Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

J.K. Rowling’s Suicidal Days

Thanks to Beliefnet’s Lilit Marcus and my friend Priscilla Warner for the lead on J.K. Rowling’s quotes regarding her depression.
As much as I am pleased that she admits her despondency in the years before the Harry Potter series, and therefore contributes to lessening the stigma, it’s too bad, that once again, everyone hears that she was depressed BECAUSE of the ugly divorce from her first husband, Portuguese journalist Jorge Arantes.
We’re back to classic equation most people use when trying to understand a suicide or suicide attempt: Owen Wilson wanted to die because of the Kate Hudson separation, yada yada yada.
While I know that severe major depression and cycles of depression with bipolar disorder can be triggered by life events, they don’t make the depression. Depression, as I have said 100 times on Beyond Blue, is a brain disease, just like cancer or diabetes or arthritis. It is not caused by a divorce, or a bad breakup, or a job failure, just like a person doesn’t become diabetic when her husband is caught having an affair (unless she stuffs her face with Ben and Jerry’s to cope, that is). Even if those things precede a severe episode.


“The thing that made me go for help was probably my daughter,” said Rowling, referring to the then-infant, Jessica, reports the Telegraph. “She was something that earthed me, grounded me, and I thought, this isn’t right, this can’t be right, she cannot grow up with me in this state.”
While I appreciate her point here, it once again deceives the masses on the complicated and disabling bio-chemistry, on the neurological shut down, that happens inside the brain of a person with a serious mood disorder.
Despite Rowling’s suicidal thoughts, it’s possible that her depression wasn’t that severe. Because when a person wants to die as much as I wanted to die, no one thing is enough to save her. While I knew that I had to hang on for my kids, I also wanted to disappear for my kids. My self-esteem was so low that I wanted to get out of the picture so that they had a shot at a normal life without the baggage of a whackjob mom.
My God, think if everyone just had to think of their kids to save their lives! There would be so many less suicides. I truly wish that was all you needed to think about. But I know that this disease is so powerful and manipulative, that it finds a way to persuade you to end it FOR THE GOOD of your kids.
I applaud Rowling for speaking publicly about her darker days, for saying this: “I have never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed. Never. I think I’m abnormally shameless on that account because what’s to be ashamed of?”
I congratulate her on telling anyone who suffers from depression to “go and get help.” But I warn people of the shallowness in this one profile: that falling down with a breakup and picking yourself up for the kids can itself send a superficial impression of what, exactly, this brain disease is capable of.

  • Kevin

    Spot on. Always good to see someone flowing and growing and glowing. “Your future is so bright you and we gotta wear shades’ –? band from Texas in late 80’s or early 90’s.

  • Larry Parker

    My understanding is that J.K. Rowling lived in extreme poverty before Harry Potter. So that also could have contributed to her situational depression. (So could the U.K.’s notoriously gloomy weather.)
    I say “situational” because I don’t sense she is depressed now, being even richer than the Queen …

  • Anonymous

    So, what should people like J.K. Rowling do? Where can they get help? Please, this is an emergency to me. I know one day I can hang on or find motivation in food for me anymore. My bigger shape just tortue my mind day by day, and the more frequent purge exhausts me. I don’t know. It seems to be the only way for me to end all of this mess. I can’t prevent my down mood. Exercising, communicating with others, working… And I’M HOPELESS NOW. I just don’t know how long I can hang on because of my acknowledgement about God and his laws, about my parents’ love for me, about the big sin of suicidal. But, I just feel I’m frustrated more and more….. So, please, if there is anyway out for my bad, stupid thoughts, show me ASAP. Thank you so much.

  • Anonymous

    one reason my husband committed suicide was to spare the kids the shame of witnessing their dad’s demise publicly and so we would have financial (survivor’s) benefits instead of a husband and father in prison and we having to sell everything to get by. when my daughter was deeply mentally disturbed after her dad’s suicide and her own suicide attempts, she often blamed me for all the troubles she and our family experienced and often brought up times i cried and said i wanted to commit suicide when she was younger. it took everything in me at a time i felt truly abandoned by god to get me through those days and believe i deserved to live. even if it was all my fault, succumbing to the thoughts would only make things worse for them, i believe, because it sends a message that is the way to solve problems, and then they may feel encouraged to do the same, and i would be leaving a legacy of suicidality in my family.

  • Bev Y

    To the person after Larry’s post: you didn’t give your name.
    **It is so important that you be seen by a PSYCHIATRIST that you relate to. Shop around if you must but, talk and listen……talk and listen. What you hear from the doctor will start you on your path to better mental health.
    Millions work hard to stay off that roller coaster life. Depression or?? is a disease of the brain. Go to your regular doctor and ask he/she to suggest someone they know or have heard about. The ball is in your court………PLEASE GET SOMEONE TO LISTEN TO YOU. We care!!

  • Karen

    The best comment that I have ever heard,pertaining to suicide, is this,” Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” I know that for most of us,”temporary” is a relative term. Is this hell going to last for hours,days,weeks,is it ever to end? I’ll turn 50 in a couple of months and I can’t believe that I am still here.
    The meds have deffinately saved my life, no question. Vitamins and other supplements can help give a boost to a body that is in crisis. Some of us really don’t take care of ourselves the way other people do. We know that a certain therapy might help a bunch of people, but not have any effect on us. I tried all kinds of techniques to heal myself, but I finally had to admit that they weren’t working anymore. Taking that first antidepressant was a milestone for me. I finally had to admit to the fact that there WAS something seriously wronge with me. The best thing I did for myself was to get to the library and start reading everything that I could find on Depression. I didn’t care who wrote it, I read them all. After a time, I realized that the grey cloud that I had been living in was very common with other people, throughout the world. Somehow, that seemed to be a comfort, knowing that it wasn’t just me. There were patterns in behavior that I could recognize in myself. I also realized that I didn’t always behave this way. Something had changed and I had to find a way to change it back or I was going to die.
    Coming to this website was another milestone for me. I don’t discuss this matter with anyone, not even my family. This is the only place that I have been able to express how I’m really feeling about this issue. It seems to take some of the pressure off my brain for a while. Thanks very much for letting me have a safe place for my brain to relax a bit. Lady K

  • L Smith

    I know your intentions are good concerning this terrible affliction, but I sense that you are somewhat belittling Ms. Rowling’s experience because you judge it to be not as serious as yours. Please respect other’s suffering without dismissing it because you suffered “more.”

  • Jan

    Having had depression for most of my life, even as a child, I could never imagine life being any different. When my first antidepressant was prescribed, I went back to the doctor and said I had to stop taking it.
    She asked why and I told her because I’m a recovering alcoholic, I feared the medication was making me high and I might abuse it. She asked me to describe “high”. I did and she noted that most people feel the way I was feeling most of the time. That I was feeling as I should feel.
    I remember thinking that had I been given antidepressants at age ten or so I might have been a brain surgeon. I had never experienced joy or non-depression ever. I thank God every day that medications to help depression are available for people like me. Thanks so much, Therese, for founding this site. It’s wonderful with connect to others who understand. Jan

  • rose scherer-ullberg

    Sometimes it as simple as picking yourself up and dusting yourself off.
    Sometimes the wake up call is that you are responsible for children and that you love them enough to begin to help yourself. Even when depression is so severe that you don’t want to live, others can motivate you by their example. Though sometimes their healthy attitude makes you feel more inadequate. Take it from me, a woman who is beginning to pick herself up after years of being told she had “problems”. Sometimes negative attention is a pay off and you need to realize you have to take care of yourself first before you can help others. Writing out your thoughts really helps.

  • Dawn

    There are differing degrees of depression and differing causes. Situations in life DO exacerbate depression when one experiences emotional and difficult life issues. What is the “root” cause or “immediate” cause can be different with individuals and does not make the other less real. And I agree that while saving grace such as children can cause one to argue the pros and cons of an individuals demise, I do believe that for some individuals, the concern for those loved members can help pull us through. This does not necessarily help everyone as we all think differently while experiencing depression. If we can find something to hang onto while experiencing depression, lets use it, don’t belittle it or minimize the positive influence on some of us. That is also to say don’t blame depressed people who don’t feel the same way, as yes we are all different in the way we think and feel while depressed…similarities and differences. I guess that is why we are human.

