The Beyond Blue Interview
It is such an honour and a delight for me today to have the chance to share with you an interview with Therese J. Borchard, the author of Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes. As I wrote in an earlier post, Therese writes with such compelling honesty, clarity and insight about her own battles with depression that she has helped countless readers come to a better understanding of their own struggle with mental illness and offers hope and compassion from a place of deep personal experience.
Therese, please tell us a bit about Beyond Blue and why you wrote it.
I know this sounds somewhat arrogant, but I wrote Beyond Blue to help save lives. Almost a million people kill themselves around the globe each year; suicide takes 30,000 Americans each year, more than traffic accidents or AIDS. In fact, it’s the second leading cause of death for females between the ages of 15 and 40.
I have suffered the loss of my aunt, my godmother, due to suicide. She took her life at the age of 43, when I was 16. And I almost followed in her tracks. For two years, the most difficult task in my life was to postpone the urge to take my life. During those years, I clung to every word of books like Kay Redfield Jamison’s “An Unquiet Mind” and William Styron’s “Darkness Visible.” They became my companions in the darkness, until I could feel myself to the light. I want to continue the chain of support—to offer the only thing a person needs to survive those dark nights: hope. I want readers to take away a morsel of hope on every page of my book, and find some comfort in knowing that they are not alone. And while I’m at it, I also want to do my part of shedding the unfair stigma that mental disorders carry, and to inform people that mood disorder are organic, brain disorders, and that those who suffer from them should not be reproached for lack of will power, perseverance, or motivation.
Who do you think should read this book?
Um … everyone! Seriously, because every one of us is affected, in some way, by mental illness. Obviously, the person struggling with depression would benefit from reading. But so would the person’s husband, mother, friend, boss, co-worker, and cousin. I can’t tell you the number of times I hear, “My sister is depressed, and I just don’t know what to tell her.” Here’s a start: educate yourself. That’s the most compassionate and empathetic thing you can do for her. Beyond Blue is a way into the head of your suffering loved one—because I cover just about every diagnosis listed in the DSM-IV, or shrink manual. My internal monologues might give you a better sense of the reasoning and rationale behind bizarre behavior. Or maybe you’ll learn that the words you thought were helping her actually made things worse.
What was it that kept you going each day since nothing seemed to be helping? You said that you got up and put one foot in front of the other but what was it that got you going in the morning?
You want my honest-to-God answer? I was afraid that I would somehow hang on to all the pain even after death if I killed myself… that my soul would be stuck in this uncomfortable place, saddled with the task of dealing with all the issues that were making me so depressed. In four words: the fear of hell. I guess being Catholic does come in handy. One psychiatrist I saw kept telling me that killing myself wouldn’t resolve anything. And his words really haunted me.
Here’s the prettier answer: the tiny speck of hope that I was clinging to. And I got that hope from my faith—that God was with me even though I couldn’t feel him for the life of me, he really was with me. So I squeezed my medal of St Therese so hard it almost got imprinted into my palm. It was my security blanket of sorts.
You have a blog on Beliefnet also called Beyond Blue. What does the blog do for you and what have been your best experiences writing it?
The blog has allowed me to interact with my readers in a way that I can gauge where the needs are. That was helpful for the book because I could include in the second half of the book, the self-help part, the topics that were most important to my readers. The blog was also a good way to tip-toe into telling my whole story. I’m not sure if I would have had the courage to publish the book without the blog. The feedback from the readers gives me the guts to keep putting the raw material out there. Every day there are a few comments that I print out and carry in my purse or put into my self-esteem. They are especially important to read on the days that I’m freaking out about being so blatantly honest with the world and risking my chances for future employment should the blog tank.
Please join us again tomorrow for Part 2 of this powerful interview, when Therese will share some great nutritional advice and much more. You don’t want to miss it!