Monday, August 29, 2011


Deb: We have a number of people in our life who struggle with their mental health. They have their individual journeys that may or may not include drugs, treatment, electroshock therapy, depression, elation, personality disorder, panic, fear, shame, self-loathing, hope, prayer, bargaining, thoughts of suicide, attempts at suicide, suicide.

A few months ago, our good friend Barb took her own life after years of anguish and despair. A few years ago, my young cousin killed himself at the tender and promising age of 16. He went fishing, as was his passion, and hung himself from a tree with his fishing line. Fishing was his greatest passion and yet his pain was so enormous that he ended his life while doing one of the only things he loved. For him and the way his brain was wired, this moment of fishing was not good enough to keep him here.  And the worst thing is, he couldn’t help feeling this way. Heartbreaking.

Their deaths reminded me that although I have had a firsthand glimpse into the world of mental issues, I am miles from fully understanding it. But I also realized that I do not need to fully understand it to feel empathy. We do not have to grasp the exact biology at work inside the body of a person dying of cancer to understand that they are dying. But we can and do empathize with them. Why is it not the same for mental illness? Why do we still think that mental illness is some sort of ruse?

With both these deaths­­––my cousin and my friend––I heard the same things over and over. “Why did he have to go and do that?” “How could he do that to his Mother?” “Didn’t he think of the person who would find him?” And: “What’s she got to be depressed about, she’s got a beautiful home and a husband who loves her?” “She should just get out and take a class or take up a hobby?” “She says she can’t get out of bed. I told her to force herself!’ This is, believe me, just a small sample of the shocking things I have heard.

I am not saying that these comments aren’t sometimes well-meaning, but they are given as a result of ignorance. Suffering from debilitating depression is a far cry from being depressed, as most of you know. I thank God I do not suffer any of these things, but I had a microscopic glimpse into depression, panic and anxiety during menopause and I for one gained a new respect for those who struggle fiercely every single day.

I heard a comment recently that left me stunned. “With all the innocent babies dying in the world, I think it’s disgusting when people expect sympathy for depression.” Wow. That statement made me so sad. It was so off-base and so without empathy. I couldn’t kneejerk as I usually would have as it was not the time or the place. But I did speak to the gentleman quietly at the end of the event and said that I know him to be a compassionate person and that I was certain he would feel differently if he learned something about depression and about mental health in general. I am happy to say that he was more than open to my plea.

Mental illness is a jail sentence. Your prison is your body, the jailer, your mind. Some people are lucky and find the treatment that works for them. Others search all their lives to no avail.

All their lives! Can you imagine?

I have one friend who wakes up each day and for a tiny teasing second, she thinks maybe, just maybe, it is going to be a good day. Then it hits her in the gut, and she claws her way through her bedclothes just to put her feet on the floor.

Empathy. It’s in all of us.

Barbara: Deb, this is such a difficult subject and I’m so glad you brought it up. Obviously, we can’t do it full justice in such a short post, but I definitely need guidance in this arena and this is as good a place as any to share our experiences and maybe find some common ground.

I am an empathetic person. Very very empathetic. Sometimes to my detriment. But so am I hard-wired to want and try to “make it better”. This often means offering advice or what I think of as possible solutions to emotional conundrums—whether people want it or not. The truth is—and you, Deb, have opened my eyes to this perhaps more than anyone—I don’t at all know what to do or say to someone struggling with serious mental illness.

I too have known people who have taken their own lives. It is devastating and confusing and heartbreaking for all involved. “If only we’d known…” But then what? If someone who struggles with mental illness can’t be cheered or can’t cheer themselves out of it, is there any form of helping hand we could have offered?

Deb has often reminded me that the best form of help is in the listening. As hard as it is to resist offering advice, it might be best not to. Often this kind of depression is relentlessly cyclical: good days followed by bleak pleas of “Why me? Why this? Why now?”. Possibly the only consistently successful offering in these dark times is the simple assurance that “it will be okay.” Because, like so many modern philosophers are saying, “In this moment, you are okay, and so shall you be okay in each moment that follows”.

And that, in a nutshell, is how even the most optimistic of us survives the ride.


  1. As someone who suffers with depression, I can't thank you enough for this article. Deb - you have hit the nail on the head; for many it is a life long issue in their life and we need people to understand that we just can't feel better because we say so.
    Thank you so much - this is being shared with all of my friends!

  2. Deb, I thought you were talking about me. I have suffered from depression since I was 5. Mine stems from post traumatic stress suffered over a prolonged period of time. You are right about people saying unintentionally cruel things. My own family used to say to "get up and decide you're happy". If only it were that simple. I am taking meds for it and have been told I will have to for the rest of my life. Bummer. The meds are no cure all, plus they have fairly undesirable side effects. If you stop taking them cold turkey you suffer from what can only be described as brain zaps. Terrifying when you have them and didn't know what they were. But I take them. I take them to keep out the nightmares. To not think I will die between my home and the grocery store 5 blocks away. I take them so that I don't think about driving into a concrete barrier on the highway. I don't miss those feelings at all. I traded them for brain zaps, lethargy, and total loss of desire, which is actually a good me on that. So yes, If you know someone you suspect of being depressed don't give them advice. Call them, go by and visit, tell them YOU need company at dinner/lunch/movie whatever. Get them out of the house. Don't let them isolate themselves, but don't nag at them to leave their home either. It's a delicate balance. Also, expect there will be times when your friend won't want to get out of bed, or be able to. Sometimes I feel the force of gravity pushing me down like it was a pointy toed cowboy boot and I'm a used up cigarette it's smashing into the pavement. Try to understand that your friend still likes/loves you but they don't have the same feelings for themselves.
    It's very hard to be depressed in a world full of friends and advice, but it ain't no picnic being the friend of the depressed either.
    Okay, stopping now. I could go on and on. :) Thank you so much for bringing up this topic. It's very important these days, especially with depression being diagnosed at record numbers
    I'm so very sorry about your loved ones making the final decision. No one could have stopped them.
    Giant enormous HUGS,

  3. UGH, and I wish I had a dime for every time someone quoted Dr. Phil to me. I secretly wished for a tree to fall on him, not to kill him, just to shut him the hell up for awhile so I could have a break from his Hillbilly advice.
    Sorry, Just felt overly compelled to add that about him. NEVER quote him to anyone suffering from depression...or anyone else either.

  4. Deb, this is so great--so important. I don't suffer from depression myself, but two of my most critical loved ones have lifetime histories, and in fact I've actually had one arrested to keep them from suicide. Sadly, in the US, the legal system is the only recourse and it is a system of frustration and head-banging to try to get anyone help.

    You are so right that people look at this differently from an illness, and they just shouldn't. The evil person in me wishes some of these people would have a loved one go through it so they could learn their compassion first hand, but it is the person with the actual illness who would suffer--all the more so for their incompetent family. I get so mad with people who live in their happy bubbles and refuse to see realities like this (and poverty and addiction and the other things people get blamed for that just aren't their fault)

  5. Thanks so much for sharing your stories. Hearing directly from people about their own personal experience goes so much further to help us understand what we might need to do over assuming -- because we're "compassionate" and "empathetic" -- that we have the necessary skills. It is a different emotional world. We need these navigational tools!