  • don

    No I don’t suffer from depression. I snap back from life’s events rather quickly. I am not a doctor or ‘expert’ in any way. So why am I commenting? I have been married to a depressive for almost 20 years. Do my attempts to lovingly yet firmly help actually make things worse? I have no idea and no one can or will tell me. Is what she says or does because of the meds or the disease? Who knows! several times she has had her MD take her off then back on in a year or so.In the last year or so she ‘forgets’ to take her meds, or does she? Who is the real Jen, the one I married, or was she always like this? She doesn’t know, nobody does. I try my best to get her to open up by request, by example, by negative example(showing her how it feels) Yeah. I know, wrong choice, but I keep trying because I love her and made the committment. I save most of these newsletters and articles waiting for a good time to share them with her… Opps, there is no good time. Well I thank you for letting a spose of a depressive woman vent a little. I just wish she would, not just about work, kids and traffic but feelings, dreams, fears, etc. Am I asking too much? thanks again

  • Lotta

    I get what your saying in this article. Especially the first portion, where you talk about how folks who haven’t experienced it like a simple equation. Bad Event = Depression. Or even, Bad Person = Depression.
    It makes me think of how much I dislike the phrase, “Why don’t you just….” coming from folks who haven’t suffered from depression. It’s well meaning but frustrating as they can’t fathom why there is no easy solution. Sure I would love to get up and jog 2 miles everday. I’m sure the endorphins would be fantastic. But right now I just want the energy to get into the shower.
    I think what I find the most disheartening is the blame that gets heaped on to those that are depressed. My uncle committed suicide from depression and his family didn’t want to attend the funeral. They felt that he had betrayed them by not getting well.
    An in-law is struggling with the fact that a sibling “won’t stop laying around the house” after they had to quit their job because of depression.
    I’m realizing that no matter how much I care for folks who have had an easier upbringing or never experienced depression. It’s important for me to stay connected to those who have struggled, or are struggling with it. It’s the only way to get the compassion that you need to keep moving forward.
    Warm Regards,

  • Phil

    I think this conversation and website can only be seen as a positive influence on all who suffer from mental illness. As Jan said, we need a place to speak out about our illness and this is a forum for feeling accepted and understood. The science of brain chemistry and the associated illnesses are really in its infancy. Although the medical community have made wonderful advances in understanding depression, bi-polar illness and schizophrenia, issues surrounding stigma, comparing it to other conditions, and the work-related challenges of managing our mental health continue to challenge us.

  • jt

    Thank you.

  • Cyn

    Due to the tremendous error on the part of the obstetrician, my son
    was born with ADHD, Aspergers, OCD and tourettes. His Psychiatrist, a
    wonderful woman, had him try many medications. He is now taking Risperdal and Depakote. He was very aggresive and violent towards his
    younger brother and sister. I was on guard 24/7. She asked if I
    could use something to help ME. She gave me Xanax and Celexa. I was not
    depressed. The father (my ex) was never around, so I worked per diem so
    I could be home when the children were out of school. The celexa prevented me from crying. I went through menopause without a problem or
    any signs of problems. I continued to take them, at one point when he
    was going through puberty he had to be hospitalized because of his
    mood swings and my dosage was upped for the celexa. Last year, I
    decided to stop taking the celexa. I had some headaches for about a month and then they stopped. But the point of this is to ask if other
    women who have taken anti-depressants felt the symptoms of menopause
    AFTER they stop taking the meds. I know I felt very strange, mood
    swings, not being able to stay focused, pretty much what most women
    have told me menopause was like for them. I’m very curious as to
    whether or not it is a good idea for doctors to prescribe anti-depressants to menopausal women who are not clinically depressed.

  • Kim

    Don: While I commend you for staying married to this depressive wife of yours, Yeah, I think you’re asking too much. YOu sound completely frustrated, as you have a right to be. Have you ever gone to counseling? It may help you to empathize. As far as understanding: you will never understand until you have lived it. Since that’s probably not going to happen(lucky you)maybe you should stop trying to understand what cannot be understood. Just try the empathy. Sympathy we can do without. And don’t try to give her a dose of her own medicine. You’re right, totally wrong approach. Depression in any form is no big picnic. It’s a disease. Try to see it as such. Hang in there.

  • don

    thanks.. I talk to my pastor but probably not enough. I will take a step back just keep loving her. Being Mr. Fix-it is not always the thing to do. I just feel so helpless somtimes not being able to make a positive difference.

  • Cam

    For Don – same situation here…married for over 25 years and tried dealing w his depression in a million ways. I stayed for all the wrong reasons. It never got better…nearly ruined us financially – lost myself in the process of trying to help him – am now free.
    My hope is that he will take the responsibility to get the help he needs.
    As for me – at 47 – I am finally on a road to learning about who I am and what I want out of life. I gave up 30 years of my life trying to make him better. I intend to spend the next 30+ making me better. I honestly think he is happier, too.
    I wish you peace and strength. I truly understand all the things you are not saying just by reading your words.
    Sending a gentle hug your way.

  • S H Ziegler

    If you think depression is only a physical disease you have no understanding of the mind body connection and yes a nasty divorce can trigger the symtoms of depression and the chemical inbalance, but the cure starts with the mind

  • terrie mason


  • Carol

    Therese, I really wish that everyone read your column. Not just people who are suffering from depression but people who want to learn more about it so that they can understand that it IS a disease and not a mood change brought on by a life changing event. I’ve lived with this disease for years and NO ONE understood that or recognized it as a disease. Thank you for affirming and educating your readers that this is a disease and not something that will be cured by finding a new boyfriend, or because you have to be here for your family. As you said. Everyday is a new challenge to fight these thoughts of everyone would be BETTER OFF without you or that you just want to give up because it’s been a long hard struggle and you’re tired of daily challenge and just want some peace. To us peace can equal death. I feel that the only thing that gives me the strength is to educate myself so that I can better prepare myself for this life long battle. Knowledge is power, and the Lord knows all of us with this disease, power is one of the tools to help us with the daily struggle. Thank you for letting me express myself and I am comforted that I finally found a place where I’m not made to feel that’s “all in my head” or “I’ll get over it”.

  • Marcia Machado

    Very interesting article. I too suffer from depression, and after many years of trying to get over it, I finally got the help I needed. I would cry every single day, feelings of sadness, guilt, you name it. Althouth I never had the thought of taking my life, I was pretty miserable, despite my efforts of trying to look happy. I still struggle, but its definately more manageable now. I also wish people would recognize it for what it is, a disease, rather than just a “get over it” attitude. Thanks again.

  • Sean Kirk

    How discouraging that, like so many proponents of the “disease model” – sometimes called the “medical model” – of mental illness(es), you cannot countenance even the existence of instances of depression that are not originated by chemical imbalances but instead a cause of them, at least to some extent.
    When engaged in evaluation and diagnosis of someone’s mental condition, one of the factors that determines whether the condition described is “pathological,” i.e. of an organic/chemical origin, is whether or not the sensations, emotions and thoughts experienced are in response to external life events or are instead “chronic,” i.e. persistent regardless of events in one’s life going well or poorly, getting better or getting worse.
    While the “disease” you describe undeniably exists, and is all but impervious to the so-called “talking cures” of traditional Psychological therapies, there are also instances of repetitive, cyclical destructive and defeatist thought patterns that can, in fact, be dealt with largely without the use of medicines designed to alter brain chemistry, at least beyond some initial intervention. Your insistence that ALL depression is a physical “brain disease, just like cancer or diabetes or arthritis” (only one of which is even sometimes a “brain disease” I might point out) may actually serve to further disempower people, which is unfortunate.
    Tell me, in what sense does your exclusively “disease model” view of depression serve as a model for a “spiritual” journey to mental health?

  • windyblue

    Depression can be very debiliating. And cause a person to thing the only way out is sucide. I suffer from depression, and well mine runs in my family. The sadness, felling of helplessness. it does become at times overwhelming. And I to suffered a divorce after 20 years of marriage and that to caused me to go into a deep depression. But thank God for medication, and counseling it has been a life saver for me.
    It was good that JK Rowling found Harry Potter, and started to write.
    It opened up a whole new world for her and many other people. Now she has millions. And many good friends. And the public has books about a boy who dispite losing his parents, he became a wizard, and made lots of new friends. And fought evil ” He who should not be named.”
    I totally enjoy Harry Potter. And I hope JK Rowling’s has some new books in the works.

  • Michelle

    It seems as tho your saying and making light of another person’s reasons for becoming depressed…Depression has many forms. I to held on to my thoughts of suicide and wanting to “end it” for my childrens sake. No one else was around to take care of them after my divorce but me,,,so yes looking to them for strength is what it took for me to get past it,,,I still to this day cry myself to sleep everynight wishing my life was different,,,,but i hide from my children and my friends..
    I have no chemical imbalances or family history of depression. Simply struggling thru life as a single parent has brought on my boughts with depression.
    It infurates me that you think unless you have a “Medical/ Clinical” disease that you cant possibly be depressed.
    Come to my house for a month and figure out how to feed my children and have heat and water and clothing,,,,and lets not forget formula and diapers,,,with absolutley no sleep,,,go to work all day after begging family members to babysit for nothing,,,all because my ex decided he didnt want to be a daddy,,,,I guarntee you will “BECOME” depressed just like i did.

  • Dorraine

    Thanks Therese,
    I don’t know how many people I’ve ‘corrected’ on the suicide issue when they say that someone is being selfish when they want to kill themselves.
    When we’re depressed, our mind simply isn’t working right and we can easily convince ourselves that our loved ones would be better off without us and the world would be a better place. That is just the nature of the disease—not selfishness. Sometimes I just wish they could step into my head for just one day and see if they can do as well as I have with this disease.

