Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


Pray, Laugh, Breathe: Two Days of Healing

posted by Beyond Blue

st. patrick's cathedral.jpgI wanted to thank all my dear Beyond Blue readers for your care and concern after I published the video about my darker days. I really was mixed on whether or not to publish that. But I remembered my golden rule about escaping despair by becoming transparent under God and to the reader, and how you can only do the 12 steps of most recovery programs if you are painstakingly honest–with yourself and others.
The day after I published the video (the day I couldn’t stop crying) I had planned to go to New York for business and pleasure combined.
I almost cancelled the trip. For obvious reasons. I was afraid I was going to burst into tears in the middle of my interview. But the ticked-off part of me refused to let this illness ruin two days with colleagues and friends that I had been looking forward to all summer (save the day or two right before).
Just like my book event that was scheduled five weeks after I was released from Johns Hopkins Hospital–for which I felt like I deserved an Oscar, because my acting was so good–I tried to act “as if” I wasn’t so fragile, as if my emotions weren’t so raw, as if I were resilient.
I cried a few times on the train on the way there. (I’m sure the fellow passenger next to me thought I was crazy – especially if he overheard my conversation with my doctor). I did the right things: I checked in with my doctor. I talked to Mr. Guardian Angel. I talked to Eric. When the train arrived in New York, I stood up with my backpack and laptop computer and imagined myself in a swimming pool, taking a deep breath that was going to have to sustain me for the next two hours swimming underwater, while I interviewed Fr. Jim Martin for Beyond Blue (to come), and was interviewed as part of a podcast for America Magazine (to come) on depression and spirituality.
Editor Tim Reidy, who had seen my crying video the day before, asked me as part of the interview if I was feeling better. I wanted to lie and say “oh yes, thanks, it was just a passing bout of anxiety.” But, again, Beyond Blue is about being real – or at least that’s how I want it to be, so I told him that as a matter of fact, I wasn’t feeling all that great, but I was doing a damn good job of acting like I was okay.


I was relieved that my lunch meeting cancelled … that I could cry again until my next meeting. So I walked to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and caught the end of Mass. I sat in the pew and let it all out. They kept coming and coming. Not tears of self-pity. Tears of release…. from the days and months of stress and strain. I felt like my heart was bursting or cracking from the pressure, in order to fill itself again. Just like Rumi, the 13th century poet explains: “When the shell of my heart breaks open, tears shall pour forth and they shall be called pearls of god.”
After the Mass, a choir of young girls began to sing “Ave Maria” and other classics. The music filled my heart with hope–that God was truly there with me and more tears came. Finally, I realized that I had better stop crying soon, or else I’d arrive at my next meeting with raccoon eyes. So I lit some candles, begging God to take the sadness and anxiety, the obsessions and the distorted thinking. “Take it, God,” I prayed. “Please, I beg you to take it from me.”
He must have heard me, because for the next 24 hours I didn’t have an urge to cry again. And I was able to laugh–authentically and from my belly-when I met friends for a happy hour later on. It wasn’t acting. It was genuine joy. One friend told the best pope jokes I’ve ever heard–and everyone else had their own, which made for so much healing laughter.
The next morning, my friend Priscilla Warner arranged for a private yoga session with her friend and yoga teacher, Julie Broglin. I have shared before that while I love the concept of yoga, I … well … never got the hang of it or felt like a yoga moron before the session in Julie’s tent, a construction in her woods, decorated with all kinds of art from India, where she studied. She read prayers and reflections in Sanskrit, and taught us how to control our breath by holding parts of our nose while stretching in various positions. At the end of the session, she massaged my forehead with oil, and I could, again, sense God’s healing power in that moment.
As I stared out the window on the train ride home, I realized that the last two days were a miniature of Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love.” There was a time of crying and praying, and bribing God; a time for eating and laughing with friends; and a time to learn how to breathe deeply and try to meditate or center myself. “The soul would have no rainbow, if the eyes had no tears,” says a Native American philosophy.
I started to see the rainbow on the way home.
To read more Beyond Blue, go to www.beliefnet.com/beyondblue, and to get to Group Beyond Blue, a support group at Beliefnet Community, click here.



