Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


Struggle With, Not Victory Over

posted by Beyond Blue

This piece is reprinted from awhile back.

It’s tempting for anyone who writes about depression and anxiety to preach from hindsight, after he has “recovered” from his mood disorder: “This is what I did to free myself from addiction” … “Here are five steps to instant weight loss” … “These are eight techniques to cure anxiety.”

If you look at the list of New York Times bestseller advice books, such simple directives fill slots 1 through 20. Because no one wants to read the secrets of a person still struggling with her diet and exercise. After fifteen bloody weeks, she is still grossed out by sweat. Few people want to read a depression memoir that ends in a psych ward, with ECT.

Awhile back a friend sent me a great article called “Victory Over or Struggle With?” about the temptation for preachers to speak from a “victory over” perspective versus a more reflective, introspective “struggling with” point of view. Bob Kellemen, the author of the article, writes:

How often are we writing about our current struggles or our ongoing struggles with issues such as depression, anxiety … envy, jealousy, anger, and the like? How often do we preach about our current and ongoing struggles?

Stop for a moment before you say, “Oh, I just talked about how last year I battled …..” That’s part of our problem. We write and preach about the battle after we have won it. We talk about the valley once we are back on the mountaintop.

What effect might it have on our fellow strugglers if we talked about the battle during the battle—while we are still in the valley? How might it connect truth to life if we were honest enough to admit that we have lifelong, ongoing battles that we struggle with rather than that we always have “victory” over?

I am guilty of this myself. I am tempted to tie up all my struggles and angst with a lovely pink ribbon so that you will feel more hopeful about coming to a better place in your life. Look through my archives. It’s filled with “6 ways to ….” articles. However, whenever I have followed the advice of my former editor, Holly, and written from where I am, not from where I want to be, I am always amazed at the response from readers.

But it’s much, much harder to write from that place. Because it’s filled with ambiguity, uncertainty, restlessness, confusion, and embarrassment–for not having figured everything out. Most of us would like to present ourselves with much more direction, clarity, and single-mindedness because those traits are lumped in with success, not the former.

On most sites, I feel like I need to write posts filled with answers. But here, I think you actually appreciate my sincere questions, and maybe the fact that there is someone else out there who is just as perplexed by life’s crooked lines, and trying to put one foot in front of another in pursuit of a little sanity.

Click here to subscribe to Beyond Blue and click here to follow Therese on Twitter and click here to join Group Beyond Blue, a depression support group. Now stop clicking.



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Shelly

posted August 9, 2011 at 7:39 am


AMEN!

The blogs that I glean the most from (like yours)…are real, written from the trenches, don’t portray how they’ve overcome and never relapsed. I get enough of that from those that speak christian-ese. Those that proclaim from the mountaintops they have been healed of/from this or that. I DO believe that God can heal all if He decides. I don’t believe that He does it very often because we have to learn to live gracefully and gratefully with the cross we are to bear in this life.
I feel like a failure if I immerse myself in the ‘overcomer’ stories…because I haven’t overcome. I’ve learned to live successfully with bipolar but I know it’s within me and I have to be vigilant with diet, exercise, meds, support and sleep in order to stay as healthy as I can. I can’t let my guard down because then I may be blindsided. It’s hard enough even when I know episodes will happen occasionally NO MATTER WHAT I DO. Don’t need the added guilt of ‘I had overcome, what happened?’
Thank you Therese for always opening your heart and life wide open.



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Sarah Callender

posted August 9, 2011 at 9:26 am


Thank you. I just blogged about the “wedgie” that my depression has given me this summer. And, as I am still in it, I had to fight to NOT write a post that was, well, depressing. I also feel tremendously embarrassed that I can’t just kick this illness, that I just can’t get over it. I know, I know. BUT people’s encouragement and warmth and empathy and gratitude (via comments and private emails) remind me that there is great and authentic connection in reaching out, mid-struggle. This past Sunday, our preacher spoke about the danger of always asking, “Are we there yet?” It’s a good reminder that those of us who struggle with mental health will, likely, always struggle. No sense in asking, “Am I there yet?” Much better just to buckle up and make sure I have nice folks in my car. And Kleenex. And my therapist. And chips and guacamole and some of those Trader Joe’s mini peanut butter cups. Thank you, Therese, as always, for your encouragement and honesty.



