Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

The Return of Enjoyment

Although we weren’t allowed to roast marshmallows in the psych ward (for fear of someone purposely lighting himself on fire), there were many campfire moments, where we sat in a circle sharing some of the most intimate memories, stories, hopes, and fears that, along with a power failure in the left part of the prefrontal cortex had our minds gripped by anxiety and depression.
One group therapy session I remember with fondness (my God, I’m starting to think is WAS camp) was the hour our Girl Scout leader, I mean psych unit nurse, told us to recall a few of our favorite activities.
“I know it’s difficult to think about that right now when you are so depressed,” she said.
“But you will enjoy those things again. I promise you. You WILL enjoy them again.”
I thought about four things that I love, that help me to decompress: going to the downtown park with Katherine and David (as long as everyone was behaving), long bike rides along the Severn River, runs around the stunning campus of the Naval Academy, and kayaking with David.
I shared those with the group and then listened to what energized my friends in the room: family picnics, murder mystery novels, journal writing, crossword puzzles, movies and popcorn, hiking through the woods, mountain biking, chess, video games, surfing the Internet, and so on.
Huh. Interesting. But I didn’t believe the nurse for a second.
Because I had been forcing myself to do those things I loved and even when I made myself accept an invitation to ride my bike with friends, I continued to cry along the way because the suicidal thoughts followed me, pestering me about nailing down a specific date and plan.
Still, I took the kids to the park. I rode my bike. I ran. Obsessing about death and crying most of the time.
But then one day I ran six miles without tears. Two weeks later I could push Katherine in the baby swing at the park without shaking. Three weeks after that I biked the Baltimore-Annapolis trail and made only one suicidal plan (instead of my average of six).
I suspect this is what was happening: My bumps were in the process of growing wings, so that they could fly away.
That’s Katherine’s theory. When bumps or other boo-boos go away, that means they have sprouted wings and taken off, into the sky.


About the same time as I overheard my thee-year-old biologist’s sophisticated explanation of how a bulge dissipates, I took David kayaking in Spa Creek. We explored all the little fingers and waterways of our charming town.
“Look David!” I said, “It’s a water turtle!” And then after he and I paddled up to it I wondered if it was dead (that’s why it was floating? Oh please don’t ask me about dead animals and where they go).
At that point I could have easily shifted into negative thinking–the polluted Chesapeake Bay, which is too toxic to host turtles and fish. But I didn’t. I rested my paddle on my lap, took in the gorgeous view of Annapolis, and soaked in the light, refreshing breeze. At which point I was tempted to kneel at the front of the kayak yelling “King of the World!” in real Leonardo DiCaprio style (referring to the “Titanic” scene for those confused readers).
And I thought to myself: “Oh … my … God … I’m happy!”
I immediately remembered that group therapy session at Johns Hopkins when the bubbly nurse promised us that we would positively and absolutely enjoy our favorite things again. In other words, our bumps would eventually grow wings and fly away.

  • Catherine Klong

    These are great tips…My husband died after 24 years, and left his insurance policy to his daughter, and left me swinging in the breeze!
    I smoke way too much, mostly when I’m on the computer. Just started a new job as I need the extra money now, and I’m alone, I don’t want to be alone, but the guys I’ve met, all they want is sex after the first or second date. I think these will help me if I let them. Thank you.

  • oceangirl1

    You know what really helps the most? If I pray in the morning before I do anything else, I have a much better day. I don’t mean the rushed prayer while doing other things. Those are OK, but if I actually take the time to kneel on a cushion on my living room floor and spend 20 minutes or so in prayer and worship – my day takes on a whole different perspective! Try it!

  • tabatha

    i’m constantly trying to find myself sense i had my children. With no time for a daily meditation because of the working mom syndrome, i feel as if my body, mind, and soul if filled with anxiety or anger. I always feel that i can’t stop to breath, because there is always something that needs to be done for the care of my children and husband. Finally when i do sit down to relax i feel a sense of guilt. is there anyone out there that feels the same way praying ror serenity.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know what in the world is wrong with me. I can’t pin point one single thing. So I will have to mark it up to hormones. I have just been having these mad fits and crying spells. I’m sitting in Sunday School and the lesson is on how some people are teapots, some are vases, some are cups and some are cereal bowls and how no matter what we are, God can use us. And I just bust out crying. I mean, I just don’t feel like I am being used for anything in any spiritual sense. I guess I am a sink full of dirty dishes.

