Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue: My Depression Support Group

Here’s my attempt to rationalize my addiction to Beyond Blue (and maybe to the Internet): it’s my support group.
Today it got the okay from my therapist.
“Do you think my behavior during my week in the country when I was supposed to unwind and find myself, but instead cursed all week at the slow dial up connection signals yet another addiction?”
“Not if it’s your support group,” she said.
COOL! Green (or Blue) Light!
I hadn’t realized until I was without free Wifi just how much I rely on you all to carry me through the day. During my week in the vineyards, I found myself saying things like, “I’ve got to save this story for Lynne,” or “Wait til Babs hears this one,” or “I hope Peg is having a better day today,” or “I wonder if Larry went to that high school reunion he was dreading.”
This could mean two things: I am becoming a loser whose friends exist only online (a step above the imaginary friends Katherine talks to in the bathtub), OR this virtual community is much stronger than I had been giving it credit. I need these guys more than I thought.


Ironically, one of Katherine’s preschool friends picked the same vacation as we did (to Traverse City, Michigan) the same week we did, and rented a car with the same company (Avis). We spent much of our three-hour layover in Detroit getting to know the family, as Katherine (and their son, Sam) propped naked barbies in the cool fountain in the middle of the main terminal, which drew spectators (who sent the image via cell phone to friends).
I was glad to get a chance to know Sam’s mom better, because our first conversation went like this (at the Valentine’s Day party at preschool):
“Your Sam’s mom, right?”
“Yeah, I’m Sandy.”
“I’m Therese. Thank you for your sincere thank you note.”
“For a dinner you brought us?”
“Yeah. The lasagna. But don’t worry, I didn’t cook it.”
She laughed.
“I’m so sorry,” I said, bursting into tears.
I didn’t know what to say. This woman had just lost her three month old to SIDS during Christmas break. What do you say to a mother who just lost her baby?
She teared up.
Three months later, she was pregnant with Sam’s sister, camped out with us at the cool fountain with the two barbies having a pool party, and taking the train back and forth across terminal A just for giggles.
The timing was perfect for my Barbara Walters interview.
“Do you mind me asking? What has been most helpful to you in dealing with your grief? I just can’t imagine.”
Our SIDS support group,” she said. “People who have been through the same thing and can speak from experience. Because nothing is more annoying than hearing folks say, ‘I know exactly how you feel.'”
“Oh really!” she continued. “You understand? You walked in on your baby dead from his nap when you just checked in on him twenty minutes prior? You understand?”
“But some of the couples we have met there live parallel lives to ours, and that’s been so important to Tony and I,” she said.
“I used to make fun of support groups,” Tony chimed in. “I thought they were like that scene in ‘Jerry Maguire‘ when he goes to a single mom’s support group. But nothing horrible had happened to me. You gain a whole new appreciation for these groups after going through something as traumatic as we did.”
Even though I hesitate to put depression into the same categorizing as losing your son (I don’t know exactly how they feel!), I could definitely relate to their assessment of support groups.
They’ve been my saving grace at so many unexpected times. Like during the ski trip of my freshman year in college, right after my mom and stepdad tied the knot, and treated the merged family to a vacation (think Brady Brunch on crack). I was nine months sober, having difficulty with all the heavy drinking. On New Year’s Eve, I couldn’t take it anymore.
I called the AA hotline and a young woman about my age came to pick me up. We spent two days together, snowshoeing and hanging out at her place.
“I just don’t get it,” my sister said to me when I returned to the condo tucked away in the Colorado Mountains. “How can you go off with a complete stranger? That’s just weird.”
“Because all the drinking was putting my sobriety in jeopardy, and I had to do what I had to do to stay on course. Besides, we had a lot in common and I had a great time.”
“Some people are lucky to have their friends and family be their support network, my therapist said to me today. “But when that’s not the case you have to build your support in any way you can. And if that place is online, I don’t see anything harmful in that.”
So there you have it. Rationalization with the stamp of approval from my therapist. You all are my support group. Thanks for being there.

