Beliefnet
Beyond Blue

I hereby apologize for my anti-Oprah remarks in past posts. Until last week’s show on depression I didn’t realize all the support she offers (online chat rooms and tons of resources via her media kingdom, which starts at www.oprah.com) to people like me who struggle with mental illness. Because she often speaks positively about “The Secret” and famous medical-intuitive Caroline Myss I leaped to the judgment that Oprah approaches depression like many other Secret-loving, Myss-disciples do: think positive, toss out the intention of happiness into the universe, and you’ll reach the land of milk and honey in no time.

To get to last Wednesday’s extremely informative show, click here. Her website lists all kinds of personal assessments, books, and online support groups that depressives like me should take advantage of.

The first celebrity she interviewed on the show was actress Lorraine Bracco (who plays the psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Melfi on “The Sopranos“).

This is my favorite part of the interview, from an online summary of her appearance:

“Depression is very insidious and sneaks up on you. There are simple things in people’s lives that can bring you down,” [Lorraine says].

Eventually, Lorraine sought professional help. “When I finally made that step into the psychiatrist’s office and he said to me, ‘Well, Lorraine, you’re clinically depressed,’ and I said, ‘Okay, I know what’s going on. I am going to fight like hell to figure out my life,'” she says.

Lorraine credits antidepressants with pulling her out of her fog. “I was very against any kind of medication because I felt, ‘Oh, my God, I’m an actress. I need my emotions. And if I take an antidepressant, I’ll never feel again and I’m going to be hooked on them forever,” she says. “I was very, very, very wrong about the whole medication thing. And I think that’s very important. I feel that it’s really what saved me.”

She says she also spent time learning about herself and deciding what kind of person she wanted to be. “I lived at Barnes & Noble at the self-help department and I sat there for a long time,” she says. “And I went through books, and even the kids who worked there said, ‘Miss Bracco, would you like a chair?'”

And about mothering with depression, this part tugged at my heart:

During her depression Lorraine says she was simply going through the motions of motherhood. “They had clean clothes and a warm meal and they had a roof over their head, but I was missing,” Lorraine says. “My soul, my vibrant being, was nowhere to be found.” Although she had thoughts of suicide, Lorraine says she never would have acted on them because her daughters, Margaux and Stella, were her lifeline.

For the first time, Stella discusses how her mother’s depression affected her. “Watching the person who’s supposed to be taking care of you in pain is the hardest part. It was hard for me because I felt responsible. She fought to make me happy. For me to have the life that I wanted. And I think that took a lot out of her,” Stella says. “I just wanted to be able to make it all okay, and I couldn’t. It’s painful. It’s hard to watch someone you love deteriorate. And it’s even harder to watch as a child when there’s really nothing you can do.”

At times, Stella says it felt like her mother was lost forever. “She might as well have been lying in a hospital bed with IVs—it’s the same thing,” Stella says. “She was dying. She was already dead. For me, it felt like she was never going to come back.”

Now, Margaux says she sees a different person in her mother. “More recently I’ve seen someone who’s made the choice to be an active member of her life,” she says. “And that’s something she wasn’t before. And that’s a wonderful thing.”

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