  • shell

    I agree with you. It is defifnitely something in our brain that has a chemical inbalance. I have had several people in my famly that have gone through depression. My mom and i and at least one aunt that I know of that actually comitted suicide. It’s not something tha I can control on my own and that’s what others doon’t realize. My husband used to try to tell me it’s a bunch of crap and that nothing was wrong with me. So how come is it then that my mother went through it, I do, and one of my sisters is on medication for it also? I finally went for help, but I am only at the beginning. I’ve been in that instance to where I felt that maybe I should leave or end my life just so my kids don’t have to endure the pain of seeing the one person in their life that they are supposed to look up to be a crazy nut. I saw it with my mom and I remember how helpless I felt. I don’t want them to go thru that. Mine seems to have gotten worse since I got married to my now husband. Guess we need to eliminate those things in our lives that cause the problem even worse!

  • Caroline

    Thank you, Therese!
    And God bless you!!
    This is exactly what I was trying to explain to my sister an hour ago when she asked me what the heck was wrong with my life for me to be having another depressive episode. She means well, she offers suggestions (Do you need to move south so you get more sun? Do you need to change jobs?) she asks what it is that made me take a nose dive once again, what was it this time? She has never been depressed. She can’t grasp the concept of being depressed for no apparent reason. There is no chance she could understand the concept of wanting to die so your kids have a chace to have a normal life. Thank you for making me feel understood.
    *big hug*

  • ariescat

    i have a medical form of depression–chemical imbalance–and it is a lifelong illness. Drugs have actually made it worse at times due to taking away all emotions except anger, which I refuse to live with on a daily basis. I manage now by turning neg. thoughts to positive thoughts or actions, breathing exercises, and especially PRAYER which works much much better than any drug available anywhere!!!!
    However, SITUATIONAL depression can happen to anyone and if a person already has a medical form the depression will seem doubled. Situational depression is very debilitating and is essentially the more devastating at times. Especially when the situation drags out and last over a long period of time.
    Please pray for all who suffer and may the Lord grant them peace.
    May any who suffer find a way to cope in a positive way and find support for themselves and others.

  • Richard

    Dear Therese
    From one person with a brain disease to another, I have got to tell you that I feel like your buttons got pushed, but I think I understand–a little. I have a story about a different situation which I hope will give a little light. A couple of years back, due to a problem during a routine (?) surgery, I had a temporary “disease” in that there was a blockage which restricted the volume of blood going to my right leg. Not a disease in the sense of cells gone crazy, attacking the wrong stuff; but a disease of blockage. You know, like heart disease?
    Due to the medical bureaucracy it would be several months before I would have another routine surgery and get the fix. But in-between, I was lame. I couldn’t walk around the block without stopping. Standing or sitting could produce pain. Just like any other disease, some days were better than others. There were also a number of people whose respective necks I wanted to ring.
    I heard everything from just walk it off to the blatant, “You can walk. I have seen you walk.” Yes, I walked from the door to the car or across the living room. And the same people, who up until then I thought were sane, would again tell me to walk and I would (without physical violence) tell them yet again that there was a problem in my leg. It didn’t take long for any “leg comments” to send me into what might be overreaction mode. I didn’t really want to squeeze their neck until their eyes popped out, it was just a momentary reaction.
    I have not seen the article on Rowling but my guess that she had what I would call simple or temporary depression. Yeah, maybe she did get suicidal but some of us are pre-wired to be that way; and for us, it is not going to be a simple method of “think of my kids” and that will get us out of it. I was kind of lame for the better part of a year. I have no idea what it would be like to be inclined to be that way all the time. In my case it was a particular surgery which provided the fix, but that is not going to be the case for every other person.
    Anyway, if Rowling gave the impression that every depression could be changed by positive thoughts, she didn’t know what she was talking about. Therese, you have had a lot of years for well-intentioned but stupid people to aggravate to the point of distraction. I think that came across in your message. Take care Therese.

  • waningmoon54

    This last blog post felt to me like a stinging slap in the face. With one sweeping motion the existence of the sorrow of people like Edgar Allen Poe is denied. Cannot it possibly be that for some of us, depression arises out of a “brain disorder”, but for others, it arises out of a “soul disorder”; still with others it is a horrible combination of the two? An artist’s sorrow is not “just being a crybaby”. Loss is loss. Loss causes mourning whether it’s because a pet expired or a boyfriend packed up and left. To all of us who live inside bodies beseiged with cancer, or who stuff ourselves trying to fix a broken heart, or (like me) who live with the never ending self care rituals that come with diabetes, or the suffering of loneliness, or the self-lothing of low esteem: May God be merciful and kind to you today. You are not alone. You need ANOTHER KIND of medicine to heal your soul, and what you and Ms. Rowling feel is very real.

  • todd vincent

    Long after some of the hospitals i’ve been to (trying to learn’n’cope) have closed, today i still have much to learn about my bi-polar ( chemical imbalance ). Acceptance after fourty two years is such a load off. I had several times thought it “the right thing to do”, to die for the best of all who knew me, to save them from the horrors of hurting because of me , then or ever more…right or wrong these are realities of ideas that pervade depression and bi-polar. TO BE SURE… @ least now we understand we aren’t so alone

  • S. Tapia

    I have suffered from depression for a very long time. I can’t beleive that depression goes away. It’s a brain disease. There isn’t anything that can make it go away. Medication helps the person to be able to funtion. A person with depression can lead a somewhat normal life. Depression never goes away. I’ve often wondered. There are so many, many people that have lots of money. Some people have so much money that they will never be able to spend it. Why save all this money? Why don’t these people give their money to research. Reseachers can learn new things about depression, autism, and so many other disorders. I cannot believe a famous person will spend thousands of dollars on a purse. A purse is a purse. No one cares who made it. as long as it serves its purpose. The famous author of Harry Potter, how much money has she given away to research?

  • Karma Kane

    I grew up with a single parent father and he had this disease, back then they just doped people up to keep them out of the way…now I am happy to see that depression is no longer a stigma but something out in the open that needs to be addressed as it affects many with emotional and physical symptoms. I have never been ashamed of my depression, nor was my father. I learned early on there was a valid reason for it and knowing that has helped me cope many times.

  • Roddenberry

    Is it a brain disease or a normal state of human psyche ?

  • Joanne

    Labelling depression as a disease and yourself as a diseased person offers little hope of regaining a ‘normal’ brain chemistry. Our thoughts are electro-chemical and negative thoughts develop into a downward spiral that affects your brain chemistry. Yes drugs are a crude way of correcting them but are less than an ideal approach.
    Some people learn how to do depression early in life by the example of those around them. others have an event or series of events that shake the foundations that they have built for their self image or self esteem. It isn’t any less real, it isn’t minimising it in saying that but it does offer you a glimmer of hope that you can learn new ways of thinking that will not lead to that awful slide down into depression.
    Depession does not have to be a life sentence.

  • Dona F. Tatum, CPSS

    I am a Certified Peer Support Specialist in the state of Michigan. The requirements to be a Peer Support Specialist is to have a diagnosis of mental illness, believe in recovery, and be willing to tell your story to others and instill HOPE. Inorder to recover we have to realize first, you are not your diagnosis and don’t identify youself AS your mental illness. Second, we are still somebody and we are to be treated with respect and dignity. Third, we can manage our symptoms with medication and WRAP (go to Wellness Recovert Action Plan.
    We can be active and productive inspite of mental illness. There is also a movement to “Erase Stigma” we just had an Erase Stigma Comference here in Detroit with guest speaker Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General. There is such a thing as Recovery 250 Certified Peer Support Specialist in Michigan are evidence. Michigan State Coordinator is Pam Warner, for more information.

  • Karen

    Although I agree that depression is a brain illness, I disagree that it is NEVER caused by events in life. This is such a thing as “situational depression”. I also went through a depression after my divorce. It was caused by the deep despair of still loving my ex and having him leave for another women. I also was depressed to see my young child suffer because of the situation, as well as my fear over the future. I also decided to get counseling for the trauma of divorce as well as an antidepressant. After I grieved the loss and started to accept my situation, the depression started to subside little by little. This was 13+ years ago and time has healed that emotional wound. During that period, was I depressed? Absolutely! This same type of situational depression also happens to those who lose someone to death. Were they despondant before the loss? No….after the loss? Most definately. There are many reasons people get depressed…some are short term…not everyone that has depression because of a traumatic event has long term, debilitating depression.

  • Larry Parker

    My sister has diabetes, which she certainly considers a disease.
    She certainly does not consider herself a “diseased person.”
    It seems to me you’ve taken a leap of logic that only makes sense if you’ve already internally incorporated the stigma the outside world puts on those with depression.
    For myself (with the understandable exception of at work), with friends and somewhat even with family I am open about my struggles and turn around “bipolar” as a stigma-busting term. Kind of like gays fighting AIDS have readopted the term “queer.”

