Allie, of Hyperbole and a Half, re-emerges

Late last year I wrote a blog about Allie, the author of Hyperbole and a Half.  She had posted on depression and several people had sent it to me because they felt it was uplifting.  Allie herself had described many of the reactions to her depression as a form of liberation from her depression.

I did not see it that way.  I identified some of the signs of worse depression and said that I worried for her.  After that post, Allie disappeared from the internet.  Her depression post, made last October, remains her most recent.

Allie recently went onto reddit to explain her absence.

Before I get into what’s been going on, I wanted to let you know that I truly appreciate the amount of kindness in your comments. It’s wonderful and strange and humbling to know that so many people on the internet care about me (I am also relieved that my lack of updates hasn’t caused most of you to hate me yet).

The last few months (and I suppose also the few months before those few months) have been very difficult for me. As you know, I’ve been struggling with depression. I made a small breakthrough at the time of my last post, but even though I was feeling a bit better, I was still depressed and I knew I probably wasn’t out of the woods yet.

As many of you have guessed, the woods turned out to be much deeper than I had anticipated. And they are full of things that make me cry on the floor for no good reason. However, during a recent bout of floor-crying, I noticed that I was failing horribly at fixing myself and that I should probably seek the help of someone who knew what the fuck they were doing.

I have since sought the help of several such individuals, and they unanimously agreed that I am horribly, horribly depressed and should absolutely not keep being that way. To that end, I have started taking an antidepressant and talking about my feelings a lot. My feelings have turned out to mostly be “Oh no, I’m probably going to mess everything up and everyone who likes me is going to not like me” and worthlessness-not-otherwise-specified. There are also tinges of “fuck it, what’s the point?”

I have good days and horrible days, but the good days have been gradually increasing in frequency, and the horrible days have been gradually decreasing in severity. It might take a long time to feel normal again, but in the meantime, I’m in great hands. Everyone around me has been nothing but supportive (including my wonderful editor); my mom calls me every day to see how things are going and to try to make me laugh, my fiance Duncan has been doing a wonderful job of making sure I eat and shower and get out of the house every now and again, and my friends have been great about distracting me with all the things I love.

Anyway, I apologize for all the hiding. I tend to do that when I feel bad (I do it in real life too). I think it’s because when I feel weird about myself, my automatic defense mechanism is to go into sloth-mode and pretend I don’t exist.

I bring this up because it points to the responsibility many of you have as friends to those with mental illness.  Even though the victims of mental illness may be completely rational people otherwise, on whatever subject plagues us, such as with me and my body/inability to eat, we are separated from reality – and we do not know it initially.  We can’t realize that what we’re seeing is not real.  Often, we’re even so self-trusting that we’re sure everybody around us are the ones seeing things wrong.  In lots of cases, including mine and Allie’s, we would still be unaware we were sick if not for people around us convincing us of it.

Even after we’re made aware that our brains are malfunctioning, it only makes us aware that something’s wrong.  Sometimes we still can’t see reality for what it is.  Though I am in treatment and on medication that helps me to manage my condition, when I’m at a low point I still have hallucinations with mirrors.  I am now thankfully aware they’re not real, but I still see them.

What’s more, clinical depression is a lifelong condition (at least with our current knowledge).  It’s something that will try to get at us for the rest of our lives and it’s very, very difficult for us to tell when we’re backsliding.  Our brains are feeding us false information, so we must trust those around us to tell us when we are showing signs of regression.

But people must first acquaint themselves with those signs.  For me it was trivially easy to identify the worrisome portions of Allie’s depression post.  It may not be so simple for those who haven’t lived it, but the information is out there.  It’s the best thing you can do for people like us.

We need you.

  • Anders

    This.

    I generally recognize when I have to get to the hospital, but I’ve gone way too far on a few occasions. My problem is that I’m good at acting well… I don’t know what to do about that.

    Wow. This was a pointless post. Just remember that we need you as a lifeline to the world of sanity. I think that’s all I have to say.

    • Gabe

      It’s not pointless…people read your stuff all the time. Either way it’s ok to just express your thoughts on public forums without worrying about the net effect of your words. Express yourself, love yourself.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/ Jason Thibeault

    Yeah, I don’t have a lot of experience in this, but that comic did make me feel a lot like she was not nearly as “liberated” as she was letting on. Good to know she’s getting help though.

  • Phledge

    Maude, I am SO GLAD for this update. As a person who suffers depression (and am currently not there, thanks to the support of people like you, JT, and the FTB gang), I felt exactly the way you did about her last blog post. Because of that, I was deeply afraid that Allie had done something horrible to herself. I am so relieved to see that she is getting the help and support she needs.

    Allie, JT, and I would not be where we are if we didn’t have non-mentally ill friends, family, and well-wishers keeping an eye out for us. It’s exhausting to teach people what it’s like but if it means that just one person becomes an ally to the mentally ill then it’s totally worth it. Thank you again for securing your blog as a place where there is safety, learning, and awareness.

  • furtivezoog

    Speaking as someone with severe depression, anxiety, and fatigue. I will now provide my depressing counterpoint to your very good post.

    I agree with the lifelong aspect, or at least the last twenty-some of 40+ years. I’ve cycled through a lot of anti-depressants and only have ever managed a stable “sloth mode”.

    But, time passes and things almost inevitably become more hopeless. How, even if I was to become much better now, am I going to make a respectable life for myself at this point? It’s too late for my dreams and I am going to die poor, sick, possibly homeless–and probably still agonizingly depressed and generally scorned. I won’t even have much in the way of Social Security.

    For all of the positive posts, I think that most of society (especially conservative America) sees me as a worthless parasite–with some justification. As a liberal, I was always very pro-social safety net, even when I was well-ish and seemed to have a bright future. I never thought I would be dependent on food stamps and medicaid. I don’t know what will happen if I am cut off medicaid insurance…

    Not surprisingly, it is difficult for me to maintain meaningful friendships. (What do I tell people I ‘do’? How do I explain my failure to be a similarly employed home owner, etc., despite my fancy ‘new ivy’ college education?) I could completely disappear and (unlike you or Allie, as accomplished and witty bloggers, etc) almost no-one would notice. Most of my family has been generally indifferent or hostile, with one key person financially supportive but never emotionally involved.

    At the same time, I have a loving wife and a infant son (not old enough to be ashamed of me yet) and so I am stuck here. (I know I had no business having a child, but that isn’t his fault and perhaps I can make some good raising him.)

    • Amber

      Your comment reminded me of a quote from the movie Fight Club: “You are not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your f***ing khakis.” (Edited for cussing in case it offends anyone.)

      My husband suffers from Major Depressive Disorder, Panic Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. He is in his early 20′s, finished high school with lots of extra help and is now on Disability (SSDI) without having had a job before. He’s struggled with all this since before I knew him and I moved from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere to be with him.