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Mark

posted August 9, 2011 at 9:52 am


I can identify much better with writing from where you are. “I’m not the only one. Someone else feels this too.” Or felt it. I too have my ups and downs, victories and struggles. We want to get out of the black hole but even if we aren’t in it currently we can identify with those who are there.



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Razz2

posted August 9, 2011 at 10:35 am


Oh…yes, yes, yes Therese! Right now I find myself in that “place” again, standing on a edge of something dark and I don’t want to fall in. Hearing others tell you what they did….or in other words “do this or that” and you’ll be fine are not really comforting. Oddly hearing that someone else is walking beside you feeling just as miserable is. That old saying that “misery loves company” is true but for here it’s in a different sense. I don’t want to make anyone else feel miserable just to join me….. I just feel a bit less alone when I know that others are standing on that edge too.

Be good to you – Razz



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Sarah Woods

posted August 9, 2011 at 12:55 pm


Having just completed 10 months of cancer treatment, I can relate. When people told me about their aunt, neighbor, sister, friend who “is fine now – doing great,” I would think “how wonderful for them, but right now my toenails are falling off.” Cancer treatment threw me into a clinical depression. I didn’t want to commiserate with other cancer patients – how depressing is that – but rather have normal conversations with people not going through hell. Now that I am done, I do feel better, my personality is back, and I’m more courageous and youthful than I have been in years. Depression was awful. I can validate that there really is a difference between being clinically depressed and not. Lots of love.



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steve durham

posted August 9, 2011 at 1:13 pm


Just adding my own “Amen” here (and in that same context — affirmation of prayer and prayer answered) … if you weren’t honest here, Therese, I would have left long long ago. It is our honesty that keeps me in *full* connection with my own struggles, and without that connection they would have submerged me long long ago. If even posts don’t *resolve* in some way … if the depressiveness continues, the answers don’t come, you have me, you have *so many* of us, right there just because of it: our lonely struggles aren’t the only ones that feel like they do: unresolved on the worst, darkest days … peppered with “backslidings,” loss of ground, the endless dreary same ol’ same ol’ … except that you, too, also help us remember there are flowers hidden away in this jungle, and they *will reappear*. Honesty goes each way, even if the “flowered way” seems so much smaller so much of the time. I guess all I’m babbling about here just means: please keep on with what you do, the way you do it.



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steve durham

posted August 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm


Sorry … in my post above I meant to say YOUR honesty (not “our honesty”).



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ash

posted August 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm


I love the unique take on this and agree, sometimes honesty is the best medicine.



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Mary Jo

posted August 10, 2011 at 8:35 am


I appreciate hearing about your less-than great times, struggles and angst. It always makes me think: Thank God I’m not alone. Thank God I’m not crazy for feeling this way. Sometimes all that “6 ways….” just brings me down more because I’m not in a place to do it. Thank you Therese!!



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Glen B.

posted August 10, 2011 at 9:09 am


I subscribe and read Beliefnet every morning with my wakeup coffee either just before or just after reading the NY Times. Many don’t consider it this way but in my view life is chaos and much of what we do in our civilized world is about putting things into an acceptable sense of manageable order. Beliefnet helps that. However it also helps with things more on the side of feeling.



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Mary

posted August 10, 2011 at 9:21 am


Therese,
Thank you for addressing this issue. Sometimes I feel sorry for those poor souls who think they have conquered everything (and why can’t the rest of you?) types. I think that they may have not had a relapse and when they do, they may feel like they have to hide it. I also hate “ten tips for curing your depression and never having another down day!” Tips don’t cure depression. Or, really any major part of one’s life. This is not to say that advice on moving forward isn’t helpful. It greatly is, because like your posts, many of them are realistic.



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festivelady826

posted August 10, 2011 at 9:36 am


We all LOVE you, Therese! You never make any of us feel like we are “lesser persons” because we are in the black hole and can’t see our way out. You are so honest in your struggles and that is what we admire in you.



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Ann

posted August 10, 2011 at 9:49 am


Therese,
I enjoy your posts very much, and read them every day I appreciate the viewpoint of your
column today.
After losing my sister, and ending up in the behavioral unit at out hospital, I was in
the trenches of loneliness. I was wondering if sometime you could redo the post on the
Samaritan Woman, which ran on March 9. It talked about how the Samaritan woman was lonely, and I would really appreciate reading it again. My computer wiped out all my e-mails and files. God Bless, Therese, and
have a good day.



