North Carolina, USA
The call seemed to come out of nowhere. I had lost touch with “Jennifer” despite leaving messages on her answering machine for months. As I sank into my own prison of despair I believed that she just didn’t want to be friends with me anymore. Then out of the blue the telephone rang. “Sorry I haven’t called, I’ve been in the looney bin!”
She seemed her old self, talking quickly, laughing at herself and her life and asking about mine. But within her chatter she freely described hitting such a low that her family worked with doctors to place her in the psychiatric ward of the local hospital. She didn’t speak of her time there, but rather how it had brought her back to the world.
She talked about the anti-depressant drugs she had been given and how they worked. They didn’t “cure” her. They helped put her problems in perspective — though still upsetting, they didn’t overwhelm her. I told her maybe that was what I needed.
We talked about how I had immersed myself in a hole, only emerging to take my daughter back and forth to school. I was not actively suicidal, since such thoughts would hurt my daughter too much, but I sure fit the profile of someone in serious depression. I had been looking for my bootstraps, couldn’t find them, and there seemed no way up. I knew I had to move forward, but it was too scary. She encouraged me to seek outside help, not only with her words, but also with her open attitude.
I sought that help, and received it. I found my bootstraps. Unfortunately there is no quick fix, and the process up is almost as slow as the process down, very frustrating but often rewarding as well. I went to the supermarket ALONE the other day — a big step, for I had not gone out alone in months, and hadn’t even acknowledged it!
I ran into an acquaintance there. When she asked how I’d been, I answered honestly that I had been in deep depression, but was working my way out thanks to help. She responded that she too was recovering from depression, and a conversation began.
Jennifer’s phone call made a drastic difference in my life. She was still recovering, walking that fragile line between being “all right” and “psycho”, and readily admitting it to the whole world. (She would probably tell you her real name but I won’t presume on her friendship.) Her courage has inspired me not only to seek help, but to openly reveal that I am doing so.
Neither she nor I look for pity. Instead, we’re proclaiming that help is there for those who need it. When I say I’m recovering from depression and moving forward, I’m overwhelmed by people’s outpouring of understanding, their sharing of experiences, and requests for helpful information. And Jennifer showed me the way.