Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

The Other Face of Depression

When that happens to a manic-depressive when her bumps get wings and fly away? She becomes “exuberant,” the title of Kay Redfield Jamison’s book (“Exuberance: The Passion for Life“). This is the other face of depression, not mania. Jamison writes:

The infectious energies of exuberance that proclaim and disperse much of what is marvelous in life. Exuberance carries us places we would not otherwise go–across the savannah, to the moon, into the imagination–and if we ourselves are not so exuberant we will, caught up in the contagious joy of those who are, be inclined collectively to go yonder.

I think that’s why Eric has kept me around. My manic depression with all its power propelled our family into Dante’s inferno for more months than I care to remember, but the energy of its exuberance–which “spreads upward and outward, like pollen toted by dancing bees” says Jamison–reaps its own kind of delight and bestows life with a well-deserved meaning and adventure in a way boredom (and mental stability) can’t.
Here’s where God knows my life better than I do: Just as I begin to contemplate my precious pearl produced in the gritty irritation of an oyster’s shell–just as I begin to gently turn around the face of my manic depression so I can touch the smooth side (without acne)–and pull out the copy of “Exuberance” that my guardian angel Ann sent to me over two years ago but told me to hold off on reading until I got well, I read her inscription to me on the first page:


Therese, somehow you seem to reflect the essence of this book and I haven’t even read it yet. –Ann, Amtrak, April 15, 2005

That April day was a few weeks before my laughter up and left me with no note of explanation, back when humor came so naturally (we cracked each other up the entire three-hour train ride), when I took it for granted like so many other things in my life.
But I’m glad to know that exuberance was always there–with my depression–just hiding underneath the bumps.

  • oceangirl1

    I don’t really know what to say to this. I have never been diagnosed with anything, though I did go to counseling during my divorce and my bad breakup with my current husband. Sometimes I am happy, but often I feel that my brief joy is easily crushed by someone else’s attitudes. Usually, I am happier when my happiness doesn’t depend on anyone else. Does that make sense? I love to cook – I find it very relaxing to spend a day alone in the kitchen. I love to read – getting lost in a book has been my favorite therapy since childhood. I love to sing out loud in the car or alone at home along with the radio – I am not a good singer, but it feels good. I love to stare into water (creeks,oceans,waterfalls-any will do!) and contemplate God’s majesty. All of these things relax me, but I don’t get to often do them alone. I think really that I am a loner living in the body of a mother who is never alone. Does that make sense to anyone out there?

  • pamphyila

    Exhuberence is grand -but beware! A therapist of mine once described me as a “manic-depressive working in a manic-depressive world” (I am a performer/musician/writier – an all around general artiste.)
    My husband sometimes looks at me & says – you’re not depressed – when I bounce back – & I have to remind him that I am a manic-depressive! (or bp2, to be exact.) I used to count on those surges to get me thru – but they got wilder and wilder until they got pretty scarey. And I had great discussions of good and evil forces in my head – very medieval and Hildegarde von Bingen! So I caution you to be very careful – on medication now, I have had to sacrifice some of the ecstasy – altho I am willing to cope with some nerves to have some glimmer left in my life. I cannot live without some shimmer and shine…
    You are young yet – don’t overtax your resources too soon, or there may be unforeseen consequences….Hopefully when you get there, there will be better medical understanding – but still…

  • Anne

    For 8 years I was on anti-depressants alone. Once I was diagnosed as a woman who is bi-polar my world started to come together so much better! There are many creative elements that I relish in myself: art, writing, hiking, LAUGHING……
    Tonight was the first time in 2 or 3 weeks that I felt my depression lift for awhile….. It helps me to get involved in something I love. Tonight I was able to be around horses.

  • ThoughtKeeper

    Do not discount the effects of medication on depression. For several months, I have been spiraling down into a deep depression. Since I take several types of medications everyday, I thought I might speak to my MD and the PHD who was prescribing my medications. The MD said he was very worried about me because my life situation is causing me to become more depressed…but he didn’t find any conflict of medications among his vast medical computer programs. He suggested I speak to the PHD.
    Her take on my depression was that the constant physical pain from fibromyalgia, the hypothyroidism, the tinnitis, the diabetes, etc are all responsible for my state of mind. Sure, all of these ailments do cause depression. But mine was getting worse by the day. It was to the point where I could not stop crying. I went on for weeks, bawling my eyes out. I could not sleep. As soon as I would get into bed, my mind would take on a mond of it’s own and I could not stop thinking about everything under the sun.
    Then, I decided to discuss the medications I am taking with my Pharmacist. I asked him to tell me which of the 10 medications I was taking, could I do without. When it came to the cholesterol meds, I found that I was taking 2 of them. My cholesterol was around 200 on the bad, and 45 on the good…that really does not warrant 2 medications. Secondly, I was taking a medication which is designed to lower blood pressure. My blood pressure has been in the 90/70 range for 30 years. That is NOT high blood pressure.
    After the discussion with the Pharmacist, I stopped the cholesterol, and the blood pressure medication, and reported it to the MD. After 8 days, my whole frame of mind changed. I still have the same problems, but I no longer have the deep, suicidal depression. Sure, I still get bouts of depression. But they are over almost as soon as they start.
    I play upbeat music during the day. I use drapes that are able to let the sunlight in. I try to get 5 minutes of sunlight outdoors each day. I have eliminated negative people from my life. I keep a journal. Lastly, I write in forums like this, hoping my experiences will help others.
    If you take medications do some research, talk to your doctor, and to your pharmacist. Nowadays, we all have to take charge of our bodies, and not simply lets others rule how we treat our problems…even if these people are professionals. They ARE professionals…but they are NOT perfect.

  • Teresa

    I enjoy hearing about your relationship Therese with your husband Eric, and wondered if he has ever considered writing about his experience of life with you. It would be interesting to hear his perspective.

  • Larry Parker

    Bill Clinton would be the archetypal example of exuberance — he of the 18-hour days but also reckless and irresponsible hypersexuality.
    Of course, IMHO (or at least in my experience), exuberance only exists in hyperthymia (i.e., “good” mania that doesn’t spiral completely out of control) and, within a VERY limited range, those with bipolar disorder, type I. (The siren song that leads so many to quit their mood stabilizer …)
    In contrast, my hypomania in bipolar disorder, type II never seems to come out in exuberance (unless you count being a sardonic but friendly Will Rogers type on my best days as being “exuberant”), but rather in an agitated mixed state that is physically painful.

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