Beyond Blue

For 2007, my only resolution is to become more close-minded. I suffer far less when I detach myself from everyone’s opinion of my health, my parenting, and my faith.

Had I not been so open-minded–trying every and all suggestions thrown my way in regard to my depression–I don’t think I would have stayed in my dark night so long. In my desperation, I clung to every piece of advice offered (sometimes shoved down my throat) by relatives and friends.

“You’re beating a dead horse with these meds,” one friend told me. “What you need is lots of yoga and mineral supplements. A naturopath can do with herbal remedies what a psychiatrist does with synthetic pharmaceuticals. You’ll see how fish oil can stabilize your moods just as effectively as Lithium.”

That sounded good, so I began to wean off all my meds (and was hospitalized two months later).

“It’s clearly hormonal,” said another friend. “Try going on the birth control pill.”

I did that and really messed up my menstrual cycles.

After reading an article by Andrew Weil–on how relaxation techniques can treat depression–I practiced deep breathing for hours and wondered when I would start to feel better.

Every few weeks it was another experiment and a new philosophy (determined by the friend or relative I had last spoken to, or the article I had most recently read). With no time to recover, my body was as confused as my mind.

“You can’t keep on switching directions every time someone gives you a recommendation,” said my therapist. “You need to assess all of the information you have to date, and commit to one path of recovery for at least a few months.”

It was the same talk Eric gave me two years ago after a going-away dinner I had planned for our neighbors turned into an intervention about my parenting style.

I stood up to rock and soothe my screaming one-year-old in a small smoky restaurant while her brother threw his French fries (with ketchup) across the table.

“Do you see why I’m stressed out?” I asked my older neighbor. It was a rhetorical question for which I didn’t want an answer.

“It doesn’t have to be so hard,” she replied. “With a little bit of organization, things could be easier.” The sermon on the right way to parent followed, with pointers on how to design a winning scrapbook, and a list of approved activities–Legos, blocks, puzzles–that contribute to cognitive development.

“You have got to learn how to tune out judgmental, opinionated ‘experts,’ Therese,” Eric said, after my sobbing self told him why, exactly, I sucked as mom. “You have your style, and she has hers. Leave it at that. It’s just too exhausting to transform yourself every day. Listen to advice, and take a piece here or there, but stay your same self.”

And so for 2007, I have purchased a set of blinders, which I’ll wear until I’m more confident in my own judgments.

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