I’m Depressed

by francine Hardaway on September 3, 2013

I’m depressed. You heard me. I’m depressed and I want to share it. I’m lucky I have the ability to write.


What? You say you would never have guessed? I seem like such an optimistic upbeat person? I am. The two are not mutually exclusive, and they don’t occur in my brain/body/mind at the same time. Rather, they seem to alternate. Everything seems fine for a while, and then something happens.


I’ve been this way all my life. When I was younger, my depression often masqueraded as anger (I was a bitch as a CEO) or anxiety (I had my first panic attack at age 18 in a college classroom.   When I felt like I couldn’t breathe and my heart started to pound, I raced out of the room thinking I was going to die and went to the school clinic.


In graduate school, after my father died, I knew I couldn’t get through my grief without therapy. You see, I realized the recurring nightmare of my youth, that my father would die, had actually come to pass. You can imagine how weirded out I was by that! While I never had that nightmare again, his passing didn’t resolve my anxiety.


In business, anxiety drove me to succeed.People found me intimidating because I was so harsh. Well into my fifties, I still thought there was a chance I’d starve. At that time, I had already been in business for almost two decades, and had almost singlehandedly sent two kids to expensive colleges without loans or savings: I did it out of sheer cash flow.


You can see my anxiety wasn’t very realistic.


By the time  Intel acquired us and I became a corporate shill for a year, my doctor husband had put me on anti-depressants. It’s a good thing, because he died during the year I was at Intel.


This time, I realized my depression was grief. It was situational. It was permissible. That didn’t make it feel any better than the anxiety did.


Shortly after his death, I began studying yoga, where I discovered that the source of most of my issues was attachment to outcomes: the idea that things should be permanent in a changing world. I also learned that my anger was really depression, and my anxiety was also part of my depression. For the past fifteen years, I’ve been trying to deal with the fact that all things die, including me.


In 2008, some of my financial security died. In 2009 I took a trip to India, where an Ayurvedic doctor reminded me that I had lost nothing but expectations. I was still far from starving.


In 2010, my golden retriever, age 8, suddenly dropped dead after barking at the mailman. I got another dog, the redoubtable Sammy. In 2012, my long-time best friend died unexpectedly and perhaps unnecessarily. I’ve made new friends.


I’m learning the lesson of impermanence over and over again.


Over the summer, a wonderful, cheerful friend of mine was admitted to the hospital. He’s still not out. I couldn’t even visit him until this weekend. I had already started mourning.When I finally was allowed to go to his room, I was stunned by how weak he looked.  I left thinking there was little chance he would ever leave the hospital.


But yesterday, I went back and there he was, sitting up in bed, cracking jokes, wearing his glasses and asking me about my trip to Vietnam. Once again, the world has tried to teach me not to attach myself to expectations and outcomes.


Here’s the deal. Like everyone else, I’m going to die. All the stuff I wrote about above? At bottom, it’s really about me. And, as Ram Dass reminds all of us, “Be Here Now.” I’m still here.








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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

bruce taub September 3, 2013 at 11:19 am

francine – parts of your narrative i could have written myself – word for word. appreciate the candor. will be in s.f mid-oct to mid nov. rendezvous?

meryl September 3, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Courageous post. It is difficult to deal with death and the destruction of what we thought was solid and real. Love and fear don’t live well together. This is a good the reason I find exploration of the spiritual so compelling. The realized souls I admire most manage to get be present with the pain of hard times and drop them quickly for a good laugh. As Ram Dass well knows, it’s a path worth exploring. All the best.

Francine September 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Bruce, for sure. LMK when you will be there and I will get there. And thanks for telling me about YOU.

Emily September 3, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Thank you for sharing this, Francine. I loved what you said about being “attached to outcomes.” As someone who’s dealt with anxiety her whole life, I can very much relate to this – it’s difficult to adapt to the constant changes life brings our way. Hugs to you!

Hamid September 3, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Hi Francine. Just wanted to say hi and that there are a ton of people out there who think you have raised the outcome of a whole lot of things you have touched. Thanks for sharing your post.

Your friend,


Josh Liu September 3, 2013 at 5:39 pm


Glad that yoga (life) has taught you the lesson to detach from the outcomes, and thanks for sharing that lessons so that others like me can learn from it. :)


dan pochoda September 3, 2013 at 6:15 pm

a re-occuring but not defining condition, & suspicious of any
claiming freedom from… seeya & friends Sat., Dan

Amadou M. Sall September 4, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Awesome post, Francine. I love it, maybe because so much of it so deeply resonates with me :-)

Francine September 4, 2013 at 1:46 pm

It turns out it resonated with almost everyone.

Melissa Campillo September 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Francine – excellent post! You touched both my husband and me with it. Mostly I think depression in Arizona is seasonal . . . when will this heat ever dissipate? But seriously, much of the anxiety and stress I feel in my life comes from attaching expectations/outcomes to situations. Your comments are a good reminder to not do that. Thanks!

Cindy White September 24, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Amazing post – it’s a never ending journey. Thank you.

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