      Your life, some days, may not be very important to you. You may judge yourself as being a drain on society and tax payers of your country. I doubt that your wife and son see you that way, however. You have intrinsic value. Don’t believe anyone, even if it’s your own head, who tells you otherwise. I have been suicidal in the past, and I may become so again in future, but I’m not going to give up fighting. I urge you to keep fighting too. Don’t believe everything you think.

    • friendbean

      furtivezoog–I am sorry to hear about your issues. I don’t know what your “Ivy” education is in, but if you got a graduate degree and have 16 hours in a field, you can teach online. While teaching online can be depressing in itself, this can be lightened by interactions with your family.

      I teach online–even when I cannot leave the house, do not really want to interact with anyone, and have generally stopped caring–I usually can type a response (like I am doing here) to someone. Depending on the class you teach, that’s really all you have to do on some days.

      If that won’t work, perhaps you can learn a craft that has become somewhat rare–a craft you can do at home when you are feeling well but which has no time pressures if you aren’t feeling well. It could be a craft that involves painting or even (don’t laugh) basket-weaving. Basket makers actually can do pretty well per hour.

      While I know that people are more than their jobs, it does feel good to have a job and to be able to contribute to one’s family. I don’t know what the Medicaid benefits will allow you–perhaps this isn’t workable because you would lose those–but if you are allowed to earn some money, perhaps this will be helpful.

      I hope that your mood lifts soon, and that it stabilizes at that level. It is hard to have to struggle with depression, and I do wish you well.

  • iknklast

    Good post, JT. I tend to forget the chronic nature, because I’ve been without a serious flare-up for about a decade, so it strikes me hard when I have a stirring of symptoms. Fortunately, so far I’ve been able to deal with it early, and not spiral back into the abyss, but I often realize I am living in a fragile illusion most of the time. Peple around me just think I’m being “self-pitying” when my depression flares, and I can’t even tell anyone at work such a thing exists, because of the risks of talking about it.

    Perhaps if we can get more exposure of people with depression, and others realize we look and sound just like they do most of the time, we can get more awareness and more resources to allow people to deal with these issues.

  • http://www.sinned34.com sinned34

    Good to see an update from Allie, and to hear that she’s not getting worse, as my wife and I both enjoy her blog.

    I have a few people close to me who struggle mightily with depression and a handful of other mental health issues. Recognizing when you need help is extremely important, and I wish that society didn’t place such a stigma upon people who have to deal with emotional and mental health problems. Finding help is hard enough without feeling like admitting you need assistance makes one weak or less of a person.

    That said, you’ve won me over, JT. I’d read your standalone blog once or twice before, and I browsed you somewhat regularly since you joined FtB. I admit I originally found you kind of annoying and a bit of a douche, though I agreed with a number of your ideas and posts.

    However, I can’t hate on anyone who likes Hyperbole And A Half. Keep this up, and I might soon start developing a man-crush on you.

  • Happiestsadist

    Good post. And in my case, well-timed. I’m in the middle of my worst flare-up in years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1583067300 alisonmeyer

    Yeah, I saw the potential for things getting worse for her in that last entry, too, so it’s great to hear she went for some professional help.

    It’s very frustrating trying to convince some people to do that. The resistance to the idea that you need medications for something that’s “all in your head” is incredibly strong. Worse is when you know someone who’s “self-treating” with woo that you know is contributing to the depression rather than helping it, and being dismissed because, you know, natural treatments are so much better that drugs! (And then trying to sound sympathetic when you get the call that said friend checked into the psych ward. . .)

    That “I can do it myself” idea was what I saw in Allie’s last update, and any of us who’ve been through this know that that never works.

  • Cynthia

    Again, you write something that makes me cry! Good gracious, man, can’t you just do a hack job instead of being so deep and insightful?

    I, too suffer from brain chemistry imbalance. My own mind tells me things that are untrue and bad for me and I can’t see it. However, I have a partner who is willing to pull me back from the abyss and hold me till the urge to jump passes.

    I am one of the lucky ones.

    And I can’t wait to hear from Allie again – she is gifted!

    One more thing:

    furtivezoog – don’t give up, please. If you are reading this blog, then you are a free thinker and we need you. Keep looking for a way out of the hole. You have a wife, a babe – you are doing something right.

  • Cynthia

    Also, this is the only place I feel comfy asking this question. Does anyone know anything about using electric shock therapy to treat this stuff? I’ve read up a bit, but would like to find some more info. Any opinions on that out there?

    • http://www.amy.lesemann.com Amy

      Dear Cynthia- No first hand experience w/electroshock- just what I’ve read. These days, much lower dosages are used and there is some evidence that it is effective with chronic, resistant depression. I would talk to a full-fledged psychiatrist (that’s a doctor w/further training in treating the mind), if that’s possible. Other folks, such as social workers and therapists, are probably not up on it and may just be against it as too “radical”.

      But if other, more standard treatments are not working, it’s something to think about. Amy

    • Libby

      Hey Cynthia :) My mother-in-law had electroshock therapy when nothing else had worked for her depression, and I’m sure it saved her life. She’d been spiralling downwards for ages beforehand and it was like her own personality was gone and there was just this black shroud of depression. She had the course of treatment and it was just amazing, all of a sudden she was there with us again. She had some short-term memory loss and she can’t remember much about that whole time now, but apart from that I don’t think there were many negative affects. She’s been fine ever since (on a low dose of antidepressant medication as a maintenance therapy).

      If other treatments hadn’t worked, if it was me I would absolutely try electroshock therapy. I hope everything goes well for you, whatever route you choose.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

    First, um, I’m glad Allie is doing better.

    Second, I’m another one of those who has only ever managed a stable-but-”stuck on slow” state. It’s like I’m swimming through molasses. But I’m functional, which is good. And I have people who force me to interact in meat-space, even to occasionally go outside, so that’s good, too.

    But I’d like to be better than stable. I’d like to have some enjoyment back in my life.

  • A

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone have any suggestions for a counselor in training, who also happens to be an atheist? Blogs, books, websites…anything. I live in a religion happy area so I see all sorts of things for using religion in therapy but not much else.

    I also am trying to find books (or anything really) that talk about atheist’s struggles with mental illness. If anyone has any suggestions that would be awesome.

    On the off chance Allie sees this, I am so glad to hear that you are doing better!

    On the off chance JT reads this, you are awesome!

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Thank you. :)

      Check out Patty Guzokowski at freethoughtcounseling.com.

    • Embee

      Gordon Livingston, a psychiatrist and author who lives in Cumberland, MD, is very circumspect about religion. He has published a number of small books that many find inspriational. He is also featured on a show on teh OWN Network, hosted by Shania Twain. He has a FB page but maybe not a blog.

    • Molsen

      I reality, any competant therapist should respect the client’s beliefs and tailor thier treatment accordingly. True there are a lot of faith based programs out there, but any therapist should be willing to work with your worldview without trying to change it.
      If you get a therapist that’s unwilling to do so, fire them and get another.
      As far as I know, there’s no focus on religion in cognative therapy, they’re mainly concerned about what support structures you have in place and for many their religion provides one such source of support. But the idea is to work to get you better and functioning without the need to change your entire worldview.

