Biblitz delivers advise

ASK Biblitz about Depression.

'Lift the misery by the smoke. Lift it by the fervent wish.'

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Any ideas on how to overcome depression / suicidal feelings?

See also Crisis.

Help me, Biblitz,

Can marriage make you suicidal? Aside from extremes such as verbal, physical or sexual abuse, can marriage be a cause of suicidal feelings? What would be some conditions in a marriage that would lead to suicide? Would it be the feeling of being stuck or trapped? Hate their kids? Feel like they gave up their dreams? Feel like they have no future except routine? Have no excitement in their daily lives? Depressed more days of their marriage than happy?

I'm just trying to figure out how a marriage can start out blissful and end up after 10 years with suicidal thoughts? Like what I'm asking is there are days that you just don't see any joy in life. Just a routine, over and over and over. Vacations, change of jobs, etc just don't cut it. The suicidal person has seen a doctor and all they give is pills that basically leaves him doped up, even though sessions aren't doing anything. The thoughts have grown from monthly to weekly and the only thing stopping him is not wanting to traumatize his kids. If they were out of the equation, he would certainly end it all. He can trace it all back to when he got married and had kids and how his life has an endless routine with no passion for anything anymore.

Biblitz replies:

No, marriage is unlikely the root cause of what ails this guy, and quite often, as Frostback poet Leonard Cohen discovered, the pills don't work. What's probably required is a combination of antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy - about 10 sessions, probably - with a good pyschologist he likes. The idea is to use the anti-depressants to re-set brain chemicals, which will then facilitate implementation of strategies developed together with shrink to get life back on track - basically, learning to balance work, family, friends, hobbies and volunteer work with a view toward self-actualization. Seeking professional advice is a tough but effective first step, so tell him to put his shoes on!


How to beat the blues and have a happy, balanced life the Biblitz way:

More about depression.

More survival strategies.

Envision your life in five separate but interrelated aspects, each of which requires your regular attention and energy:

1. Career. Working to live is just that. We try to find work we enjoy but ultimately we work to live, so compromise is often required.

2. Family and domestic obligations. Whether they live with us not, family or primary relationships require a certain care and nurturing attention. Same with household chores so that we'll have a safe and healthy living space.

3. Leisure activities. We all need physical activity, hobbies and interests to pursue other than the daily bread to keep us fresh, challenged and somehow balanced. Among these activities, it's essential for each of us to provide some heartfelt volunteer work. Mental health, according to many trustworthy studies, requires altruism. We apparently take more than pleasure from giving back.

4. Friends. Again, these are relationships that require some level of attention and nurturing. Consider the old adage: to have a friend you must first be a friend.

5. Self-actualizion as per motivational expert Abe Maslow. This is the toughest one to achieve. It requires both planning and luck. It describes what many of us recognize as a peak experience - a moment of extraordinary light when we've got all our ducks in a row and quacking!

How it works:

The object of the game, so to speak, is to picture the above as a series of candle flames each of a different color. In a well-balanced, happy life, each flame is maintained at about the same size and strength. This is, of course, tough to do. All of us are inevitably responding to a crisis in one or another aspect of our lives, and crises necessarily demand most of our attention until some sort of resolution is achieved. The point is to recognize first, the need for balance and second, when we are out of balance, how to apply a checklist approach to assess and then address any imbalance. (Overview of a session given by the excellent Women's Career Counselling Centre in Ottawa, Ont. years ago)

A prayer to overcome depression:


The Chosen Few

By Manuela Dunn-Mascetti

Saint Helen, Healer of Depressions

Helen was born in the county of York, England. She married a Roman emperor and had churches built over the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, and over the cave where Jesus was born in Bethlehem. She also retrieved the cross on which Jesus died.

If one suffers from depression, then the aid of Saint Helen can be requested by carrying a small green sachet containing a piece of paper with the name of the saint written on it, three loose nails previously nailed into wood, part of an evergreen plant, a lock of hair, and a medallion or a paper image of the Saint. The sachet must be carried always, and the following prayer requesting Saint Helen's help must be said every night:

Glorious Saint Helen, our protector,
please intercede from Heaven on my behalf,
I venerate your name and ask you to grant me the grace to imitate you,
the strength in my soul and feelings to invoke you,
so that I may thank you for bringing aid to me.

To thank the saint the petitioner will say seven "Credos" for seven nights and offer a small cross to her statue if there exists a church in her honor in the neighborhood.

(-- p. 190, below Saint Helen, by Paolo Veronese)

A song by Canadian folk legend, Stan Rogers:

... Though your heart it be broken and life about to end, like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again!

