Wish You Were Here

Dad with Leonard Bernsteind?

My Dad with the great composer Leonard Bernstein

After hearing my father audition, Bernstein told him that he had what it took to be a world-famous concert violinist

Today would’ve been my father’s 88th birthday.  

I wish my Dad was alive to celebrate his birthday for so many reasons – mainly so his two beautiful granddaughters could get to know him and enjoy his remarkable talents as a: Los Angeles Philharmonic violinist, oil/watercolor painter, sailor, model airplane builder, expert skier, woodworker, gourmet cook, book/poetry aficionado, gardener, college professor, violin teacher, backpacker, world traveler, Spanish speaker, and Irish Setter/Golden Retriever lover! 

I’m leaving out much, much more, but that list alone explains why time spent with my father was never dull – unless he was struck by a bout of severe bipolar depression. When that occurred he’d hide away in his bedroom with its thick curtains drawn shut as if it was a sepulcher. There he slept to escape his misery.

While growing up, I saw firsthand how manic depression affected my father, and I hoped to high heaven I’d never experience it. But that’s not how things worked out, and my father felt responsible and terribly guilty that I inherited bipolar disorder.  

I called him from the psychiatric ward’s single pay phone during my first hospitalization. I was six weeks postpartum and full-blown manic. (My suicidal depression wouldn’t arrive until weeks later.) Four hundred miles away, Dad answered the telephone. I told him I had just been diagnosed with bipolar one disorder. It was the first time I ever heard him weep.

Since I was manic, as soon as the psychiatrist looked me in the eyes and told me my diagnosis, I wasn’t fazed. During my conversation with my father I tried comforting him. I urged Dad several times not to worry about me, but he knew what lay in store for his beloved daughter. He knew that the shit would hit the fan in my brain, and it did. Again, and again, and again.  Six more hospitalizations would follow, I’d ask for unilateral ECT after he died, and for bilateral ECT after I made the disastrous decision to taper off bipolar meds.  All in all, I’d try over thirty-five medications to no avail.

Despite all my suffering, with the help of my immediate family, my doctor, my therapist, the medical establishment and (gasp!) even evil Big Pharma, I’ve come through “Dyane’s Inferno”.

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I wish that my father could’ve witnessed how my bipolar disorder didn’t destroy me. Wherever he is (for I don’t believe that when die, that’s it.), maybe Dad knows I’ve reached this hard-won, relative stability.

I wish I could’ve called my father after I was offered my book contract; Dad knew I wanted to be a published author from the time I was seven-years-old.  He was a voracious reader, and at bedtime he read me The Juniper Tree stories (a tad disturbing, but fascinating nonetheless) or Edgar Alan Poe’s haunting poem Annabel Lee, one of his favorites.

In the last couple years my father was alive, I’d search the Los Angeles Public Library’s online catalogue for books I thought he’d enjoy. Using his library card number, I’d request books about the violin, sailing, and history to name a few. This memory makes me happy because I know that the books served as bibliotherapy, despite the recurrence of his bipolar depression. He always thanked me profusely for finding books he couldn’t put down.

Dad would be so proud to see me achieve my dream of having my book published by Post Hill Press. (I still think he pulled some celestial strings so that I got the deal!)

I’m beyond grateful that Dad and I had our time together.  

I’ll be dedicating my book Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder to my girls, Craig, my Mom, Miss Lucy,

and of course…

Dad.

Dad unshaved

Dyane & Dad 002 (1)Eight-months-pregnant Dyane & Dad, 2004

Annabel Lee

BY EDGAR ALLAN POE

It was many and many a year ago,
   In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
   By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
   Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
   I and my Annabel Lee—
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
   Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
   My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
   And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
   In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
   Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
   In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
   Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
   Of those who were older than we—
   Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
   Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
   Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
   In her sepulchre there by the sea—
   In her tomb by the sounding sea.
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The Road of Disturbing Memories – Part Two

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After I published part one of “The Road of Disturbing Memories” I received great feedback from some of you.  Best of all, I didn’t feel so alone with the depersonalization/derealization that I’ve suffered since taking Geodon in 2012.

My theory is that the atypical antipsychotic Geodon actually triggered these two conditions in my brain, but I know it’s just that: a theory.  Then again, I haven’t done any research, so who knows? But I sense there must be some kind of connection between these terrifying states of mind and Geodon, for I never experienced either feeling before taking this medication.  The disorders struck  just days after I swallowed my first Geodon pill.  That just seems like too strong of a coincidence.