  • Larry Parker

    L Smith:
    You’re right, I was a bit insensitive to J.K. Rowling — particularly because her darkest days came at an entirely different stage of her life.
    Better to say that, if her depression (G-d forbid) returns today, she has unlimited resources to deal with it — unlike most Americans, and to a certain extent unlike even her poorer countrymen and -women who at least have a National Health Service.
    Sean Kirk and so many others:
    This is why (particularly with Therese’s involvement with Catholic book publishing) we get into constant debate between what is clinical depression and what is a religious “dark night of the soul.”
    Funny that we haven’t been able to come up with a definitive answer (although at least one of Therese’s guest posters tried), and probably never will.

  • Vicky

    I come from a family where depression runs rampant. At this time I
    have a dear brother who has been living in a state of depression and panic for the last 8 mos. Prior to that he also had it but somehow was
    able to work and at least deal with it on a “semi-functional” level. At least he was able to go to work. He has not worked for the last 8
    mos., has no health insurance and has been relying on my elderly mother
    for financial support. She has helped him with payments to psychiatrists and counselors but nothing seems to help! I know he wants to believe in God, but for some reason says he cannot. I pray for him all the time and try to tell him that he is not the sum of his
    disease and his passed “failures”.I have told him he is his potential,
    that the past can furnish him as a learning tool to try to never repeat the same mistakes again. This is truly heartbreaking! He is a kind, compassionate and caring man but his depression is zapping him of everything. He finds the therapists to be mechanical, robotic and uncaring and feels that there is no medication to ease the problem (and
    he has been prescribed just about every anti-depressant there is). I
    wish there was a group of kind and caring peolple with whom he could identify. He has no money, a leased car ready to be repossesed. My mother is on a fixed income and by no means a wealthy woman. I take
    an antidepressant also but my depression is not as severe as his. He
    went to AA because he was self-medicating with alchohol and pot. He weaned himself off of Xanax and pot cold turkey. I just feel that if something doesn’t happen soon we’ll lose him. A person cannot live in a
    perpetual state of fear and panic. We even admitted him into the psych
    ward of a local hospital where he was treated with little compassion. We told the hosptial several times prior to admission that he was not
    employed and had no health insurance. They kept hime overnight, the attending psychiatrist prescribed him 2 incompatible medcations which the pharmacist caught, telling him that he could have died had he taken
    them both as prescribed! After all this and explaining he had no insurance they sent him a bill for $3,400.00!! They just exacerbated the problem by putting him in more debt! Therese, if you read this, can you please give me some advice in trying to help him? Where could I find some kind of a non-profit group where he could find compassion and acceptance? We live in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. person!! In addition to the above, his illness has caused a rift in my family. I have family members who cannot relate to his illness and label him a fake-
    the classic story of how this disease can destroy families! Therese,
    if I am lucky enough to have you read this can you offer any advice?
    We live in Ft. Lauderdale Fla. How could I go about finding a “non-profit” type of group setting with which maybe he can relate? And, thank-you so much for all the help, caring and inspiration you give us through Beyond Blue-you are a trully wonderful person!

  • Gayla

    Gosh … you sound a little bitter towards JK Rowling … before her ‘Harry Potter’ days or not. The state of my financial affairs has caused me some concern and even some disappointment on occasion but, I love people, not money. I strongly agree with Karen about ‘situational depression’. As human beings, we are up and down as part of our nature. However, when the ‘down’ lasts overly long, that’s what I call depression. I had bouts of this when I got divorced, (same situation as Karen), and when my mother (also my best friend) died at the age of 49 from Lupus, and when my beloved baby brother died as the result of an undiagnosed blood clot last summer. Honestly, I think I can’t move past that last one but I’m trying. And that’s the key to life in general, isn’t it? Keep on trying. Ultimately, each of us is responsible for our own happiness.

  • Anonymous

    I still think that it is chemicals in the brain that cause moods. I think all moods are chemical. People’s brains are “awash” in chemicals of the brain’s own making. Hormone secretions, all kinds of glandular secretions. Food can have a lot to do with the predominance of certain secretions and the suppression of others, and the type and amount is always fluctuating. I think the mind just responds to the chemicals by constructiong thoughts that match (explain) the mood. I feel down, then the mind says,”why?” and gives the answer, “my husband left,that is why I feel down”. Of course the husband’s leaving certainly caused an onrush of certain chemicals that relate to fear, loss, loneliness, etc. But it is the chemicals that produce the mood even though they may be triggered by external events. Is it a viscious circle? Maybe, indeed! Try food, it helps, the right food! lIke wheat grass juice, not Baskin and Robbins!

  • w. davis

    The very imaginative stories that this exceptional woman has generated on the dark side of witches and witchcraft speaks of a person whose need to escape the realities of her existence delivers herself from the haunting by writing out these fantasies. The Harry Potter series that catapulted her to fame also brought into her life the financial stability she needed.
    Of course, how could she have known what the result of her efforts could turn out to be in the life of her child and herself. I believe her vision of the occult leaves one in awe and wondering where she received her inspiration to write that first Harry Potter novel. Thank God it is a novel and based on fiction created in the mind of the author. Does the world of Harry Potter really exist somewhere? In the words of a famous king of Siam: It is a puzzle! I do hope J. K. Rowling understands that her fiction is really fiction!

  • Carol

    My Family has always been a depressed bunch from my Father’s side which is the side I know best. My husband’s family suffers from bipolar from his Mother’s side. His Father spent the last forty years of his life in an institution. Guess I must be lucky as the blues hits me but I keep it under control… without meds without drugs and without booze. My daughter has it bad and stays on her meds faithfully. I don’t feel any shame for it it is just a fact of life.

  • John Bonifant

    I am not depressed. Never have been and can not imagine how horrible this disease must be. I am not a doctor so you may take what I say with a grain of salt. However, I do study, my avocation is, health. For what this is worth I recommend an excellent starting place for any one with depression wold be Dr. Ray Sahelian,M.D.’s book “Mind Boosting Secrets” especially chapter 19, “Supplements that fight Depression”.
    One caution here. When those of us who believe in good nutrition suggest vitamins and supplementation that does not mean to run to your closest Walmart or drug store and stock up. Buying health products at places like these would be like going to a junk yard to buy a car. If you were a really good mechanic and new what you were doing you might find a good deal every now and then but the average person would be wasting their money and end up with a poor ride or no ride at all. To help you choose your vitamins and supplements correctly find a doctor who is a N.D., naturopathic doctor. Few M.D.’s are trained in nutrition and while their intentions may be honorable their knowledege in the field of nutrition is probably only slightlt better than their patients.

  • Margaret Tupper

    We talk to many people with depression in the Health Food Store. There is so much to try that WORKS….No.1 for most people is SAMe or 5HTP….many times talking helps and don’t be afraid to give a person a hug when they want to cry.Death or divorce of a spouse seems to be a large culprit, so difficult when the groups and vacations shared by couples are suddenly wiped out.I think it is great that people are now posting comments on this, let us hope it will help many.

  • Virginia McCarron

    Interesting group of comments, most of which I disagree with or are just flippant or ignorant. You do sound bitter towards JK, whereas I can relate. …My children were the one focus I had 14 years ago when I knew that I would drive off the edge of a cliff and kill myself…but not today, because I had to “get home and wash my boy’s socks and get them dinner”. I spent 8 years in therapy and some of that time on meds. My acute depression had been triggered, but not caused, by a number of emotional traumas in my life that occured close together. Don’t simplify or ridicule the causes of depression, don’t think you are above it. I am and always have been an “optimist”, the last person any of my friends would have thought would have been diagnosed with Acute Clinical Depression. You never know.

  • Phyllis Erman

    Depression is a disease that must be handle properly. No amount of guesswork with supplements can be a substitution for the medications prescribed by a medical professional and partnered with a compassionate and competent therapist. I believe that an episode of some magnitude can be the catalyst for someone who has this disease. Books by Evelyn Wood, M. D. and An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison, Profeesor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, examine the signs and treatment of depression/bipolar disorder. The more education one gets on this topic the more help the person that is suffering can obtain. This is a very serious disease and can only be diagnosed by symptoms, history, and a very competent source. thank you for the opportunity to reach out to others in need.

  • MS

    I feel very sad you have commented on J K Rowlings situation in such a negative way. Every individual’s perception of depression is very real to them. So maybe you (or anyone) are not in a position to say how severe their depression is. The mind is extremely powerful and I believe we have the power to heal ourselves of dis-eases, even cancer! Our emotional state of mind contributes to dis-eases, so a major trauma in our lives (such as a divorce) can bring about depression. I feel deeply for anyone who is suffering with depression, whether you call it depression, severe depression or a breakdown! Also it is equally difficult for those of you watching your loved ones go through this pain. Know that the guidance is there if you choose to follow it.

