Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Who’s to Blame?

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, and to get to Group Beyond Blue, a support group at Beliefnet Community, click here.

  • Bev Y

    Vacation or not, I love reading your missives. Could you leave them on for several days?? If I miss a day…………they’re gone. Over the weekends could they just be left on until Monday??
    I’m disappointed when nothing is on for the weekends. And I do go back to Archives to see postings before I started to join in. Miss you.
    Bev Y

  • Anonymous

    Once again, I yjink it’s applicable to think about blame versus accountabilitybility. Yhe basic lesson, which I’ve shared before(Don’t mean to beat a dead hrse here, but it was/is one of the most helpful distinctions I’ve received from my (MANY) hours of therapy. To be brief, blame denotes intent whereas accoutability isn’t so limited.Clearly, a balanced diet, proper exercise and good sleep hygiene all have benefits to our bodes and minds, but I doubt that ANY of us grabbed a KitKat bar instead of an apple INTENDING to cause a disease, be it physical or mental. Thus nutrition falls into the category of accountability rather than blame. Obviously, doing EVERYTHING we can to fight an illness makes good sense, but chastising ourselves for things which we had no harmful intent tends to only deepens our depressions.Most life style choices are made quickly without serious deliberation. Even when we KNOW something can create additional health issues, we aren’t TRYING to get sick when we make them.(Watching television instead of taking a walk, for example or substituting a sugary treat for a piece of fruit.) Our choices might be contributory, but again, they aren’t made with n eye to becoming ill(or more ill, as the case may be. Therefore, blame becomes a non-issue.Understanding our accountability, however is an exercise in mature, informed decision making that can help us prevent repetiition of these choices and thereby exacerbating our illness(es). I certainly don’t advocate “giving in” to the illness and allowing it to take over our lives, but blaming ourselves when blame isn’t warranted can ALSO make things worse.
    Not do I believe that G-d afflics us as a punishment or stop-gap measure. We can all look around us and see others who’ve made similar unhealthy choices but yet weren’t singled out to be”punihed” If we believe
    (as I do) that G-d loves as all equally,it would stand to reason that everyone with the same habits or lifestyle choices would end up ith identical diseases, which we KNOW isn’t true. The “Blame Game” is dangerous to our spiritual and emotional well-being and can sabotage our recoveries.Better to scknowledge the ways of our pasts and resolve to not repeat those same poor choices in the interest of helping our minds and bodies heal and/or develop further complications. That said, I believe recovery issues are about as personal as we can get and are truly no one else’s business unless, of course, there is accountability built in to a third party becase of affiliation with a twelve step program. Likewise, our efforts to fight our maladies are also intenselt personal and that gives NO ONE the right to accuse another of not trying hard enough Our illnesses have enough built-in chastisement mechanisms. It’s counter productive to add even more.

  • Renata

    Dear Therese,
    I hope you are having a wonderful, wonderful vacation … great choices in the old postings, many of which I hadn’t read before. Thank you, grazie, merci…
    I hope your Mom is doing much better with her eye condition. Let us know.
    Best wishes and blessings,

  • grace wyatt

    I also have blesperspasms. I have botox injections about every 3 months which keeps the muscles from locking. I also joined a support
    group where we meet once a month and exchange ideas. For instance I
    have found cinnamon to be helpful. There is also a letter that comes
    out once a month with the latest news and treatments and we realize
    that we are not alone. If we can be of any help to your mother get
    in touch with me. grace wyatt

  • Leroy

    there is no blame in depression, as we all know it is a chemical inbalance of seritonan…..meds help but do not cure….i personaly do not like the fuzzy-headedness meds bring on… i’ve learned to live without them(meds)by recognizing when stressors take me into the darkness of a depressive state….with time one can come out of it when we realize that the depressivee state is an ebb and flow state of mind. after 61 years and great mental effort depression does not rule me, i let it in and rejoice that i am different.

  • Cully

    Grace Wyatt… Thank you for an exceptional post! How good to know that there is help out there/here, and people (like you).