  6. Deb, like you, I personally don't suffer from any of these conditions, but I do have people close to me who do. Something my sister often says is that depression/other mental disorders are not "emotional"...they're exactly what they say, "mental".

    And the comment you shared made me sad, because I too am a very empathetic person. But I also applaud that you spoke up because I truly believe it is people who speak up that gives the afflicted some glimmer of hope.

  7. My grandfather just got got told that he is dying from cancer and probably will only be here for 6 mounts to a year. So for the past couple of weeks I also have had to deal with depression. Not knowing what to do when someone tell's you something like this is scary . And your right it does feel like you Are trapped in jail with no way to escape. I know that I can't do anything about it but I think honestly thRs why I feel so guilty. Mental illness is horrible and its something that we can't control.. Which is the horrible part.

  8. This is a wonderful blog today. I have suffered from depression most of my adult life but thank goodness when I realized it wasn't lifting by itself I got help and for the last 20 years I have taken medication and it has not returned. It wasn't the debilitating kind but just an underlying hopelessness (global) as opposed to personal. I fear for the world, for my kids, for our country things like that. A few years ago my medicine needed adjusting and it was so weird to all of a sudden have the symptoms back after 18 years. I immediately went to a psychiatrist who is a pharmacological wizard and with a doubling of the dose the depression lifted as suddenly as it has come back. I am a fixer for myself and others and one who does have a reputation for helping others but in the area of mental issues I always recommend a doctor. I try and be encouraging and extending invitations to museums, the ocean and movies (funny ones) and if they take me up on it fine and if not I try to let them know I am available on a moments notice to take them anywhere. Love today's topic but then again I love your columns and the two of you.

  9. I only have more of a mild depression, though it's been going on for almost my entire life. I was abused by a babysitter when I was a toddler, and to this day I've allowed the incident to affect my life in many ways. I usually keep this bottled up and seldom reveal it to anyone, though I see that it sort of applies in this context. It's good for me to get it out every so often. I've tried talking to my parents about it but they would just refuse to believe it never happened and that it must've just been a nightmare I had. I also struggle with discussing it with my sisters, as 2 of them have children. I know many people expect that individuals who were abused as children will grow up and become abusers themselves. This will NEVER be the case for me. I just have a slight fear that my sisters would feel that way and not allow me near my niece's and nephew. Also, I wouldn't want my sisters to feel guilty as I sort of volunteered myself to be the one abused, as our babysitter would've chosen any one of us. Which by doing so freed my sisters up to keep their innocence and lead more 'normal' lives than I've been able to. I must admit, I feel quite a lot better now for sharing this with others. I think it's easier to do so with strangers as opposed to my realtives, though I know that I should talk to them about it as well. I just can't seem to find a decent time or way to do so. Any advice?

  10. I have generalized anxiety disorder with major depressive episodes (actual "diagnosis") - so I worry about when I'm feeling depressed when I'm not worrying about everything else. :) My husband suffers with depression and my son had to inherit my anxiety (the one thing I wish he *didn't* get from me...)

    For me, I have some idea of what my triggers are for my anxiety, and am hyper-aware when they're being pushed. When my anxiety flares, I become paralyzed. I know what needs to be done, but I'm paralyzed by fear, and I can't figure out what to do and how to do it, and when to do it. I get stuck in a loop - both physical and mental - which I can't break. The anxiety builds up to such a point that I can physically feel it crawl through my veins, and I'd do anything - ANYTHING - to just to get rid of that horrid feeling. The depression kicks in when I start thinking about self-harm. That's when I start to worry (even more), and go to the psychiatrist.

    I'm working on this medical roller-coaster - just 5 years in - and still trying to find the right combination to help.

    It makes me really angry when close family just says, "Just calm down. Get over it. You have nothing to fear..." and so on. Don't dismiss what a person feels. It doesn't encourage people to open up/confide when their feelings are being dismissed as trivial. It's not. People feel what they feel. Not only empathy is needed, but sensitivity. I don't know how many times I've felt like screaming, "But, I'm not you!"

    Sorry for the ramble.

  11. A beautifully written post on such a difficult subject. So many of us either suffer with such problems or have someone very close to us that do. It's a subject that most people want to ignore, but it is so important. Thank you for this.

    And I have to laugh at what Karen said about Dr. Phil. It's so true. On a different, yet related topic, I only watched Oprah a couple of times and I don't think I ever saw a complete episode, but once I heard her talking about how to raise children. She said, I don't have kids, I have dogs, but I know how..... Come on Oprah, you don't know anything about raising kids; don't try and tell me what to do.

    I think I need chocolate now. :)

  12. At least I know that I am not alone with this thing.

  13. Hullo dahlings--
    I'd like to say that, personally, I bristle at "It'll be okay." My mental illness is insidious. If it gets out of control, it becomes impossible for me to go through my daily tasks. Yes, impossible. Every day I cry and cry and cry. It's like a little rock that got stuck in my gears. The gears will keep moving for a while, then turn slower and slower, daily tasks become harder and harder to do, and eventually everything stops. Everything is physiologically and psychologically painful. Living like that is hell and then there are the consequences. I need my brain medicine then.
    It's not JUST a matter of "change my thinking", not even before the relapse started. Certainly there's cognitive issues as well but I can't beat my brain chemistry. And that sentiment "things will get better" isn't helpful for me when I am in the thick of it.
    With that medicine, I was fortunate to experience what it feels like to feel normal. It was as different as night and day (to be all cliche-y, for a moment). It really is a shocking contrast between a brain that is depressed and a brain that is normal, with normal bouts of depressed feelings due to life. It's a world of difference between the two (my cliche bag is just about empty now, don't worry).
    To my friends who have this disorder, I try to listen to their pain without judgment. And in my normal day-to-day living, I try to be more loving in general. Life is already so painful for us, all of us, I try not to put out more pain into the universe...the butterfly effect, you know? My interactions with people here affect my loved ones there. Yes, I'm weird that way.
    I love that you two are tackling this sensitive subject.


  14. Today my family is driving on the trans Canada highway through Newfoundland to our next destination. Each "ding" of my iphone brought another message of understanding and struggle. I am so moved by your willingness to share and speak out. Each and every one of you has a story to tell and it just reinforces my certainty that we are ALL affected. Each one of you is dealing with your own issues or that of a loved one and I feel your pain, concern and confusion. Thank you Laurie, Karen, Hart, Holly, Lyndsie, Madge, Jo, Molly and anonymous. Jo please don't ever feel that you have to say sorry for rambling. First of all it did not seem rambling to me and secondly, that is what we are here for-to share and to seek. Anonymous I am loath to give advise as I do not know your family and how they might react but I will say that I heard a quote somewhere that said "there is never a bad time to talk". I subscribe to that theory. As far as Dr. Phil goes, I suppose he is fine spouting home spun wisdom although I don't watch his show but he is certainly not qualified to speak out on this subject. I guess he is the "celebrity" version of the kind of people we are talking about huh? I must say again that I feel deeply for all of your pain and I hope that getting it out has helped in some tiny way. The world needs to turn this around. This issue of mental health is long overdo for a dose of respect. Thank you to each and every one of you for trusting us with your private stories. Sending love and hope.xo

  15. Peace to you Sarah. I am moved to tears. By all of you. I am sorry that life has dealt you this blow. The butterfly effect. Yes. We do what we can. Listen without judgement. Something we all need to be reminded of. Thank you.

