The current issue of esperanza magazine marks an important milestone for me, one worth commenting on. esperanza is a quarterly publication for and about individuals and families trying to cope with depression. I have been a contributing columnist in every issue and in most issues I held court on Page 15.

When the Winter 2018 issue comes out, however, someone else will be dispensing wisdom from that page. After ten years and forty-something columns as well as two years of weekly blog posts on the magazine’s website, I decided that it was time to take a new direction.

There is an odd sort of silver lining to this. I was, you see, a Viewpoint columnist, which is to say I wrote about, well, being depressed. From my point of view.  Over the last few years, I came to realize that my fresh material was getting stale. I hadn’t had a major episode of depression in quite a while.

Being Irish, I have fret some over that last sentence. You should never, ever, ever proclaim that things can’t get worse. My favorite topic, one I returned to regularly, was The Worst Day of My Entire Life (So Far). That parenthetical disclaimer is meant as recognition that things can always get worse.

Writing for esperanza has been therapeutic – even better, it’s much less expensive than actual therapy – and I dearly hope it is has been beneficial to at least some of my readers. My favorite reaction from readers has always been along the lines of “oh, I know what that feels like.”  Or maybe some readers take some comfort in knowing that they are not nearly as loopy as this Rafferty guy.  It’s all good.

The magazine always brims with good advice and encouragement but I think it is the shared awareness and the reassurance to readers that they are not alone that makes the esperanza message – hope to cope – really valuable.

So my thanks go out to publisher Joanne Doan for bringing me in at the very beginning and to editor Elizabeth Forbes for making me be a better writer (occasionally by asking me nicely to delete something that I thought was, you know, brilliant).

By the way, apart from it being the title of a Paul Simon song, the headline on this post – Still crazy after all these years – is kind of an inside joke between Elizabeth and me. Okay, maybe it’s just me who thinks it funny. A lot of my jokes are like that.

Even so, the headline is also a candid reminder that depression is a chronic disease. Like Churchill’s black dog, it is always out there in the dark, waiting to make its reappearance. If you know someone who had a depressive episode please don’t wait for the next one to ask how things are going.

PS   But wait! I know what you are thinking. You are thinking “Where can I find some of these columns?” I’ve got you covered. The links below will take you to some of my favorites.

A chemistry lesson – Don’t say “no” to drugs

Owner of a lonely heart – Would anybody notice if I wasn’t here?

Feeling better by doing good – No capes or superpowers required