Down the Rabbit Hole and Back Up Again: Part One

Alice pool of tears

A post by writer Patti Winker:

“The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well.  Down, down, down!  Would the fall never come to an end?”

Let me start off by saying I’ve never been a fan of Alice In Wonderland.  It was always kind of creepy to me, both as a kid and as an adult.  Although, as an adult, I can appreciate the twisted dark thoughts and innuendo.  Or am I reading more into it than I should?

Anyway, I digress.  For whatever reason, the whole story is just weird to me.

That said, Alice In Wonderland has felt like a familiar friend to me at times… times in which I fell down the ‘rabbit hole’ of depression.

I know, I know.  The commercials all say that this is supposed to be the time of our life.  We’re all supposed to be happy as skylarks, singing glorious notes as we fly off into the azure shades of early evening on our way to our vineyards, sailboats, horse ranches, and fat retirement checks.

We’re supposed to all be planting seeds for our sunset years, while enjoying the vim-and-vigor of this quasi youth.

It doesn’t always work that way.

I learned from a counselor many years ago (during my first marriage) that I had what he called “situational depression.”  Sometimes this is referred to as “adjustment disorder.”  It is covered in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), so I guess I can accept that.

Okay, I don’t like to think I have a “Mental Disorder” but, hey, something was terribly wrong.  With or without a diagnosis, I was falling down the rabbit hole.

“Situational depression,” by its very nature, comes and goes.  Depending on, well, the situation.  Coping is possible, but there are times when it becomes difficult to face even the simplest challenges.

For me, those times are tied to anniversaries, seasons, and memories.

At our age, we have all suffered trauma – loss, abuse, pain, and illness.  At some point, all those issues converge and create a palate that colors our life.  Someone or something at some time will most likely trigger a reaction.

There are times during the year that I ‘re-suffer’ some of my most difficult losses. There are birthdays, wedding anniversaries, holidays, death anniversaries, more birthdays… and the list goes on.  Every date on the calendar that has memories attached gives my heart another opportunity to suffer.

I am not alone in this.  What happens to me isn’t uncommon.  As we reach a certain age, as I mentioned, we are bound to have some sort of loss, some trauma, that can send us into that downward  spiral.  For people who deal with any form of depression, these unavoidable dates on the calendar can loom large.

For baby boomers, this time in our life can be great, but it can also provide some of the biggest challenges we will encounter.  These challenges can cause severe stress, sadness, illness, and depression.

And, just as Alice worried that she would be “going out altogether, like a candle,” I have moments where I struggle with believing that things will ever be okay again.

The good news is, there are things we can do to keep from pulling the covers over our head and disappearing from the world.  I know I don’t want to waste even a couple months out of the year, hiding in the dark, away from all the people I love.

In Part II, I will share a few thoughts about climbing back up and out of that rabbit hole.

Stay tuned…

About the Pool of Tears:

 “Things are worse than ever,” thought the poor child, “for I never was so small as this before, never!”  As she said these words, her foot slipped, and in another moment, splash! she was up to her chin in salt-water… in the pool of tears…

Depression can feel this way; beginning with hopelessness, then a sinking feeling. Some people describe depression as a feeling of being over your head in a pool of water, unable to reach the surface, or to even see the surface. I can feel the struggle, the hopelessness in this illustration.

“Alice in Pool of Tears” – The Tenniel Illustrations for Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland by Sir John Tenniel    

Alice pool of tears

Visit Project Gutenberg at to see over 42,000 ebooks, free for your viewing and downloading pleasure.  Enjoy.

About the Author :  Patti Winker writes about topics that she and others of “a certain age” are concerned about.  In her blog,, you’ll find thoughts and information on aging well, health and fitness, having a bit of fun, a few debates, and some nostalgia thrown in.

She likes to cook and eat good food, spend time with her family, including two grandchildren, ride her bike, walk, swim, go to the beach, and enjoys simple living surrounded by nature, but also appreciates a big city.

Patti is a contributing writer in our Tangerine Tango collaboration, and you’ll often find her here joining in the discussion and guest posting from time to time. To read more of Patti’s guest posts, click these links:  Pushing Fifty or Pushing Puberty and These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things


14 thoughts on “Down the Rabbit Hole and Back Up Again: Part One”

  1. Writing is also healing for me. Thanks for your honesty and for bringing clarity to an issue we still would rather ignore and tend to stigmatize – mental illness affects nearly half our population at one time or another
    After 3 miscarriages in 1 year, I too experienced situational depression, only I called it normal. People around me asked me to get counseling, and I’m glad I did!


    1. Thank you for reading, Chris. It does help to write about it, or anything, really. Depression certainly can be confusing. I’m glad you got counseling, too, after your devastating losses. Even thought I tend to bounce back faster now that I understand myself a little better, there are times and situations that just drag me down. I hope you’ll come back and read part two. I sure appreciate the time you spent reading my post. It means a lot to me.


  2. Thank you for your post! My grandmother suffered from depression for most of her life and her illness affected everyone around her. She was never able to find lasting relief but I am very glad you have been more fortunate.

    Also, on a lighter note, thank you for including the wonderful Alice in Wonderland illustration. Unlike you, I have always loved Alice because of the colorful characters she meets on her journey (maybe like the colorful characters we all meet on our own journey?).


    1. Thank you, Susan, for taking the time to read and comment. I do believe depression, especially years ago, went untreated for most people. I’m sorry your grandmother didn’t find relief. It’s an ongoing battle, and without help it is dang hard to feel positive.

      I am glad you liked the image. I wonder if I read the story now if I’d enjoy the ‘colorful characters’ more, since like you said we meet so many as we travel along on our own journey… especially as we get older, right? Thanks again, Susan.


  3. Thanks so much Patti. Very enlightening, as I have never heard of situational depression. I look forward to your next post.
    My daughter played Alice in a high school play and it endeared me to the story in a new way!!!!


    1. I’m glad you’re going to keep reading, Judy. I’m also glad you found this post interesting. Situational depression was a new one on me, too… until I was told I had it. 😉

      I bet that was an awesome play!


    1. It sure does. And those in the family who don’t quite ‘get it’ love to help (sometimes) with advice like; “Why don’t you just go out and take a walk?” Yeah. And then when you don’t seem to be doing anything to improve the depression, family can get a bit irritable. It certainly does affect the entire family.


    1. Thank YOU, Shannon, for stopping in to read and taking the time to comment. Yes, the medical community has been a bit slow on the uptake. Having a brain that functions differently is just like having an arm that functions differently, or a heart that functions differently, etc. etc. It’s all our body. And, I do think that the only way to remove the stigma of depression is to be honest and share our stories. Regular ol’ people like me, who walk around looking perfectly ‘normal’ can be battling all sorts of illnesses… even depression.

      Thanks again for reading.


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