  16. I thought you'd be interested to know that during my meditation training I learned the etymology of the word compassion, and thought you'd be interested. I always think about it when I find myself floundering for the "right" thing to say to someone who is experiencing emotional pain of any kind. com= "together" + pati means "to suffer." so true compassion simply asks that you be with the suffering. no need to always say something. just listen and be with the person in the spirit of compassion.........

  17. Deb, I offer my sympathies on the loss of your friends. I haven't lost anyone to suicide, and actually can't imagine what you are feeling.

    When I read the first few lines of this, I felt like I had been punched in the gut. NOT because it bothered me that much, but because SOMEONE CARES. Holy S**t, someone else cares!!

    I've suffered from what appeared to be MAJOR depression since I was about 14. I've lost track of how many times I've attempted suicide over the years. The feelings of LOST and DESPAIR and EMPTY are so overwhelming that all I want is for it to STOP, and the only way I see to get it to STOP is to end it myself. There are NO other options. And this thought is just about the ONLY thought I had, the ONLY feeling I had. That I "had straight A's, so how could I be miserable?" didn't matter. "Just cheer up!" didn't help. (Cheer up? Really? Damn, I wish I'd thought of that!) My daughter would be better off without me, so she wasn't honestly a factor. People can judge all they want. That isolates a depressed person even more. I feel bad enough, I don't need you to throw more wood on the fire by telling me what ELSE I'm doing wrong.

    Deb, I need to tell you that Colin has literally been a life-saver for me. As I went through this personal hell in high school, my best friend told me that, if I killed myself, she would not mourn my death. MY BEST FRIEND. And here's Colin, giving a shit, about a complete stranger? Words will NEVER describe... Let's just say I can't emphasize enough how grateful I am to him for caring. And God bless him for his patience.

    I finally admitted to a suicide attempt 3 years ago. (After so many years of failure, it was time to look at other options.) I've been through a LOT of treatments since, all guess-work, mind you, because it's not an exact science. There's no way to monitor whether the drug, if it's the right one, is at the correct dosage... no blood test to check levels. (Except lithium. I don't know anything about that one, though.) When I see "my meds guy," who I really like and feel comfortable with, the best he can ask is "What's been going on" and "How are you feeling?" How much more subjective can you get?

    I had ECT treatments, and there's no feeling like going to sign your name and for the briefest second not remembering what it IS. I lost my job of 15 years due to the side effects.
    The "fun" part is that it turns out I'm Bi-Polar, not "just" depressed. The treatments are different. The meds are different. ECT is NOT recommended. Great. Just freakin' great.

    On the POSITIVE side, I might actually be close to the right balance of meds. The depths aren't nearly as low. The feelings of hopelessness don't last nearly as long. I do miss the highs, but the trade-off is I don't have the lows.
    Then there's therapy, for LIFE. (Being on the meds for life doesn't bother me. I have diabetes, so this just adds a few more things to the "pill-a-day" container.) I also trust my therapist, which is VITAL when you're digging deep to not only find answers, but FACE them. People think it's just talk, but I tell ya, it's harder work than I have ever experienced before.

    Damn, I didn't realize how many worms were in this can!

    I could go on forever about this. I probably could have skipped a lot of this, because Karen wrote a lot of my experiences already.
    What this boils down to is THANK you. THANK you for WANTING to know. For WANTING to understand.

    For CARING. Which is a bigger help than you may ever know.

    Dawn xo

  18. I had a taste of depression while taking a prescribed drug. It was very scary to begin to feel disconnected from everyone and everything even when I was in the middle of it all with my loved ones, and to become anxious and fearful over things that I'd never had a second thought about before, when all my life I'd run boldly into places where angels feared to tread. This shortlived experience helped me understand what depressed people are struggling with. You don't just change your mind and suddenly find yourself "back to normal." It took time for the drug to get out of my system, too, just as it takes time to get the results of anti-depressant medication and get the dosage right and find the correct meds.

    And people who advise you to "Just decide you're going to be happy" are way off the mark. Their intentions are good but they don't understand the degrees of your suffering. Just getting out of bed and going for a walk does affect one's outlook on life, it's a scientific fact I'm sure, but when you're living with clinical depression it is not enough to be strict with your activities, go through the motions, and wait it out. Maybe it's even impossible to do that, though it occurs to me that many people do live this "life of quiet desperation" and those observing them never realize how unhappy they are.

    Then came the perimenopausal years with their "depressing" coming-to-terms with the fact that all life ends in death, everything changes, we will lose loved ones and leave them behind, and so on. A lot of this is simple let's-face-facts realism; we have good reason to be depressed about the human condition! And it's common to feel this way ... for a while, off and on, at times ... just as it's normal and healthy to be depressed after hearing about a loved one's terminal illness. (So sorry to hear about your grandpa, Lyndsie. I hope you're able to spend lots of time with him while he's still feeling okay. How are YOU doing? When I received similar news about my mother, I was a basket case for at least a week. Couldn't sleep well, couldn't think straight, cried constantly; amazing how many tears our bodies can squeeze out.)

    I read this book, written by a Zen Buddhist monk, Cheri Huber, called There Is Nothing Wrong With You. She says that depression isn't something to be avoided and that it sometimes, when we face it, feel it, and allow it to be, to tell us something about ourselves, instead of desperately trying to outrun it, leads us to some beneficial and truthful spiritual places. I would have to reread it to be sure, but I don't think she is talking about clinical (where body chemistry is out of whack) depression here. There must be a fine line though, sometimes. I might just dig this book up again and see whether it speaks to me the same way now as it did back then.

    Love to you all,

    I can't imagine how painful it must be to know someone who suffers from mental illness and takes their own life. Horrible, horrible to witness this suffering and feel so helpless.

  19. Actually, I guess it's been closer to 6 years that I've been going through an actual "official" process of treatment. My, how time flies! :P


  20. I think this is the actual title of that book:
    The Depression Book:
    Depression as an Opportunity for Spiritual Growth

    Those suffering from clinical depression may not get anything from it; I'm sorry I don't remember more, to be able to say whether it applies or not. At any rate I'm sure it doen't attempt to invalidate your struggle or make light of the very serious and painful health issue you are living with, but I really don't remember for sure. I mentioned it only because it might be useful for some people.

  21. Lori thanks so much for that beautiful lesson. I will keep it with me. It is perfect. I do fall into the trap of feeling like I need to speak and "help" My friend is so desperate that she repeats to me over and over "what am I going to do?" "when am I going to get my life back?" "I just want to feel like me, the old me". "Do you think I am going to get better?" for a long while, I found myself trying to give her "solutions" and now I just say things like "I hope and pray that you will." But maybe the gift I can really give her is to just be a loving ear. Thanks. Dawn, like so many of the comments today, I don't know what to say. When the comments started to come in, Colin asked me if I had heard from you, so yes, he is thinking of you and hoping things are good. I am sick about all of you who are going through this. My heart is with Laurie, Karen, Madge, Anonymous, Jo, Sara and Dawn. And my thanks go out to those of you who stepped up with deep empathy, Kate, Hart, Barb, Holly, Molly and Lori. I am sorry about Lyndsie's Grandpa and hope that you can find time to make more wonderful memories. Ladies, you have blown me away today. As Molly said "I think we need to all have chocolate now."

