Beyond Blue

Thanks to reader “No Name” for his question on the message board of my “He Was Ill” post:

“My last therapist (a nun) told me that “it was my purpose in life to suffer.” I don’t buy that for a second! My family shuns me (I apparently embarrass them) as did most of my friends when I had a breakdown some years ago. I don’t know where to go from here. Any suggestions?”

First of all, let me quote from two of your fellow readers who responded on the message board:

“It’s an uphill climb–and sometimes you slip and fall–but by God’s grace, you get back up and try again. My faith has kept me going.” –-Chris

“As someone who has dealt with depression and anxiety for the better part of 30 years, I say that there may not be a cure but you can get ‘better’. My advice is to read all the information you can get your hands on from the neuroscience in the brain of persons with this illness to the thoughts on meditation and medication … in short everything.” –Katy

For my part, I don’t believe that God intends for any of his children to suffer. Why does he allow us to suffer? Well, I’m trying to force that answer out of him in prayer. But I haven’t gotten anywhere yet.

So, until I can figure out his plan, I rely on support. It’s my lifeline. And that’s the first thing I’d do if I were you: grab the lifeline.

For years I relied on support group meetings. I went three to four times a week to listen to people who had similar stories as myself. Psychotherapy and different types of counseling sessions have also been helpful at certain points in my recovery.

Right now my support comes mostly from this blog (reaching out to others and learning how other depressives treat their depression), friends, and books.

I’ve mentioned before that I carry six phone numbers in my pocket (actually programmed into my cell phone now): Mike, mom, Trish (who filled the gap when my aunt GiGi died), Beatriz, Ann, and Michelle. During bad spells, I call two of them a day. For maintenance, I get by on two phone calls a week.

If none of them are available, or if they are but I’m feeling antisocial (or my mouth is extra dry from my meds and I don’t want to talk), I pull out one of my favorite books and start to read: usually William Styron’s “Darkness Visible” or Kay Redfield Jamison’s “A Quiet Mind.” Other great reads are Andrew Solomon’s “The Noonday Demon,” Ronald Fieve’s “Moodswing,” and Elizabeth Swado’s “My Depression: A Picture Book” (that one will give you a much-deserved laugh).

If you do one thing, find a friend who understands you. And then another. And another. They can point you to the right doctors in your area, and to other depressives who gather at various places around you to share their treatment secrets. Some of the DRADA groups here are networks for persons struggling with mental illnesses to swap information on counselors, doctors, and hospital (or other kinds of) treatment programs. You might also check out their groups online, to find one near you. NAMI too has very useful information, especially for the families of mentally ill persons.

If you’d rather not lift a leg from your bed, then start to make friends by clicking on the comments to the “He Was Ill” post. There you’ll find several like-minded people rooting for you and everyone else who suffers like you do.

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