When Blue Becomes Black Redux

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In yesterday’s post we talked a little about how it feels to suffer from clinical depression. The content was written nearly a year ago as we pondered our position one day. We wrote it as an exercise in getting some of our perceptions down on paper for our therapist and as a way of helping people understand what the illness is like from an up close and personal vantage point. We were neither deeply afflicted when we wrote it or when we posted it yesterday.

Many of you commented on the post and offered plenty of much-appreciated support. We’re always a little surprised by that because it comes from people who have never met us and who only know us through what they read. We think that gives their support a power that makes it especially precious.

Even though the Poobah appreciates you more than he can say, you should also know that yours is not the only support we get. Mrs. Poobah, the Poobette, the Omnipotent Dad, and even the Omnipotent Pooch all provide unending support and understanding. We also have quite a good therapist and a well-trained psychiatrist who handles the medication end of things. Without this devoted team, grappling with the devil would be so much harder than it already is.

We’ve suffered for many years and eventually went into therapy about 15 years ago. About five years ago we made the difficult decision to begin taking medication. Over the years our condition has waxed and waned – sometimes because of external events, other times because the internal wiring got all floopy. It ranges from the very difficult to the minor annoyance level and we try to take them all in stride.

Our recent post about being a human requiring “will” is partially a result of those personal cycles. As the pattern of our life and illness became clear, we developed the willpower theory. We thought of all the times we were in bad shape and wondered why we didn’t go deeply and permanently off the deep end. After all, we knew plenty of people who had, including many related directly to us.

We’ve always been functional, even when our mood is as black as black can get. We go to work. We play with the dog. We do odd jobs around the house. We live our life. Sometimes we just do it with significantly less enthusiasm than a non-sufferer.

Thankfully, we’ve never reached that stage when we’ve lost ourself completely. We did this because we had the will not to. We never considered collapsing in a heap a viable option. While we sometimes don’t have a lot of “hope” in the sense that many people have it, we have a belief that things will eventually improve and invariably they do. We also accept that sometimes they get bad again and invariably they do that too.

Embracing this concept has been difficult, but we’ve made our peace with it. We appreciate the times when we feel better and we work hard at staying there. When things aren’t so bright, we try to squeeze some sort of useful experience from it. We might learn a new coping mechanism. We may use the depressive’s essentially pessimistic view to identify something we can change as we get better. We’ve learned that there is some good to be had in the struggle and while we wish we didn’t have to do it, we’re also intensely aware that is part of the fabric of our life.

The thing I’ve learned from blogging is that there are people out there who care about us, even we they don’t have to. It isn’t your “job” to protect us and help us, yet you do it anyway. And that, dear and supportive readers, is the biggest lesson I’ve learned lately. You are, quite simply, magnificent.

12 thoughts on “When Blue Becomes Black Redux

  1. Dear Faithful Readers,

    Judging from the comments these posts have gotten, one might think that I was some sort of second coming of Ghandi, Mother (Brother?) Teresa, and Superman. Many of you have remarked on the strength and courage it takes to write about depression, but it is really neither.

    On strength, there are plenty of days when I feel about as strong Don Knotts – very fragile, pretty shaky, and waiting for the next catastrophe to envelop me. I don’t fare much better on the courage scale. Writing about this is, for me, simply writing about my life – no more courageous than writing about the family dog, one of my ill-fated construction projects, or why shopping carts don’t carry missles.

    However, the one thing that I can take away is that these posts seem to help some of you. I also find it extraordinary that people who are, in essence, total strangers can gather and give support to one another. It gives me hope that some of our collective ills can some day be cured.

    So I’m very flattered by your comments. They mean the world to me. But now, it’s time to get back to living before I get embarassed.

  2. Poobah, I think it is wonderful of you to share in your last two posts about your clinical depression and your efforts at coping. It is brave to open yourself up but it is also brave to open yourself for others to try and understand their personal journey. As I told you before, when you shared your memories of the sanitarium, clinical depression runs in my family. Watching my mom and being helpless to help her saddened my heart. I too have struggled with depression but not in the same way as my mother did. Luckily, when I needed it most I found Prozac and it helped me walk into the world when the space under a desk looked nicer. I applaud your strength and your family’s strength of community and, as you said, will. I applaud your reaching out to those on the internet community and I am also proud to call you friend.

  3. It turns out I’ve been depressed for much of my 35 years. I’m in therapy, and am continuing to be a medication guinea pig, but there are times when I doubt if happiness is even possible.

  4. Bizarre, isn’t it?

    Not one of us have met. But these little snippets into each others lives, memories, experiences, bitches give a certain sense of fellowship, almost of complicity between bloggers, a stage whisper. Personally speaking I’d hate to think what I’d have done without blogging. To write down your inner thoughts and then to publish and share them is in itself therapeutic. I suppose it is a confidente.


  5. Poobah, I’m moved and I hardly know what to say or where to begin. I am probably the polar opposite, with the glass being half full at all times (unless of course we’re discussing this administration then the glass is f’ing shattered!). But I do get down at times, wearing my heart on my sleeve when I do. I’m able to pick back up relatively easily and relatively quickly. The point being, because I can’t relate directly, I think it deepens my appreciation for you as a person and the success you find through your struggles.

    Kudos to you my friend.

  6. I, too, have a mental illness, but it is the elephant in the corner that no one mentions – so I don’t ever bring it up because it’s like farting at the ladies social – the conversation just dies. It is brave of you to reveal yourself. As for medications I am most upset that they are administered when no one knows if or how they work – they treat a car engine better. The side effects are terrible in some cases, but at least it isn’t electroshock.

  7. Dear Poobah, you are very sweet and you, my dear friend, are magnificent.

    I can understand what you said about hope and coming to grips with your realization and the concept of it all. It is the same with me. I don’t have this blind hope, this vivid faith, this absolute certainly that things will get amazingly better. My past crushed that out of me…

    I feel like I lie in waiting for the darkness to come but I have learned to remind myself that I always pull through and reach the light… only to await the next battle… but such is life…

    I am proud of you, of your family, for being so brave and just taking it day by day and forging on ahead and making it work… one can only take it day by day and one baby step at a time…

    All my love to you and the family…

    Miz B.

    PS- I read your reply to a previous comment… I AM jealous! The Stinking Rose?!?! San Francisco! Oh how my heart aches! Say hi to that city of mine!

  8. you are one strong son of a bitch. you’re also very lucky you have wonderful support system. hope both things stay in place for you. kick it.

  9. you are simply maginifcant as well my friend. i think the one thing we all have in common and the one thing that we can all identify with is personal pain. everyone’s felt it in some form or another, some more than others, and some on different levels than others. the good thing about pain (and i know you’re thinking “where the hell is she going with this”) is that pain, sacrifice, and depression is what allows us to know the real meaning of happiness. if we did not feel this pain, if we never got depressed… happiness would mean nothing to us.

    that’s my $0.05 for the day. love this post. very insightful.