various aftercare programs were published in a six-part series of personal essays called “Buzzkill.” These were originally published by The Blunt Post and also make appearances on my Medium account.
Now that I’ve got substantial sober time and the mental/emotional fortitude to do so, I often look back and wonder how and why it happened to me. How did I become so depressed? How did my drinking become such a dangerous coping strategy? How did I give up on myself?
I don’t have answers yet, but I’m working to understand and articulate them.
My best effort so far is with the story “Barkeep,” which is a self-portrait of me shortly before and during active addiction. My former partner is an important part of this story because of how he related (or couldn’t) to my experience with major depressive disorder. I’ve come to understand him functioning as a mirror of my insecurities and low self-esteem — a living trope for my internal struggles.
Efforts to better understand my spiral have been, and will continue to be, coupled with real development in my personal and professional life. Since the changes I made at this pivotal moment in my life were sweeping — I left that town and the friends and jobs I had there, I’m living mostly in new territory.
I’ll keep track of my growth here, too.
So look out for new posts — I might just have a breakthrough.