  • Larry Parker

    This is truly amazing, Therese. Though I think a non-Native American philosopher named Qoheleth (aka Solomon) expressed it well, too: “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”
    I wish I had been there at St. Pat’s (a short subway ride away for me) to give you a hug on behalf of all your readers. But it sounds like you were well taken care of :-)

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad to read this, Therese. It is a source of comfort and encouragement. Good for you, friend.
    Frank,

  • Mary K

    Therese,
    Last week I watched your video, oh, how my heart hurt for you. By the end of the week I had the same dark day. I felt so alone and there is nothing worse than that feeling. If you met me, you would never know I suffer from depression, but do I ever. I kept thinking of you and that I’m not alone, there are other people that really understand and care. I just want to let you know, you helped me seep out of my tunnel and helped me find that little glimmer of hope that tomorrow will be better and I have to be patient. One more thing…..Because of your writting and video’s I have opened to my freinds and family and now they too are helping me. The shame and weakness I felt was unbearable. I started a folder too! I feel, God put us here for each other and thank you for helping believe one again that is so true…
    A million thank you’s
    Mary

  • Peg

    Therese, once again you help us all by sharing your real life with us. I believe God did answer your prayers.
    I went to confession recently and the priest was so understanding and let me talk and gave me some insight (abandonment issues from long ago when my dad left us). I found myself crying uncontrollably afterward and felt that it was a release that I so badly needed, also a cleansing that offers hope and a new beginning.

  • Annapurna Moffatt

    “I wanted to thank all my dear Beyond Blue readers for your care and concern after I published the video about my darker days.”
    You’re very welcome. And I agree with Larry: I, too, wish I’d been there at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. But unlike him I live in New Brunswick, Canada, which is just east of Maine. Shoot……

  • marilyn

    Sending you a much deserved hug for all you give to each of us here.may God always be with you. much peace marilyn

  • nyjlm

    I’m so glad you had a healing weekend. I’m very envious of your yoga session with Priscilla and her teacher. sounds wonderful!

  • Anonymous

    Therese,
    I too have been attempting to crawl out of the snake pit for the past several days. Your video was the stimulus for even attempting; I’m afraid I’d become a little too comfortable curling up with the pythons that my personal demons inhabit. At least for me, that can be dangerous; my complacency sometimes gets in the way of my recovery. Like you, however, the last cry is often one of relief and release; much more productib=ve than my “poor, poor pitiful me” jags. Your video was(once again) exactly what I needed to spur me torwards the light, call my doc and get a meds adjustment. I sometimes wonder how I ever did it before I found Beyond Blue and your wonderful example of “keeping t real” Like everyone else, I bless and thank you for being so honest about your struggles, for being brave enough to let us see the real you, figurative warts and all You do me more good than you can possibly know, and I thank God for you daily. Glad to hear that you were able to find peace if only for a short time. You are SO loved, my friend, and by SO many!Your example gives us hope and reminds us that we needn’t allowthe abyss to win!

  • Carol

    It is inspiring to know that there is a way out of this deep pit I am in this morning.I tryed the praying last night and went to sleep.
    I have been up lately, but this week events have led me onto a state of hopelessness. I am trying to let go of my codependentce on the man I love to make me feel better. and at the presence the things I have found out about him has caused me to become completely unglued!!!!!
    I want him to say he loves me and hold me so i can be reassured that things will be resolved. What can i find to laugh about when my heart has been shattered???

  • Audrey

    Therese, I have been reading and watching your video’s and your emails for a few months, first time to email. I suffer from depression and I have a daughter that without the proper meds, well lets just say that it is scary for me and I can’t imagine how it is for her, I have been sharing you with her. You have helped me so much to get through some days that I thought would be impossible. I have always suffered some from depression but after having been told that I have RA and one knee replacement I am finding myself in a great deal of pain all the time. My husband has liver cancer and I am the only one that is working and we have no retirement so I take not only my meds for depression but also several for the RA. The methatrexate makes me tired, the predisone and the medication for the inflamation is causing much weight gain which adds pain to my knees. Sometimes I just sit on the bed in the mornings and cry the pain before I take my medication is so bad. I wonder how long I will be able to get through a day at work, if I did not have a desk job with a company I have been with for 13 years I probably would not have a income. I know that most of these drugs will most likely cut my lifetime a bit yet without them I would have to stay in bed all day. I have so much stress in my life, my Mother is very ill and had to be put in a nursing home, something we all made the not knowing promise not to do and she is miserable and feels like she is there just to die. My sister is fighting with all of us and making it almost impossible to see her (it is a ten hour drive for me)my sister is so filled with anger and hate. All of this makes just the thought of getting out of bed a nightmare. I know that without God’s help I could not do it. Then I come to work and I log on and you always have such a grace about you that makes me want to smile at everyone even in my pain. You are a blessing, thank you for your honesty and your devotion to all of us that need you so very much each day. Grace and Peace, Audrey

