Because I’m on vacation this week, I’ve decided to publish posts from the two-week test pilot of Beyond Blue back in October of 2006, two months before its initial launch in December 2006. We’ve come a long way!
Just before her 60th birthday my mom was diagnosed with Blepharospasm, a form of focal dystonia, or a neurological eye disorder that causes involuntary facial movements like blinking. Although she tried any and all kinds of conventional and alternative medicine, she found no solution, and is thus legally blind.
My mom’s entire central nervous system is affected (because it’s neurological). Lately she can’t handle the least bit of stimuli, like my sisters’ visiting her with their kids. That alone exhausted her so much that she spent four days recuperating on the couch. She barely had the energy to get up to go to the bathroom the day I talked to her.
Worried, I phoned my sister.
“How much of mom’s fatigue do you think has to do with her diet and lack of exercise?” she asked me.
Three years earlier, I would have said three quarters of it. I laid into my mom one afternoon on the phone.
“You’re giving into your illness. You’ve resigned. You’re not fighting back hard enough,” I said.
That was back before I knew that a psychiatric disease (and Blepharospasm can be categorized as such) could bring you to your knees. During my golden years, I thought as long as you ate five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, got plenty of rest, and worked out at least five hours a week you stayed healthy.
A year ago a friend of mine gave me the same, exact lecture.
“You’re resigned to your depression. You’re giving in. You could fight harder,” she said.
This woman believed that all psychiatric illness emanates from processed food. If I swapped a bag of organic apples for my box of Cheez-Its, I could walk out of Whole Foods with no need for a prescription.
I absolutely agree with her philosophy that a balanced diet (the more organic the better) contributes to good mental health. But to say that I was to blame for my depression because I occasionally reached for an animal cracker instead of a fig? That hurt.
So who or what is responsible for my depression and for my mom’s Blepharospasm? God? Bad genes? Stress? Unresolved issues? Frosted Flakes? I get tired of asking that question. All I know is that healing has to happen on all levels: mental, physical, and spiritual.
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.