  • Jamie

    As a longtime sufferer of depression, I can’t overstress the debilitating effect this disease has no a person and his family. I think one of the best descriptions of the effects of this devastating diease was on 60 minutes and it was by one of the popular singers from the 1970′ she said that there were days when she could not even empty the dishwasher. While it is a trivial example, it exemplifies that tauma and devastation caused by this disease.

  • Phoenix

    My kids are the one reason I’m alive right now. I have Bi-Polar disorder. They are the reality that keeps me here. During my seperation from my husband during our divorce it literally almost killed me not to be with them everyday. Granted they do quirky stuff that makes me very agitated and triggers my bi-polar to run, but they are what stops me from running away as I would otherwise. I’ve been in therapy most of my life and didn’t find out till I was out on medical disability for a physical because of my weight that I was Bi-Polar. There are more people who suffer from depression then most will admitt. I believe those with depression are more the norm unfortunately. My whole family suffers from some form of Mental Illness and this is for several generations same with my husbands family. Life is what you make it. You have to pull your self up by the boot straps and get on with it sometimes it takes someone you really love to keep you there.

  • Teresa

    I get so frustrated with people that say ‘it’s just the way they were made’. I get so excited when i hear experiences like Rose’. i can relate to her journey 100 per cent. Life is a challange, but whats the alternative. Also Dona, i am just about to embark on the peer support training, Chris Martin is coming over from Arizona to train us (does everything start in America?) It’s the first time they’ve run it in England. They have run one in Scotland.
    I don’t always agree with your opinion Therese, but admire the fact that everyone’s comments are published. ‘My mind is like a parachute, it only functions when it is open’.

  • Roy McDowell

    I have been diagnosed with Bi-polar depression for 11 years now, I have Bi-polar but my cycles tend to stay in the depressed area more than Manic.
    It is sad that you were so dismissive of Ms. Rowlings statement about
    “The thing that made me go for help was probably my daughter,” said Rowling, referring to the then-infant, Jessica, reports the Telegraph. “She was something that earthed me, grounded me, and I thought, this isn’t right, this can’t be right, she cannot grow up with me in this state.”
    I can speak from personal experience that the “feeling” of resposibility to others or other things can and is a factor in saving MY life on several occassions, it has been the ONLY thing that kept me out of the hospital or attempting suicide for several years.
    I felt responsible for taking care of a partner who was also Bi-polar and the animals we had at the time. It kept me out of the hospital for 8 years. That is not to say that I may have needed to go at times, it is just saying that it was enough for me not to go FULLY suicidal.
    When the partner and I seperated I was depressed but never got suicidal over the break-up, but a psychological boost was gone.
    In the last year and a half I have been hospitalized 14 times. Twice for suicide attempts, once was called in by others. Two times were for emergency adjustments for my medication. The remainder of times that I was hospitalized was for suicidal thoughts.
    To put that in perspective, I have been hospitalized a total of 16 times for Bi-polar and/or Depression in my entire life. Three for suicide attempts.
    There is no question that you have no right or capability to say how sever another persons depression is or is not. I feel and felt insulted everytime someone said or says “It is not that bad” or “Just get over it”. Even if you were a mental health professional, you do not know all the situation about her case to make such a statement.
    You used the example of cancer, diabetes or arthritis as examples. In every case (cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Bi-polar and/or depression). You never know how sever a persons condition is unless you are that person.
    I have Bi-polar and it is a terminal disease. I will die with it. Either after a life time of dealing with it or by my own hand.

  • Jonathan Powers

    Actually, I’m in great disagreement with the whole “disease model” when it comes to moral/character problems. And with JK Rowling it was a character/moral problem, not a brain disease. She failed and was a failure as a wife. Her marriage failed and she recognized her moral failure. This is what CAUSED her depression, not a chemical imbalance.
    Far too many people blame their inability to live up to standards of character and morality on “brain disorders” or chemical imbalances. This is a lie created by drug pushers, who want us to be a nation of pill-popping workers who are made happy in unacceptable jobs, in unacceptable situations. Pop your Prozac and now you can enjoy your dead-end job.

  • Bob Seaver

    After looking over the rules of conduct I returned to the posting page to find that my comment was gone, so because it was brief and I am afraid it might have been lost (maybe a touch of ocd? :-)) I am posting it again.
    While clinical depression is certainly a disease and not caused by external events, it can make us vulnerable to suicidal thoughts. When I was deeply depressed because of age it was the thought of my grandchildren and how they might feel to have a suicide in their lineage that brought me around. Fortunately, medication has made my underlying disease manageable so I did come around.

  • donna

    i think there are different ‘kinds’ of depression…there is clinical chronic depression that is a disease caused by any number of things…and there is the kind of depression that ALL normal people go thru from time to time over sad events and disappointments in life…the kind we NEED to go thru and WORK THRU to learn to DEAL with the sadness in life…if one cannot emerge from those disappointments – then perhaps it is a clue that there is more going on…i, personally, have been thru the ‘temporary’ feelings of being depressed after deaths, bad marriage…health problems..etc….but sought counseling and have learned how to deal with disappointment-hurts and pain….suffering is optional for those who do not have a chemical problem…
    the daughter of a friend of mine was in a long time relationship that broke up…it was the first real BIG disappointment of her life and of course she was very sad and upset for a time…her mother sent her to see a psychiatrist who put her on drugs for depression, rather than counsel her…sorry but i think this is WRONG and it happens ALOT…the girl has no past history of depression…and she SHOULD feel sad- and depressed and LEARN HOW TO HANDLE the disappointment…not mask the GRIEF she needs to go thru…life is full of disappointments and pain but also full of joy if we look for it…and not everything is fixed by a pill….YES there are those who truly DO need medication BUT not everyone does and honestly- it is getting to the point where i know more people on meds than not…and that- to me is scary…some of these people have become unfeeling robots who just slide thru life and do not care, anymore….very sad, indeed…not EVERYONE who ‘gets depressed’ has clinical depression with a diagnosis…sometimes life just SUCKS and we have to learn to DEAL….and move on…

  • Tom McNamara

    To Jonathan Powers…
    As I read these comments, it seems to me that that a majority of comments are posted by people who have never battled depression? Depression is something that is very difficult to describe and it also is the worst of deceases, I would rather battle severe cancer than deal with how depression can completely take over your life. I call it the lonely decease because it’s difficult to even describe how you feel and it is always overwhelming in every aspect of your normal day to day activities.
    The lack of understanding of everyone who has never had it including doctors, therapist, and family members is the hardest part of trying to get past the decease. Most people just think ypou take a few pills and jump back on the treadmill and move on…not that easy!
    When you cant deal with your own emotions and health, it’s difficult to
    try and make people understand how you feel! You basically do not want to help yourself so how do you get other people to help and understand you? If you can imagine this senario, every thing you do is 200% more difficult, you need to mow your lawn but you are trying to do it with 500 lbs of bricks on your back. You are trying to make dinner, but just opening the refrigerator is a like climbing everest!
    Depression completely absorbs all your drive, you ache with undescribable pain, and you feel completely isolated from litteraly eevery other person you know. I have often read comments in the paper about family members just not understanding why thier child committed suicide, They cant, and they never will because depression has no understanding and most people try to deal with it on thier own because of the shame and lack of true understanding of the decease.
    JK Rowling even discussing depression is huge, and I think that it will help kids and adults alike who respect her writings and if she can use her celebrity to save one person..God bless her!

  • dash

    This is more about the nature of depression than on the stigma part of this discussion:
    At first glance, this may appear too broad a perspective in light of current specialization of wisdom. I see getting into a personal depression episode as like nationally getting into a war. Part of the nation’s “chemical composition” is a standing military. We have a part of our national chemical make-up with a pre-disposition to prevent bigger wars by fighting smaller wars.
    To say that a personal break-up or divorce or what-have-you is the “reason” for our being depressed is like saying our nation is at war because somebody bombed Pearl Harbor or flew planes into into buildings full of civilians: we already had sufficient consitution to respond to a life event in this way. The military component of some nations is more aggressive than it is in other nations. The military forces of Mexico or Chile may not have responded by invading Iraq.
    Someday, the condition of our planet may be identified as “depressed” because of its chemical makeup from a combination of unbalanced natural resources and pollution generated by life events.
    People tend to point at life events as triggers of their condition, as Rowling has.
    For the manic side of BP I would use the metaphor of a growth spurt of dandelions, ragweed, and other things that contribute little to the health of the environment. while not initially appearing very destructive, like overpopulation. As people we generally characterize life creation as “good” and life destruction as “bad” until we become aware of balance.
    As people with depression, we try to achieve a healthy balance. The more extreme in either direction, the greater the danger to the whole.
    I personally see my MDD and anxiety as an allergic reaction to the evil around me because it changes my borderline natural chemical makeup toward an unhealthy extreme as I gear up for fight or flight.