All that aside, I still suffer with depersonalization and derealization.  In some ways the “Two Damn D’s” freak me out more than even bipolar depression, and that’s saying a lot!  

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As a book lover I sought books that addressed these bizarre mental states.  Most importantly, I wanted to read experts’ opinions about effective ways to deal with them.  The first book I bought was supposed to be the most comprehensive book available on the topic:  Overcoming Depersonalization Disorder – a mindfulness & acceptance guide to conquering feelings of numbness and reality.  It was written by Fugen Neziroglu, PH.D., and Katharine Donnell, MA.  

In it the authors discuss ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy), DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) and MCBT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) skills for coping with numbness, mind and body disconnection, and the bewildering feeling of living in an unreal world.

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As soon as I received my copy in January, 2012, I dove into it, but unfortunately I didn’t e complete the whole book.  I didn’t even try any of the techniques.

Ugh.

I did the same exact thing with another highly acclaimed book: Feeling Unreal – Depersonalization and the Loss of Self by Daphne Simon and Jeffrey Abugel.

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Double ugh.

Reading only the first part of a self-help book has been my “tried & failed” approach to reading 99.9% of the self-books I’ve ever read over the years.  When I first get a self-help book I feel hopeful at the possibility of feeling better.  Then I become overwhelmed by the information and exercises, and I start shutting down.

Although I’ve been very disciplined in other areas of my life, I haven’t been able to possess enough discipline when it came to following self-help books exercises.  Additionally, I didn’t set up an accountability factor (i.e. alerting my therapist and psychiatrist of my bibliotherapy plan) to do any of the exercises.  As a result, I set aside my books and gave up.  One became covered in dust on my bookshelf – the other was ignored in my Kindle.   

I’ve mentioned the “The Two Damn D’s” to both my therapist Tara and my psychiatrist in passing, but then I minimized what was going on with that to focus solely on my bipolar depression.  So even though it has been over two years since I’ve suffered with the “Two Damn D’s”,  it’s still early days for my dealing with them.  I know that I can’t keep shoving these perturbing states to the wayside; they’ll only fester.  

Just for the neck of it, today I searched WordPress blogs using the keywords “depersonalization” and “derealization”.  Imagine my excitement when I found a blog post titled  “Finding the peace of mind – or how to beat depersonalization and anxiety – this is my way of doing it”!

I quickly scrolled down my Kindle screen to find that the blogger of “The Borderline Personality Bliss and Mess” (great title) wrote that taking long drives would throw off her depersonalization.  My heart sank.  Driving was the exact activity that made my depersonalization and derealization much worse.

How different we all are!

http://borderlinepersonalitybliss.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/finding-the-peace-of-mind-or-how-to-beat-depersonalization-and-anxiety-this-is-my-way-of-doing-it/

It’s sooooo tempting to just not address with “The Two Damn D’s” and keep them on the back burner.  I already have my hands full with dealing with bipolar disorder every day as well as taking care of my children.  But I can’t ignore these lame-ass sensations.  I still have my “The Two Damn D’s” books; in fact one sits by my laptop, reminding me that I have to do something, anything about depersonalization and derealization.  

As I’ve only mentioned this problem briefly to my psychiatrist, I think I need to make it our primary topic of discussion at our next session.  I have a feeling he knows about ACT, DBT, and all the “T” therapies out there, since his forte is therapy!  (He almost became a psychotherapist instead of a psychiatrist; I believe this explains why he is such a compassionate doctor.)

Unless I spontaneously, miraculously heal, (hey, never say never!!!) I’ll write a “Part Three” later this summer.  My psychiatrist always has cool insights and practical suggestions, and  I’d like to share them with you.

Have a great 4th of July and I’ll see you next week!

Dyane

p.s. as always, I’m open to your suggestions and I love your comments.  Please comment away to your heart’s content!

 

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My “Placeholder” Friday Post

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Hi everyone!  I hope your Friday (and for some of my Aussie/NZ friends, your Saturday) is going well.

