Friday, March 4, 2011

Surviving Depression, Part Two

This is the second half of a two-part blog on surviving severe depression.Previous highlights were: get rid of all weapons, get a crisis number and use it, and find some passive occupation that can take up hours of your time; something you can do instead of brooding.  The previous installment ended by saying that this was no time to neglect your medication or your therapy visits.

-5) Handling family: If you have children, this is more complicated. You might have to develop a routine of minimum chores to do each day before you go back to bed. Show your spouse this section of the book, and tell him/her to bring in help. S/he’s lucky to have a partner at all right now. Normal services have been interrupted! Business as usual is just not on the menu, most days.  Make sure your children understand that you love them, but you are very sick and need to rest a lot.

- 6) If you’re employed: If you are employed, it’s very difficult. Of course you have to shower and get up. Maybe you’re not sure you can keep that going. You might consider a leave of absence – especially if your performance is so bad you’re close to getting fired anyway. That happened to me once, and I had to beg for another chance and go on probation.
            It is very hard to do a good job when all you can think of is that you wish you weren’t breathing any more. If you can get on welfare or disability to tide you over, now is the time to do it. Public income programs exist for the times when you can’t support yourself.

- 7) Do try to eat somewhat decently.  Don’t survive on Twinkies and Cokes. I’ve done that, and it sucks. When you get out of bed at last and find you’ve gained 40 pounds, you’re going to be pissed.
            Tip: when you do get around to losing the weight, you will probably need to take in 300 calories less than a person without medications. So the average 1500-calorie-a-day diet (for most females) comes down to 1200. That’s not much. It’s rough sticking to that strict a regimen.  Better not to gain it in the first place.

- 8) This is not the time to make major life decisions. They will for sure be all wrong. Especially do not get married.

-9) For suicidal thoughts, here are some counter-thoughts that helped stop me at the worst times, the times I was actually making plans to die:

--Think of the mess and ugliness. What will it be like for the person who finds your body? Do you want to make a friend shovel your brains off the floor? That happened to someone I know.

--Think about FAILING at suicide and having to live with the consequences. There was once a boy in my neighborhood who shot himself in the mouth, cop-style. Somehow, he missed the most vital parts and stayed alive. However, he became a quadriplegic, and will now have to be cared for all his life by his family. AND HE STILL HAS TO LIVE WITH ALL THOSE AWFUL THOUGHTS IN HIS HEAD. But now he can’t even talk about them to anyone.
Wouldn’t you rather check in to a hospital than have this happen to you?

-Think about what comes after. Oh, I know what you want from death. You want OBLIVION. You want it all to be OVER. But is that really what happens at death? Do you know? Does anyone? I’m not going to try to scare you with hellfire, but consider this: what if they just send you straight back to earth to do it again? What if this is a test, and the protocol for failing is even worse? Maybe the only way out is through. ‘Rest’ and ‘silence’ may not be on the agenda at all.

--If you really can’t control yourself, the hospital is where you belong.

-10) The real and final reason for living through it is this: Everything changes. Your brain is telling you that this horribleness is the way it will be, forever and ever, amen. But your brain is wrong.
I wanted to die when I was 19. I was poor and out of my mind and was scrounging the gutters for dropped change to buy food with – when I wasn’t shoplifting. I had dropped out of college, I had no skills, and I could see no future. But I went to say a last goodbye to a friend, and she talked me out of it. Thank God for her, because I was dead serious.
It wasn’t the last time I wanted to die. There were to be many others. As I mentioned, I spent two years pretty much without leaving bed in my late twenties. Each time I was suicidal felt just as bad as the last time, and each time I felt I had no future.
Today, I have a four bedroom house in a pricey suburb, I’m going to college again, and I’m living with the love of my life – who happens to be a lot more fun than I even dreamed he would be. My pills and my preventive measures have made my symptoms nearly invisible, if I’m careful. I get to write every day if I want to. I am so happy, old friends tell me I glow. But I had to stay alive long enough to get here.
What if I had missed all this?
There was no way to see from there to here. There was no evidence that it would turn out this way, or any good way at all. Life is not a straight line. It takes all kinds of turns and you do not know what is in your future, no matter how it looks from right here.
Stick around for what comes next. I guarantee it won’t stay the same.
Don’t be another statistic. We don’t need more statistics. We need more people like you.

The above is an excerpt from Deborah Fruchey’s book, Is There Room For Me Too? 12 Steps & 12 Strategies for Coping with Mental Illness. It is available on, from Kindle Editions, and in Apple’s iBook store. You can visit the author’s web page at You can watch an introductory video at