  • linda jensen

    i don’t know i have been depressed for a long time,in 79 i was raped, in par they turned around in had a son which had the cord wrapped around his neck,when the guy came clean,(in his words,he told her i came onto him)but they had started goin to churchwhen he told her this,she confronted me she said god takes your first born son when there is infedlity,i told her there was none, but she didn’t believe me,she blamed me for killin her son as to date she still does,i never told my husband,didn’t think he would believe me,it was his brother who raped me,then i started getting molested by his dad,still never told my husband,when we got divorced i told him, i was right he didn’t believe me,i have been ran over and usd my whole life,i had a accident at work, almost lost my arm,they told me it was my fault,my mom had a accident almost burned herself to death,i couldn’t get to her,when my dad died i was the only one who didn’t go to his funeral,i feel like my youngest brother is upset with me i had n money whatso ever and it hurt me so bad because i didn’t.they found my mom in her trailer in jan.2005 dead,which i believe she died new years eve,we had to get my brother in law’s kin to go get the law and to break into her trailer,she had died of acholholism,sat.before christmas, my bro called her, she knew him, but she didn’t know husband wanted a divorce in 2003,said he was seein another woman 2 years older then my oldest,she was carrin his baby,i kept askin what did i do,on weekends i let hiim go on his bike to bike events,he never asked me if i wanted to go,but we hardly ever fought,when he went downtown,i would go pick him up,i’d end up with a car load of people to take home,never got a thank you out of it.between 2001-2003 i lost the most precious things to me i lost my grandbabies,my grandson was 14 mo,when he died,he was born mar 16, oldest granddaughter was borned feb 13,2001,she was 5 weeks,and the youngest granddaughter live to be 3mo she was borned feb 11,2003 at that time i was question god why would he take all three babies save at least one,but they have no more seizures and i know god is takin care of them.but it hurts so bad

  • Kathy Lee

    I hope you are enjoying your well deserved vacation.
    I hope your Mom’s condition can improve and not worsen.I never heard of that eye disease before. Stress can cause so many many different things from small to large to death.
    Your last statement said it perfectly. Healing has to happen on mental, physical, and spiritual levels. Yet there is still no guarantee. I have been through most of my 58 years with strong levels of stress off and on. My Mom died of cancer from heavy smoking and stress at 49. Yet both my grandmothers lived to their 90’s. Yet I sometimes wonder what the stress in my life will inflict upon my health besides reocurring depressions. I don’t obsess about it, but I have this morbid feeling when I finally get it all together one day, wham! I will be hit with a big health challenge. I guess that’s what life is all about anyway………challenges of many kinds.

  • LAMB

    Eat better and work out more? I only wish that cured depression. It is debilitating at times on so many different levels. But we are the chosen ones in a manner of speaking. When we are functioning as best we can, we can be the most empathic creatures on Earth.

  • windyblue

    Who is the blame? Well my mother had depression and terrible anger problems, she was at times a walking time bomb, it was horrible, my father had anxiety and panic attacks, guess who got blessed with both, ME.
    My parents did nothing, to correct it. It was horrible, at times for me. Living with a mother who at anytime would say I am going to take pills and kill my self, and walk around crying, and hating her self.
    And her anger, she would beat the crap out of me, and I mean beat.
    I finally learn they had it, after I grew up and started feeling both ways anxiety, panic and depression. And I get help, both counseling and medication.
    So, who is the blame for it? My parents.

  • Wendi

    I had a friend, Teresa, who kept giving me comedy DVDs and telling me I needed to just laugh more when I “thought” I was depressed. She kept telling me that everyone felt a little blue every once in a while. I tried to explain what real depression is about, that it is a lack of seratonin and norepinephrin, that acute depression is different than being a little sad for a few days because your boyfriend left you or your pet ran away. She stopped calling me, and when I would call, she wouldn’t answer. After a while, I sent an email asking if she was okay and she sent back an email accusing me of crazy stuff like taking credit for her tiki party the summer before (I guess when I referred to it as Teresa’s Tiki Party, that didn’t register with her), insulting a friend of hers who made a latte for me (I had to return it and ask for another because the milk was burnt — I am a certifed barista and know the taste of burned milk, which can make you sick if you drink it), and being weird at a concert (she invited me, then acted like she didn’t know me, so I went along with it and talked to her friends all night. By the way, I am 52 and she is close behind me. You’d think the way this all went down, we were in junior high. So after partially reading the email she sent to me, I never contactd her again. To this day I still have her “Kids in the Hall” DVD and a key to her house. I’m afraid to contact her because she apparently judges me based on my depression being something I am not taking control of. The weird thing is that the incidents she accused me of didn’t happen the way she has interpreted them (or didn’t happen at all), and I wasn’t depressed at those times. She has put me in a box and doesn’t want to see that her own behavior is what was affecting our relationship.