Last month I vowed to blog Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays instead of publishing daily posts as I had been doing for the previous four months. I thought it would be much much easier to blog less often than every single day – wouldn’t you think the same thing? 😉 Well, ironically, it has been harder for me to write the less I write – if I don’t prime my “writing pump” each day, it gets stopped up. My favorite author Madeleine L’Engle’s advice was to write for a minimum of thirty minutes a day, and she’d be shaking her head at silly me for breaking her golden rule!

Having my two kids out of school and adjusting to a new schedule with much less free time is reason enough for me to have blogging challenges.  Even so, I was hanging in there with it all and getting a little writing done until a couple days ago.

I don’t have the energy to go into detail about it yet, but I plan on writing about this past week soon. I’m struggling about a extended family situation.  I’m not bottoming out, and I have a solid support system in place, but I’m feeling totally depleted emotionally and physically all the same.  My counselor has helped me out a great deal.  I have my furry antidepressant Lucy by my side, which is such a comfort, but neither my therapist or Lucy have magical powers to ameliorate the shitty thing that has been going on.

Over the past two days in particular I’ve been incredibly sad about this heartbreaking dilemma.  It’s something that’s impossible for me to fix.  While yes, I can change the way I react to what’s happening, it’s not so simple as it sounds.  It’s a totally complex and unfair dilemma.  I need to be strong and have faith that I will get through all this in one piece and life will get a little easier.

So if you’re into praying, please pray for me & my family!

Due to all that stuff, I wasn’t going to write today, but it feels good to just come up with a few paragraphs.  In order to relax from the sorrow I’ve been feeling, I’ve been treating myself to some creature comforts.  Some aren’t so great (i.e. gelato and chocolate chip cookies…and I don’t stop at a single scoop or one cookie!) but other treats are calorie-free, thank God.

I bought a couple books on my Kindle.  Knowing I have my books at the ready wherever I go is a Godsend.  I gravitate to certain types of books when I’m really bummed out, such as memoirs of people who really have it bad.  Their stories help me to put my life into perspective.  I bought “Why Did She Jump?” by Joan Childs, LCSW, a book that I’ve heard about for months and it was finally published this week.  Its theme is really heavy as the title implies, but it’s interesting, especially as the family depicted in this book are Jewish and Judaism is my cultural heritage.

Here’s the Amazon description:

Six million people in America suffer from bipolar disorder. Joan Child’s daughter, Pamela, suffered from the disorder, bouncing from doctor to doctor in search of treatment. Yet the demons became louder, and on a summer day in July 1998, the same day that the Oprah Winfrey Show aired a segment on bipolar disorder, Joan Childs’ 34-year-old-daughter leaped to her death from the window of her father’s 15-story apartment. Why Did She Jump? is her mother Joan’s haunting story of grief and guilt, yet it is a beautiful story of love and the courage to find peace and purpose once again.

With brutal honesty and vivid detail, Joan recalls how the entire family became entangled with Pam’s illness as they watched her dive deeper into the darkness where no one could reach her. Ironically, Pam and Joan were both psychotherapists yet, with all their credentials and medical knowledge, Pam still could not be saved.  Why Did She Jump? masterfully looks back even as it looks forward. Written with vivid memories of Pamela’s troubled yet loving life and the final days of her funeral and shiva (a seven-day mourning period in Judaism), the story will break your heart and then mend it again.

I also bought Australian singing legend Kate Ceberano’s long-awaited memoir “I’m Talking: My Life, My Words, My Music”.  I’ve heard of Kate Ceberano for years, but I’m actually not even familiar with her music!  I just love reading books about famous musicians, with a special weakness for New Zealand and Australian performers.  I downloaded Ceberano’s book’s sample and I really enjoyed reading it, so I completely splurged (I don’t even want to tell you how much it was!) and I bought her book.  Here’s the description:

For the first time, Kate Ceberano, one of Australia’s best-loved entertainers, shares her story.

In her own unmistakeable voice, Kate Ceberano takes us on a very personal journey from her suburban childhood, her immersion in the Melbourne club scene of the eighties and her rise to stardom at the age of fourteen when she fronted the wildly popular funk bank I?m Talking, to the life of a female performer and recording artist in London, Los Angeles and New York.

With parallel careers as a pop and jazz singer and songwriter, Kate has received the highest awards in the Australian music industry including the ARIA for Best Female Artist. She has delighted audiences in Harry M. Miller’s hugely successful Jesus Christ Superstar, won a legion of fans when she won Dancing with the Stars, and made a triumphant debut for Opera Australia in South Pacific. Now she reveals, for the first time, just what that was like.

