Monday, December 15, 2008


Yes, that is the right word for it. Something happened last week that left me stunned.

I have a friend who has been going through a tough time for a while. Finally, after a lot of soul searching, praying, and perhaps desperation, she realized that she needed professional help. Having been there, I empathized with what she was going through and was so proud that she had taken the first step towards recovery. It is not easy.

My friend sought out a therapist and met with her. As they talked, her therapist begun to recognize symptoms of depression. She suggested my friend may want to see her doctor about taking an anti-depressant. This is understandable. My therapist told me the same thing. I chose not to go that way right now, but I know it's an option if I need to. If I can't get out of bed because the pain is so great, I have a refuge.

And my friend was already at that point.

She summoned the courage and went to the doctor. Because of insurance issues, this was actually a new doctor to her. When my friend expressed her feelings and suggestions by her therapist, her doctor shot her down cold, and was extremely uncompassionate.

In an effort to vent her frustrations, as well as help anyone else feeling this way and thinking they are alone, she did what I am doing now: bore her soul in a blog posting about the entire situation.

You would think that such an honest and exposed telling of her most dark secret would be met with compassion, right? If someone didn't have something nice to say, they probably would have moved along, right? Even if someone had a differing view, they would have presented it in a caring and compassionate manner, right? You would think.

But, you would be wrong! Although most comments were supportive, my friend was told by an "anonymous" poster that she was (among other things):

Looking for the "cure all" pill

Medication was 'a little excessive'

She needed to 'just face it, life its hard'

She just needed to 'pray everyday and night, read her scriptures and let the Lord help with her burdens'.

And 'try a little faith first before popping the pills'

Apparently, this person was able to make all these judgements and conclusions from one simple story. In reality, it was my friend's prayers and guidance that led her to seek help in the first place.

'God helps those who help themselves'.

Can I ask this: When did we as women decide to turn on each other? What leads us to believe we can judge each other and pull each other down? What benefit does that have to anyone? What happened to compassion, acceptance, and love? After all we have learned about depression and mental illness, why is there still a stigma associated with it?

If a young mother is depressed and is denied help, who are we to judge if and when things go devastatingly wrong? A woman is judged for seeking help, but then judged for the ramifications of not doing so.

When I read this person's comments, I was stunned. Stunned at the ignorance, stunned at the insensitivity, and stunned at the cowardly way these feelings were expressed. Perhaps this person cares for my friend and was trying to help, but you sure couldn't tell that from the awful way she attacked her.

The next time any of us sees a sister in crisis, I hope we will shut our mouths and open our arms. Share your opinion if need be, but cushion it with love and compassion. A hand to hold is worth a thousand pieces of advice.


Isa said...

"A hand to hold is worth a thousand pieces of advice."...beautiful.

I love this Michelle. My hands are here for you. Always.

Emily said...

That really is stunning. People never cease to amaze me. I am sorry your friend had to go through that.

I too love your quote about a hand to hold...

Chhandita said...

Just felt sick reading about the comment. I have been there, stopped myself from seeking help because it was supposed to be only for the week. Because my family always said I didn’t need it...and because of that I reached my breaking point. A point when I almost gave up my life... Depression is a disease, and just like any other disease there is a cure..Why do we want to stigmatise the whole thing?

I am sorry for the rant. It just hurt to read the comment..

Kristie said...

Thank you for sharing, Michelle. It is clear that you care for your friend and she is so lucky to have you on her side - holding her hand. ;-)

brandya said...

I am so sorry to hear of your friend's struggles. Please let her know that there are a lot of us out there who love her and have been there. I have been on and off meds for depression for practically my entire life. After fighting it so hard in the last two years, I went back on and I feel tons and tons better. It doesn't make it all go away, it just seems to make the lows not so low.
I love the last paragraph in your post. It is absolutely beautiful and sums up what our purpose as women in the Gospel should be. Thank you!!

In Due Time said...

((Hugs)) Hope you have a merry Christmas and blessed new year.


Ange said...

Hello. My name is Angela and I saw your blog from Susie's blog. She is in my ward. Anyway, I struggled with fertility also. After 4 rounds of IVF and lots of money, we adopted a beautiful baby girl. We struggled for 5+ years and went through a lot, but are so blessed to have our child now. I would love to talk to you if you ever feel like it. My email is and I have a blog I understand what a trial this is and i like talking to others.