  • LadyBlack

    Yeah, I have been fooling people for quite a while. I had thought that Getting Better = People Not Worrying About Me, and I had quietly decided that I was going to end my life. Everyone else thought I was so much better.

    My intention is still pretty much the same, but I told this to the helpful counselling adviser a few weeks back, who then had an issue with the fact that I wanted to do this. She had to go and consult with her supervisor, who then discussed possible hospital visits. I had to tell my boss, in case it was decided I needed to go the next day, and his reation was that he thought I was getting better.

    I still don’t really get what the fuss is. It’s my descision. I still think that in a lot of ways it’s the best decision. There is a rational part of my brain which tells me it isn’t, and I guess it’s that which is keeping me coming in to work, and putting on a face every morning, and accepting that there might be something wrong with me.

    I just don’t know. It feels like just talking about this makes everyone close ranks, and draw away from me, because we just don’t discuss this sort of thing. I feel like a walking time bomb which people want to get away from. And then I feel maybe I should just do that, and stop being a nuisance to people.

    • Anders

      People value their lives very much. Hearing that someone else wants to end theirs make them uncertain. And they also care abut you and would not want you gone. So don’t do it. Ok? *stern look*

      • LadyBlack

        Thank you for your replies (Alison too). I do ‘see’ the words you’ve written, it’s the disconnect between them and my brain that is where the problem lies. Like, I read Allie’s blog and just wanted to say how wrong that voice in her head was (and how her description of crawling across the floor made me cry – why can we not hug over the internet?) but if I turn that around on myself, I would just agree with that voice. The two voices are saying the same things. So I have to reason that mine must be wrong if I can see it with other people.

        I guess I’d just like to be able to argue my case without everyone shouting and waving their hands about and talking about hospitals. Or by backing away, glancing at one another as if to say, “We’ve got a right one here…”

        • Nony

          In the depths of my blackness, disappearing (my white-washed euphemism for suicide) seemed to be the most logical solution as well. What was the point when, as JT says, depression is a life-long condition? I felt it unfair that in the discussion of euthanasia, we could talk about putting cancer patients out of their misery, but depressives aren’t allowed to be put out of our misery.

          My psychoanalyst brought me great clarity by pointing out that for cancer patients, “terminal” is literal… their death is imminent, and soon, and will be painful if not brought about artificially. With depression, the hopelessness is artificial, and a SYMPTOM of the disorder. It’s so hard to believe in the middle of the woods, and in the midst of the darkness, but hope can come back.

          I’ve been seeing my shrinky-dink 4 days a week for just shy of 3 years now, medicated (zoloft & welbutrin – they’re not just for breakfast!) to keep the darkness at bay. I finally have the hopelessness at bay, after 20+ years of saying “Oh, it’s not that bad… ” or hoping that maybe someday I’d finally get the courage to let myself go. I know it’s frustrating trying to find the right path out of the woods, when every trail you’ve tried twists around and you end up back in the same place, with the same dark thoughts, the same self-criticisms, the same sense of worthlessness. I found my analyst after I came down with a gnarly case of post-partum depression, and that’s what saved my life.

          I don’t know the magic formula to find the path… I can only hope that you find the spark inside to keep trying. You don’t have to see the sunshine today – keep crying on the floor if that’s what you need to do. Just keep trying to find that path that will eventually lead you out.

          • LadyBlack

            I am trying tonight. Thanks for your words, I am going to talk to someone tonight although a better description would be, “I am going to cry at someone tonight”. I am terrified of death, it’s just the point at which it’s easier to stop feeling that cold, enormous pain in my chest or to finish it all that changes what I will do from one moment to the next. It’s so big. It’s so painful. It feels like my chest is going to explode because I can’t keep it in.

            I am focusing on tonight. I’m plodding on for tonight.

        • tomrichardson

          I have always trusted counselors and their advice regarding extreme measures, and they have never – not once – steered me wrong.

          Your counseling adviser, and her supervisor, recommended a hospital visit – I would follow their advice.

          If you are considering suicide tonight, go to the hospital now, or call a hotline immediately, and tell them “I am considering killing myself.”

          You are not alone in this. It can and does get better.

          I’m a grown man, with a family of my own, and I have been fighting this battle since I was a young teen. I have always found victory with the help of counseling.

          Never – not once – have I been able to convince trained professionals (or any people smarter and healthier than me, for that matter) that I should end my life. I’m confident that you will find the same result.

          Yours truly,

          Thomas

          • LadyBlack

            Thanks for the reply. The trouble is, I spend about 95% of my day considering that I will kill myself. I couldn’t ring all the time and say that. I would never be away from the hospital. But I’ve been for the appointment with the counselor, I’ve had another assessment and been told that I will get more sesssions. We’re going to try to get to the bottom of everything and find out why this is a sane, calm decision for me.

            I was in absolute despair yesterday morning and then everything picked up again. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s just being able to talk a bit, openly, with people who understand what I’m talking about. I do appreciate that I’m not right about suicide – I do realise this. If I get down again, I have another number to call with people who can take serious action.

            Anyway, want to keep this post short. I worry that I’m hijacking…..

          • Anders

            Hijack, shmijack.

            No, that’s right, you can’t call them all the time. Which is why you should be in a hospital, in a closed psychiatric ward, preferrably with a person following you around all the time to make sure you don’t try anything. From what I understand, you need more help than you can get in an outpatient setting. Try to make sure you get that help. Please!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1583067300 alisonmeyer

    @Cynthia – electroshock is very good for some people who’ve been non-responsive to medications. It’s a last-ditch resort, though. You’ll have to demonstrate that medications aren’t working for you to any appreciable degree before a reputable doctor will refer you for it.

    @LadyBlack – if you stick around and explore all your medical options, there’s a very good chance that you’ll end up having a satisfactory or even enjoyable life experience. If you end your life, things will definitely not get better.

    There are so many options out there, you’d be amazed. It’s definitely worth putting in the time and effort to explore them, because when you find the right treatment, things definitely do get better.

    • Anders

      In Sweden we use ECT to break the back of the depression and then medicines and psychotherapy to get a long-time effect (ECT usually lasts for a month or so). I’ve had ECT and it was completely undramatical. They put you to sleep (not permanently!) and then you wake up with a headache and you can’t remember very well what happened that morning.

  • http://www.ignorantandblissful.tumblr.com Lucy

    I agree with this post 100%, thats how I felt when reading it. Ive finally gotten out of my depressed bout, ad happy 90% of the time. But I know that it could come back when im least expecting it.