People have been talking about Kate Ceberano since she was a teenager: Hugh Jackman described her as having ‘truly one of the great voices this country has produced’; for Rolling Stone she is ‘pure, soulful and powerful’. Now Kate is talking for herself.  Accompanied by never before seen photos.

So that’s what’s going on with me.  Please forgive me for typos and/or syntax errors – I usually wait a day before publishing a post because there are always, always errors to fix and ways to tighten up and improve even a measly few paragraphs!  I’ve heard this time and time again from other writers so it’s nice to know it’s not just me.

On a brighter note, I’ve gotten some fantastic comments this week on my blog – thank you so much!!!  I haven’t been able to reply to most of them yet, but I will once I recharge a bit.  In the meantime, thank you for reading this, and thanks to those of you who have been so kind and encouraging about my writing.  It means the absolute world to me.

take care,

Dyane

 

Being Nice vs. Being A Bee-yotch!

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Yesterday I kicked back with my new book Anne’s World: A New Century of Anne of  Green Gables co-edited by L. M. Montgomery expert Irene Gammel.  I read Gammel’s chapter about Montgomery’s classic Anne of Green Gables and bibliotherapy.  The chapter was comprehensive in its analysis.  I mean absolutely no disrespect to Gammel, who is a fine writer (see her book Looking for Anne if you enjoy L.M. Montgomery books) but most of her findings went over my head.  I need to read the chapter one more time.  In any case, I’m more of a bibliotherapy believer, as Gammel cited studies proving that books helped readers deal better with life issues, and lessened or even alleviated their depression.

 

While I don’t feel capable to analyze bibliotherapy today, I am fired up to discuss how Anne of Green Gables influenced me to be nice, and how I’ve also been the Anne-Ti-Christ.

In Anne of Green Gables, heroine Anne Shirley always wants to be loving towards others.  She is the antithesis of the bitch prototype.  I always admired her for being so genuinely nice.

In Anne of Avonlea, during Anne’s first year of teaching grade school, her disciplinary philosophy is against corporal punishment. She tells her teacher friends that she would rather win her students over with kindness.  In one memorable scene, Anne completely loses it with her most challenging student Anthony Pye.  One day Anthony pushes her too far with his insolence, and Anne uses a hardwood pointer to whip him.    Anne is utterly disgusted with herself.  She feels she has lost all hopes of getting through to Anthony.  To her shock, Anthony offers to carry her books the next day.  He actually respects her for dishing out physical punishment.  I was totally surprised when I first read this scene years ago because Anne acted so out of character.

In another pivotal moment in Anne of Avonlea Anne upsets her new neighbor Mr. Harrison by accidentally selling his cow.  To try to smooth matters over with him, she brings him a yummy walnut cake.  This is typical Anne behavior, and it works.  They begin a close friendship.  In reading this, I learned that one attracts good things with gifts and a sweet disposition.  I knew I was capable of being “Anneish” like that, but I also was aware I had a very dark side as well.  Anne’s dark side wasn’t nearly as bad as mine.  I felt the worst thing she did was get mad when her classmate Gilbert Blythe called her red hair “carrots”.  (She broke her slate over his head.)  Eventually they wind up getting married, so it all works out in the end!   

I knew I had a special force of anger within me in elementary school.  In sixth grade I attended Coliseum Street School in Inglewood. A professional theater production company came to Coliseum to produce a modern-day version of “Taming of the Shrew”.  There was plenty of excitement about the auditions.  I figured I’d get some small role at best, and I didn’t obsess over it.  The day arrived for our auditions, and I was given the lines of “Kate” to read in which she becomes quite angry.  I performed the scene and gave it my all, erupting into a state of anger I didn’t even know I possessed.  When I finished, the room was absolutely silent.  I felt a shift occur.

I won the lead of Kate.  

I grew up with a mother who earned her prestigious university’s first television acting award.  She moved to Los Angeles to act, and she had real talent, but acting wasn’t for her.   While Mom shifted into another career, she never lost her ability to deeply embody the character of any role she wished to play.  Her rage was fierce, to say the least.  

