Pooh woke up this morning and for reasons he did not entirely understand, felt panicky and depressed. He looked out the window and it was still dark out despite him knowing it was morning. His alarm had just gone off and he rolled over in bed, putting the pillow on top of his ear. His phone jangled. He looked at it and noticed it was his friend Piglet. Pooh didn’t answer. He didn’t feel like talking to his best friend. Piglet tried to phone again an hour later. Pooh still did not answer.
“Hmm…” said Piglet. “This is not like Pooh at all. Pooh always has a phone date with me Fridays at 9am. I hope he’s ok.” Piglet logged into his social media. Pooh had not posted for days. He looked at his text messages, Pooh had not even read them. “This isn’t like Pooh at all” said Piglet. “I think something must be oh so terribly wrong.” Piglet sent Pooh a text “Dear Pooh, I noticed that I haven’t heard from you in a few days. I want you to know that I am here for you. Is there anything that is the matter? Please tell me Pooh, you are my best friend and I care about you ever so deeply.”
A few minutes later, Piglet’s phone pinged. “Dear Piglet, I am really struggling. I don’t know how to put it in words. It’s as if all the sunshine has gone out of my life. I feel there is nothing to look forward to anymore. I just don’t have the energy to get out of bed.”
Piglet wrote back, “Can I come over? I’d like to cheer you up.”
Pooh answered, “Ok, but I’m not sure what good I’ll be. I don’t feel like talking today and I think I’d be rather poor and uninteresting company.” Pooh was usually an extrovert and he was always known for his long winded talks. Some said Pooh talked to much, but that was just Pooh. He was always funny and cracking jokes and looking at the positive side of life. For Pooh to say he didn’t want his best friend over was unusual indeed.
“I’ll be there in a few minutes” said Piglet. “I just need to change out of my jammies.”
Piglet arrived at Pooh’s doorstep with a box of chocolates and a card. “Can we sit in your garden?” “Ok,” Said Pooh glumly.
“What’s wrong?” said Piglet ever so gently.
“I don’t really know.” Said Pooh honestly. “I have no energy at all. I couldn’t even take a shower this morning. I don’t have any appetite. Even my best honey just tastes like sand. I feel just like Eeyore” He blurted out and then seemed to regret it.
Piglet just sat there and listened.
“I can’t help but think of what an awful bear I am.” Said Pooh sobbing. “I think that I am just a silly, old bear whom no one likes. No one would miss me if I left the Hundred Acre Woods and never came back. I keep thinking of all the bad things I have done. All the times I have stolen honey. I’m just a burden to everyone, especially Christopher Robin.”
Piglet gave Pooh a great big hug. “You’re not a burden. We all love you, Pooh and we would miss you oh so terribly if you moved away. We are all your friends. Everyone makes mistakes and does silly things because we are all silly little creatures. But please tell me, is there something that has caused this? Can you remember back to when you first started feeling sad?”
Pooh winced. He took a deep breath and continued, “I just feel that life will never be normal again. I hate Zoom. I have such trouble reading body language and always feel awkward on it. Zoom causes me such anxiety that I only log in one minute before I have to and leave soon after. I miss hanging out with my friends. I used to hang out with everyone in the Hundred Acre Woods, but now I’m only allowed to see one other household. I tried to form an extended household with Rabbit but he is away at the moment. I’m so worried about this virus and that I might catch it. I heard that it could kill a bear like me. I keep hearing in the news about people who are getting this virus and it worries me so. I miss going out to the restaurants and the cinema and even the swimming pool. It seemed like life was just getting normal and I started to feel better and like my normal Pooh-self, but then winter came and everything started locking down. Everyone keeps saying this will be a really bad winter. I always feel sad in the winter, Piglet, because there isn’t enough sunlight, but this year I feel even more sad because my family can’t be around me at Christmas. I had a great big New Year’s Eve party planned and no one can come. I just think that life will never get better. Never ever ever. We will always be living in this weird new way and I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.”
“I know it’s so hard,” said Piglet. “These are really such awful and horrible times. It is only right to feel as you do.”
Pooh looked at Piglet with tears streaming down his face. “Oh Piglet, how much longer will this be??? I can’t take another Zoom call. I can’t handle this anymore.”