    This forum post put it completely in perspective for me, it links your depression with MBTI

    http://personalitycafe.com/enfp-articles/10708-10-stages-depressed-enfp.html

  • spiders

    Thanks for this – I Googled ‘what happened to hyperbole and a half’ as I was worried, too – about someone I don’t know but clearly wasn’t winning the battle, despite having the energy for that last post. Allie, I hope you come back to the blogosphere when you are ready, I love your work and you inspired me to blog myself. For the others that are in the black hole of depression: don’t give up. Like Allie I did get to that don’t give a crap stage but ran with it – and now I live in another country and get to have little adventures every day (the best kind).

  • concerned

    I am a big fan of Hyperbole and a Half and I finally got impatient enough to search the internet for signs of Allie. I am so glad that she is okay! Thank you so much for this post, JT. It is scary to see signs of serious problems in someone else’s life and not know how to reach out, or what is going on. God bless!

    • elizabethhernandez

      Wow I came by for the same reason! I too read that last post and was amused at first but then it kept going and spiraling – it made me uncomfortable in an odd way. I sensed something more was happening and that I should not be amused by someone pain.

      I recently worked with someone who was severly depressed and I must say I was ill equipped to handle. I tried to be compassionate – but it was clearly a situation that neither a hug or kind words were going to help. I felt helpless to help. This co-worker’s situation deteriorated to the point where she is now on disability, but she is getting help.

  • Anders

    Just remembered, there’s a TEDTalk about ECT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEZrAGdZ1i8

  • http://www.madamerubies.com Heather

    Thank you for sharing this. I am glad to hear hope for Allie. I mis shed blog posts very much. And, your thoughts on mental illness are spoken truly.

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  • Nora

    I really appreciated this post. Not only am I glad for the update on Allie, but I loved what you had to say about mental illness and reality. I was recently diagnosed with depression, and the break from reality I experienced was the most difficult, frustrating thing I’ve ever experienced, and what eventually led me to realize that something was seriously wrong. I separated my problems from reality, and pretended that by not facing them, I could make them go away. Everyone does this sometimes (you don’t talk about somethiing upsetting because you don’t want to face it, you procrastinate on an assignment, etc.), but for me, it got out of control.

    I’m in college and it got to the point where I wasn’t doing anything for any of my classes. I didn’t turn things in, I barely went to class, and I avoided anything relating to them. Somehow, I was convinced that I could get it done at the last moment. I didn’t, of course, and left for winter break having undoubtedly failed almost everything. The point when I knew that there was something really, seriously wrong was when I was sitting alone one day before grades came out, and I thought “Maybe it’ll still work out. Maybe I actually did all of those things and just forgot.” and my brain actually tried convincing me that I was in a reality where I had done my assignments and everything was ok and I didn’t have any problems. That was when I knew that logic was completely lost on me, and it was past the point of just hoping things would work out and on to the point of a break with reality. And because I was so good at convincing myself that everything was ok, I became great at convincing others of the same thing. No one knew that anything was wrong at all until the physical proof (my grades) came.

    I think that sometimes the hardest part of mental illness is that, in general, people have an incorrect idea of what it looks like. The most important part of it, like you said, is that break from reality, which is overlooked with some things, like depression and even sometimes eating disorders.

  • http://twitter.com/jerjakob Seeker

    It’s so good to know that Allie still cares about us (or even if she doesn’t … we care about her :) I don’t know if you’ll be reading this, Allie, but none the less…
    Don’t listen to everything other people tell you. Only YOU know what you have to do. You DON’T have to keep on functioning as your old self. Depression is here for a reason. It’s telling you that there is something wrong wit the way that you have been living before, that is not what you want to be. It is your subconscious telling you that your current ways are flawed. That doesn’t mean flawed in a stereotypical way, but in a way that is preventing you from becoming your real self. What you don’t want to do is listen to other people’s advice on what to do. Only listen to yourself. You have to get rid of anything in your old life tht you don’t want any more. This may/does include friends.
    When I fell into depression, I stopped going to college classes, stopped interacting with my friends and basically just shut myself into my room for several days at a time(or until I ran out of food in the fridge, lol). I did not see this as a bad thing. On the contrary, it helped to free my mind. I was like this for about three months (reading comics and your blog, which I found very helpful xD). During this time I had the most amazing dreams. They were so mysterious, wonderful, magical. This totally amazed me. I started reading C.G.Jung’s book Man and his symbols, from which I learned a lot about the sobconscious and what my dreams were telling me. This sparked my interest in psychology and philosophy, which I had been ignoring all the time (i was studying electrical engineering, so this was a big change) So, the bottom line is. Do what you feel is right. It may not be easy. It may be stressful not only for you, but for your family and loved ones too. Just find something that feels right, that is worth doing and brings joy into your life. If that means flunking out of college(for a year or two) then so be it. Better a year than your whole life.

    • Katelyn

      Wow.
      I COMPLETELY disagree. The thing about clinical depression is that there is a physiological cause. A lot of times it is set off by something in real life, but not necessarily. Sometimes it just hits out of the blue. In my experience (and the experience of every counselor or psychologist I’ve ever talked to), staying in one’s house or dorm room all day is the absolute worst way to deal with depression. Of course you don’t feel like doing anything. Because you’re DEPRESSED. That’s one of the symptoms. And at least if it’s the first time you’ve experienced depression, you absolutely 100% should listen to other people’s advice, because your brain is not working right and probably lying to you. There’s a point where you start to know which thoughts are “real” and which ones are colored by your fucked up brain chemistry, but when you’re severely depressed, most of your thoughts tend to be along the lines of “everything sucks and I want to stop doing life and curl up and die.”

      As for having “mysterious, wonderful, magical dreams,” I have never once experienced this when depressed. I have horrifying nightmares. I don’t know what Jung says a dream about your friend cutting his own fingers off one by one means, but it strikes me as much more helpful to think of that as a complete delusion than a symbol of something you should be doing in your life. So I don’t know what you went through, and I don’t want to de-legitimize your experience, but it doesn’t line up with anything I’ve ever been through, or with what I’ve heard from other people.