  • Larry Parker

    The reunion’s not for another six weeks (but you remembered, amazing!). I’m still thinking about going — but still more dreading it than looking forward to it :-(

  • linda

    hey most people i know are so busy that using the internet to keep in touch is the only way we can stay in touch…also real friends can send you printed love that you can keep and post on the mirror if they email you

  • Cindy

    Dearest Therese,
    What a nice compliment that you gave to all of us who are your “cyber friends”. Whether we see each face to face or by email, it’s that human connection that is so important to each of us. As a newcomer, I have gained so much insight and help from your columns and readers.
    It’s so hard to talk to others who simply don’t understand how WE feel.
    God Bless everyone!

  • Blanche

    Tried therapy, didn’t help later. Tried medication, didn’t help later either. Tried AA, (in addition to the first two), and it’s helping.
    However, if it were not for my on-line friends, including Beyond Blue, I might have hidden in my closet with a bottle of vodka. God Bless all of you.

  • Deb

    I just recently discovered your website and am so relieved to have found it!! It’s so frustrating having to keep all these feelings hidden inside….it’s comforting somehow knowing that there are others that have the same thoughts and feelings that I do. My family doesn’t understand my illness and thinks that I should be able to just snap out of it, or that if I just had more faith in God that I wouldn’t suffer from depression and have suicidal thoughts. It’s nice to know there’s a place to go where I can find kindred spirits.

  • Wendi

    I’m making a lot of changes in my life, and the support and sense of community I’ve found here have been invaluable to me these past couple of months. Therese’s honesty has inspired me to be more open about who I am and the ways in which I struggle, and in doing so, I’ve found freedom I’ve never had. I’m definitely finding my way “beyond blue”, thanks to all the wonderful people here.

  • Lynne

    Let me share one of my greatest inspirations…My paternal grandmother. That lady spent the last twenty years of her life bedridden, so badly arthritic and extreme osteoarthrosis. She was an amazing spirit! She always had a story to tell and really interested in hearing yours. I always admired her courage,tenacity,and optimism in the face of what she was going through. She also had a tremendous faith and was the glue that held that side of the family together for such a long time. We all missed her tremendously when she finally passed away…but what a legacy she left behind. I still dream about her from time to time and I really believe she is my guardian angel. You want to talk about strong.. that lady was and still is my hero!

  • carryonwalker

    I had a thank God for Theresa moment today–I was over taken again by jealous, silly petty people who pray on emotional people like me. But because of this column I took the high road..not the real high road ( drinking or smoking) but I said to myself I’m going to get me something that I enjoy that won’t hurt me..a strawberry shake!” I told a friend in an email ( yes I am an email junkie too) that ‘Theresa would be proud of me!” and I thought about how “we” Theresa and I and so many others go through the same things– but with this column we are going to try to deal with it…differently. So today when I was upset instead of running to things that are bad for me..I ran to things that are good for me( hey I’m only 110 pounds I can afford it)..because no matter what I have to love myself. and I thank you Theresa– yes it may sound weird but your right I’ve found my support system in the weirdest place..but thank God I found it!

  • carryonwalker

    T-h-e-r-e-s-e I should really remember how to spell my new online friend who gives me free Therapy..LOL…boy some day’s I really look forward to reading if anyone else has had a day like me.

  • Paula

    It is so wonderful to have an online support group like this. I can read other people’s posts and know that if others are going through similar problems and make it through to the other side, I can make it.
    Knowing that I can simply go online and read Therese’s column and the comments that ensue make life just a little easier.
    Thank you Therese for being here for all of us that rely on your words of wisdom. Thank you to all of the wonderful people who make comments to help me through the day.

  • Lindsey

    Thank you for your email. I’ve begun carrying a scapular for mental health. I’m not Catholic, but I need everyone’s support including the Mother of God’s. I just wanted to say that Beyond the Blue is my support group as well. My family, my friends, my co-workers all have this great mental health status and don’t really understand my fatigue, irritability, or constant moodiness.
    Thank you for providing a space for people like us, those who feel everything and need a hand along the way.

  • LisaK

    Each day I can’t wait to come home and see what you’ve written…whether something new or something old, I always find a nuggest of strength. I have more to say, more I’m feeling, but can’t find the energy to write it all down. Just know, I think of you and all the friends often and appreciate all everyone has to say.

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