Beyond Blue

This is why I need to be in touch with people currently battling the demons of depression: they remind me of where I was, so that in the event I find myself in that massive pile of animal waste again, I’ll remember how to climb out and get rid of the smell.

One rule comes from a bumper sticker I read yesterday: “Don’t Believe Everything You Think.”

Intelligent people think (and read) many things. And all my readers, I suspect, would perform very well on IQ tests. But this intellectual curiosity and inquisitive disposition can also be a backstabbing boyfriend (or girlfriend…so I don’t get in trouble with my male readers) when it comes to mood disorders. The acronym TMI (too much infomation) rightfully fits a smart depressive.

Information is your ally when choosing a doctor–because you’ll waste less time with a bad one (like I did). You won’t say to yourself for four months (like I did), “I think I am getting worse, but he knows best because he is the professional.” With research in hand, you can challenge your physicians, which will piss off the ones with ego issues and impress the ones actually working for your health.

But the more you read, the more crap you’ll come across, and the more lies that will sneak into your consciousness like termites attacking healthy wood (couldn’t resist…I am married to an architect). You may become confused, disillusioned, or desperate. Sound familiar?

My very intelligent friend, Ellen, just wrote me this e-mail last night:

“I’m reaching out for one of those cyber hugs today. Been spending too much time surfing the ‘net and finding horror stories about depression/anxiety/meds and people not getting better. Why the hell do I read this stuff? I know full well that I’ve been here before and gotten better. There is no reason to believe that I won’t get better this time, right? Right!”

God love her (actually, He already does). Because she summed up in those five sentences (six if you count the second “right”) my brain for about 18 months of my climb out of the diaper pail (of the family of septuplets who chow down on real food, not slurp breastmilk).

I called my mom. She said, “It WILL pass. I promise.”

I called my friend Michelle. She said, “You will feel better.”

I called Mike. He said, “You won’t always feel like this.”

I called my guardian angel Ann. She said, “Dump that pea-brained doctor, and get to Johns Hopkins. THEN you will get well.”

I had trouble believing any of them. But they were right. Absolutely right.

Consider this paragraph from William Styron’s “Darkness Visible,” which I read most days of my depression:

“If depression had no termination, then suicide would, indeed, be the only remedy. But one need not sound the false or inspirational note to stress the truth that depression is not the soul’s annihilation; men and women who have recovered from the disease–and they are countless–bear witness to what is probably its only saving grace: it is conquerable.”

I get goose bumps every time I read his words, and I feel like I’m jogging to the “Rocky” theme song.

So I will write this down in my journal today as a reminder for the days when I’m doubting the whole happy-ending thing: “Don’t Believe Everything You Think” and “Depression Is Conquerable.”

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