      • Seeker

        Katelyn,
        the thing is, science still doesn’t know (or isn’t exactly sure, which is the same thing) what causes depression. They want you to beleive it’s caused solely by a chemical imbalance, which can be treated with medications. This is not true. But why would such a chemical imbalance occur in the first place? The way I see it is that the chemical imbalances are only a consequence of a deeper psychological state that the brain has come into. We do not know exactly what factors contribute to the onset of depression. Its role may have been purely evolutionary, as the more “succesful” (happy or satisfied) a person has become in life, the more likely it is that he is carrying good genes. Therefore less “succesful” individuals would be more or less depressed, and so they would be slowly purged from the genepool. But in today’s society this is no longer valid or desireable. Someone may not be succesful in the external world and in competition with others, but he may still have a very rich internal world or intellectual knowledge. This is what is valuable in today’s society, not success, but knowledge.
        So we must not only look at how a person is functioning on the outside, but what he feels or thinks. A lot of great minds are lost nowadays because we think of them as being ill or not fit for life, when in fact they are only diverted inwards, into their owh rich internal world. There is no meaning to purely external life if there is no deeper purpose to it.
        Ofcourse these are all my personal opinions, but I stand very firmly behind them. I do agree that in major depression, medication and counselling is absolutely required. I personally have in the past had seriously suicidal thoughts, along with a heavy childhood (Crohn’s, social isolation, excelling in school so being thought of as a geek) but I overcame them without any medication with the help of my family and friends, but most importantly, listening to myself. Not literally (like in having suicidal thoughts, so I most commit suicide) but listening to your subconscious, what it is trying to say to you. I did this through dreams and intuition.
        As regarding nightmares, I have also had them in the past. Images of apocalypses, deaths, packs of dogs chasing you and trying to attack you, falling into the black, and many that I don’t even remember anymore. But I knew that this was a world inside me, that these things are not happening to me in real life. That did not take anything away from their realness as I was dreaming, though! Gradually they have mostly gone away as I accepted them. Your dream of a friend slicing off his fingers does sound scary. But this is only your subconscious speaking to you through a symbolic language. Try to find out what that would mean about you or your psyche. Learn about symbols, the colour red, the symbolism of fingers and cutting. There is no definitive answer, only the one that you find is the most likely and fits in into what you feel.

        Heh, this is some seriously long comment. Hope you won’t mind while reading it.
        P.S. I’m an INTP so this may have some influence on my depression or convictions that you may find completely wrong. But they work for me :D

        • Katelyn

          So.
          I don’t want to get into an argument over the internets, but I do want to say that it’s always a bit upsetting to me when people say that antidepressants either don’t work or aren’t necessary. I’ve been taking SSRIs for four years, and while I’m not happy about that—I’m in the process of gradually lowering my dose, hopefully to nothing at some point—I really believe that they saved my life. There are a ton of people for whom this is true. There doesn’t have to be a “reason” for an illness. What evolutionary purpose does cancer serve? Or diabetes? Or birth defects? Evolution is an imperfect process that results in creatures which are fit enough to survive until they reproduce. It doesn’t require that we are happy or particularly healthy or live to an old age. Therefore it’s not productive to try to imagine what “purpose” an illness, mental or otherwise, exists for.

          I’m glad that you were able to work out of your depression without medication. But it helps many, many people, and I don’t think it’s anyone’s place to delegitimize any form of treatment that works for some. Jung and Freud’s ideas, in fact, are no longer widely accepted by mainstream psychology, which has moved, over the last hundred years, away from psychoanalysis and towards attempting to understand the brain biologically. That said, of course, Jung’s ideas helped you, and that’s great. But I made a different decision, and it worked for me. There’s a range of options out there for someone experiencing depression, and I think it’s just as harmful to tell someone they shouldn’t use medication as to tell them that medication is the only thing that will help.

          • Molsen

            I am in agreement. I have bipolar disorder and am predominantly depressed. Without medication I would not be alive today. As to whether depression can be fixed purely through life changes, I think that’s where temporary depression meets clinical or chronic depression. There are certainly times in everyone’s life where they may feel depressed, and changing things for the better can be very helpful (even for those taking medications) but my disorder hit me the hardest at the highest point in my life, when everything was going my way and I was in the middle of one of the biggest opportunities in my life. I had every reason to be happy, but the depression was sudden and crushing. I resisted the idea of taking medications at first, and it took over eight years of tinkering with my medications before I found the current balance I’m on (not perfect, but I’m functioning better than I have in years) But without those medications I would not have been able to keep a job, and save my marraige before it was almost destroyed. As far as the desire to kill myself I’ve had that desire almost every waking moment for years, but I knew how much damage it would do to the ones I love the most, and couldn’t put them through that. Then I found out that my suicidal urges came from intrusive thoughts which are treated with anti-psychotics not just mood stablizers and anti-depressants which is what I’d been on. Once the anti-psychotics were on board (it took a few tries to find the right ones) my desire to kill myself lessened to almost nothing. I still think of it occasionally, but not with the sense of urgency I had before. I also had an epiphany in my life that made me resolve to never kill myself, and I have kept that resolve all this time. I know that if I had let my illness direct my life my life would have been over years ago, but because I sought the help I needed (with a big kick in the pants by my wife) I have been able to watch my children grow, I have had many pleasant experiances and was able to heal many relationships that I had damaged during my illness.
            For those considering suicide, just remember it’s not you that’s talking, it’s the illness. And once the symptoms of the illness are under control the thoughts of suicide will subside and you’ll be able to find some joy in life again. Trust me it can and does happen.

        • Towel

          Allow me to disagree with the mere IDEA that there is such a thing as a subconscious. Ridiculous Freudian/Jungian stuff. Read some Sartre and listen to the medical establishment who use science in their method. Also, of course depression isn’t just caused by physiological imbalances. We live in a corrupt capitalist system that atomizes and alienates everyone to the point of constant depression. This is not how humans are supposed to live. This is not how humans evolved. Our economic and social system is anti-human, based on individual competition driving us into the abyss.

          Ridiculous ideas of the subconscious, telling people with mental illnesses that the fault lies within themselves, you have no idea! Shame on you and the harmful things you are spreading. Ugh.

          • Macca

            Actually, I agree with them. Depression is absolutely within your own head and can be controlled by you. That is not to say, exactly the way they said, that medication and therapy are wrong. They are absolutely needed for some people because they don’t have the strength to fight their own brains alone. Medicaiton and therapy are good for many people. I was depressed for years – probably since I was 10 or so, when I started to realize glimmers of the horrible society you are talking about. This continued until I graduated from college at 21, and I got my life into exactly the track it needed to be in to make me happy. I was suicidal as early as 10, self-harmed in my teenage years as a method of controlling my internal pain, but never attempted suicide. I thought about it a lot. I dreamt nightmares, wonderful nightmares. I soon came to love them. They were like adventures. Almost like playing a video game. The deaths in my dreams didn’t matter. That dreams mean anything other than “I’m depressed” or “I’m happy” is bullshit. They’re no deeper than that. There’s nothing else there than your general state of mind as either happy or not.

            And what absolutely got me out of it was figuring myself out and truly listening to myself. What my needs were, what helps me, what harms me, and what I didn’t need. I figured out that I was an introvert. That made me realize that elementary and high school made me depressed because it forced me to deal with people I hated and hated me 8 hours a day. I realized that it also led into hating homework because it ate into my alone recovery time from social activity – which impacted my grades – which affected my self esteem – which contributed to my depression. I realized that caring too much about what other people thought of me stressed me out, which made me lose more energy, which made me depressed as a compound factor. I slept 4 hours a night on weekdays because I was trying to get more time for myself to be happy and recharge. Anyone can tell you sleeping only 4 hours a night will make a person tired and contribute heavily to depression. There was no way out of school at that time, so I dealt with it. I had to. College was easier and harder in different ways. Finally, I had enough time to myself to stay away from people and recharge, and do things. But the work was harder and had a much bigger impact on my future. I pulled all-nighters. I went from short and abrupt euphoric highs as I realized my life was going right, that I was fighting through everything holding me back and getting straight-As for once, likely to get into my dream job, to double dark drawn-out lows as my boyfriend dumped me and I was sexually assaulted and manipulated by someone else who recognized my depression. I found the love of my life, who comforted me when he saw what had happened. I counted the days until I could graduate. Things were both horrible and wonderful. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel though – those highs told me I was doing something right.

