The darkest part of living with arthritis is fighting depression.

When you feel so lousy you can’t reach for the pills designed to help you feel better,  you know depression has set in.

The thoughts you try so hard to stuff into a tiny corner of your brain burst out like fake snakes from a trick can of peanuts.

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

“What if I never feel better?”

“All my friends are so tired of hearing me complain.”

“I don’t know why I even care.”

It’s about this time my strength of will kicks in. I force myself to sit up in bed, get my pills, take whatever meds that are due, and plan something.

I have discovered looking forward to something, anything, can keep those dangerous thoughts at bay, and yes, even make you feel better.

Your event doesn’t have to be some dream trip or shopping spree. It can be as simple as knowing “Downton Abbey” is coming on PBS in a few days, or a radio station doing a program of music you like.

It just has to be something that keeps your interested in sticking around.

Me? Right now I’m looking forward to seeing Jimmy Buffett  in concert May 4 in Dallas. We have our tickets and a hotel room for the night.

I’m watching travel sites for a deal on a rental car and trying to discover a Parrothead group here that is having a tailgate party in the parking lot.

I’ve seen Mrs. Buffett’s Baby Boy twice, but my husband hasn’t, so I’m also excited to watch him see all the weirdness a Buffett concert brings with it.

Yes, that’s a pretty big event, but sometimes it’s knowing a magazine I like is due in the mail, or a free movie screening is in two days, or I remember I have a box of Girls Scout cookies stashed away, that’s good enough.

I’ve gotten pedicures, made lunch dates with old friends, gone through boxes of stuff left over from our last move.

Keeping your brain occupied with something besides how bad you feel does wonders for lightening your mood, and coping mechanisms of any kind come in handy.

Sometimes every trick I have fails and I start spiraling down where it’s really black. I know then, as hard as it is, it’s time to call my doctor and tell her I’m depressed. 

If it’s really bad, when I start thinking how nice it would be not to deal with any of this anymore, I call my therapist.

Yes, I have a therapist. I’ve had one since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and she has saved my life. There are times and situations when only a professional can show you the light in all the darkness, and there is nothing wrong with having a tune up from time to time.

Right now, this blog is working as one of mine. I mean, May 4 is still a while away.

The trick with the big treats is making sure you’re in the best health you can be to enjoy yourself.

It’s a fine line, but one that’s essential to follow to feel as happy as possible with this complicated disease.