BLUE-a book about DEPRESSION
©Deborah Holzel 2016
Today, in Podcast #15, we welcome back Deborah Holzel who shared her lovely memoir, “It was a very good year” with us back in Podcast #8. Deborah states she is both a therapist and a patient who suffered terribly with depression, an often misunderstood condition. Her book, BLUE, presents “scenes from a life with depression”.
I knew that something terrible was happening to me. Every cell in my body seemed to be frozen. I felt cold to my core, even in the 90 degree heat. I wore my sunglasses all the time, indoors and out, to hide the tears that leaked from my eyes without warning. On the rare occasions that I found myself alone in the house, I crawled into bed and cried loudly and with such intensity that broken blood vessels appeared around my eyes. No one seemed to notice.
I went to see a counselor at the Student Health Center. I did a brief survey of the room. It was a basic, institutional office with bare, pale green walls. The counselor was an older, grey-haired woman.
“My boyfriend and I broke up.”
I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I looked down at the carpet, which was beige and a little worn under her chair and mine.
I continued to stare at the floor through our second session. I thought that I should be feeling uncomfortable because of the prolonged silence, but I couldn’t work up the energy. I wasn’t feeling very much at all.
Halfway through our third session, she said “You really need to get over this boy, Deborah.”
I left and never went back.
I stopped seeing the few friends I still had. I had nothing to talk about. Why inflict my company on anyone else? Even I couldn’t stand to be with me.
I sleepwalked through the summer and fall. I acted in plays and went on a few dates. Then I came home and cried.
George continued to spend time with Linda.
At a party that December, I asked a mutual friend what was going on with them. I tried to sound casual but couldn’t meet his eyes.
“They’re in love,” he told me point blank. “George is discovering Linda just the way he discovered you. You need to face that, Deborah.”
I suddenly felt nauseous and couldn’t reply. I turned and went out the door without my coat and walked the four blocks to my house without feeling the cold. I walked through the front door without acknowledging my parents in the living room and ran up the stairs to my third-floor bedroom. Then I collapsed on the bed and began to wail.
“George is in love with someone else.” I was moaning and writhing on the bed.
“You were still hoping after all this time. . .”
She didn’t know what to do. She held me close, but I continued to wail. Then she half-heartedly slapped me, probably because that’s what you did with hysterical women in the movies. Then she held me again.
I eventually calmed down, and she went downstairs. I lay in my bed, unable to sleep, staring at the ceiling until the room became lighter. Then I pulled myself out of bed and went downstairs to the kitchen, made some toast and attempted to eat it. It tasted like sawdust.
My mother sat down at the table with me.
“David heard you last night and it scared him.” David was my six-year-old brother.
After that I kept my feelings to myself. I certainly didn’t want to frighten little children. I pulled myself together and went about the business of acting in plays and finishing college, living what appeared to be a productive life.
No one knew that I was dying.
© Deborah Holzel 2016
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