            And then…I got out. I GOT OUT. Graduated from college. What it was – it was being an introvert – and it was not being able to make all of my own life decisions. I figured myself out. It was primarily dealing with other people and not having full control over my life that depressed me. I feel amazing now. I can do whatever I want – I can stay inside all day. It doesn’t matter as long as I pay my bills and don’t break any laws. I’m happily married and those dark days are a thing of the past. I found the one guy that doesn’t bug the bajeesus out of me and is an introvert just like me. I did it all without medication or therapy – frankly I was scared of both. I was scared of the power a therapist had over me, and the power drugs had to change me. I needed control. That’s what I needed most, and those represented taking control away from me. If anyone had threatened to force me to do either I might have killed myself then and there rather than go through with it – that’s the mental state I was in. Figuring myself out cured my depression. It can definitely do it for some people – to listen to your heart, and figure out what you truly need – I would venture to say ALL people need this. Many people need therapists – many people need drugs – but not all of them. To some people these things are the antithesis of what they need. All I needed was a fighting spirit and the guts to figure out what I need and to do it despite what society says I “should” be doing. I’ve been depression-free for years now.

            TL;DR: While some people need drugs, I can personally attest that figuring out what you truly need and then giving it to yourself is an amazing cure for depression.

  • Elif

    OMGEEE! Thank you for this posting; I’ve been worried about Allie for much longer than I tend to worry about people I’ve never met in real life, and I was too sure that if I investigated further that I would be very, very, very saddened by what I found. So glad to know that this (these, really, the post writer’s as well) is a story about the importance and power of supportive, loving, and (possibly most importantly) active support networks that push/pull someone back from their own edge.
    So thanks for this; good luck and God’s speed, everyone.

  • galt

    Hey, thanks for the post, I’ve been worried about Allie for a while, great to know she’s still alive and keeping on.

  • Sarah

    Thanks so much for the update. As an Allie fan, after that last post so many months ago and no further update, I’ve been worried about her. I’ve thought about sending a message, but I felt presumptous and didn’t know what to say anyway.

    I’m glad she’s getting help. I think life isn’t always easy for any of us, and I know that’s true even for brilliantly gifted people like Allie. I feel a bit selfish for wanting her well so she can make me laugh again — but what can I say? I’m selfish that way. But whether she continues blogging and making us all laugh or not, I hope she feels better soon. Depression is a miserable beast.

  • jeannesadler

    Thank you very much for the update. As the wife of a bipolar poet/musician, the signs were obvious and I didn’t find her last post uplifting at all; I was worried for her. Brilliance often comes at a price. Make that “usually comes at a price”. I’m so glad to hear that she’s getting the help she needs. She has an unique voice that shouldn’t be silenced by depression. Yay Allie!

  • Kate

    Thank you for hitting on something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and only just started to put words to: the way depression screws up your relationship with reality.

    After a deep depression last year — and realizing I’ve been at least mildly depressed since adolescence — I’ve been making my way out with the help of meds and lots of therapy. However, I’m realizing that maybe the most damning legacy of depression is that it has ruined my faith in my perception of reality. I’m far enough away from depression right now to realize that when I was in depression I was misperceiving reality — but if I’m capable of that level of incorrect perception, how will I EVER know that what I think I’m experiencing is accurate? And, in tangent with that: How do I know if I’m actually getting better, or just in a long hiatus? How do I know if I’m only having a bad day, or just a bit of gnarly PMS, or if this is Day 1 in another long period of depression? Even after a year of stability I still feel terror at any hint of a depressive episode, and I can’t trust my stability very far.

    • DayDay

      Hi, Kate, and everyone else experiencing depression or BPD, etc…

      (I apologize for the ensuing tome)

      I have been struggling with mood disorders since I was very very young. Along with the general anxiety that I experienced as a child, when I reached adolescence I began to also experience periods of nearly debilitating depression. When not on one of these months-long journeys into the darkness, I was varying degrees of hyperactive. I did not go to therapy, I was not medicated and I got so good at fooling myself that things were OK that I didn’t know when I would “disappear”(literally, almost, as I would pull away from people) until someone would comment on my “coming back” and seeming “better”. It wasn’t until mid-way through college that the depressed symptoms became so severe that I could barely function. It was the strangest thing. I would be feeling fine and then all of a sudden I would feel the happiness almost literally drain out of me. The feeling that remained is too difficult to describe. Let it suffice to say that it was a mixed agony of pain and numbness. I would cry and scream, or walk about in silence. I wanted to hide, and to be discovered. I wanted to cling on to anyone and anything, and I desperately desired to be alone. Having had lost a parent to depression as a young child (FYI- traumatic events can trigger the expression of genes that cause depression, BPD, etc..), I was terrified of it happening to me so I sought help from the university health services. I thought I was bipolar, but I cycled so rapidly that it wasn’t really observable. I was diagnosed with depression and spent two years on ineffectual medications that made barely any difference. I would lose weight because I would stop eating. I had insomnia. The nightmares I had had my entire life were even worse. I would get listless and hopeless. It wasn’t until after graduation that it got so unmanageable that I would take myself to the ER in desperate attempts to have someone do something to change things. Eventually I found new doctors and a new diagnosis. My suspicions were conformed, I was/ am bipolar.

      It took several years after that to reach a good equilibrium. I had extensive talk therapy and tried many different medications. I am on a “cocktail” now that I’ve been on for almost 6 years and it has made all the difference. The medications are a means to an end for me. I may always need them, I may not, but what they enabled me to do was get to a point where I could actually address my problems and try to deal with them. Before all I could do was feel dead inside or afraid. With the medication to help clear the biggest of the lies that my mind told me, I was able to start to help myself. Depression, BPD and the like tell the lies that make us think we are helpless, hopeless and alone. You don’t trust yourself so you don’t trust the people around you either.

      Up until the last three years I was terrified of relapses. That moment when I would feel slightly off would make me so scared that I would worry myself into anxiety or minor depressed episodes. Whenever I did have a small problem, I was afraid that I was failing at being healthy and letting everyone down. Kate, I know exactly what you are going through in that respect.

      So here is the hug that I want to give you: You don’t have to be afraid of yourself! I still have moments when the beast likes to remind me it’s lurking quietly in there, but they are few, far between, and comparatively mild to anything that I experienced when I was really unwell. I call them moments of deflation. Your moments may feel different from mine, but they don’t have to define you, or consume you. They will pass when they come and you will find that they are not as bad as you feared when they started. Your stability is not a lie! You are really getting stronger and more healthy!