  • R. Garay

    First of all let me say this; I work in the Mental Health field for over 18 years. The advise that I have been giving to my depressed
    clients, clients with anxiety disorders & depression; I never thought
    that I would be receiving the same advice a few weeks ago. In my family structure, I returned to live with my elderly parents not so much that they needed me, it was the other way around, I needed their
    help(financially), their spiritual guidance but most of all, I needed
    (I was a single mother, and no child support coming in)someone in my
    corner to help me get back on my feet, dust the dirt off and put new
    breathe into my soul.
    Needless to say, my father and became closer over the years. He
    was my rock, my mentor and the main part of my support system. Last
    year, the Angels came for him, he passed away in his sleep, he was 88
    years young. Even thought he was wheelchair bound, his mind was very
    active. He read the paper every day, watched the news, he knew what
    was going on in the world; he was hard of hearing but sharp as a tack;
    I miss him every day. A couple of weeks ago, an incident happened
    that shook my very being. I don;t even know how I made it home. I was in shock, stressed out and didn’t know to verbalize it. I made my
    self sick, stomach cramps, pressure on my chest, throat tightening. The next day,(the diahhrea had run its course) I went to the doctor’s
    they couldn’t find any trace of bacterial virus, or infection. That’s
    when she told me I was suffering from anxiety(I couldn;t stop shaking)
    and depression. So I have an appointment to see a psychtrist and a
    grief therapist.
    Not everyone needs therapy and medication, but at this point in
    my life(50 years old) and I’m ready to take the cotton balls out of my
    ears and put where they will utilized the best, in my mouth(I’m a talker, and I tend to ramble)
    Than you for giving me this oppurnituty(I’m a terrible speller)to
    share a part of my life.
    R. Garay

  • SmilingBee

    The title of this article caught my eye. To “windyblue” I know exactly how you feel. Mom was a ticking time bomb,always threatening to leave and not come back,give us the beating of our life or have us committed to an asyllum. She was so unpredictable. It was a full time job to just duck and dodge her alternating moods. Dad was just trying to stay out of her way and barely said a word. Whatever she said, was the way it went. She never was diagnosed because she refused to go to counseling. Dad was depressed as well and wouldn’t dare speak up. He hid in his own world of silent suffering.
    At this point, I myself am Agorophobic, have generalized anxiety, panic attacks and am on medication. I can barely function in a store with my husband. Don’t drive at all and have a cow when I hear storms coming.
    With all the above said, “is it the Depression that came first” or is it the other way around? Did I become depressed and experience a myriad of psychological disorders because of my parents inability to nurture in anyway? I will say, I have done the counseling thing but for me, I get no where. The medication helps but very little. I believe some are so able to forge through the grip that depression can have on them and others, well, we do our very best one day at a time.

  • Tammy

    I am reading all this stuff and feel very sad for all of you, I am glad however to hear that you gals are taking med’s. I have had and do get depression about once a year and I HATE IT!!!! I am a Christian and every time the depression comes it always starts with my sleep patterns and it keeps me awake and then I can not funtion well the next day. I usually take some type of medicine from Wal-mart to help me sleep, but it really does not help, because when it is in your mind, it just does not help. The only thing that truely does help me is reading my Bible and sleeping with it.
    I grew up in a home with a alcoholic father who would abuse my mother and I had to see alot of stuff that no child should ever have to see. I do not know if that is why I have the trouble that I sometime experience or not, but I know I am thankful that I have the Lord in my corner and I would hope that if you ladies do not, you would take the time to get to know Him.

  • dee

    Friends: We are so complexed. Sometimes I find that too much introspection leads me to inactivity. I have to have a balance. When things get to complicated and depression is trying to get the best of me, besides prayer the next best thing is to just release the situation or matter and know that I cannot change or do something about it but I can do something about my state of being. Provided that it is not a neurological or physical problem, the emotional side of depression can be confronted and minimized by accepting the truth about why I’m feeling the way that I am and telling my self it is all temporary, this too shall pass. Honesty with my self has been the key in many of these bouts with depression.

  • Anonymous

    I to suffer from depression. I always have as long as I can remember,(around 5 Yrs.old). Everyone tells me I should do something about it. I wish I could stop it but it just happens. I don’t sit around feeling sorry for myself, I cope the best way I can . I choose not to take medication, It makes me feel worse. I read , play on the computer, take long walks, bike rides, and pray . It helps but nothing can easy the pain in my heart but time and the love of the people around you. No one can understand what depression does to you, all they can do is be there to listen when Your willing to talk about it . I guess I’m a little more sensitive than most people. I sometimes feel other peoples sadness. Hope this helps someone else in the world.

  • Laura

    This article caught my eye simply because I too suffer from depression. I have sought counseling and I cannot function without the medication. Medication is the best thing I ever did. I feel almost “normal”. Without the support of my husband and father I could not have made it throguh the panic attacks, anixety of not being able to go to work and function. Thanks to the Good Lord, I have not suffered a panic attack in 2 years. And, Yes, I too grew up with an alcoholic father and a work-a-holic mother. There was never any praise or nurturing, they did not know how. But today I nurture and love my children and have the job I have always wanted. Do not discard the idea of medication.