  • Alison Whittington

    I love Katherine’s theory.
    Sometimes, joy is just as scary as sadness, if not more so because it can feel so unfamiliar. I was a kid who ate all my dessert as fast as possible because I was afraid it would be taken away before I could finish it, and I did the same thing with good experiences, because so many of them ended abruptly. Now, I’m learning how to rest in the joy, to savor it and really taste it, and to accept it. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

  • Crarazylady

    What’t up with all this crying. I haven’t been able to see my theripist for 2months and 2mos ago I lost my only freedom, my car. I cry everyday because all the people I know, especially my family have abandoned me. I don’t know what to do anymor. No one wants me around because all I do is complain about my husband-x-husband ( I don’t Know)I am paying my bills 2x/mo because suddenly there is two of me. I am right back where I was in 1979 when I thought I got a divorce but obviously I did’t. Can’t do Identity Theft cause then they would put the old man (who by the way is killiing himself with booze, his liver is not functioning an he is going to die.) in jail. I can’t do that no matter how hard I try. He has brainwashed my kids into thinking I am crazy and I am starting to beliefe it myself cause no matter whet I do to find and answer it still stays the same. You know the old saying, Nothing changes, nothing changes. I am now to the point where I am reaching out to God cause no one else wants to here my padantic whining anymore. Does someone have and answer on how I can get a more positive attitude cause no matter how I try I just can’t swallow it anymore. Everyone says it will get better. They have been telling me that for 35 years. How can I make it happen??????? Anybody????????????

  • yvonne

    I approach depression from two angles — I have it and I also work in a psych unit! I learned I probably have genetic depression (you can inherit the genes – not jeans – from your relatives) but there is also situational depression (death, divorce, job, health, etc.). If you find yourself in crying jags for no reason — feeling hopeless, sad, helpless, worthless, etc. — get help. You can see a counselor who with a psychiatrist will help with meds until no longer needed or if needed most of your life. If like crarazylady you need immediate help — go to a hospital — there you can be admitted if you are a danger to yourself or others. God answers prayers believe me and has angels working overtime for all of us but doctors and medicine have a purpose. A great psychiatrist i know said “fake it till you make it” — sometimes you have to try the things that will make you happy until it works (be it bubble baths, walks in woods, beach, etc.). You relearn how to love yourself and those special moments you’d like to freeze in time. Actually, serotonin (which relieves depression) can be obtained by exercise and being outside in the sunlight naturally. It is a combination that works that one strives for and there is help — I see people every day at work who can regain their joy often by just finding someone they can communicate with or cares. LOVE TO ALL

  • Teresa

    I’m a great believer in doing the right thing and living with the consequence. Often you have to be cruel to be kind. Don’t be dragged down by other people. We all have to look after our own interests. Stop worrying how things will effect others. At the end of the day, we can only do what we think is best, at the time. It made seem noble to be a rescuer, but it’s just taking away other people,s chance of dealing with their own problem. Easier said than done, i know, but possible.

  • Lisa

    I just wanted to share this story. It’s always helpful to me to reflect on Gods’ version of the story…The Cracked Pot
    A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the masters house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his masters house.
    Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
    After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”
    “Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”
    “I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your masters house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts.” The pot said.
    The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the masters house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”
    Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the Pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.
    The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pots side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my masters table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”
    Each of us has our own unique flaws. We re all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Fathers table. In Gods great economy, nothing goes to waste. Don’t be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty. Know that in our weakness we find our strength.

  • pritibrneies

    I have been suffering from depression for about 8 yrs. It all stared when my grandmother passed away. But I think I finally realized that I have been suffering since high school. I used to think about killing myself alot but never told anyone. An incident happened to me my freshman yr of high school and I never stop thinking of it. I am now 38 w/ 2 beatiful girlds I’m raising on my own. I have alot of dreams but I worry so much that it affects my progress. Jesus will help you get threw everything you just have to have faith in him, because he will deliver!!!!! I know you feel that things haven’t changed and yes it does take time. But, when you aren’t waiting for something and you try to to the best you can each day….Surprise he delivers!!! AMEN!!!!! I’m still delling with the devil & his crew but I have faith that he will make everything alright.

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