      I used to let my fear of being sick again consume the time when I was feeling well. It didn’t have to be that way, and I prevented myself from really enjoying the good times because I was afraid of when they would end. You don’t have to experience this. It may take time-my words are not a magic shot in the arm to take your anxiety away- but sometimes knowing that it is possible to feel better and to feel stronger is enough to spark a change.

      It made all the difference for me.

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  • Dana

    JT, I have been wondering what happened to Allie (her blog remains possibly my favorite ever) and I find it an oddly appropriate bit of synchronicity that you wrote this post and answered my questions…

  • coyoteosborne

    Thank you so much for your post, both because I’m one of the people who were worried about Allie, and for sharing your advice about recognizing the warning signs that a person is in need of help and support.

    You mention that clinical depression, when you have it, is going to be a lifelong challenge. And that’s probably true. But it’s important to make clear – especially to those who are suffering with it – that doesn’t mean you will never be happy, or even that you won’t get to a point where the problem is much smaller, and happens less frequently.

    The more you know, the better you get at learning coping strategies, the less time you will spend depressed.

    I used to suffer from horrible swings, over the course of weeks or months. In the “up” swings, I had all this energy, and all these ideas, and could get all sorts of stuff done. But the down swings tended to last longer, and sometimes I would literally be so overcome with depression that I could not stand up from a chair.

    Antidepressants, unfortunately, do not work well for me (I have some weird brain chemistry, to do with my sleep cycle – yay, circadian rhythm disorder).

    I eventually learned to recognize that I was depressed – not necessarily because anything was wrong, just depressed. I trained myself to stop looking for reasons for it, or people (usually myself) to blame for how I felt. The only reason I felt that way was because I was out of whack, neurochemically. I realized that _because_ I was out of whack, that indeed meant that I would underperform, or even be lousy to my loved ones. I had to recognize that I had an illness, like any other, and that it was up to me to find ways to survive it, and try to overcome it.

    That by itself, realizing that something was wrong with my body, and not because I was a bad person, helped me take steps to get better.

    I learned, when I felt lousiest (or when I felt that grey numbness), to tell myself that it would eventually pass, like a headache, or a cold. I learned I didn’t have to justify feeling the way I did – to treat it like bad weather, or anything else that could happen _to_ me.

    I learned to eat better, to give myself _reasonable_ time off from work, and made a few other changes in my habits. It was hard, and didn’t feel right at first.

    Sometimes, I had to make myself go through the motions, to do things I didn’t really feel. I had to make myself do things I _knew_ were healthier for me. Visiting with friends. Taking the time to fix something good to eat, instead of just nuking some microwave glah.

    And it helped, too, when I figured out that sometimes, I _couldn’t_ really follow through. I’d excuse myself early from a party. Forcing myself past what I could actually handle would only make things worse, but it was important for me not to stop before I’d started. Leave early, rather than “don’t go at all,” or “give up halfway,” but not “don’t start.” What I found was that once I started something, it would turn out to be way less awful than I felt it would be before I began. When that wasn’t the case, there was nothing stopping me from changing my mind, right?

    Over time, the lows got to where they were nowhere near as low, and didn’t last as long. I have to admit, that the high swings diminished as well. But my temperament evened out a lot. Eventually, months, or even years would go by without any serious depression. I learned, also, that I’m still prone to it – if I get stressed, or don’t take care of myself, or sometimes, just because my brain decides to be mean to me, I’ll get recurring bouts.

    But I’m not afraid of them any more. I recognize them. And that means that, even though I’ll feel awful from it once in a great while, it doesn’t cripple me any more.

    I think part of what can happen, at least for some people, with depression, is that you get sort of a “feedback loop.” You’re depressed, so you feel bad, which makes you feel bad because you’re depressed. You either feel bad because you can’t justify it, or because you come up with all sorts of things to feel terrible about. You get more stressed by it, which makes the depression deeper, and it goes on and on. When you feel anything, it’s bad, and sometimes frightening. And being afraid makes it worse too.

    If you can get your feet under you a bit, and tell yourself that it’s something that can pass, and that you can wait it out, and that you’re not a terrible person, then you only have to worry about being depressed – not about all the other stuff on top of it. It helps.

    It probably helps even more if there’s a good professional you can talk to, or a medication that works for you. But even if you’re weird, drug-wise, like me, it’s still not the end of the world.

    It’s important to know that even if you’re going to have to deal with something like this for your whole life, that it _isn’t_ your whole life. There’s plenty of joy out there to find, or make, and some of it’s got your name on it. You won’t be happy all the time, but you won’t be deep in the awful all the time either.

    And no, what worked for me won’t work for everyone – just like what worked for other people didn’t work for me. And if you find yourself trying out things to get better, and they don’t work, don’t give up. Try something else.

  • Jon

    Oh, come on, just cheer up.

    (that’s a joke.)

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  • jon ann lindsey

    To fans of Allie and Hyperbole and a Half, you might be interested in this fundraiser for her. Please pass it on!

    Maybe when she’s feeling better she can do something extra fun, courtesy of her readers.

    http://www.indiegogo.com/WeLoveAllieBrosh

  • Helen

    Wow, that’s exactly how I feel about my depressive episodes. It does screw up my perception of reality and I hate that I stubbornly adhere to that perception, thinking that it’s accurate. I have to do a better job of ignoring it.

    About anti-depressants. I am no scientist but my psychiatrist noticed that name brand anti-depressants work better for me than the generics. This happened by accident. I got on a medication that had worked for me in the past and complained to my psychiatrist that it no longer worked. However, before I’d seen my psychiatrist, I ran out of pills and used some expired ones (fully expecting them to be even more useless) and noticed a sudden improvement. When I told her about this, she asked me what color the expired ones were and concluded that they were the name brand ones. She told me to check when I got home and she was correct.

    This does not apply to everyone — just some people. Here is confirmation from WebMD:

    http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/generic-antidepressants-what-you-need-to-know

    Some psychiatrists recommend getting on a brand name medication initially and then trying out the generics later.

    Unfortunately, the insurance company I have now does not even subsidize name brand medications, so I’ve had to make do with generics. I have, however, noticed that there may be multiple generics for a certain medication. If one generic is not working well, another one MAY work better.

  • anne

    I have been wondering about Allie for a long time now. Given my own lifelong battles with depression, I was really worried. I just now read this – thank you so much. Your post is graceful, and I’m so glad you let us know about Allie.

    All the best to you!

  • http://www.thelackymom.com The Lacky Mom

    Im so glad to read this. I thought of her just the other day and went to her site, sad that she was still gone. Get better, Allie!!

  • Layla

    Even though I don’t know her, I got concerned when she hasn’t updated. Which is how I found your blog, and I’m glad she’s getting help and surrounded by supportive people.

