Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue Turns 6

Since today is the sixth anniversary of Beyond Blue, I thought I’d share my very first post with you. Thank you for hanging in there with me, even as I’ve had to post plenty of archives.

Although I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety from the moment I was induced from my mother’s womb, I officially joined the elite club in 1989, my freshman year at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, when I went by the Counseling and Career Development Center to inquire about local support groups (I was a just few months sober). One of the therapists politely invited me back.


A few months later she rattled off a few diagnoses: obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorder, anxiety disorder, and depression. She strongly suggested antidepressants, but I resisted.

“They are happy pills that will compromise your sobriety,” some hard-core 12-steppers said. “The world needs God, not Valium,” preached a priest in his homily. Meds were the easy way out. And at the time, I was all about feeling the pain so that I could transform into a more spiritual person.

“Life doesn’t have to be this hard,” my counselor told me and gave me a copy of Colette Dowling’s book, “You Mean I Don’t Have to Feel This Way?” A year and a half later, when I was experiencing suicidal thoughts, I finally cried uncle, clinging to the lifeboat (or prescription) God sent me. After a few trial and error experiments, my doctor and I stumbled on the combination of Prozac and Zoloft, which allowed me to concentrate enough to study and pray, yet relax enough to tell a joke here and there.


Then I got married, in 1996, and had kids (David and Katherine are 5 and 3 now). After I had them, though, my hormones huddled together to ask each other what the heck they were supposed to be doing now that no baby was in the womb or at the breast. My neurotransmitters (responsible for feelings of well-being) scattered for good, and I had an honest-to-goodness mental breakdown. I lost twenty pounds because I had no appetite, I contracted one urinary tract infection after another because my immune system was breaking down, I breathed into a paper bag every morning during a panic attack, and I trembled and flailed like Linda Blair in the “Exorcist” because my anxiety was so acute. Oh, and let’s not forget the endless sobbing: at the grocery, at my son’s soccer practice, at preschool fieldtrips, in church, and everywhere else.


It took two trips to the psych ward, six different psychiatrists, and 23 different medication combinations over a year and a half’s time to get me well again. In other words, I upgraded to the platinum membership in Club D. As an authentic manic-depressive with Bipolar II disorder, I graduated beyond the my-primary-care-physician-can-give-me-my-meds, to the regular check-ins with doctors specializing in mental health.

Although I have many times cussed out God and asked what he was thinking when he designed my brain, I agree with Kay Redfield Jamison, author of “An Unquiet Mind,” that “tumultuousness, if coupled with discipline and a cool mind, is not such a bad sort of thing. In other words, unless one wants to live a stunningly boring life, one ought to be on good terms with one’s darker side and one’s darker energies.”


My real faith, the engine that propels me to love better and be better, was born in my dark night. Blindfolded, I felt my way through the woods to the campfire, where a crowd of fellow depressives welcomed me. They taught me which voices to listen to (Go for it!), which to ignore (You’re a failure.), and how to get out of bed the days your sickness has attacked every muscle in your body.

A friend and fellow depressive once told me that illness and anxiety are helping hands to help people tell their stories. I guess that’s what I hope to do here.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Julia

    Thanks, Therese for your words of truth and wisdom. Your story rings true for so many, if they are lucky enough to find the right kinds of support. Wishing you a season of joy, serenity and love…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Adri

    Thank you Therese for continuing with Beyond blue. Have a happy christmas with your family.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rita

    Happy Anniversary, Therese. Wishing you all the blessings. Thanks for everything.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kay M.

    Thank you once again for sharing your story Therese, especially the part about crying at the grocery store, church, and everywhere else. Hum… rings a bell with my own story. Congrats on the 6th birthday of Beyond Blue. You have many, many people that love you and follow your stories. Naturally, we’re all hoping for some new 2013 videos on youtube BeliefnetCommunity. I think you’re one awesome woman! Happy Birthday Beyond Blue! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Vita

    Happy Birthday, love reading your posts.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henry Evans

    thank you!!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Stella

    Happy Six Years! You’re an incredible, strong woman and an inspiration. Thank you for being here for us, for being so open with your life. You make me feel stronger, you make me remember that I can do this on days I don’t think I can, and remind me that I am enough. And you make me laugh, which sometimes is no small feat for this depressive. Heh. So thank you and congratulations. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a great New Year!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Sue Scott

    My son is on the other side of his bout with depression and is now living a very happy life of his own making out west…hallelujah! Yet I continue to read and enjoy your posts (new and archives) as I feel the majority apply to all of us trying to flog our way through a world that can be so overwhelming (and especially in recent days so dark as well). Keep up the great work on yourself and on our behalf. We are all proud of you! Merry Christmas!

  • Laurie

    I am bipolar. I sometimes hear voices. I agree that we have to listen to the good voices and filter out the negatives ones. I love your encouragement.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Sam Gyura

    Happy 6th year Therese! You will never know how much you have done for me. Your kind words when I went into the nuthouse will never be forgotten. Going in (terrified)saved my life.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment carol

    Thank you for your web site, which I read often. I am constantly beaten down by my family over my depression and feel the only way out is to end my life.

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