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Julia

posted August 10, 2011 at 10:19 am


Thanks, Therese. I needed that.



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Richard

posted August 10, 2011 at 10:38 am


T.
Because I am in a valley right now, I came to the end of your post still looking for the “cure all” or “here is how to fix it.” Then I realized (finally) that we were in the same place. My struggles are not the same as yours but we are both struggling; and for some strange reason I find that soothing.

So goes life



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Joanne

posted August 10, 2011 at 11:48 am


I so appreciate your living the tough life and being so honest about it. I’ve felt ashamed because I trained as a therapist and feel as though I should have all the answers for everyone, yet I feel like such a fake and so inadequate now trying to help people. Whether it’s menopause, depression, or both combined, looks like its time to get some help. I cry every day, I’m full of rages, dangerously high blood pressure, my fiance’s kids who stress the hell out of me, and although he is great, I’m desperately lonely for my family and friends and life back in NY (I am now in California). It is beyond a relief to know that not everything is about victory in this life..the only victory is in the next life, as far as I’m concerned.



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barb

posted August 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm


AMEN AMEN!! Therese your honesty and speaking from “where i am right now” helps us all!! i feel like i can know that i am not the only one. it’s hard to find friends or neighbors who really want to know how i am. i think they don’t really want to know, they are just being polite. there is a lot going on in my life now and even though it may not be depression (at this moment), that it’s just life stuff, it’s still hard to feel comfortable enough to find someone who really cares to listen. but i know i can share here, and you and others will relate compassionately. thank you!



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Althea

posted August 10, 2011 at 2:31 pm


Amen. I feel I am walking through water chest high today, that is how thick my depression feels. And I can say I am upright and walking, which is the good news. These times seem like eternity. I agree with everyone who is appreciating honesty instead of an I’m fine (F-ully I-n N-eed of E-verything). Thank you for your courage in the midst of your anguish.



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Cheryl

posted August 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm


Amen!
You have a beautiful “voice” that comes through clearly. You have helped me alot, I have made incredible improvements by reading your books and blogs. Whatever you do, I do it too because it worked for you. It helps me to have a direction to focus on, rather than arriving – which some days I do and then get lost again.

That is the worst too – do you feel the same? When I feel great – I can’t believe I will lose that feeling, that I worked it out and I understand. Then, I will fall off my path and struggle to find my way back to it. At those times wondering if I will ever be able to stop feeling as bad as I do right then.

I’m working hard on myself. Unemployment has heaped on a huge extra portion of negativity that drove me far downhill in depression. I am making my way back, and I hope to be able to say that this dark time was a gift and valuable lesson. Then I will write a book about overcoming in 10 easy steps!!



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Depression treatment Center

posted August 11, 2011 at 6:11 pm


It is refreshing to read of your struggles; it is honest, realistic, and accessible to most of us who do struggle with depression and anxiety. Feels like a journey we have company for! Great post!



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LISA

posted August 11, 2011 at 7:42 pm


I just read your article on victory or struggle, so here is my struggle, not victory – my husband struggled with a life of bi-polar disorder treated for many years w/lithium from the age of 14 w/no levels taken. Thus he got kidney failure in Feb. 2011 he went into a psych unit to get “treated for depression” Docs. talked him into ECT though he had it in his teens when it was still a painful experience. Then, he had heart failure was sent to ICU where his lung collasped. He was resucitated, traech,respirator & get this, became paralyzed. No explanations for is condition, he was sent to a rehab.where he continue to get worse sent to a well known hospital where he died on July 6 2011. Today is what would have been his 54th birthday. I don’t have a recovery story for Dave, only a lonely sad heart. I too have the luxury of being diagnosed with PTSD & major depression, Think there’s a lesson here about waiting for the miracle cure, the victory, I think Dave was a very brave man & has now finally entered into his VICTORY. but me? I still struggle. Thanks for the opportunity to post this.



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Kevin Keough

posted August 11, 2011 at 9:39 pm


We will have no ultimate victory in this life. Might as well accept it—-the truth will set us free.

It is the hardest to write from your soul–that which experiences this life in earth-time. It seems our purpose is to find our unique “voice”…the voice of our experience in earth time. It takes so much courage to be real when we write from where we actually are………”all along the way to Heaven is Heaven, for did he not say: “I am the way” St.__________ (Therese has to fill in the blank……worth doing because this little gem can guide you from here on out.
Naturally, I vote for the hard road because you have a gift for it—–best not waste this gift or you will be in “big trouble”.
You rock even when we know you feel lousy and worse.