From time to time, I observed her getting angry with customer service personnel.  I noticed that when Mom got furious, she was usually treated with more respect rather than less.  It was easy for her to shift into the anger role, but it was not easy for me to display my outrage…at first.  These days whenever I lose my temper, I feel terrible afterwards, and it takes a long time for me to release my anger.  I feel hung over because at my core I am a good person and I don’t like to hurt people.  As I get older, I have less frequent temper tantrums, but when my hissy fits emerge, I advise you to run away if you’re anywhere around me!  

I am stable right now on meds, and I have my anger in check most of the time.  Even so, I can lose control of my mood very quickly. Road rage is one of my weaknesses (I do nothing dangerous, mind you) and leaving livid voicemail messages when I’m frustrated is another of my failings.  

I grew up around a lot of anger, and children really do “learn what they live” in the words of Dr. Dorothy Nolte, who wrote the famous piece “Children Learn What They Live”.  Add to the fact that I am a natural drama queen, my mother has acting in her blood, and oh yeah, I have bipolar, and what results is a perfect storm of a potential freak fest.  I want to get a grip on this dilemma not only for myself, but for my husband and children’s sakes as well.  As much as I’d like to emulate Anne Shirley’s even temperament, I don’t think I can.  In Montgomery’s books, Anne is truly, consistently nice.  She could never be a bee-yotch.  That’s why these books appeal from generation to generation.

Anne Shirley will be one of my role models for the rest of my life.  I hope my girls will read the Anne books (they should since they are named for characters/places in them!) and learn from Anne’s good nature.  It’s important to express anger, but there’s a civil way to do it and a crazy way to do it.  Believe me, I know how to be civil and how to be crazy, and I prefer to be the former.  I’m always looking for pointers on how to calm down in the midst of an emotional storm, so let me know what works for you!

 

Bibliotherapy, Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery, Depression and Suicide

search    Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables
KateButler

Kate Macdonald Buter, L.M. Montgomery’s granddaughter

Yesterday I read a Kindle sample of Anne’s World: A New Century of Anne of Green Gables edited by L.M. Montgomery experts Irene Gammel and Benjamin Lefebvre.  I am a tremendous fan of Anne of Green Gables, which was written by L.M. Montgomery and published in 1908.  I was intrigued by the Anne’s World book description because it contains an essay written by Irene Gammel titled “Reading to Heal: Anne of Green Gables as Bibliotherapy”.

Gammel’s chapter introduces how Anne of Green Gables can be used as a tool to counteract depression.  I am very curious to read her theories, and I’m even skeptical.  Despite the fact that I’m a massive Montgomery aficionado, if I’m given a choice between Anne of Green Gables or anti-depressants, I’m going to go for the pill!  (Sorry L.M. Montgomery…)  Gammel probably recommends Anne of Green Gables in addition to medication and therapy.  I’ll find out soon, as I splurged on Anne’s World even though it costs a whopping $16.17 on Kindle.

When it comes to purchasing anything Montgomery-related, I can usually rationalize its cost. I’m such a Montgomery uber-fan that I convinced my husband to name our two daughters after names found in Montgomery’s book.  My eldest daughter is Avonlea, the fictitious town on Prince Edward Island, Canada where the story takes place.  My younger girl is Marilla.  Marilla is named for the spinster in Anne of Green Gables who, along with her elderly brother Matthew, adopts Anne Shirley and comes to love her like her own daughter.

I first read this book as a pre-teen over three decades ago.  Since then, when I was sick with a cold or depressed (or both!) I’d turn to Montgomery’s classic book for comfort.  But Anne could only do so much to alleviate my down moods.  I like the general concept of bibliotherapy that defines certain kinds of reading as a healing experience.

The ancient Greeks believed that literature was psychologically and spiritually important and I wholeheartedly agree with them.  They would post signs above their libraries’ doors describing the literary sanctums as “healing places for the soul”.  I formerly believed that bibliotherapy meant that one could read any uplifting book to benefit.  Today I discovered that the definition of bibliotherapy is more clinical.  Within a therapeutic setting, a counselor selects reading material that is relevant to her client’s life situation.  Bibliotherapy also includes the use of self-help manuals and/or a book that encourages a psychological catharsis.

Thanks to Wikipedia I learned that the bibliotherapy concept includes:

“the human inclination to identify with others through their expressions in literature and art. For instance, a grieving child who reads about another child who has lost a parent may feel less alone in the world.”