  • zenja

    you are so authentic & brave.
    your courage to be ‘naked’ while so many people observe your world is amazing.
    i love you for being exactly who you are!
    stay strong and always know, HE loves you too…exactly AS you are.
    be well.

  • Lynne

    I am going through a jagged time again…the marathon over broken glass. I know this is a well traveled path and I sure have lots of company but it sucks just the same. I wonder if I’ll ever realize my potential because the quasi-paralysis of emotions just stifles my creativity sometimes. I’ll get going a little then WHOMP…backslide again. I dont’ have time to cry right now, too much work to catch up with, and not enough privacy. Too little of me to go around. Everybody takes what they need and leaves what’s left of me. Sounds like there’s a weepy country song in there somewhere.

  • Lynne

    So let me pick my chin up off the floor…before I trip on it! I’m down in the dumpsters and life really sucks…but it would get better if I could earn a few bucks. Ah shucks!!!

  • Sue B

    Dear Therese – I too suffer from bipolar but mine comes out in anger. I wish I could have a good cry as it seems to be spiritually cleansing. I don’t know when the last time was I cried. Is this wierd??? Sue

  • Angela

    I live in Michigan and times are tough. I was hit in 1984 by a Greyhound bus as pedestrain running from 4 men afterbeing beaten on I-94 in dearborn. It was the night before my divorce and I had a 14month old daugther. My mother and her second husband wanted me out and wanted my daugther. they told me that night before I left to sign her over after the divorce and they would support her and insure her, but I had to leave and go to school and get a job somewhere. They told me that I could take my whole welfare check 252.oo and not give it to them for the month and get away go to caymmen islands with my girlfriend i grew up with. Her mom worked at metro airport and could get us 10.00 each airfair. so that night I had a lot to think about and went out with my girl friend and 2 other friends and did not fill like doing anything, somehow we were ran off road under construction and i was being chased by a man then another I really don’t remember everything except she got away and made it back to my mother and step-fathers house. shortly after a policeman came to their door after 3:00am. and asked if my mother or step-father could come down to oakwook hospital there had been an accident. My mom says she thought I had broken a leg or arm but when she had gotten there I was toe tagged and pronounced dead. they wanted her to ID my body. She exclaimed the only way she new it was me, buy three moles under my right eye on cheek bone and tatoo of my daugther i had recently gotten. Some how my step father layed on me and i awoke throwing up blood everywhere my mom kept her purse i stained to remind me. They put me in intensive care and my mom said after 2 weeks pull the plug she could not take care of me and my baby. my Step-father said no,.my mom told me this. we have a very difficult relationship. she did not raise me and went to italy when i was a infant and didnt come for me till I was 7 yrs old. MY grandma,grandpa and aunts and uncles raised me and I still don;t know my real father. She refuses to tell.. it’s none of my busniness. I have severe medical problems and my mom was paid to care for me daily and my baby with all amenities, but still sued me for pain suffering and step dads loss of work. I have survived, their is a lot more she has done like bust all my stiches after being released I was 88lbs and the allen park police didn;t listen to me they listen to her,. so my aunt and uncle took me in to hospital and i got fixed again. my daugther now is poisioned by my mother and hates her and sometimes me. she is bipolar and just had a baby girl named after my great grandma and me. I know there is a god because I’m skilled trade went back to school, got away from my mom and trained for everything I worked at fed ex for years heavey equipment operator,and courier, plus many more things worked at north west airlines before fed ex. then went to chrysler. I was told would never gain weight, produce a baby, see again ,, smell, think, hear, talk, walk and many more things after anew marriage I wanted another baby tried and failed my mom and husband sign for medical termination I hated them both for several years. I did finally learn to forgive and had a son 10 lbs 24″ long premie in 1988. He is graduated, 6’2″ 210 size 14 shoe i’m only 5’2″ but I did it and all the other things they said I could not, but have had over 159+ surgeries to put me back together(my face, nose, eye, cheek, ear, crainum, my pallet split into 3 pieces and teeth were wired in with screws stiching out of my head. I have scars but am thankful god kept me I know I ‘m here for a reason and need to fullfill that reason once i figure it out. I hurt everyday like dying would have been better, or would be better. I would have missed the birth of my new grandbaby and wouldn’t be able to take care of things I have to. I know my time is getting short but while I’m here i will spend it with god and his blessings. I pray for all those out there that think there is no one there for them cause there is he is right next to you and you don’t even realize it. I struggle everyday can’t pay bills, house, or food. god will find a way for me he has so far. I’m disabled right now till they replace the bone under my left eye if someone can. It was infected after surgery 1/15/08 and lost it my skull hasnt healed all the way yet, and lost bone in nose Dr Mathog just put in last fall. im falling apart I have so many problems and only god to turn to. my church can’t help me like the almighty. I will go back to work and get well may be not for long but I’ll make it I’m only 42yrs old. I’m not ready to give up. I go to college in fall and winter. When and if my eye gets fixed I’ll go back this year…. so don’t give up…………You can do anything if you put your mind to it… trust in God reach out to him……….angie

