DEAR READERS: I received a barrage of helpful mail from people who had experiences and suggestions to help the woman who was so depressed she was only staying alive for the sake of her children. I have passed them all on to her. Below is one of the most unique replies so far and I want to share it with you. -- Miss L.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I read your column about the woman experiencing deep depression. I started struggling with mental health issues at 15 and am in my 30s. This has varied from moderate depression to a post-partum bipolar disorder (I have two kids under four) and finally to a half-hearted suicide attempt.
After experiencing negative side-effects from sleep aids, I tried yoga, and that is when things finally began to turn around, though it started slowly. Over a few months I began to notice more consistent moods, better sleep, more ability to stick to a routine. These small changes started to snowball, and I'm on a much better track now.
Although it may sound strange, a big part of my turning things around was making the choice to do so. I'd heard the idea that depression is a "choice" in the past, and quickly discarded it as not being true in my case (who on Earth would choose it?) but now I can see the truth in it. You have to make the choice that you don't want to live like that anymore and keep making that choice every day, even when the dark moods threaten. Also, when you're depressed it can be used as a sort of "get out of life free" card -- you tell yourself that certain parts of life aren't available to you. I still have low days but I am able to see them as transitory and try not to "become depressed about feeling depressed." -- Getting Up
Dear Getting: Thanks for taking the time to write in with your experience. I might add to your ideas the positive effect of adding something exuberant and joyful like dancing into a daily routine, especially with little kids. It can avoid the slump for moms that often shows up right around the dinner hour. Then there's the pesky light issue coming up, as it gets dark in the fall. Experts say we should double the lamps and other forms of light inside our houses and light up outside from November to the end of March. As long as lights are not Christmas colours left up after the season is over, why not? Restaurants know the positive psychological effect of lighting up their premises. This year, we should learn from them and brighten up our own living spaces.
Questions or comments? Write Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Wpg, R2X 3B6, or email firstname.lastname@example.org