“Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walked into your life, said ‘I’m here for you,’ and proved it.” – Unknown
I came across that quote the other day and how appropriate it is right now.
I am humbled and touched by the outpouring of emails, comments, and snail mail in response to my “Dear Suicidal Person” post, taken aback by the kindness and thoughtfulness of so many readers and acquaintances.
I was especially moved by a reader who sent me the dark thoughts of my patron saint, Therese of Lisieux, in her dying days. It was a reminder that even the saints had seasons of doubt and despair. And I was inspired by a friend who visited the Gandhi statue in D.C. and sent along a photo of it with the inscription “My life is my message,” as well as the words on another engraving near it that said, “Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her] … will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.”
That assuaged much of my insecurity in publishing my struggles.
Back when I was writing Beyond Blue, I wrote raw, personal posts on a daily basis. In the last few years I’ve become more self-conscious, analyzing every word for appropriateness. Your messages have inspired me to get back to honest pieces, to write from where I am, not from where I want to be, as my editor at Beliefnet once advised me. They’ve confirmed the need for the truth, as uncomfortable as it is to write and read.
Twelve years ago I didn’t know what a blog was. My editor had to guide me through the steps to load my words on to WordPress. It felt like I was submitting my thoughts into a vacuum. However, within a few weeks I was astounded by the intimacy that was formed online with readers, the community that quickly developed among people all over the world. It still feels like a miracle to me today – that by pressing “send” I have the potential to start a conversation in Australia and Singapore.
I feel so blessed to have readers who have followed me through all my transitions to different websites and continue to support me – on my good days and in my darkest hours. I don’t say this enough, but you give me strength to go on, to try do what the engraving said and quiet my self-doubts in order to be of use to others.
Therese, you have always given me hope through your words. You are stronger than you realize. I am so glad you have had a breakthrough and going back to just writing honest pieces with us. I am a huge fan and want to thank you for sharing your journey with me and many, many others! God Bless you!
Thank you for writing “Beyond Blue”! Your helped me get through my darkest times and I recommend your website quite often.
Therese, It is this willingness to be authentic and vulnerable that connects you to others. We can google the latest research, the myriad of self-help suggestions- but it is those who use their voice to share their struggles that keep us from feeling alone and like the only one who carries such pain. I deeply appreciate this return to your truth, for it is my truth too. I wish all of us a road to peace, but meanwhile- it is in sharing our truth that we help each other carry the load. And- I guess in some way this burden is a blessing in that it pushes us to be true – you in your writing, me in my art. Sending gratitude.
Good on you. There is method in the key of C………Good to connect again.
Imperfect words are often the hug that perfectly fills a gap in the heart. Wishing you many hugs from readers that cherish you, like me!
Thank you Therese for your authenticity and words of wisdom! I’m struggling once again…. some really dark times. And, your words help me to push forward!! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts from experience! It helps!!!
I can’t remember how I “found” you Therese, but I DO remember when— while experiencing very sad days that seemed to stretch on for forever. Still have the struggles, but your words seem to always hit
me at the right time. So happy you seemed to have conquered your self-doubt! You are unquestionably helping many many people with your words. I always look forward to reading your blogs — thank you !!!
Ps, I appreciate the Catholic references too— I’m a bit “fallen away” at the moment, but my upbringing still brings lots of comfort — I’m happy it seems to do that for you too. God bless you and your family.
Therese, I echo many of the previous thoughts mentioned, you have been a great inspiration to me when I thought I couldn’t exist one more minute…….your honesty helps in so many ways. Thank you!!!!
Your presence, your writing, your vulnerability mean so much to me, to us in your tribe. I especially appreciate your videos because they’re so real and, well, I feel so connected to you which i don’t get with very many people anymore. I’m struggling at work. I changed jobs 7 years ago. I’ve recently had to ask for some accommodations. In 25 years of working full time as a special education teacher and college professor, I’ve never had to ask for accommodations. The stigma I feel from my employer is overwhelming. First time I’ve felt personalized stigma from colleagues. It’s horrible. I mean, I feel the generalized stigma and self-stigma, but have finally experienced first had discrimination due to my disability. But I read your words, and I have hope.
Time to forget the Stigma and accept who you are. A beautiful intelligent woman with a human frailty. I experienced the same work related feeling of stigma due to a serious bout of depression. I was lucky and had a wonderful board member who was on the faculty of the Nursing Department
She urged me to get help. I felt embarrassed when I was “outed” but thank her to this day 25 years later for her human compassion, understanding, intelligence and her help. I struggle knowing that I have and probably will slide back to that dark place again in the future. It’s part of who I am. I try so hard to do the work and be “real”…..not pretend I am some perfect being but only a mere mortal with human frailties that must be attended to. Please don’t hide behind shame, guilt and embarrassment. Love yourself for who you are. You are a successful, intelligent, compassionate person. Use your disability as a personal strength to help others by working to eradicate the stigma of mental illness. The world will be a better place because of your work as a mental health advocate. Who better to work on this important issue than those of us who know and understand what it means to live with the pain of experiencing mental health issues to one degree or another.
You are loved! Thank you!! xoxo
Therese, you were an inspiration to me in your writing of your struggles. I struggle as well and I don’t feel so alone when I can read your truths. Your last 6 months or so I could tell that you were not well because your writing did not come from your heart. Please know how you have helped me cope living with suicidal depression through your thoughtful and painful words. I am glad you are back to your true writing that you were born to do.
Therese, Your book, “Beyond Blue”, became my close companion when I went through needed medication increase for depression. Just knowing you were there to take the journey (a journey I have taken many times without the understanding of others) gave me one thing to get me through day. I felt I lost a wise friend when you edited your truth. I am glad to read that you have returned to your truth, which is the human truth. There are enough edited selfies out there, but you have the courage to tell your truth.
Dear Therese, please don’t ever stop writing with honesty and compassion. We get enough of the lies and trauma from the church and the world
You are like a breath of fresh air in the middle of a room filled with garbage bags of lies the church and the world tell us that deal with mental health problems. May God richly bless you and your family for all that you do. God bless you
I am rooting for you Theresa. Long time reader and first time leave comment. Please know your words help me and many readers so much in our darkest days. Please stay strong for your kids, your family and all of your readers. And always remember this, too, shall pass soon. It always will.
You give me HOPE and sometimes that is all there is that gets me through times in the “grip”.
Thank you for your honesty and understanding in your heart ❤️ I refer to your writings and site all the time to get me through the day. You have a
GIFT! Blessings to you. XO, Jane
Therese your reflections have meant so much for me as I struggle with intermittent depression. I have shared them with a special woman also named Therese. I pray for you and your courage to find the path the Lird has planned for you. God will bless you, Pat