  • Sean Rhoades

    Who is to blame? Well God is in charge of all things, and nothing can happen unless the LORD wills it. Obviously then it is the LORD’s will for us to be tried by various trials to test us, to see if we will do as Satan asserted Job would do if God remove the hedge of protection from around all his riches and health. Satan bet that Job would curse the LORD to his very face, he lost the bet of course. Whether those trials be depression, temptations, persecutions, birth defects, or any other difficulties we face in life we must not forget that this life now is only a short illusion and is not the real life. Whatever the trial may be, we as Christians must endure the sufferings with patients, always praising God and thanking him for loving us. Here are a few good verses to keep in mind
    1 Peter 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
    Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
    Proverbs 20:30 The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.
    Proverbs 3:12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

  • She-B

    It’s amazing how God works sometimes! I received the following bible study and then came across this article on depression. God is giving me the answer before reading the article. That is the way “He” works sometimes. You just have to have your spiritual eyes and ears open.
    Sometimes the whole world seems against you, that no matter what you do it doesn’t matter. Life keeps getting worse no matter what you do. Friends and family don’t seem to understand or help. Even God seems to be gone. To strengthen our faith, often God brings us into these moments of darkness. He is teaching you that you cannot trust yourself or others, only God. When we are in the darkest times we tend to focus on the pain, and the more we focus on the pain, the deeper we sink into helplessness and despair.
    The next time you are hurting, stop and remember,you are connected to God. He is your friend and father. He knows all things and He is always working for your good. Focus on God, who He is, what He did, and what He is trying to do through you. Once you do this a peace enters your spirit. Your focus changes and you draw closer to God. God loves you but He wants you to seek his presence. Tell Him every detail of the problem and let Him speak words of comfort into your soul.

  • Lynne

    I realize now that the depression itself won’t kill me. If I can wait it out a bit it lessens. I guess reader Leroy had a point about how to LIVE with depression. It’s about my attitude toward it. My older brother (who’s going to AA meetings) said it took him a while to figure out that it was’nt the world around him, it was how HE interpreted it at the time. As depressives, our perceptions lie to us a lot! If you are willing to go through the pain, rather than twist in the wind trying to avoid it, the time will pass quicker. (Or that could be my perception).

  • Stephen Agneli

    I myself suffer with depression, and Bi- Polar disorder.I sometimes feel, that when I pray to God.He dosent hear me.As if Im doing it for nothing.But I know in my heart,that its not true.So I try to move forward and understand.That there is a reason and a season,for everything we feel in our hearts and mind.Certainly depression,does not effect everyone.And with this.We sometimes question.Why me?I have tryed to be the best person in this life, to all around me.Not to say,I always have been.But my heart was always in the right place.As it is with everyone in this life.We all feel that it is just us being effected by these illnesses.I think my depression was, and is mainly caused by,lack of surport, and just having bad experiences, with other people.Who have caused a great deal of hurt to me.More so,then a cemical imbalance.I hope this helps whoever reads it.

  • chris lenni

    I feel the same as you stephan. my neice had depression as a teen a few years ago. i have recently talked with her about depression and help she got from medication AND therapy. the resolve is depression is half chemical and half how we deal with lifes issues. She had to retrain her brain how to think another way and how to handle things. she is now off medication and doing pretty good. ih ave been suffering perimenipausal depression but i feel life added to it and i had a meltdown with it all this past april. i normally and very happy go lucky. i have been taking SAMe during day and melotonin at night. both help tremendously. my depression was milder and is cyclical around my female schedule. i have no good relation ship with my parents(she favors my brothers and his kids) i recieve no mental or physical support from her. I have not many close very friends i feel that contributes to this. i have hundreds of casual and secondary friends thru my kids activities thou so that is strange. my husband has stepped up and has been the best ever during this in the almost 20 years we have been married. Thank GOD, every day for that. Normally my husband had been very self centered most of this time and we almost didn’t make it together as of late. Our relationship is stronger than ever now. Maybe God gave him a wake up call by giving me depression?? I don’t understand why i had to go thru more pain to help someone else wake up but i guess i’m strong enough to take it. i too also saw some of the small errors of my ways and am kinder and gentler and not so do it myself strong but i dnt see that as a problem. Life is strange. i need a direction for my life after 40….

  • Ann

    I know that all of my life I have been depressed. I really didn’t know it until after my divorce. It started with me in Jr High School.I was on many medications but my doctor has put me on Wellburtin XL it has done wonders for me. Thanks for listening.

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