Even a spell:

The Grandmother of Time

A Women's Book of Celebrations, Spells, and Sacred Objects for Every Month of the Year

By Zsuzsanna E. Budapest

Spell to Help Those in Depression

December is the month when cheerfulness is pushed on us in commercial doses, but it isn't really the mood of the season, at least not until Winter Solstice. In fact, depression is the natural mood of the month - introspection, self-doubt, questioning - it's none too cheerful. Still, too much depth is not good, so perform this spell for yourself with confidence.

The herb you'll use is called huckleberry herb. If you cannot find this, use sage. Purchase a good ounce of this, and do this spell when the moon is waxing. You will also need some high-quality temple incense - frankincense and myrrh are traditional. If you can't get it, just using sage will do fine. Create a circle about seven to nine feet in diameter and stand in the middle. The direction of the east is associated with inspiration and breath, newness and cheerfulness, eagles and flight. Call on those spirits to help you or somebody you love to fight depression.

Hold up your hands after you have lit your incense and, inhaling it deeply, say:

I call on you, healing spirits of the east,
That you shall attend me at once.
I conjure you in the sacred name of Hecate, the
Transformer and Midwife!

I conjure you by the sage and [name the herb you are working with] to lift my spirit from this despair!

Lift the misery by the smoke.

Lift it by the fervent wish.

Lift it by the power of the moon.

So mote it be!

Repeat this ritual on three consecutive nights, and soon all shall be well. (From Anna's Spells, Rituals, and Celebrations for December, p. 236)

Saturday Night

A Happy Man

He's taken almost every antidepressant, and most recreational drugs, too. He's sought comfort from beautiful women and Zen masters. Now, at sixty-six, he's down from the mountain, off the drugs, and has cut a new album. Leonard Cohen talks about why age has brought him what sex and drugs couldn't deliver.

By Mireille Silcott

Nov. 15/01

More of Cohen.

Still more of Cohen.

Leonard Cohen smiling

... Except for the funeral of Pierre Trudeau, where he was an honorary pallbearer, Cohen had not returned to his Montreal home in six years. ... Cohen was in town to promote his first album of original material in nine years, Ten New Songs. ... His exuberance has left me at a loss: 'Are you taking any drugs?'

'You mean, like, medication?'

'Yes, like, prescribed stuff.'

'No, not now. I was taking things like Prozac for depression, but none of those antidepressants worked.'

'Which have you tried?'

'Oh, let's see. I was involved in early medication, like Desipramine. And the MAOs [monoamine oxidase inhibitors], and the new generation -- Paxil, Zoloft, and Wellbutrin. I even tried experimental anti-seizure drugs, ones that had some small successes in treating depression. I was told they all give you a 'bottom,' a floor beneath which you are not expected to plunge.'


'I plunged. And all were disagreeable, in subtly different ways.'


'Well, on Prozac, I thought I had attained some kind of higher plateau because my interest in women had dissolved.' He laughs. 'Then I realized it was just a side effect. That stuff crushes your libido.'

'Oh dear. You can't have that.'

'No. So one day, a few years ago, I was in a car, on my way to the airport. I was really, really low, on many medications, and pulled over, I reached behind to my valise, took out the pills, and threw out all the drugs I had. I said, 'These things really don't even begin to confront my predicament.' I figured, If I am going to go down I would rather go down with my eyes wide open.' ...

My depression, so bleak and anguished, was just crucial, and I couldn't shake it; it wouldn't go away,' he says, looking back at that time from his suite in the Vogue. "I didn't know what it was. I was ashamed of it, because it would be there even when things were good, and I would be saying to myself, 'Really what have you got to complain about?' But for people who suffer from acute clinical depression, it is quite irrelevant what the circumstances of your life are.' ...

'You seem happy,' I remark.

'For the first time in my life I am not depressed. I am happy.'

'How did that happen?'

'It was a particularly pleasant surprise. The anguish just began to dissolve.'

'Do you attribute this to your Zen practices? To life at Mount Baldy?'

'I just think my brain changed. I read somewhere that some of the brain cells associated with anxiety can die as you get older.

'So, it's chemistry, pure and simple?'

'I don't know, but gradually, within a small space of time, by imperceptible degrees, this depression lifted. It's been that way for two or three years now.' ...

'Tennessee Williams had this famous quote: 'Life is a fairly well-written play except for the third act,'' says Cohen, flicking an ash off the table. 'And I'm at the beginning of the third act. The end of the third act - nobody has a handle on that one. But the beginning - there is a certain relief for me here. It is palpable.' (-- pgs. 22-28)

A poem against despair:

Dream Work

By Pulitzer-Prize winner Mary Oliver

More Oliver.

The Chance to Love Everything from The Truro Bear and Other Adventures.

The Swan from Winter Hours.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

(-- p. 14)

Celebrated goose that has become a Biblitz favorite:


The Adventures of A Goose With No Feathers

By John Burningham

Borka the goose