Beyond Blue

Thanks to all the readers who wrote heart-felt responses to my post on the recent suicides of comedian Richard Jeni and Brad Delp, lead singer for the band “Boston.”

I’m so delighted that this blog has grown into a unique kind of support group comprised of not only persons who suffer from depression and other mood disorders, but also of friends and families of mentally ill people. It makes me feel less guilty about not attending regular DRADA (Depression and Related Affective Disorders Association) support groups, or getting more involved with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). (They are great organizations, by the way, and can be very helpful in establishing a core support system if you don’t already have one.)

For those of you who, like me, rely on e-mails and phone calls from fellow depressives to stay sane, you’ll appreciate the sincerity, openness, and generosity of these comments:

Clinical depression is a horrible cross to bear and I sympathize with anyone that has to deal with it daily. The tragic thing is the pain that sends people spiraling downward and over the edge to commit such horrendous acts like suicide. It scares me as I know of someone who has this illness and I constantly worry about him. I just hurt so much inside for the extreme emotional pain that is experienced for suicidal people and not being able to help. –Anon

Having not wanted to be alive for more years than I wish to share, I thank God for continuing to give me the strength to not give in. I take it day by day, and keep praying hard. Hopefully the unfortunate circumstances of these two wonderfully talented individuals will educate more people about depression and they will take it more seriously and not make comments about something far deeper and darker than they can ever imagine. –Annette

I have a very good friend who suffers from clinical depression (among other diagnoses), and we talked about his previous attempts. I tried to put in words what he must be feeling; it’s as if the devil (or some dark force, like depression) gets inside a depressive’s head and yells something like “I have to kill myself to heal myself.” If this compulsion is not nipped in the bud, then there will be an attempt – and sometimes, like these two men, they succeed. –Suzanne

I have tried to kill myself over more than 10 times … pills, carbon monoxide, intentional car crashes … but today I realize I have something to do in this world and that is why I am alive and typing this. –Jim Howley

I am a wife of someone who has depression as well as panic attacks and anxiety attacks. He has been on so many medicines that I am not sure there are any out there that can help him any more. I am sure there is some out there that can help but they all have so many side effects that he doesn’t like that eventually he takes himself off the meds and then we are back to square one. I have tried to not yell at him or treat him like a baby, and try to help him out the best way I know how. I have family members that don’t understand fully and I try to make excuses for him, but I guess I don’t fully understand it either. All I know is I have to be there for him and try to be as supportive as I can be while he is trying to work this out. My prayers to everyone out there who suffers from any kind of mental illness or knows someone who does, because people don’t see mental illness as they would a broke leg or something like that. It is a really hard illness to deal with and to diagnose. –Tessa

My 20-year-old son has suffered from severe anxiety and depression since his early teens. He has been off and on many medications, most of which he stops taking because they aren’t helping and the side effects are bad. He’s also had many therapists, and just started with a new one. I (and my son) are estranged from many members of my family due to their judgment and condemnation of him. If there is only one thing you do if you know someone who suffers from a mental illness, please, be compassionate, even if you don’t understand. To judge and condemn what you don’t understand doesn’t heal, it doesn’t “kick start” someone or “wake them up” or whatever else you may think it will do to “change” the person; it only compounds the problems. –Anonymous

My heart goes out to all of you, whether the diagnosis concerns you or someone you love. It is a hellish road. I do not believe for a second that it is “my lot to suffer,” though I’ve also heard that one. I don’t know what I believe any longer, except that there must be some reason I’m still here. Perhaps one day I’ll know what it is. Peace and blessings. –Anonymous

I have suffered with depression for almost 50 years. I now have two adult sons, one with severe anxiety and depression, and one with bipolar disorder. As a mother of these fine men, I am constantly concerned but prayer has surely taken much of the worry away. Like the others posting here, I have had to live in a world where most people think you can “snap out” of depression. My extended family had no clue as to the pain we bear. Only after I repeatedly explained how and what we were feeling did they finally realize the extent. I had wondered for years why God allowed me to suffer so. I even endured cancer better than depression. Now I realize that I am the pillar of hope and understanding for my boys. –Lisa

I was diagnosed 13 years ago with bipolar disorder. The first four years were the worse. I am now on the right combination of medicines. If it were not for the support of my family, I’m not sure I would be here today. The meds allow me to push that weight out of my way (at least for awhile). I will say a prayer for those whose bodies are rejecting the medicines. May the Lord give you the strength to keep pushing forward, and also for the families who love us and help us through each day. –Nina

Often I am hanging on by a thread. After reading your article, I know there are people out there who understand the devastation of depression and other mental illnesses. Thank you. –Diane

I cannot tell you how glad I am that I came across this. I am 60 years old now and have spent most of my life in the “deep dark hole”. I finally found someone that has been able to help me: who diagnosed me as bipolar and found the right medication. All of you, please keep your faith in God. He will help you. I still don’t know why I am here but at least I am not planning a way to leave. –Carol

William Styron’s words really touched me: “The pain of severe depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it. To the tragic legion who are compelled to destroy themselves there should be no more reproof attached than to the victims of terminal cancer.” To read that helped me realize that other people have experienced the same feelings I have but couldn’t explain!!! We just keep reminding ourselves that WE ARE SURVIVORS!! And take it one day at a time–some good and some bad. The meds help but don’t completely reduce the suicidal thoughts. I guess I’m just trying to escape from the pain of the illness! But knowing that helps a little–that it’s the illness and not me. –Ilene

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