What if you were afflicted by major depression, AND obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), AND manic-depressive tendencies, AND anxiety issues – what would you be?
Well, Therese Borchard, I guess!
I just finished reading her story in her book Beyond Blue (Surviving Depression and Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes), which grew out of her Beyond Blue blog. Therese was kind enough to send me a copy for review and I read it through over the span of a couple weeks.
Why would I care about such a book? Well, because of my own history with depression. There’s a unique window of understanding that fellow sufferers have, and I found it fascinating to trace Therese’s thoughts and experiences in this volume.
And, I also felt immensely grateful that I did not experience the cocktail of disorders she seeks to survive daily!
Now I’ll come right out and say that unless you are suffering with one of these disorders, or seeking to help someone else who is, you might find it to be heavy weather navigating Beyond Blue. However, for those with skewed brain chemistry, this is a valuable resource, for one overriding reason: You’re not alone.
The greatest value of Terese’s writing is that she very transparently, and often humorously, describes the day-to-day travails of living with a mind that refuses to stay within “normal” bounds. For those suffering with these afflictions, it can be tremendously lonely to experience the guilt, the confusion, the hopelessness that cannot be controlled by force of will. When she describes considering suicide 20 times a day, you cringe – but that’s a silent and hideous reality for many folks, and Therese forthrightly lays it all out there.
Her writing style reflects her thought patterns, so there is an interesting “jumpiness” and spontaneity in the the book. This is not a highly structured medical treatise, but almost a train-of-thought account of living with multiple conditions. That humanity, that surprising candor, is what makes this Terese’s story in a unique way. As a wife and mother, she is very open about how mental illness impacts her relationships. She’s a very lovable nutcase (yes, she refers to herself in such language!) and I’d love to stroll around Annapolis and talk with her further!
I found the book moving, not because of its literary style, but because of its raw humanity. It’s not easy to admit to struggles with mental illness. People don’t understand why you walk under a dark cloud, why you feel like the most worthless person to walk the planet, why drugs (and other interventions) may be an absolute necessity to achieve day-to-day sanity. Therese is providing a valuable service to many just by being herself and hanging it all out there, dirty laundry and all.
And so I will take this opportunity to thank her, not just for sending the book, but for being Therese. There’s a whole bunch of folks out there who need help getting beyond blue.
UPDATE: Two wonderful posts appeared this week, giving personal stories about depression and encouraging more openness (from Amber Naslund and Ellen Nordahl). I encourage you to read them. And if you think you’re afflicted….Get Some Help.
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