Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

On “Coming Out”

From my original blog, in case you missed it:

I haven’t always been so candid about my depression and anxiety. A year ago, while in the eye of the storm, I bailed on delivering the keynote address to a large Catholic convention. My hands were trembling so badly that I was having difficulty getting a spoonful of Cheerios to my mouth. Holding a microphone would have been problematic, not to mention inspiring the masses.

“I’m sorry,” I explained, “I’m having some health problems.”

I stayed vague because I was afraid that the event coordinator wouldn’t understand. So few people had.

Many months later the topic of depression made front-page news in Annapolis with the suicide of Phil Merrill, a renowned publisher, entrepreneur, and diplomat in the Washington area. Eleven days later Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan withdrew his candidacy for governor of Maryland because of his struggle with depression.


Articles cited all the people that had come out, past and present: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Kay Redfield Jamison, Archbishop Raymond Roussin, Mike Wallace, William Styron, Art Buchwald, Robin Williams, Patty Duke, and Brooke Shields. Their reputations were still in tact, so maybe depression wouldn’t be the end of mine.

These people “came out” to help others. Abraham Lincoln wanted people to know that his melancholy was a “misfortune, not a fault,” and that his humor, his jokes, were the “vents of [his] moods and gloom.” Surely Lincoln’s heightened sensitivity made him the empathetic leader he was.

British Prime Minster Winston Churchill referred to his deep melancholy as his “black dog.” It was the teacher of perseverance. “Every day you may make progress,” he wrote. “Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”

Without Lincoln and Churchill and the others, then I’d think I really was going crazy, that I was the nut ball my twin sister called me in the fourth grade. They were missionaries of truth about mental illness, which is what I want to be.

  • Margaret Balyeat

    A missionary is exactly what you ARE, my friend, don’t doubt it for a single second! The “enlightenment” you bring daily surely touches as many if not more people than either Lincoln or Churchill did, in part because they didn’t have the modern communication of the internet available to them. This service you provide is as invaluable to those of us stuck in the darjness as the Good News was to the “unenlightened” natives in Albert Shweitzer’s (sp?) day! I thank God for you each and every day!

  • JR West

    It seems to me that “Depression” is the easiest of the “Psychological Differences”, to come out, about. Twentyfive percent of the population will at one time, experience depression. I see this statistic as a little alarming however, an indication that not all persons are paying attention and connecting the dots! Truth be known, there is plenty to be depressed about–social, political amd environmental problems are sky-rocketing!!! ( See documentary,on AIM’s John “Trudell” if you are someone who hasn’t connected those dots. Realistic, depressing and yet truely encouraging and challenging!)
    That said–as a minority group, capable of incorporating our differences and leartning to “live well” with them, I believe we all have our role to play and perspectives to develope. Alternative ways of being and thinking — these will be necessary if our culture is to survive and divert it’s own crash-and-burn course…you see- I too, “Have a dream; that one day we will be appreciated for our psychological differences rather than condemned for them.” As a group however, we must first learn how to swim and swim well—as so many of us have been thrown off the mainstream and institutional boats of industry and progress. What appears to be the extreme of rejection however, really is the begining of growth and wellness as many of us will become marathon swimmers while the masses still ride along compfortably in boats that are taking on water fast. Learn to tread water now or sink later…I think we are going to make it and wil be able to pass that forward in that not too distant future. We have nothing left to lose and everything to gain and give. Our “problems” are nothing more that what Richard Bach described as blessings.
    “There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need there gifts.”

  • carmen

    THANK YOU!! Carmen

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