I will cover the nuances of bibliotherapy found in Anne of Green Gables tomorrow after I’ve had a chance to read Gammel’s chapter in Anne’s World.

After experiencing so much enjoyment from Montgomery’s numerous books, it hit me particularly hard when I learned tragic facts about her life from two analytical works and her own granddaughter.

A few years ago I purchased The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery – Volume III: 1921-1929 edited by Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston, which was highly acclaimed. In it, Montgomery’s numerous journal entries revealed that her husband, the Reverend Ewen Macdonald, suffered with what was called religious melancholia and bipolar disorder. Macdonald felt he was “damned to hell” no matter what good deeds he performed through the church.  He would spend days with an odd handkerchief wrapped around his head moaning, and he completely shut down.  Montgomery came across to me as a single parent.

Based on Montgomery’s entries in this book, Reverend Macdonald sounded like sheer hell to live with.  The psychiatric treatments available during his lifetime in the 20th century were abysmal.  Medications used were often dangerous (laudanum, anyone?) and treated symptoms rather than problems with brain chemistry.  Frankly, it was depressing to read most of that journal for Montgomery often expressed her own depression and wrote about an awful-sounding, unfulfilling marriage.

Another book that revealed even greater depths to Montgomery’s depression was Mary Rubio’s excellent book Lucy Maud Montgomery – The Gift of Wings.  I couldn’t believe how dark my favorite author’s life was.  I know I was naive (and I still am naive at age 43!) but I expected a better world for this famous writer whose books brought joy to millions of her readers.

Kate Macdonald Butler, Montgomery’s granddaughter, revealed the third, most terrible fact about L. M. Montgomery to the world in September, 2008.  I was depressed at the time, but not so down that I couldn’t get out of bed.  I was surfing the internet and I found that Butler (pictured above holding a photo of her grandmother) decided to make it public that her grandmother committed suicide at age 67, and that Montgomery had suffered with depression.

Montgomery died of a drug overdose; originally a cover-up was done to hide that disturbing truth from the world.  Her doctor wrote that she died of a coronary thrombosis. Montgomery, through her final piece of writing, left a suicide note that said in part,

“I have lost my mind by spells and I do not dare think what I may do in those spells.  May God forgive me and I hope everyone else will forgive me even if they cannot understand.  My position is too awful to endure and nobody realizes it.  What an end to a life in which I tried always to do my best.”

Butler’s poignant letter printed in The Globe and Mail (link below) explains why she chose to share what happened to her grandmother.  I commend Butler so much for wanting to break apart the stigma associated with mental illness. even at her own expense.  There was a media storm following Butler’s revelation, and while there was massive public support, there was also a backlash as well….mainly by people who feared the mentally ill.

One of my favorite Butler quotes in the article is:

“I have come to feel very strongly that the stigma surrounding mental illness will be forever upon us as a society until we sweep away the misconception that depression happens to other people, not us – and most certainly not to our heroes and icons.”

http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080919.wmhmontgomery0920/BNStory/mentalhealth/

The moment I realized that L. M. Montgomery took her own life, my eyes flooded with tears.  I was truly shocked and deeply saddened that she felt driven to suicide.  Of course I completely understood where she was coming from, as I’ve been suicidal numerous times. How I wish she had the options of good shrinks, modern-day medications, ECT, or TMS to help her through those “depths as despair”, a phrase she often used in her Anne books.  No one deserves to feel that way, dammit, but especially not her.  It pisses me off right now to think of her death.  Life isn’t fair, I know that.

After an antidepressant medication (amitryptyline/Elavil) and a life event (the death of my Dad) made me suicidal so that I asked to be hospitalized both times, I would never regard anyone who took her own life the same way again.  I could never judge a suicide, unless that person hurt someone else in the doing.

Suicide just sucks beyond the beyond.  No one should ever feel that way.  Ever.

I’ll return tomorrow with a more hopeful-themed post about how reading Anne of Green Gables can lift mood – it will be fun to learn how an expert explains how a book can do that. In the meantime, I’m going to take a deep breath and say a little prayer for L. M. Montgomery.  I hope she is in the place depicted in one of my other favorite books of hers, Emily of New Moon, in which she describes “the flash” or veil leading to a heavenly place.  If anyone deserves to be there, it’s her.  I wrote about the flash here:

https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/the-afterlife-and-the-flash/

Thanks for reading!