Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

The Right to Dream

It doesn’t take much to get this mortal second-guessing herself. One harsh message on the comment board will do it. An African-American woman was offended that I used Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sentiments as a launching pad for my own dream–that mental illness would lose its stigma. As I read her remarks, I thought to myself, “She’s right. I’m self-indulgent to express this dream given all the suffering in Iraq, Darfur, and a million other places on the globe.”

Then the doorbell rang.

On my porch stood a florist holding a dozen white roses. I was confused…Valentine’s Day was a month away. My birthday was two weeks after that. And I hadn’t slept with Eric the night before.


The card (which is next to my computer now) read: “My Dear Therese, Your dream is also my dream. Thank you for celebrating our dream. Love, Ann”

My guardian angel, Ann. You’ve got to love her. God hand-picked for me a retired (bipolar) woman because, given all my self-doubts and wrong turns, she doesn’t have time to both hold a real (earthly) job and be my guardian angel.

Ann hadn’t even read the message board. (Angels don’t need to.) She didn’t know that I had banished (for the fifteenth time that day) my mission to educate people on mental health because, as my reader said, “There are much bigger issues in the world today to consider.” My guardian friend was merely grateful that I had articulated her frustrations and dreams as well.


There’s a lesson in this (of course): Everyone is entitled to a dream–even a “whiny, bitter, self-serving, complaining white woman–” but especially those suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses. Because, even in the face of Iraq and Darfur, our pain is valid too.

  • http://HASH(0xd07e580) Sarah

    you can’t ignore the role of atrocities in our world in the personal realm-sudan, etc. this plays a role in depression in the- in our collective psyche.

  • http://HASH(0xd07f2c8) Gerald

    One of the biggest problems many of us have in dealing with depression is acknowledging that it is a real condition and has real effects that are as serious as any other illness. In the past few years I have had broken bones and heart trouble. I would sooner repeat those episodes again than relapse into the depths of depression….. Its good that Therese writes as both a depressive person and a successful person. Sometimes we have to be reminded that one can be both!! Blessings. Gerald G

  • Kevin

    I was deeply moved by your Dream.

  • http://HASH(0xd080fc8) Jennifer

    If our suffering does not sensitize us to the suffering of others, then what on earth else is it for?There’s something terribly, terribly sad about using our suffering, or the suffering of any group of people, to diminish and demean the suffering of others. A world in which each experience of pain can be invalidated by pointing to a worse experience (and there will always be a worse one somewhere to find) is a world in which experience becomes totally meaningless. Down that path lies nihilism. Better to say that, because you give yourself the freedom to feel your own pain (whine away! darnit, depression is something worth friggin whining about! that’s self-serving in a truly positive sense) you will be that much more likely to notice and care when others around you are in pain.

  • http://HASH(0xd082130) Ann Marie

    Oh, Bless your Heart! You have a gift with words, you need to keep dreaming and sharing.I have always been ‘happy go lucky’, took everything in stride. At the age of 36 when I found out I was an alcoholic I got sober, moved around in society just grateful, everyday was an adventure! Fifteen years later I moved back to the East coast to care for my elderly mother after being in San Fransisco for 25 years. WWHHHOOAAHHHHH! I was bombarded by such negativity both by family and co-workers I stood and scratched my head daily and asked? “What did I do to deserve this treatment?” It has been 5 years and it has really taken it’s tole on me. I stayed to be the Gate-keeper for my helpless little Mom, someone had to keep that black anger and negativity away from her final days. She’s gone now, and I am preparing to exit as soon as possible. Mental illness is real, but depression is such an octopus that envelopes us, I’ve needed to keep focused on the sliver of light in between the tentacles and focus on more light, more light, MORE LIGHT! I too am trying to use Qigong and natural ways to heal myself. Tai Chi works well.I went from working in a hospital in Behavorial Sciences {Drug Rehab and Mental Health ward} to sitting at a computer for the last 9 months doing nothing. You want to see clutter, try cleaning out the house of a 93 year old ‘pack-rat’.I read my e-mails from everyday but the clutter is still here. If you don’t know her, go ASAP.Years ago my little Japanese Floral Arts teacher told me “there is always going to be someone worse off than you, and then someone better off than you, just be happy for where you are today.” Today the best I can do is quote His Holiness the Dalai Lama: “My religion is kindness”. Today I will be kind to me… Ann Marie aka Buddhababy

  • http://HASH(0xd082454) Alan

    I think angelic help through depression and pain is great. Last night, I think that I recovered some. It sure felt like it in the morning with deeper sleep. I was driving home in the face of pain and didn’t try to deter it–just feel it. I have seen it before, and it was too much. Last night, I faced it head-on and let it out. I have an online friend in Iraq. In the past, he hasn’t minded hearing about my problems and pain. One day he “caught” me depressed and said so. Of course, he lives in far more treacherous and worrisome conditions than I do. We have helped each other. Lastly, whenever I had a therapy appointment, I would say so to others. It was my way of helping to remove the stigma of the need for mental health treatment. Alan

  • http://HASH(0xd082f7c) Teresa. u.k.

    BRAVO! jennifer. Well said.

  • carmen

    Do you run out on thank you? Today it seems I am going that way. Than you, Carmen

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