  • Mary

    I am a clinical psychologist who has practiced for over 20 years and also has battled depression myself. I am very dismayed that the author of this article puts all depression into one category. There are different kinds of depression: some are biologically caused, some are also related to life experiences and some are both. PLEASE do not call all depression disease for it is not always disease. If it was disease then therapy would not be effective and in my many years as a therapist have seen it to be effective. Divorce can certainly be related to depression as it was for me.

  • Anonymous

    I think it is inappropriate for you to assume that J.K. Rowling’s depression “wasn’t that severe.” While “one thing” may not have been enought to save you, each person in unique. I appreciate your viewpoint on the issue of depression, but I also think you need to have more respect for each individual’s battle with this disease.

  • Lance

    I wonder if the depression of JKR was not one of a very talented person having her first taste of losing, and falling very far – the bigger they are the harder they fall. Like the author of Beyound Blue, I would also question her ability to fix herself thru love for her daughter – the fix many complained is impossible ala “A Beautiful Mind”, unless her depression was really episodic, not chronic.
    But as one of the writers said in their post, there are many different kinds of depression with causes of genetics and environment tossed together in differing amounts. It would be Dr Phil like to diagnose from afar.
    My little addition to this dialogue concerns the hand of fate in these things, how truly far can we get away from ourselves, and in a sense, if at all. It tends to be the people who right the books and get our attention are very talented types (after all, they can write a book), and today I watched one of the author of Beyound Blue’s videos and not wishing to denigrate a life with harsh difficulties and it is very,very heartfelt, but I can’t help but wonder what she would be saying and experiencing if she wasn’t as pretty, charasmatic, smart, etc. Or more to a positive point, what if she had the demons she does, and she’s average, or even more particularly, what if she does not have the friends, family, lovers, who have stood by her. She mentions that love and friendship helped in a large way to get her thru, but there are many of us that do not have that, and perhaps not the talent either.
    Try those shoes on.
    So now you know what I am dealing with.

  • Elizabeth

    I have been reading the comments on the subject of “depression” with much interest because I too suffer from a chemical imbalance and am depressed, have anxiety attacks, have diabetes, a heart condition, back and neck disc problems, neuropathy, joint problems; shall I go on! I am and have been under various doctors’ care and because one thing impacts the other, I seem to be getting nowhere but in more pain every day. I take alot of medications that I feel are very necessary for me to survive every day and function as best I can to be a productive human being. Besides the normal aging process, (I just turned 57 a few days ago), I feel as though I am fighting every day to survive this world I am living in. But, I am at least here to enjoy so much that God has blessed me personally with and the beauty in this world I am a part of. I get very disappointed in myself and down with everything I do that I sometimes say “is it all worth it” to put myself through the mental and emotional anguish I suffer for my family and those who say they care. I am not emotionally supported by my family; I don’t live my life they way they want me to. (I do want to interject that I have supported my son who is a doctor now becoming a surgeon and my daughter who is a teacher, raising 2 children without their father; both financially and emotionally, for the better part of their lives.) I tried to give any wisdom, knowledge, love, caring, etc., to them to become adults I am now very proud of. I feel I am “fighting to survive” because I love being ALIVE. I try to enjoy each day; eventhough they are not always a good day. I can’t be my best for anyone else as most people are very selfish and think first of themselves. I do it because I want to be the best I can to others and enjoy what I can while I am blessed to be on this earth.
    Celebrities such as JK Rowlings can certainly touch many more people than someone like myself (an ordinary Joe!) I personally applaud her for her story.

  • Ali

    To Therese,
    I really think that everyone creates their reality and everyone has problems ….it is how you handle the situation. I have been depressed,seriously depressed and realize that by telling myself in desperation what is wrong with me, more became wrong with me until I could no longer distinguish what to do to feel normal. The thing is here is that if I never had the thought that something is wrong, I would not be trying to fix anything and become more and more frustrated at my depression . It is a vicious cycle that feeds on itself. I would analyze it and struggle with it when I realize now that I should remain present and not be worried of the future or trying to fix the past. I had to find acceptance.I really think that if there was more research , you would find that depressed people think in much of the same ways. We have a rotten imagination that leads us astray and we imagine the worst in ourselves whereas we could be thinking we are the best. Why dont people like Donald Trump become depressed……because he is completely confident. I really think that your thoughts control your emotions and that is depression .It becomes your story or identity.You support your case by looking at situations that support your depression which causes it to get worse. In my heart , I wish everyone peace and happiness……you have to understand that we are supporting our depression with our terrible stories of how we arent as good enough as everyone else. Lets be gentle with ourselves and focus on all the good we are in the time we lived instead of having our focus on the few times in our life where we didnt have the right tools and messed up. You can all change your depression if you have faith and be natural .Try to think of the beauty in life and look for all the gems and you will start seeing light. I wish everyone the best on this journey …..I wish it wasnt such a struggle because we are meant to be love.

  • Angel2

    Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar, Schizoaffective, ect. is a mystery.
    How can we all speculate and judge?
    Yes, I firmly believe my depression was from a sin, that I just could not handle…..Morals are very important….The Ten Commandements is important to some people, and yes, we take it literally. We should.
    Everyone is different. Some are weak, but become so strong after the darkness, and become such a testament.
    My cross to bare was very difficult and it took me 10 years to come through it….
    Did I think of suicide?
    Of course, doesn’t everyone at least one time in their lives? We are mortal…..Life is tough, but with Love, and Faith we all can find some Peace.
    Now I am so thankful for everything.
    Flowers, the sun, my children, a walk on the Beach…..
    For Elizabeth, you should be very proud of your family……
    You raised a Dr. (to help and serve others)
    A teacher (to educate our children)…….
    Bless you all, and remember when we are depressed, “This, to Shalt Pass”.
    God Bless+

  • Dr. Judy Ellison

    The TORMENT of depression affects people in so many different ways. But one thing they have in common is that each and every one of those who have experienced depression, HAVE SUFFERED. As a psychologist, I was saddened and outraged at the same time by this article as it contributes to and perpetuates the “hush-hush” silence by those who suffer from this illness. No one would want to speak out about their depression if all writers were as merciless as this author was, who chose to crucify instead of celebrate J.K. Rowling’s willingness to share her personal story. Let those who are depressed and those who have been depressed, SPEAK. Let them share their stories so that we can all learn from the various and unique journeys of those who suffer or have suffered with this disease.

  • Judith Hamilton

    I also want to praise J.K.Rowling for telling the public about her bouts of depression although I agree with the person who said that Ms. Rowling’s depression cannot be blamed on her divorce. This goes against what they say that we are responsible for our own happiness. No one should carry the burden of totally being blamed for someone’s unhappiness, on the flipside I do believe that someone can contribute to this. Having dealt with depression on and off for many years I finally have come to the reality that for the most part it is a disease.

  • Anonymous

    wow a disease never thought of it like that….suffering from bi-polar disorder from HELL………

  • “Alice”

    I can to a point understand why the author of the said artical wrote what she did. When any one speaks about depression it is a wise choice to think about what to say and how it will come across to some people However, Depression is depression is depression. We can’t judge what other people have gone through or how they felt no matter what may have been going on in a persons life. Perhaps Rowling has a relatively low/mild form of depression that’s brought out during stressful periods in her life. We cant assume to know but we should be thankful when someone who is succesful and in the spot light and is willing to shed ANY light on this disease.
    I also struggle on and off from depression and I also believe this is a sickeness that can’t be help by merely trying to be positive. When your in deep depression those bright happy feeling’s or thought’s seem to only push me further into the darkness that threatens to steal me away. And on those days, kids, pets, the love of my life my husband, the things I hold dear can’t get me up to open the curtains and let in the light. So I cry alot and wait because as Angel2 said “This, to Shalt Pass”. And thats what I do. I wait for it to pass so I can get on with my life.
    Maybe we depression sufferers just feel too much and to deeply. I find that when when I love some one, I love them with such a fierceness my heart could burst with overflowing joy. Just as when im sad, the saddness just over takes me. It wouldnt be a stretch for some like Rowling, who with such an imagitive mind would feel depression during a divorce.

  • delight1

    I’m no doctor but I know there are different types of depression. If
    depression affects the brain,” can it affect different areas of the brain”? Is there a such thing as a functioning depress person? While struggling on this I know that personally I struggle with depression.
    I read that the medicine and disease I have(diabetes) affects me. If so, I wasn’t like this ten years ago(my diabetes has been under control for two years). Having said that, “is it possible for Rowling to have an underlining medical condition?” Anyway I think it was courageous of Rowling to admit to this. Let’s not silence people with this condition!

  • Larry Parker

    John Bonifant:
    I would remind you that lithium is a natural element, right on the periodic table. It’s a salt.

  • Dianna

    “With His stripes I am healed.”
    AMA classifies me as bipolar, but I know I have the DNA of a thoroughbred running through my veins. You all do too!
    God Bless each of you! Positive thinking never HURT anyone.