  22. Deb, Chocolate and laughter. :) xo

  23. Thank you for writing this post. It is very insightful and thoughtful.

  24. I am sorry for the loss that you have experienced, growing up my mother was severly depressed and chose to medicate w/ pills and alcohol. When I was 10 she ended her life by over dosing on the pills and heavily drinking. It has been 14 years and the effects are still apparent. Thank you for sharing your story.

  25. I'm here finally! We're moving my daughter to her university apartment so this has already been an emotional day, but this outpouring of mutual trust, respect and compassion has been beyond inspiring. The depth of pain people live in and with every day and yet still go on is astounding. But to hear how you all manage your pain -- and so many of you we know well here for your humor and spirit -- is remarkable. Of course I can't now add any words remotely sounding like advice but I feel compelled to say to Anonymous that I also think you might try and share your story with your sisters. If this is any indication then there are many people who are more than willing to weave a web of support around those who need and deserve it.

    Wow, I love you all more than I can say. Please forgive me for any typos and weird auto-corrects -- I'm typing this and can't read it over or even see the small screen but I couldn't put off responding for another minute! Keep sharing!

  26. Oh yeah Dawn-and may I add, chips and dip! I am glad you liked this post Michele. Victoria I am so very sorry for your Mom's pain which ended in such a sad way and for your pain which lives on with you.Barb I am so happy that you got a chance to check in and experience this outpouring of trust and release.

  27. Thanks, Deb, for opening this up. The issue resonates with so many people. My father battled depression all his life -- it was the unspoken backdrop to my whole childhood. At times I was scared he would commit suicide. And what made it so much worse was that he could never "share his story". Maybe it was partly his generation and his Britishness (the 'stiff upper lip' mentality), but it trapped him and scarred not just his life but other lives too. Finding the courage, the will, the desire to speak is so important. When I look back on a few rare opportunities, I wish I'd been more ready and more determined to listen.

  28. OK. *deep breath* There've been times I've been nervous about typing something on here before, but that's for a different reason. (Yes, Barbara, that reason before. Now, hush. :P) I haven't felt at all social for a few days. And, especially with having to put up with shifts' worth of interpersonal interaction at work over the weekend, I certainly hadn't planned on coming back to commenting on here. But. But, but, but... I sent this email to Deb and Barbara earlier today. And, then, I realized I wanted to say it here, too, because I wanted to thank y'all beautiful, strong women for writing what you've written in your comments. Y'all speak to my heart. Here it is, slightly edited to hide names and expanded to tidy up some rough edges and incomplete thoughts:

    Deb and Barbara -

    Well, talk about good timing. Your blog post made a difference this afternoon. I had started slipping today. I took my son to school this morning, and then I came home to spend way too many hours curled up in a ball on the couch hiding from the world. I had started to go into my bunker mentality today, very anxious and intimidated over what all has to happen in the next 1 month. *edited to add: I suddenly found out a little over a week ago that I have to move house by 9/30. I am frantically hoarding up money and looking for a safe place for us to go. Quite nerve wracking.* Getting very negative and hopeless and scared. I hid today instead of being productive and positive which is, of course, self-sabotage. The fear and the darkness and the aloneness had begun build up in my mind again today badly. I've weakened.

    I got up to pee and to feed the cat. I decided to check my email to see if there was anything from my son's teachers. And, I clicked over to y'all's blog. And, well, that was exactly what I needed to read this afternoon, both the blog and the comments. Deb, you wrote, "she thinks maybe, just maybe, it is going to be a good day. Then it hits her in the gut, and she claws her way through her bedclothes just to put her feet on the floor." EXACTLY. Welcome to my life. Every single day. This is my existence. The difference between now and 2 or 3 years ago, though, is that I can manage to get my feet on the floor more days than not. But, every hour of every day, it's a struggle.

  29. And, then I read Karen's comment about, "Sometimes I feel the force of gravity pushing me down like it was a pointy toed cowboy boot and I'm a used up cigarette it's smashing into the pavement." Yup. Check. Bingo. Exactly. I call it "the monster sitting in my lap." Something sits on me and holds me down. Paralyzes me and squeezes my chest. I can think and think but something weighs me down and restrains me from being able to do and do. I feel helplessly trapped, and then I feel so guilty about not being able to get up and conquer it. So much guilt.

    And, then Jo wrote, "When my anxiety flares, I become paralyzed. I know what needs to be done, but I'm paralyzed by fear, and I can't figure out what to do and how to do it, and when to do it. I get stuck in a loop - both physical and mental - which I can't break. The anxiety builds up to such a point that I can physically feel it crawl through my veins, and I'd do anything - ANYTHING - to just to get rid of that horrid feeling." This is what eats me alive late at night far too often. This is what gives me many a long, dark night of the soul. That's what's been creeping into me today. Exactly. That's the bad mental road I'm travelling back down at the moment.

    I read the blog and the comments.
    I reread them.
    And, then, I thought, "No. I'm slipping and sliding back down. I know what's happening. I'm not so far gone this afternoon that I can't do anything to stop it, but by 1:00am, it's gonna be full blown horrible and in control. I've got to do something. Every minute I wait, I'm too far closer to having it claim me. I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK THERE."

    I called my best friend. I asked her if my son could come hang out with her daughter (his best friend) after school and if R and I could go to Sonic for a Happy Hour half price soda. R can read me really, really well, and she hears things in my voice sometimes. She asked me what's going on, and I told her. I told her it was getting ugly in my head again and that I had been hiding all day, that I was getting paralyzed and sad and scared again.

    After I click send on this email, I'm going to bring in some stuff from my car (which I should've done hours ago *sigh*). Then, I'm going to pick up R, and we're going to the post office and the bank together. Then, I'm going to pick up my son from school and have him hang out with H while R and I go to Sonic. We're gonna get me out where there are colors and light and people and movement and air to breathe. I'm gonna un-hide and get out of my bunker.

    Y'all's blog helped me catch myself this afternoon. Helped me ask for help. Thank you.

    Love and hugs,

  30. As I'm posting this comment, I'm back home after having run errands with R. When I get eaten alive inside my head, I can't eat. At 4:00 this afternoon, she made sure I ate a substantial snack so she'd know I had gotten at least something into me over 36 hours or so. And, she's getting over a bad sinus headache and tummy bug so she's not been eating well. Her blood sugar's starting to go wonkity so I took her to the frozen yogurt shop for a treat (the only thing that sounded good to her). I'm desperately hoarding up money, but I had just cashed my check for the money I'd gotten for all the ribbons I won at the county fair *squeak!*, and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to spend $5 on a soda and a treat to tend to my friend this afternoon. We had gone out for her to take care of me, but I'm so glad I got to take care of her, too. Why am I typing these boring details? To say thank you to Deb, Barb, and the TMA ladies because y'all helped give me the little burst of added energy and encouragement I needed to dig my fingernails in and grab myself as I was sliding down my slippery slope into the muck and mire. I was able to intervene before I sunk into helplessness. I was circling the rim of my pit, but I haven't fallen back in, yet. Y'all helped me reboot my day which will, hopefully, get me on firmer footing before I head into the late night (which I'm dreading).