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kathyb

posted August 11, 2011 at 10:27 pm


Therese,
I appreciate what you can put into words to share with us all. It takes courage to what you do. I don’t know where I am supposed to be, where I’m going or if I’m even on the right path. Through your writings I know I am not the only one floundering.
Thank you ever so much.



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RINAH

posted August 13, 2011 at 4:52 am


I WAS TOLD BY THE SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE, NOT TO PAY ATTENTION ANYMORE TO MY SON THREATENING TO COMMIT SUICIDE SINCE ALMOST 36 MONTHS. HE HAS BEEN CALLING FOR ATTENTION TO THIS LINE MORE THAN 60 TIMES. ACTUALLY HE IS NOT DEAD YET. BUT HE IS MAKING MY LIFE A LIVING HELL, AND EVERYBODY ELSE ‘S LIFE MISERABLE. ALL THIS BECAUSE A WEALTHY WOMAN USED HIS SPERM TO HAVE A CHILD AND THEN KICKED HIM OUT OF HER LIFE AFTER SHE GAVE BIRTH (AT 41).TO A LITTLE FROG. DANIEL GOT CRAZY ABOUT THE LITTLE FROG WHO IS TURNING 3 THIS AUG.26. WHAT’S SO IMPORTANT ABOUT THIS LITTLE FROG, THERE ARE MILLIONS OF KIDS OUT OF THERE HUNGRY FOR LOVE, AFTER BEING A WELL REPUTED MUSICIAN, DECENT YOUNG MAN, WONDERFUL SON,GRANDSON,AND BROTHER, HE HAS BECOME A “SCHNORER”, HE DOESN’T BATHE, HE DRINKS BEER ALL DAY LONG, HE LOST THE LAST CENT OF HIS SAVINGS IN THE BANK,STINKS LIKE A SKUNK, TOOK MONEY FROM MY CHECKING ACCT.SMOKES 2 PACKS OF CIGARETTES PER DAY , WAS HOSPITALIZED 4 TIMES UNDER THE STUPID DISGUSTING VOMITABLE BAKERYS ACT AND THE OTHER GARBAGE CALLED THE MARSHMAN MARSHMELLOW’S ACT. WAS ALWAYS RELEASED NEXT DAY WITH THE MENTIN “MENTALLY STABLE” WE LIVE IN AMERICA. THEREFORE NO ATTENTION IS GIVEN TO THOSE WHO DO NOT HAVE DRUGS IN THEIR SYSTEM.DOCTORS AND THERAPISTS CANNOT SYPHON MONIES OUT OF THE GOVERNMENT ALL JUNKIES GET THE BEST ATTENTION, BECAUSE THIS IS HOW THESE CRIMINALS CALLED DOCTORS MAKE MONEY MONEY MONEY. DANIEL MAKES NO USE OF ANY DRUGS NOT EVEN ASPIRIN, HE IS STRONG LIKE A OAX, BUT HAS BECOME AN ALCOHOLIC. SO FOLLOWING THE ADVICE OF THE SUCIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE, TO LET HIM PICK HIS CHOICE, HE IS GOING 39 THIS DECEMBER. SO I HOPE HE DIES SOON, SO EVERYBODY CAN REST FROM HIS SELF VICTIMIZATION, SELF SABOTAGING AND AND SELF DESTRUCTION. HE NEVER REALIZED WHAT HE HAS BEEN TAUHT:” TO WATCH OUT FOR WOMEN IN AMERICA, ESPECIALLY CAREER WOMEN WHO HAVE A PENIS ENVY, WHO WANT TO BE A MAN AND ARE NOT A MAN, BUT ARE DOMINEERING, EVIL, CASTRATING AND PROTECTED BY THE LAW OF MATRIARCHATE AND THE LAW OF WHOREDOM AND HARLOTRY. THEREFORE I TOLD MY DARLING SON, BON VOYAGE IF HE WISHES SO MUCH TO DIE. ONE RABBI TOLD ME AT THE BEGINNING THAT THE WAS POSSESSED BY AN EVIL IMPURE SPIRIT FOR HAVING FORNICATED WITH A PROMISCUOUS WOMAN. (SHE IS A SURGEON). AND THIS I BELIEVE FIRMLY. SO THIS FROG WAS BORN THROUGH BEDEVILED MANIPULATION AND IS ALSO A LITTLE DEMON THAT HAS BROUGHT HAVOC, DESTRUCTION, TEARS, POLICE, HOSPITAL, LOSSES OF MONIES, ROBBERIES, ACCIDENTS AND THE UNEXPECTED DEATH OF MY FATHER WHO SUFFERED HELL WHILE DANIEL WAS ROLLING ON THE FLOOR SCREAMING THE NAME OF THAT ACCURSED LITTLE CHILD. PASTORS,PRIEST CAME TO “SO TO SAY” WASH AND PURIFY HIM WITH CHRIST’S BLOOD (Idon’t believe in any of these hogwash business). NOTHING WORKED. SO, MOST PROBABLY SOME MORNING I WILL HAVE TO BREAK DOWN THE DOOR OF DANIEL’S COTTAGE AND FIND HIM RIGID, DEAD ON THE FLOOR. HE DOESN’T SLEEP ON THE BED BECAUSE HE CLAIMS THIS IS THE PLACE WHERE HE HAS MADE LOVE (THE LAST TIME) TO THAT OLD BAG, WHILE PREGNANT IN HER LAST MONTH.THIS WOMAN WAS (and probably still is ) A PROZAC USER WHICH SHE ALWAYS MIXES WITH VODKA..WONDERFUL SYSTEM IN THIS COUNTRY, DRUGGED SURGEONS PERFORMING SURGERIES!!! HOPE SOME PATIENT DIES ON THE OPERATING ROOM THE WHOLE STORY IS DISGUSTING. CHILDREN CAN BE A CURSE. AND THIS GENERATION IS MORE THAN A CURSE, HOPEFULLY WE HAVE A LOT OF YOUNG CRIMINALS WHO HAVE HACKED THEIR PARENTS TO DEATH, KILLED TEACHERS, STUDENTS (example the Columbine). AND LABORATORIES, POLITICIANS GET RICHER RICHER RICHER RICHER RICHER. THE BABYLONIAN WHORE HAS OPENED HER DOORS TO ALL KIND OF DEBAUCHRY AND MORAL DEGRADATION. MY ONE AND ONLY CONSOLATIN IS RECITING 10 TIMES PER DAY PSALM 109. OBVIOUSLY IN HEBREW, THIS IS WHERE THE REAL FORCE OF ALL WISHES RESIDES.