  • agape7

    If Rowling can be a testimony for Depression and Divorce, and can help just one person, well we should all be grateful.
    How many other famous authors, Dr.’s, Lawyers, Mothers, Fathers, Sons, Daughters, Sisters, Brothers, Aunts, Uncles, and the list goes on are Silently Suffering.????????I think a lot…..But they won’t come forward.
    Yes, Mental Illness which includes depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizoaffective, etc. is still stigmatized…..Believe me I know…..
    I had mild postpartum depression and was hospitalized for 10 days, and Thank God the antidepressant did help…..But I was treated differently afterwards….Stigma is still alive and well…..But it should change.
    I pray everyone who is suffering, even if it is mild and can’t stand another minute of it…..Just don’t give up, get some help……
    National Alliance for the Mentally Ill has Family to Family programs, and can be so helpful. Dr.’s and nurses, social workers, etc. should take this course. It is a 12 week course, by families who have gone through severe depression and mental illness, etc.
    I’m just glad Rowling is speaking up. Hopefully, she can offer some kind of a grant for research……
    Who knew such a beautiful and smart woman would share this with the world?
    Nobody knows what we are walking in……
    The people who write into this blog are very smart, spiritual, kind, honest and loving…..Peace.+

  • bea

    I don’t understand why Rowling’s comments are bothersome to you. Help is welcome from anyone who wants to give it. Depression has such a stigma attached to it, that whether is coming from extreme bipolar, mild bipolar, disthymia or wherever, we all suffer in different ways and at different times and intensity. I welcome her comments and thank her for being open about her bouts with depression. Although I understand that depression is a brain disease and that sometimes it just “appears” I also know that life circumstances can make it worse. Like losing a loved one, a job, friends or anything that happens in life. We are more vulnerable and have to work harder than others at getting ourselves up after a difficult life event. So more power to J.K. Rowlings!!!

  • Nubian7angel

    I would like to say for the people commenting thank you for your insight. Reading your comments has made me more aware of this brain disease that I too suffer with, and have for many years in fact. I agree with Alice when she says that she feels it is possible that those depressed feel so deeply that any emotion can overtake them to their very core (in so many words she said). But I too also believe that any form of mental illness is still stigmatized. I know how that feels and if theres one thing Ive learned is that treating people with depression as if there some crazy person just furthers pulls them deeper into depression. We need as a people, to be more loving, understanding and respectful of one another. That is where the true healing can begin. Can you just imagine what the world would be like if we did that for each other?

  • grandmother

    oh ffs. Rowling wasnt depressed the Right Way?
    “Despite Rowling’s suicidal thoughts, it’s possible that her depression wasn’t that severe. Because when a person wants to die as much as I wanted to die, no one thing is enough to save her.”
    one point about depression is that the experience is different for different people. if we respect mental illness, we must respect that experiences of mental illness differ.

  • Linda

    While most of the population do attribute depression to simple answers such as a divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job…etc…I sincerely agree that there is much more to it then that. However we tend to gravitate toward the simple answers even if they are partial or even if they are wrong because if we can cling to them, then we can tell others and ourselves that if we only eliminated those things..we would have a happy life…that if we would just ‘get over it’ we would be okay. But if they are only triggers and the real issue lays within, then perhaps the real answers lie within also. The ability to understand that you may need outside help, whether just counseling, or counseling combined w/ understand that perhaps you need to work on changing you perception…to strengthen your ‘happy gene’ (yes there really is one)(which can take a very conscious effort – but can be done), to realize that just as depression is not as simple as being caused by a single traumatic event…that the ‘cure’is not as simple as just taking a pill or avoiding bad things. Then perhaps we would also be more understanding of others in this situation…and even of ourselves.

  • Vette

    There is no right or wrong answer here. Even the doctors do not have this science down to a T.

  • Kathleen Pope

    We all have our own world view, and should respect each others. Just because Rawlings didn’t have the same exact steps in her recovery as you did, doesn’t mean she did not have a ligitimate state of depression. We all heal differently. I know two ladies that have been diagnosed with severe mental illness, one with bi-polar and the other with schitzophrenia. Both were in and out of wards all thier lives, both women have fought the system and fought the illnesses. Both of these women are not being hospitalized any more and haven’t for years. I work at a peer support center and know these ladies personally. They are Shery Mead and Mary Ellen Copeland. These women have overcome much and are off the meds and have been teaching people all over the country and parts of the world how to overcome stigma and mental illness. Look them up online. I have been diagnosed with ADHD, PTSD, Depression, and Anxiety. I work full-time and struggle every day. It is a lot of work. Just because somebody says they overcame does not mean they are saying it is easy. There is always and untold story.

  • Rosemary

    I think the key is being understood, or at least not stigmatised. I have battled depression my whole life because I grew up feeling inferior, and I was teased and put down the entire time by my family and others. It is not rocket science to work out why. Recently, I tried to describe my condition to my family and the only person who really understands is my son (aged 26). My mother told other members of the family that she couldn’t understand mental illness and never had. It was almost a boast. My family think I am totally nuts. I attempted suicide, and now I am glad I did not succeed and I would not do that again, but at the time I was in deep depression with no glimmer of light. I am still battling but I find that thanking god/the universe/the angels/whatever you believe in every day for your blessings and praying for others to be blessed is helpful – also exercise and logic problems (which engage your mind fully and are a challenge, and are great for brain growth). By the way, I have social phobia, again, easily understood if you have been knocked back or teased or illtreated your whole life.

  • Teresa

    I agree that balance is very important.
    Not going over the top with emotions etc..
    The trouble with depression is the lack of feelings, so when you get some, you want to make the most of them.
    Self control has a big part to play in my recovery.
    Accepting myself (whilst changing the things i don’t like about myself,gradually).
    The biggest thing i’ve learnt, is to be honest with myself (self-awareness) which involves being strong enough to accept feedback from people.
    Therese, when you look at J.K. Rowling, do you feel guilty that she was, in your eyes’s, less selfish for putting her kids first?
    So you have to justify her actions, by making excuses for the reasons why she did not attempt suicide.
    I often question my love for my children. Do i love them enough, which i think in itself proves that i do.
    My low self worth, at times, effects my judgements, so i try to make myself feel better by putting other people down, not one of my better characteristics.
    The more we love /accept ourselves, the less judgemental we become. I can testify to that.
    For what ever reason, i am me. But it doesn’t mean i can’t improve myself.
    One of the most destructive things is inapropriate guilt.

  • Veronica Malek

    In regards to the children, I do believe our children are predisposed to depression as we were. As role models we can help teach them coping skills, such as journaling, exercising, eating right, taking great care with ourselves, and educating ourselves throughout the depression. Our children will not be “better” off living with the legacy that their parent could not cope and therefore chose suicide. It would just leave any empty space in their heart that could not be erased, and one more unanswered question in the “why me” thought process.
    At times, I have seen my depression as my “cross” to bare. Sometimes it is my wake up call that I am not right with myself. It is my teacher and a major part of my journey in this life’s lessons.
    I am truly appreciative that we now have this format in which to express and read about the truth in regards to the darkness of the mind. Everyone experiences this at some point, no one is immune from it’s affects.
    THANK YOU BELIEFNET AND Therese Borchard.

  • Cindy

    The thought of my loved ones finding my body is one image that has kept me from suicide. The faces of my children are another. However, I really think that beginning with Pamelor and currently taking Cymbalta has a lot more to do with my ability to remain here than any other incentive.
    Currently, I am having a very hard time. I thought after 20 years I had gotten beyond all of this despair. I was wrong. Yes I am taking my medication. Yes, I am doing what I am supposed to do, but it’s just not working today. So I hang on with my toenails and keep trying to put one foot in front of the other.

  • John Dobrzanski

    I’m depressed. I’m tired of being depressed. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1993 and am now experiencing the full effects of chronic disability. Suicide is at the forefront of my mind everyday. I have no purpose in Life. No dreams; No hopes. The only reason that I don’t act on my suicidal thoughts is I’m basically a coward. … Thank God and the Universe for small favors.

  • tracy

    I would like to respond to the last entry of the person diagnosed with ms. I think that every person has a purpose in life and we are the ones who gets to decide what that is. maybe you just need some guidance in what that purpose may be. There is a large part of you that has to be the person you were before 1993. Maybe you should try to contact that person. I don’t believe you are a coward at all. I think that the coward would commit suicide. I hope this wasnt offensive because it is not meant to be. I could never pretend to be in the same position that you are. I just still have hope for you.