    DAWN: Dear, precious, beautiful, fabulous, courageous, tough chic Dawn. *shaky, nervous breath* I was in the bottom of my pit for about 2 1/2 - 3 years. I had been knocked down too brutally too many times, and I just couldn't get up anymore. (And, to make things worse, I was physically very ill, too. Damn thyroid. Damn heart.) And, well, mentally I just went to hell on Earth. It was all darkness, all fog, all suffocation. The fog owned me -- owned my thoughts, my emotions, all of me. The fog destroyed me. I could not think straight. I was a hostage to my own mind, my own feelings, my own thoughts. I don't know how I survived those years. The only thing that kept me going was my son. I have to be his mother. *sigh* I've been slowly climbing out of the pit over the past couple of years. And, I am so grateful that I've been getting noticeably healthier and stronger over the past year, especially. (If what all has hit me in the past 9 days had hit me 2 1/2 years ago, it would have killed me. Literally. But, I'm sitting here typing this. So there.)

  31. I now spend more time out of my pit than in it, and that's a positive ratio I had despaired of ever reaching. And, even when I do fall back into my pit, I don't stay there for as long of stretches of time. There was a time when I couldn't imagine ever getting out of my pit. Dawn, you said something in a comment above that startled me because you said something on here that I didn't think I could and ever would. It's a face-turn-red, can't-say-out-loud-with-my-voice-so-have-to-write-it, run-away-and-hide-after-typing-it kind of thing. And, a few months ago, I never would've ever dreamed of admitting it on here. But, things change -- *I* am changing, and Barbara and Deb have played a tremendous role in that. In a different and very distant, yet in some ways similar way, he helped save my life, too. For a long stretch, his work sparked the only split seconds of laughter I could find (especially in the bowels of long, tortured, agonizing nights of insomnia and darkest thoughts). For a long stretch, trying to figure out this crazy, clever, strange, funny thing those people (especially him, because he was the best) were doing was the only tiny shard of light that could penetrate the all consuming fog in my mind. I remembered how to laugh, if only a little. I remembered how to be curious. That was the biggest thing. I remember how to be curious again, how to hunger to learn about something again. That. Felt. So. Good. It gave my mind something positive to chew on which was a tremendous change. There was an infinitesimal spark in the midst of the suffocating fog, an ever so tiny place in my head where I could breathe a little bit of fresh air. It was the fragile, quaking first step toward eventually climbing out of my brain's pit. A few neurons in some cockeyed back corner of my brain had seized on that happy spark of humor and curiosity and wonderment and fed on it.

    Fast forward about a year and a half. I felt guilty for hiding the truth, like I was somehow lying to Deb and Barbara by hiding big facts. I had to tell Barbara the story to clear my conscience. Barbara knew this story first. And, I think maybe 2 or 3 people here ended up reading what I wrote (and have since deleted - whew!), too (Ruth and maybe but I'm not sure Lyndsie and Madge, too -- don't know). And, finally, at Barbara's and my friend KK's urging (days and days of loving but pointed prodding by 2 very stubborn Canadians-- Ow! That maple stick was sharp!), Barbara sort of ran interference for me in person, and then I showed it to Deb via email.

  32. And, then I waited days of pained silence with my guts twisting like a gnarled tree trunk and thinking, "Well, that's it. I've screwed up. I've gone and ruined everything. Deb's gonna hate me. As usual, I've screwed up. I'm stupid and ugly and can't do anything right." But, days later, instead of it ending horribly and blowing up in my face and turning out oh so terribly and being a wretched disaster (because, this is how I think, I ALWAYS assume the catastrophic worst because the worst IS usually what happens), it ended up being something lovely and miraculous and precious and shiny and with Deb proving that she is truly one of the most extraordinarily beautiful inside and out people walking the Earth, a truly, deeply angelic soul. I told a good truth about a bad time, and no one hurt me for it. I still can't believe that. No one hurt me for it. I just reread those words I typed, and I still boggle over it. No one hurt me for it. I didn't get my teeth kicked in. There was no regret. And, not only did Deb not hate me or hurt me, she did quite the opposite. She was the opposite of darkness and pain. She loved me. She didn't reject me. She didn't hurt me. She hugged me.

    And, she did this:

    The magic of light after darkness.

    I'm gonna have to click submit, now, before I retreat from this intensity. Besides, I'm turning all snot and tears. And, chances are, Barbara, you're gonna get an email later tonight asking you to take down this comment. (Is Michele getting settled nicely?) But, it is very important before I go hide from the computer that I say this: Each and every member of this TMA community, please always know with absolute certainty that I carry y'all in my heart. I doubt it's worth anything to y'all, but I do think of y'all, pray for y'all, ache for y'all, learn from y'all, laugh with y'all, relish y'alls witty word play, listen to y'all's truths, and cherish y'all's stories and y'all's beautiful courage and insights, am healed by y'all, and am always, ALWAYS so very grateful for y'all. I count this blog community as nothing less than a gift from God. Today's post and comments have only shown ten thousand fold why this is true. Y'all're the epitome of being a blessing. I love y'all. This is a very, very special community. There is something going on here that's larger than all of us. There is magic happening here.

    Love and hugs,

  33. Thank you for all your comments. Discussions that as these works against the stigma that closets mental illness. I am someone who has recently experienced a severe mental illness and work within the mental health sector (coincidence??!!). But there is a change at the policy level to move from illness to wellness (1 in 5 Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime). For those debilitated, please seek out your supports and options. A very good web site and tool kit for your information can be found if you google Anxiety BC. The CMHA and CAMH are valuable resources as well. Positive change is happening within the mental health bureaucracy (slow) and within the strong community of those experiencing menatl illness, community orgs, and family. (And yes, I wish a tree would fall on Dr. Phil!)

  34. First, to Anonymous above who suffered through child abuse: If you read this and want to talk further you should shoot me an email at I too was molested at the hands of someone close to me, and in the past 2 years came forward about it. I was fortunate to have a close "adopted family" of sorts, that gave me the support I needed. If you want someone to talk to I can certainly empathize with your situation.

    Deb & Barb: As I read your post it evoked a lot of emotion. I remember when I lost my mother to cancer so many unhelpful things were said about God and the situation. It seems as though people don't know how to approach or deal with a situation like that so they fall to cliche's that help them feel like they've done or said something right. My favorite was always "It's God's will." Even as a minister that one drives me NUTS! As I've really begun to deal with what's happened in my life I've stared down depression with the help of an amazing support group. (Deb I feel I must confess that I used to watch WLIIA whenever I was having a particularly difficult day because their laughter was so infectious that I too found my spirits uplifted. Although I've never met Colin, I feel as though he was a big factor in me getting through some tough times.) As I've struggled with the questions of "Why me?" and "Where in the hell was God when these things happened?" I've been comforted by the belief that even though I don't know why these things happened I don't need to. It's what I do now that matters. I can empathize with those who have been in the same difficult situation, and use a horrible situation to give support and comfort to someone else. My adopted Dad used to tell me "It'll be fine. It may take awhile and it may not end up how you think it will, but it will be fine." I always hated when he said that, but honestly it forced me to look beyond a bad situation to the hope of a positive future.