Piglet spoke soothingly to Pooh, “Yes, Pooh, that’s the trouble. No one knows how long this thing will last. But remember it won’t last forever. This too shall pass.”
“It feels like forever” said Pooh dejectedly.
“Then, I will be here for you and be your friend, forever.” said Piglet.
“I know.” said Piglet having a great idea. “Why don’t we make a plan together? Why don’t we think about what we can do that might cheer you up and take you out of this great saddness.”
“I don’t think anything can cheer me up” said Pooh defeated.
“Come now,” said Piglet. “I have a few ideas. Let’s start by making a list of people you can call if you are feeling really down. These are people who won’t judge you but will listen and help you to have a different perspective on the situation.” Pooh thought about it and wrote down Piglet, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga, and Christopher Robin on the list. “Now let’s think about if there are any groups you could join that would help you talk about what is troubling you.” Pooh remembered Eeyore was part of a support group and he wrote himself a note to get in touch with him and ask what the name of it was and if he might join. “What about something to distract yourself. Maybe a new hobby?” Pooh couldn’t think of anything he would like to try that didn’t involve meeting up with people physically, but Piglet reminded him that he loved to read and Pooh thought maybe he could try an online book club. Finally, Piglet suggested that Pooh see a doctor if it got any worse or if he still felt this great sadness a week from now.
Pooh put his foot down, “I don’t want to take medication, Piglet” he said.
Piglet: “Medication is not a sign of weakness, Pooh. If you had arthritis, you wouldn’t just take a pill, you’d also probably do some light stretching and have an anti-inflammatory diet. Medication can help with this great sadness you feel, but if you really don’t want to take it you should still talk to your doctor. They might be able to give you some other options. Please, Pooh. Even if you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for me. Please.”
“Ok” said Pooh grudgingly though he really didn’t want to.
Pooh phoned the doctor. A very nice lady answered. Pooh told her that he didn’t know what to say but that he was feeling a great sadness. He told the doctor that he thought no one would miss him if he left the Hundred Acre Woods and didn’t come back. He said he didn’t know why he felt so sad, but he wished to feel much better. He said he didn’t want to take medication. The doctor told him that medication might be good in his case, but there were many other things he could do which would help the medication work even better. She suggested that Pooh keep a mood journal and track how he felt each day. She also said Pooh might benefit from taking Vitamin D tablets as many people feel especially sad during the winter, and finally she told Pooh about a special lamp he could get which would act just like sunlight. She reminded Pooh that it was good to try to eat healthy and go out walking every day even if he didn’t feel like it. And that Pooh should call back in one week to let her know how he was getting on. In the meantime she gave Pooh phone numbers for helplines he could call and encouraged him to talk to his friends.
Pooh didn’t feel better right away but he did everything that was suggested. He bought the lamp, he started taking the vitamins, he went on walks, he ate better, and he talked to his friends. He joined the support group with Eeyore and he found it really helped him each day. The sadness did not completely disappear but with each day it lessened more and more. Then one day, about a month later, Pooh was out on a walk. It was an especially glorious and sunny day and Pooh noticed a wild turkey scuttling across the snow covered grass. Then Pooh noticed a gentle deer in the distance. For the first time, Pooh felt a smile spread across his lips and let out a hearty laugh. When Pooh got back from his walk he noticed that he truly felt happy for the first time since the great sadness had appeared.
Pooh spoke to his group about it and they were all happy for him. Pooh learned that the great sadness might always be part of his life. There might be times in his life when the great sadness reappeared and many other times when the great sadness was but a distant memory. Pooh learned that the great sadness was not a sign of weakness, and he now had the tools to deal with the great sadness when it returned. Pooh also learned that many people experience the great sadness at least once in their life and many people experience it more than once especially during very difficult times such as a global pandemic. With this new knowledge, Pooh began to relax knowing that he was not defective and that many people around him cared deeply about him. Pooh resumed calling Piglet every week on the phone, took up his book club, and started feeling like his old Pooh-self again. For now, just for today, Pooh was content and today is all that matters.
~ Original piece written based on my own experience of depression during the pandemic