Better Mental Health Starts With Better Words

One surprising adjective makes a good container for respite

The minute the word starts buzzing around my head, I want to swat it away. I have a weird sense of humor but ‘undepressed’ isn’t exactly how I would describe my current state of mind. I’m surprised by the word’s presence in the dictionary. The surprise lingers, awkward, taunting, almost tame.

I don’t want another vague hollow word to live up to but this one is so absurd it demands consideration. How can I possibly use it? We word-ridden folks scavenge, we prize pith, we obsess about the excesses of prose and the sharpness of verse.

But undepressed’ though? It’s the punchline and the joke, the lens and the filter, the meaning and the purpose: My brain is a troll.

Because ‘undepressed’ is definitely not me. Or anyone right now.

And yet, the word loiters and adopts me, somehow.

The indomitable kitten sneaks under the zeitgeist barricades, a fluffy claw rocket with no sense of timing but many lives to live.

Here, have a word you can neither understand nor relate to. And I really can’t until food starts tasting uncommonly delicious several days in a row. Same food, same mouth, different experience. The door I always believed to be wide open has just been unlocked.

Depression is relaxing the rules of engagement, ‘undepressed’ is defiance, distraction, and delight whenever I make the effort to acknowledge that not everything is in in fact shit. It’s a word that forces you to hold yourself accountable for your outlook on life: My brain is a troll.

Focus on ‘undepressed’ for long enough and you too will find a use for it. Brains love an uplifting shortcut and soon assigns meaning. Long ago, mine swallowed the sun. Now it is everywhere I look, under my desk, above my screen, on the sofa, at the back of the room, beyond the window…

… hanging from the ceiling, on the coat rack, in the cupboard, and on a stick in wooden butterfly format. The Easter bouquet ornament made it to fall and the hospitable jungle of the front door Sansevieria. A snake plant guards our home, its sharp erect tongues reminding the writers within to wonder.

Ponder but above all wonder, trip up the zeitgeist with the thoughtfulness of possibility and better words; ‘undepressed’ glows, beckons, and bows.

I am chasing my brain around the page.

I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor now based in the Netherlands. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.

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