    Probably more of a comment than was warranted, and I must admit to sitting here with tears streaming down my face at the difficulties that we have all experienced. But I'm amazed at the inner strength shown that we have pulled through and that we do have hope that it will get better. Maybe not today or tomorrow but it will.

  35. Oh, Ruth.

    You did it.

    When you got up this morning, you didn't know today would be the day you did it, did you? :)

    Oh, Ruth. I love you. I'm so proud of you right now, I could just explode!

    Party arriving in your email inbox in 3...2...

  36. hi deb thank you for remembering my beautiful james yes it was sad he want before his time but unless you understand mental problem you just do not know it is a very sad illness but i live with the comfort knowing he is at peace and with dad and granny everyday and he is not alone god how i miss him but knowing the pain he was in and know like i said he is at peace god has a reason for everything he does thank you again donna

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. Meant to comment on this earlier, but my iPod touch was acting up (yay technology -___-) What I was going to say was that Deb, the comment about depression really stuck with me. Starting next Thursday, I will be interacting with individuals with mental illness (psychiatric nursing rotation). I've sat up and figured out how I am going to prepare mentally for this rotation.

    Most likely I will read this post before next Thursday. Thank you for posting this, because in my opinion the ignorance of the general population is just ever-so growing. Many are "afraid," if you will, of mental illness because the people are "different." But they're not different; all mental illness is purely psychological, NOT emotional.

    Sorry Deb, Barb and the other readers, this really hit home for me. One of the reasons I am pursuing a nursing degree is to make known all these prejudices and putting an end to them! Thanks again for this post, and my condolences are to you regarding your cousin and friend, Deb.

    P.S. Rigel. LOVE that picture!!!!! looking forward to Nov. 18 even more :D

  39. These are one of those post those that I believe make us all think about things. This post and comments made me relize a couple of things but most of all it made me relize that we all have things that we deal with in life. Thanks to Deb And Barb for writing it. Thanks you all for letting me know that I am not along with this depression thing.

  40. Hi lovelies--

    I'm grateful to read your stories and for the sensitivity with which you wrote them. I'm also grateful I'm not alone. Sending "ya'll" healing energy tonight.

    I'm also curious about this link.

    It didn't work for me. Is there another way of finding it?

    Thanks so much.


  41. Oh thank you all so much for your honesty and courage. You are all so amazing. Ruth, my heart goes out to you -- you've been in my thoughts so much lately and now I know why. You are such an amazing spirit. Thank you for sharing, especially as there are so many people who want and need to hear that they are not alone.

    Thanks to those of you in our recent comments who have offered solace and healing (Kelly, Jamey) and thanks to those of you who go out on that scary limb to share your stories (our latest: Mark, Rigel, Lyndsie, Donna). I am moved beyond words. xo

  42. Irony of ironies. I'm having an anxiety attack about my post about my anxiety/depression. Oy! Talk about getting all meta. :)

    The hardest word in any language to communicate is "help". The person who hears "help" translates it into "provide assistance". But, how is that done? What form does this assistance take? Is it beneficial only for the person providing the assistance, or does it benefit all everyone involved? Will past actions indicate the success of the current situation?

    Not only hearing the phrase, "Help" is difficult, so is saying it. For me, I have a very hard time asking for help. I don't like being vulnerable. I don't trust people not to try to hurt me. I fear that the receiver of my message is judging me and "finding me lacking" because I am mentally and physically unable to get things done (damn that overdeveloped sense of responsibility). How can I express all that's going on in my head calmly and coherently to someone else when it doesn't make much sense to me?

    The anxiety and depression I live with steals my voice, saps my strength, and breaks my faith in others. The anxiety and depression I live with robs me of me. And, I hate that.

    (And I'll try not to apologize for apologizing - which I'm known to do. That's my anxiety coming forth...)

  43. Thanks so much Barb! You and Deb have been a constant source of both encouragement and entertainment. I love reading what you have to say even if I don't get the time to comment. -Hug- thanks so much for broaching this subject!

  44. "For me, I have a very hard time asking for help. I don't like being vulnerable. I don't trust people not to try to hurt me. I fear that the receiver of my message is judging me and 'finding me lacking'."

    Oh, Jo. You are not alone.

    Damn, I wouldn't wish this crap in my head on anyone. And, now, look. There's the same garbage in someone else's brain. :(

    Jo, I'm not gonna be going to sleep anytime soon tonight. So, please know that while I'm awake into the wee hours, I'm thinking of you, praying for you, caring about you. *hugs*

  45. Rigel, I have so loved all your posts on TMA. This is an amazing group of women (maybe a man or two. I hope that you continue to feel better and better. I assume you are under the care of a medical person who is monitoring you and helping you find continued peace more and more frequently.

  46. Nope.

    No insurance.

    No money.

    No doctor.

    No pharmacy.

    Flying solo. Well, actually, that's not true. I have magnificent friends. :D

    FWIW, Madge, you have guru status in my eyes. ;)

  47. Thank you, Rigel. *HUGS* <-- offered. A lot of what you shared resonated quite strongly in me as well. I'm going to be up for a little bit too (damn you anxiety *shakes fist at it*), and I'm sending as much positive, caring energy your way that I can spare (which, surprisingly is quite a bit).

  48. Rigel is nudging me a bit to comment and after reading all these other comments, I may as well add a bit of my story, on both sides of the fence.

    I just recovered from postpartum depression. I believe myself to be completely healed of this illness that nearly killed me. But man, in the middle of it...."dark" isn't word enough. Rigel was there reading an awful lot of what I wrote in the middle of it and it was scary stuff. Prior to being diagnosed, I couldn't fathom how women could have a brand new, soft, lovely baby and be depressed. I had three kids and it was only after the birth of my fourth that I plunged. It may have had something to do with the difficulty of my son's birth, or just the timing, but regardless, it was terrible.

    But here I am, alive, even after I couldn't get thoughts of suicide out of my head for months. One of the things that still stands out in my mind was something I read in a book called "When the Darkness Will Not Lift" by John Piper. His advice was to "create a deep distrust of the certainties of despair," and that "absolute statements of hopelessness that we make in the dark are notoriously unreliable. Our dark certainties are not sureties." Wow. It still didn't make it EASY to put this into practice, but it made a difference. When things were at their worst and I thought of myself as ugly, stupid, useless, worthless, etc. I could feel a "tap on my shoulder" of sorts reminding me of those words.

    Now, on the other side of the fence, as one observing others in depression (Rigel being one of them...oh, how my heart has broken in pieces when she's been at her lowest), I have learned that even things that helped and encouraged me do not always have the same effect on others. There are moments meant for sharing words of wisdom from your own experience, and there are moments of being only a shoulder to cry on. There are times when hugs and tears of empathy will buoy someone up wonderfully, at other times, letting them rant and rave and be angry is far more effective.

