There’s a Crack in Everything: Holding My Shit Together

Cooper Thornton
12 min readMay 14, 2021


My ex and I had, and still have, equal shared custody of our sons. During my depression, on the alternate weeks I had the boys, I worked especially hard to hold it together. Literally and figuratively. It was nice having their energy and their presence in the house, a respite from the isolation, and it gave me a little sense of purpose.

But they knew. I mean, hell, my eyes were always red, I was constantly blowing my nose. Doing laundry, planning and executing meals, simply trying to mute my depression was excruciatingly difficult. I eventually bailed on every meal but dinner, leaving them to take care of their own breakfast and lunch. And more and more, we ordered or went out for dinner. I could handle take out, but shopping and cooking were just too much.

Sketch of a Chinese take-out box with noodles and chopsticks.

I’d had a few calls and short conversations with my ex-wife, saying that I was having a really tough time, mostly because of isolation. But I now told her that I may need for her to take the boys on one of my weeks, or indefinitely, because I was now having trouble functioning. Getting out of bed, bathing, feeding myself.

Early on, I put all my regular bills and utilities on auto draft because I sensed that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with them. I had at least thought to prepare myself in that way. I wasn’t worried about stocking the pantry, because I was barely eating, but I needed water, electricity, gas, and trash pick-up, if I remembered to take it down, which I rarely did.

I stocked up with Kleenex. I could collapse in any room in the house and have a box within reach. I couldn’t feed myself, but I could wipe the snot from my face. Such were my priorities.

My less-than-congenial psychiatrist recommended that I take part in an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) where I could do in-person therapy in a group setting. It sounded promising. I’d be around people; we might even get to take our masks off if we socially distanced! But first I had to go in for an evaluation.

That Thursday morning, I got dressed and wrapped round my shoulders a six-foot-long, two-foot-wide knitted prayer shawl and drove to the facility, a mental health and addiction hospital. The shawl, a remnant of my life in Southern California…



Cooper Thornton

Parent, Actor, People Lover, Observer, Writer and Most Often Happy Depressive in NC by way of LA by way of UK by way of BC by way of TN, where it all started.