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Pingback: The Samaritan Woman and Loneliness - Beyond Blue

Diana

posted August 21, 2012 at 11:52 am


I was just telling a friend today about your blog, and how one of the best things about it is how you describe your ongoing struggle and ups/downs with depression in medias res, while still living an engaged life with family, job, etc….Thanks again for having the courage to share as you do. It’s a valuable contribution to many.



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cb

posted August 21, 2012 at 1:53 pm


Just when I have told myself that, starting tomorrow, I won’t ruminate any longer, I get up in the morning and start the rumination cycle all over again. Wow. When will I ever learn?

I have, however, discovered a remedy to my apparently ever-present ruminations. I go to work! I hold 3 part-time jobs as an independent contractor in the field of education. I am out of the house generally 6 days/week. That means I have only one day/week to ruminate extensively. When I’m at my jobs I think only of the task at hand. I’m very focused when I’m at work. It’s a tonic that seems to really work for me. Now, if I could just shed that remnant of rumination that one day per week.



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Rita

posted August 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm


God bless you Therese and all you folks who are crawling through the ‘valley of the shadow’ with me. Just today I had my therapist tell me that the closer I try to get to God the more the devil will test me. I’m already exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally. Often, ready to give up. I don’t want to be tested any more. I want to curl up in a little bipolar ball and lick my wounds and not think about the growth in my lung or the ulcer in my stomach or the depression in my soul. I just don’t want to do it anymore! But I have a son and I love him. So I get up and crawl some more. Any one have any ideas on how to get the devil off of my back? I’m tired!



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Larry W. Berry

posted August 22, 2012 at 1:44 am


Thank you for your sanity, Therese. Humility returns us to our soil, our groundedness. From that soil green living plants develop.
It recalls Rumi’s insight; ” Sell certainty, buy bewilderment.” Thank you so much for your caring and insight.



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Julia

posted August 28, 2012 at 11:32 am


Thanks you for sharing the valley experiences as well. We all need to hear that too, not just the “and look where I am now” good parts. Peace be with you, Therese.



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