    One thing I know for certain is that after my own journey out of the dark, my heart breaks so much easier seeing others going through it. And although I had postpartum depression specifically, I was depressed, just like so many others, only with a new baby to care for (not to mention three older children). Many people seem to assume that postpartum depression isn't real, somehow, but as someone who has been through it, it is VERY real.

    Even with all that, I try very hard to only say, "I know what you're going through," when I feel that the time is right. When you are in the middle of the darkness, it often doesn't matter how depressed someone else was...your own reality IS reality.

    Anyway...I could go on and on.. Thanks for the post, Deb and Barb, and for your love and kindness towards my friend in her dark times. You are a blessing to her and to many.

  49. Jo! Ruth and I are both awake right now. I wish I had your email address. I'd pull you into our conversation. She and I are, ummm, ermmmm, *face turns bright red* watching WLIIA online together and trying to get each other to lighten up.

  50. Rigel, you can drop me a line at

  51. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Jo was already watching the Colin & Brad Two Man Group DVD when she, Ruth, and I started emailing.

    Good heavens. Colin Mochrie has minions.

  52. Oh, KatieK, when I poked you with my nudging stick (turnabout's fair play), I didn't know you'd disgorge all of this. *sigh* Oh, sweetie. Watching you, who are always such a source of light, walk through those months of such black darkness was so difficult. *hugs* I love you dearly.

  53. Thank you Deb and Barb for the advice. It's not that I'm trying to be Anonymous, but for some reason I've had recent issues with trying to post in other ways on these blogs. I will find a time soon when I can see my sisters again to talk to them about what happened to me so long ago. Though, a while back I did bring it up to my younger sister (who was only 1 or 2 yrs old when the incident occured) she claimed to have remembered it a bit. However, she's over in Afghanistan at the moment and it's difficult to talk to her at the moment. Maybe my parents will be a bit more willing to believe me now than they did before. Thank you again for this outlet and 'support group' of sorts. It's been a very big relief for me today. Thanks for listening (or reading in this case ;) -April

  54. April, If you want to talk I'm willing. I went through a similar situation and have been working through it myself. My email is If not I totally understand! But i wanted to let you know I'm here if you want to.

  55. I wish to add my thanks to Deb, Barb, and this wonderful group of folks for making this the safest place I've ever been (outside of a hospital) to discuss this subject. We've all been able to expose what is literally our deepest darkest souls and received NO judgment, only support, empathy, caring, and LISTENING.

    RIGEL: I was, literally, locked up in a psychiatric hospital 4 times over a year. The first time was by far the worst. My "escape" taken away from me and locked up in a cabinet, NO idea what was gonna happen next... just --- well, yeah. We did have a tv, and as it happened, the night shift liked "Whose Line." Now, here I am locked up to keep me safe from myself, and all of a sudden I'm laughing myself silly. LAUGHING. In the middle of all this----this.
    That sort of thing sticks with ya.

    LONG story short, I made it a goal to thank everyone on that show for what they've done for me. I have accomplished that. I've also discovered that the live shows are the ONLY place where I'm NOT thinking about/dwelling on/trapped in my own mind. I'm concentrating ONLY what's happening on-stage, laughing my ass off, and NOTHING else bothers me. It's my escape from me, if you will.
    That picture you have...priceless. I get it. I really do. I've been to more than a few shows, appearances, what have you. I was able to meet Deb a couple of times. SO much gracious energy in one tiny lady! I had my "OH MY GOD, I can't believe I said that!" moment and she still let me friend her on Facebook, and allowed me to get comfy here. :)

    That you are surviving without meds, without mds, without ANYTHING is the hardest struggle I can imagine, having done it myself. It's tough enough WITH the treatment. How you manage without? I want to send you all my meds to help. Damn, woman, you blow me away with your strength and insight. I'm glad R was there for you. And that Deb and Barb are, too. That they can feel the tug on the rope that connects you with them, even when it's just the tiniest slightest tug. {{{{RIGEL}}}}

  56. Oh, and Rigel? It's worth a LOT. A lot more than you may ever believe. A LOT.


  57. Today. It has to be fate, or something of the sort, that you would post this today. I've had problems with anxiety for years now- the fear, the worry, the god-awful panic attacks. I'm convinced that a panic attack is one of the worst things in the world to experience. Lately, it's all been getting worse and worse, and the last few weeks it's been a struggle to get out of bed and do anything. It's one of the reasons I wasn't online for a few weeks. And I haven't gotten help because of that fear- fear that a doctor wouldn't be able to help, or that he'd tell me I was making it all up, or something even worse. But my mom finally convinced me yesterday (after months of trying) to get some help. We're supposed to see someone in the next day or two about it. And it is comforting somehow to read this particular post now, and to know I'm not alone in all this. Thank you both for putting this out there, because it really does help. ((((Deb & Barb))))

  58. I think someone mentioned this in an earlier comment but I can't seem to find it. In my limited experience I've founded that the biggest blessing when facing depression is simply knowing that there is someone who cares. Not someone who has all the answers, or says all the right things, but someone who is willing to sit with you in through the toughest times. Sitting there holding you in the tightest embrace and simply letting you know that you are not alone. My professors call it the ministry of presence. That sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is simply to be there and to be with them in silence. Not to say that things people say aren't helpful, but sometimes just knowing someone's there is the most powerful comfort imaginable.

  59. I have woken up this morning to read this wonderful open discussion and I am amazed by the support alone! Isn't that what we were talking about??? And I look at this post response and there it is, for all to see. Support. No judgement. Listening. What a group of humans you all are. Really I am humbled by this. Just so you know, the Donna who weighed in, is the mother of darling James who I spoke of in the post.

  60. Like Deb, I am only now catching up with the latest posts here. Every single thing you guys has said has simply blown me away and lifted me up. Katie said that for every person (and even for the same person but at different times), depression might require a different helping hand. It could be talking, it could ranting, it could be going out, it could be a hand-holding session, or a shoulder. I think the reason this kind of forum works its small bit is that people can see that they aren't alone and that, yes, it's hard, but you're not alone. And if only one thing stands out for you in your worst moment of darkness, one glimmer of positive (whether it's to go find a youtube clip of WLIIA pronto, or whether it's remembering a simple mantra that speaks to you) can help get you through the night. Thanks to all of you for throwing each other these lifelines -- look at the WEB it has created! And remember how strong a web is -- even if one strand breaks, there are all these other strands that in this moment are holding strong.

    Donna, my heart goes out to you and your James. And to all of you and the James in your life.

    I will be offline for much of this day. But know I am hearing each one of you and marveling at your courage and strength. xo

  61. And April -- hugs, hugs to April. You've already done so much. I wish you all the best on this journey!

  62. Seeing as though there appears to be 2 April(s) on this discussion board...feel free to refer to me as Apey. It's a nickname I've always had and people generally call me by it more often than not. Just in case there's been any confusion, we aren't the same person. I'll keep posting as anonymous as well, since the Google account doesn't seem to be working for me. It'll also help differentiate between us. Thanks again for the support everyone! All the best to the rest of you, remember that you're not alone! -April (Apey)

  63. @Sara11April - Hrmmm. I dunno. It doesn't work if you copy and paste the link into a new window? Try highlighting the link and then right clicking over the blue and then clicking on goto in the pull down menu. (I'm using Chrome, and I just double checked and that worked.)