    One time I got particularly bad PMS, a really long 4 days which felt like forever, which gave me a taste of what depression would be like. I had a friend who helped me through it (thank you to him!) but still it was awful and scared me. I feel so lucky that I don’t have to deal with depression on a daily basis.

    Allie – I hope you feel better soon!

  • LaurenF

    Glad to read this, JT. Thank you for posting it (and I’d missed your earlier post about Allie, probably because I didn’t read regularly over at FtB).

    I’m telling myself not to feel bad because when I first read Allie’s last post, I thought, “Good for her!” Sounds pretty awful now. The context of that is, though, that I was in the middle of my own depression and didn’t realise it. A “fear-proof exoskeleton” is pretty well how I’d muscled myself through it for, oh, ’bout 17 years at this point.

    Then I started getting treatment, and now the fog is lifting – I went back recently (to see if there were any updates, which even pre-treatment I’d been wondering about if she really HAD been doing better) and re-read that post, and this time thought, “Oooooo… that doesn’t sound so good.”

    I want to read through the rest of the comments here since I’m sure there’s plenty of good stories, but my SiteBlocker at work is going to kick in soon so I can’t right now. :D

  • marie

    Did she give permission for you to post her response?

  • Julie

    Thank you, everyone, for sharing your stories.

  • Diane

    Please don’t call us victims. We’re just like everyone else except we have an illness.

  • Ashlea

    awwww I hope she will be ok, I hope she returns to writting and and drawing… but most of all I hope that she will be ok, and happy in her future. I really miss her comics, and its very sad to think that someone that can make so many people laugh, can be so down.

  • CR

    I was so very worried about her after that post, because I too could recognize that she was obviously not aware of how unhealthy she was. It broke my heart and made me wish I knew her so I could be in a place to give her the straight dope. I’m so glad she got help.

    It’s very hard for people who don’t have mental illnesses to understand how the brain betrays you. It’s like having the most persuasive person you’ve ever met shouting at you to duck and cover because the Russians are attacking. You know that the Cold War is long over and there shouldn’t be any reason for the Russians to attack, but the person is so fervent and insistent– you can tell they believe what they’re saying. And well, they’ve been right about other things and everyone else says you should be able to trust them. What if they’re right this time? What if you ignore them and die? Isn’t it better just to duck and cover?

  • Gail

    I am diagnosed with Clinical Depression,Severe Anxiety Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have had ECT a few times and do not want to have it again. While I still require medications,home support and a Community Support Worker,my best medicine was and will continue to be my Psychiatric Service Dog,Certified for Public Access. I experience 24/7 Animal Assisted Therapy and cannot express in words the assistance I receive from my canine partner. While not the entire solution,I believe Animal Assisted Therapy is an underused and invaluable resource. The pet overpopulation is a huge problem in society today. We can help by giving dogs,especially those rescued from horrible lives,a life changing job as the canine member of a human\canine partnership.

    Warm regards,

    Gail
    British Columbia,Canada

  • Loretta

    I’m glad to hear an update on Allie. I’m glad that she seems to be feeling better.
    I’ve been there, I understand. I’m thankful that Allie has a great support system.
    Take care, Allie and don’t rush the healing time. Look after you, don’t worry about what others may be wanting from you. They can wait.

  • Loretta

    I wasn’t going to post this because I didn’t want to be negative, but I need to vent a little, I guess.
    I have been in a hole for the last 2 or 3 years.
    So many of my friends and family knew it, I talked about it, I asked for help.
    Not ONE person offered anything.
    I know that they may have been unsure of what to do, but not one even expressed an interest in getting me some help.
    Most just sat back and criticized me for withdrawing and commenting on how this affected THEM.
    I finally had a breakdown and begged for help from my mother. She made some calls and I’m getting in touch with people.
    What people don’t get is that, when you’re depressed, you aren’t able to think clearly, eat, breathe, move…it takes someone guiding you to get you through it. Personally, I don’t want people hovering over me and “making” me do things, but what’s worked best in the past is just knowing people understand and are there to support.

    • Lauren F

      *hugs Loretta* I’m so glad you’re finally getting some help. I hope it works. I hope you can get through it, and I hope you can find a supportive group. You’ve been strong to make it this far on your own.

  • Meghan

    When fighting depression, do not handicap yourself by ignoring your spirit. Body and mind can be treated with exercise and medicine, as well as therapy, but your spirit needs care too! Don’t let neglect of spiritual needs prevent you from seeking God, who gives joy.

  • Beth

    I am so grateful to have found this update! I am a huge fan of Allie’s, and I have been worrying about her sudden disappearance for quite some time. My older sister — an incredibly strong, competent, and talented person — struggles with severe depression off and on. Recognizing the beginnings of a downward spiral when I hear it, and getting her to hear it, too, so she can seek immediate intervention, has made a big difference. All my good wishes and admiration go out to Allie! We are all in your corner.

  • http://smilescavenger.wordpress.com/ Amber

    Thank you for writing this post. I miss Allie and still think of her and her website often. My mother, sister, grandmother, and a slew of cousins contend with depression regularly. I just try to be there when they need me. I really hope you’re out there reclaiming your happy, Allie. :)

  • JR

    Thanks for this post & all the comments here. I too am recovering from depression, which was quickly recognized by my wife because she had been through it. If you haven’t had experience with depression or mental illness it can be hard to see it in others. Husbands in particular very often miss it in their post-partum wives.

    Now that we’ve been through this I know that and am better equipped to spot it. But like my father-in-law, my uncle, and several friends, I had no idea what my own wife was going through. When you lie to yourself, you can often fool those closest to you as well.

    She still resents and is still hurt by my blindness from then and there’s nothing I can do about it but be there for her now, and support others when I can. Gather your army of support, let them help, but forgive them if they–like me–can’t understand.

    Meds are essentially a crutch. If you break your leg, you need crutches while you’re healing. Anti-depression medication is no different. You may need those crutches the rest of your life, you may heal well enough to leave them behind. But use them as directed if you have to. I have no patience with anyone who says exercise, positive thinking, Jesus or sunshine is all you need if your doctor says you need medication. They obviously have no clue what depression is, or is like.

    My advice to anyone is to see a doctor, get a cognitive behavior therapist, and be as honest as you can possibly be with both of them. My therapist works at an Episcopal counseling center, but she’s a trained therapist and doesn’t talk about religion. Even though I’ve attended the church where she works, that would be completely unprofessional. She’s there to treat a problem, not to ask if I’m saved. What the center does do, however, is find out how much you can pay if you can’t afford their standard fee. For many people that’s almost nothing, and that’s ok.

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  • Nora

    This is just a note to Allie, in case she reads it: lots of people in my family suffer from depression. In fact, we were studied by academics because it is so prevalent with us. Just remember that it’s an illness, it really just is, and it’s not your fault. This illness messes with your thinking and your feelings, and it’s not….real. But you’re real, and there are lots and lots of us wishing you well. Hang in there!

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