  • lollybaby

    Seems like a lot of people are paddling furiously just like me!! the honesty thing is so important.I have been thinking about this a lot there is nothing worse when you are struggling to have someone come by and try and counsel you.They probably haven’t been broken yet I tell myself.This is a story I like…there was a man sitting in a hole and several people came by.Some berated him for ever getting in the hole,others walked by because they were disgusted that the man was in a hole on a public byway.Other kinder people gave advice about how to get out of the hole some even threw ropes.Then all of a sudden a well dressed guy climbed down into that muddy hole. Time passed ,night fell and the other people drifted away but still the well dressed guy sat in the hole with the man.A passer by on his way home looked in the hole and asked the well dressed guy what he was doing.The other guy said ‘He just came by in his suit and tie and climbed into this hole with me.He is one crazy fool.’

  • Gordy

    Distorted thinking….. Perfect term for how I feel on a daily basis (more like hourly basis.)It’s like an undertow just admitting this fact. Feelings that I’m being melodramatic or feeling sorry for myself constantly wash over the realization that I suffer from a medical condition. Although I never enjoy hearing of others’ suffering, Therese’s story was great medicine. Hearing how she embraces her hardships, or at least accepts them, is inspirational to me. To this point, therapy has seemed like spinning my wheels due to the fact that I felt out of control in every aspect, and advice on “how to feel” seemed futile. I’m beginning to see from these stories and articles that simply reminding myself that these “distorted thoughts” are not my own is empowering to a point. Please keep up the hard work…..

  • Anonymous

    when i was in my 30’s i too came over the worst darkest days in my life. I’m sure it started with me having an abortion,i did this for my selfish reasons. it’s one of the worst things i’ve done in my life. this is something I have to live with the rest of my life. i now realize thats all i’ve ever been.(selfish) I tell the lord everyday i’ve been selfish and to forgive me.
    I love the lord and i know he’s real. i’ve been blessed to have the children and grandchildren. i love my little family. i thank the lord for them and myself for everyday life. i’m fortunate because i know the lord loves me my children and grandchildren love me, and i have things to be happy about.
    every now and then sadness and despair come upon me but
    with the lords love I know he’s here with me all the time.
    it’s the ugliest feeling in the world to feel sad, lonely,and like there’s nothing in this world worth anything, but there is it’s our FATHER IN HEAVEN.
    i’m so sorry for things others have gone through.(more than i’ll ever know. i hurt for them.
    let’s not be selfish. lets give thanks to our Father in heaven just because.
    i pray this makes sense.
    arlene

  • Dianne Quaratino

    Dear Therese,
    Although I have never met you, I feel that you are truly a sister of the soul. I too, along with most of the girls in my family have suffered from depression most of my life – It is only through the grace of God , and for me the miracle of modern medicine that I am finally enjoying and seeing the beauty in each day. Keep the faith, for you too will have peace in the days to come.
    God Bless you, Dianne

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