  • Patricia Leonaitis

    I am a retired nurse, but when my husband, whom I considered my soul-mate, died suddenly in 1997, I was hit very hard with depression. I knew what it was and never had thoughts of suicide. I am a coward also when it comes to killing myself. I started writing poetry at that time, and watching action movies.My daughter, whom I lived with because my kids had gotten together and insisted I didn’t live alone, raised Pug dogs and sold the pups. I helped care for them. Also, my daughter and son-in-law gave me a Guinea pig, which took my mind off the pain of grief. It actually took about a year to completely recover. I think psychiatric help is good for those who are depressed and don’t have the many things to keep them occupied as I did. Thank God and angels for my recovery. They have medicines now to help the brain chemistries to rebalance themselves. Pat Leonaitis, ret. RN and poet.

  • ngozi

    Hi. Sorry that Ms. Rowling’s statement about her depression appeared shallow. I have had experiences with depressed and severely depressed patients in the psychiatric ward. I would not disregard Rowling’s depression as “not that bad”. Depression starts somewhere, and yes there are things that can make a person stop before committing suicide. There are different stages for depression driven suicide: pre-contemplative, contemplative, planning, and action. If someone has ideologies of suicide, health professionals are trained to take it seriously; regardless to what stage the person is in. Those who have suffered attempts of suicide were obviously beyond the contemplative stage. However, discussing depression helps to educate the world about this serious disease. The reason of depression varies, but the core foundation is that different people handle different levels of stress differently. It’s called psychological reserve, and someone who are prone to depression may have multiple factors leading up to pathological depression. One event, even if minor to others, can tip a person into pathological depression.
    Down playing Rowling’s depression because it was “love loss” related is just as wrong as criticizing a woman for postpartum depression; the cruel yet famous saying: “she should be happy”. Both situations are serious. In fact, Rowling is statistically more likely to have PPD due to her history of depression.
    Depression is depression. Perhaps she had a past experience that caused her to respond to her situation in that way. Maybe she is still unaware of that, and is doomed to go into depression again.
    The more we look past our personal opinions about what is a viable excuse for depression and what is a cliché, the more we can see that the BIOCHEMICAL root of all depression is the same. The key is catching it in time to save a person’s life.

  • Teresa

    Thank you NGOZI
    For so acurately describing my own sentiments.


    Depression is so misunderstood. I applaud J.K. Rowlings for admitting to and helping others by publicizing her depression. Yes, some of us deny it as I did for many years. I finally, after prodding and realizing it was taking control over my life and I had more to offer, I hoped for my kids, I sought help and got on medication. This had to be doubled at the sudden loss of my only daughter. At times I feel the medicine does not help enough or that I need a larger dose or a different one. It is not a sin to be depressed. MANY who have never experienced a debilitating bout of it do NOT UDNERSTAND. They are intolerant of someone’s foibles or like ot blame it on lack of coping skills and etc. I wonder how many alcoholics or druggies were depressed and that is how they coped. No one is perfect, and if we had a broken bone, we would treat it wouldn’t we? Depression is an injury more or less to the brain or a functional impairment of it. Just because it affects our minds does not mean we are insane, laxy or camnot cope. God is wonderful to help too, prayer does so much for us and we are never alone when we have GOD AND JESUS

  • Lynne

    You know it would be so much easier to blame my mother for my depressive disorder…a volitile household ,a physically abusive older brother…but the truth is I hold the solution! I am the one with final say-so on my personal destiny! I want to take my power back! I can get better and beat this ! (or I’m going manic again) Whatever, I love the articles and the commentaries here on BB. It is so much my strength and support in a weary world. NOTE TO JOHN D. A good friend of my brother’s was diagnosed with MS and he thought his life was over. However he found that he could still sing and is now very involved in the music biz via the good old internet. Don’t give up hope …just find your niche. Pick the excellent brains on this website, this could be your salvation!

  • Olga

    I agree with the comment of the article’s author… I’m a mother of five… and realized that the normal thing was NOT wanting to die at all times when finally diagnosed as a bipolar (already 38 years old!!)
    The loved ones are not going to stop anybody from a suicide… Because the self esteem goes so down they are actually much better without you… Nahhh! What actually made me go in search for help was to realize that no matter how I tried killing myself I could end up alive… and in real bad conditions… and on top! Deppressed as I was! So handicapped (If the sobredose affects the brain) or blind (if the gun shot hits the face and not the brain)or in a wheel chair (if I didn’t die from the cliff or bridge fall…but survided with a broken spine… Sweet! That stopped me…and goes on stopping me!
    It’s funny though to think that I could do something as magical as JK Rowling’s Potter and snap out of it… Would that do it?… I rather go on with the treatment as I am…

  • Yen

    There are many kinds of depression. I like to think of them being divided into 2 major groups: Small ‘d’ depression, and big ‘D’ Depression. The kind that results from a negative experience and seems to resolve itself when things improve or when one focuses on the good things in life is “small ‘d’ depression.” But “big ‘D’ Depression” doesn’t come that way and doesn’t go away that easily. Suicidal Depression usually needs–and often responds favorably to– antidepressants, rest, and sometimes hospitalization. We can hardly sit in judgment of a person who “depends on drugs” to get through the bad times when the alternative for that person may be death.

  • Christine

    I feel for you and can totally relate. I have been suffering with depression and anxiety for what seems like forever. I can’t remember when I was thinking normal and rationally. I have been through so many psyciatrists, lost the count. Been on several meds as well. I was at a point in my life where I wanted to just end it, like you to avoid my child from having a whackjob Mom, feeling that without me around my child would be able to have a normal happy life. My child is what keeps me hanging on.

  • Sencie

    I wanted to end my life when i was a teenager. My dad was overseas and i did not know where my mother was. I was with my dad’s siblings who were just taking care of me because of my dad. ( that was what I thought than.) I had gone to a Catholic school and I know if i committed suicide, I would surely go to hell. i wanted to end everything, but i still wanted to be able to go to confession before I died. I choose to drink insecticide which did not kill me but just gave me a swollen throat. I am glad that I did not die, as there are so many blessings in my life that i would have missed. Which gets me to thinking. If a person have faith in God, would he/she risks going to hell to be free of what ever he/she is suffering from?

  • Coil Phosephone

    J.K. Rowling is fire horse in the Chinese system of astrology. Most fire signs in Chinese astrology go through a period of extreme difficulty before they shine brilliantly. If you want to know how the East meets West astrology mix you may want to try Theodora Lau’s 5th Edition, Chinese Astrology book, which is really a lot of fun to use. I got mine at my public library. Most librarians will get you a loan from other libraries for about 50 cents or possibly one dollar. gives you a public person’s birth date and other information that you may use to find information regarding. For example, Bill Clinton is a fire dog in the Chinese astrological system.

  • Nancy

    I was told I was suffering from both anxiety and depression by my Life Coach. If I had not met her, I would probably not be here on earth today.
    She has taught me about me. I lost myself, many years ago by working aimlessly different kinds of jobs. I told myself, that I just wanted to try things that were different, though I didn’t know I was the different one. I have learned recently, that I can’t hear all the words in a conversation. The disability is in Listening Comprehension. I get lost as to what is said. I didn’t know what I was missing. I thought the people were leaving blanks in the talk, I heard. It was very hard to learn any language. I didn’t talk much. My big sister talked for me.
    When I was young my parents would give me a dictionary to find a word. I would cry a lot when I had to do this. Sometimes there were pictures, and I would find the word. This didn’t help to say the words. I could not pronounce it, because I couldn’t hear all of it.
    They never told me that that I had a problem. In classes at school I was a perfectly quiet student. I don’t know how my grades were. My father tutored me in math. I had to go to sleep listening to tape recorders with lesson to memorize. He would play them all night.
    I also couldn’t see well. I can read now, and talk.

  • Brian

    You’re as correct as correct gets — life events aggravate but they do not make the depression; and depression and many other so-called mental illnesses, are a brain and neurological disorder.
    I’m an exercise physiologist — and board-certified strength and conditioning specialist — who conducts research in these areas areas, and am striving to help transform how people within and outside the mental health system, including practitioners and , define and approach these matters.
    Frankly, I find it pathetic that many people in and outside the field of mental health have disordered thinking themselves — including MD psychiatrists, PhD psychologists, MSWs and LPCs, healthcare and mental health program administrators, non-profits and others — and as a result, may contribute to the mental illnesses of their patients, rather than help them achieve recovery and wellness.
    Having suffered from general anxiety disorders and depression from time to time, and having worked with hundreds of persons medicated for mental illnesses and other diseases, I can attest that significant change is required. Problem is, the stigma is in part due to all of this ignorance in regards to what causes and predisposes mental illnesses.
    We don’t refer to people having a diagnosis of diabetes as having an “endocrine illness” — nor should we refer to persons having brain disorders — and elevated or decreased neurotransmitters — as having a “mental illness” — and is not true that our head is connected to our body and, as a result, all part of the same system?
    The point: Any disorder of any kind anywhere in the body, should be categorized for what it is: a physical health issue. That one simple change in terminology will do wonders for eradicating the stigma. Not to mention helping people better understand their own bodies.
    This is an excellent blog. Thanks for the opportunity to opine.

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