    Besides, it's cool if you can't see it. You can just be glad you've been spared having the grotesque sight of my fat cells inflicted upon you.

  64. @Rigel - you're beautiful, you're smart, and doggone it, people like (and love) you! Don't you forget it!

    I got so stressed out yesterday that I forgot that I didn't need to go to work today. LOL. I remembered as I was packing my bag, and noticed my son's power cord for his netbook. Crisis (and autistic teenage meltdown at school) has been averted.

    While I'm being quasi-productive, I should do a couple of errands, and then take myself out for a brunch date before crashing for a couple of hours.

  65. JO:

    LOL Yeah, I'm not scheduled to work today either. And, I did crash for about an hour and a half after lunch because it had been a smidgen after 3am before I finally sacked out last night (while streaming episodes of Barney Miller in the background to give my mind something to fidget with). Yet, the alarm clock still copped its attitude with me at 6:20am. I didn't want to be tired and cranky once kiddo got home from school so I gave into taking a short nap. Problem with the nap was that nightmares can happen even in the day. Now, I'm trying to shake off the creepy crawly hangover of a phobia-laden nightmare.

    I used to have a bumper sticker (on my old car that went kaplooey this spring) that said, "Not a morning person doesn't even begin to cover it." I also had one that said, "Vampire Theatre: But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH THE SUN!!! *FOOM*"

    Oh, yeesh. Meltdowns at school. I am very familiar with getting THAT phone call. Luckily, my son has made wonderful progress on that front. When he was younger, it was an every day to every other day thing. Then, each year, it became less and less often (partly because his school finally learned to honor the retreat-from-overstimulation clause in his IEP). Last year (6th grade) was the first year that he went a whole year without me being called to the school for a meltdown. He still has potent frustration moments, but he doesn't go into full meltdown mode nearly as easily. He started in the Jr./High building at his school this year (rural preK-12 school), and I've been holding my breath to see how it goes with all the big kids in the hallways and all of the getting bumped into, noise, and crowding that comes with that. I'm so glad you were able to head off a meltdown at the pass today!

    Remember, we mommies of fabulously quirky, complicated, special sons have to stick together! :)

  66. Rigel, Just so you know, I was able to send the link to your picture to Sara. (Her computer's angry and just might be contrary today.) The picture is beautiful, silly. HAPPY!!!

    I LOVE your bumper stickers!


  67. My husband has a t-shirt that says, "You caught me at a bad time. I'm awake."

    He and mornings acknowledge that each other exists, but they don't play well together. The less they have to do with each other, the better off they are. :)

  68. Hot damn! It was so worth getting going today! Our local library has been culling its stacks. As they mark discards from a few shelves, I've been going and gleaning from the discard stacks every week or so.

    Today, I got to pillage part of the 900's! YES! Travel memoirs and history books! (I am a total history geek!) SCORE! I went heavy on France, Japan, frontier/homesteading, the Shoah, and old, old, old travelogues. (About 3 weeks ago I binged on art, crafting, theatre, old Hollywood glamour, and music books! Oh, and I hit science and math paydirt earlier, too.)

    The trunk of my car is so full of free books that they overflow and slide out when I pop the trunk.

    Later tonight, I have plans for a bubble bath and a giggly memoir from 1970 called "Shut Up and Eat Your Snowshoes!" by Jack Douglas. The tagline reads, "What happens when a city slicker flees the safety of Sardi's for the wilds of Canada."

    I also hit paydirt on some gorgeous old geography/travel books from the 1890's - 1930's WITH photographs and beautiful old illustration plates. Shall I drift off to sleep tonight reading a 1920's Paris travel memoir or a 1900's travelogue of the Far East? Or, shall I explore Norway in the 1930's?

    Or, shall I drool over Montana cowboys? ;)

  69. Rigel you hit gold. Bubble bath and travel books. Go girlie go. Jo that is so funny. It is that way with me and the ocean. I am drawn to it and love it, but I stay on my side of the fence. That way, each of us knows where we stand. And you're not alone either Apey! Love that by the by.

  70. *sigh* Deb, someday when I get my 5-10 acre self-sufficiency homestead with a big dog, 3 alpacas, and a dozen chickens and live an hour or so from the beach barely over the state line from my born and bred Florida Panhandle stomping grounds, I'm going to invite you to come vacation at my place. And, I'm going to get you a mask, snorkel, and fins, and I'm going to take you into the ocean and show you how great it is. And, I'll get you snorkelling along in the middle of a school of fish. And, I'll show you how fun it is to let the little hermit crabs crawl around on your hands and up and down your arms. And, while we're skin diving, we'll find gorgeous shells for you to take home. And, I'll bring crackers so you can get the seagulls to fly over and eat from your fingers. And, we're going to swim out to the jetty to go fishing off the rocks, and I'm going to show you how wonderful it is to have dolphins at your feet. Maybe, I'll even take you out on a friend of mine's boat, and we'll chum the water to bring up the sharks so you can see those gorgeous creatures in person, too.

    I love the ocean so much. I love being IN the ocean. I wish I could bring that joy to you.

  71. I'll be honest, being an appreciative fan of Colin led me to this wonderful forum. So I must make sure he is thanked for having done so. Reading the blogs the two of you have written as well as the many comments have been a tremendous help for me (especially as of lately). Ever since he's posted links to this on his facebook fan page, I've been an equally appreciative fan of the 2 of you as well. Couldn't be more grateful if I tried. ;) -Apey

  72. Rigel bless you, and the description is tempting but my fear of open water runs very deep indeed. I have a deal with the ocean, it stays where it is and I stay where I am. And yet, being here in Newfoundland right now I am strangely drawn to it. It's shores that is. Apey, we have gotten so many wonderful people from my husband and we are richer for knowing them. I am grateful for you too!

  73. I came back to reread this blog post and thought of my favourite movie (life as we know it). there is a line in there about asking for help that I try to remember when I am feeling alone: "Asking for help doesn't mean you failed. It just means you aren't in it alone".

    Someone said above about watching Colin when they are down - I do the same thing. Youtube has caught up and put Whose Line as a recommendation now. I know that if I am down and need a laugh - Colin and Ryan are sure to provide one. Thank you!

    Thanks for sharing you stories everyone; it reminds me that I am not alone and some people care. Deb and Barb - thank you for posting this - it gives me so much comfort knowing that influential people share this mindset and maybe we will start to change peoples' opinions.


  74. Thanks for coming back here, Laurie. This post deserves lots of discussion and thought and mutual support.

    I haven't seen Life As We Know It yet, but will check it out. That's a wonderful (and true) line! As you say, that's how we change the world, baby!

  75. Laurie, it's funny that you too should say that watching who's line helps you when you are low. Colin and I met a doctor after 9/11 who was helping people deal with post traumatic stress and she told him that she prescribed Who's Line. Sometimes comedians think what they do does not matter because drama gets more respect. But, when the chips are down...


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