Tuesday, June 12, 2007

When We Are Sad

A friend who shall remain anonymous, wrote me to ask if it is okay to post when we are sad. Like me, she tries very hard to keep her blog on a positive note. I immediately wrote to say that it is okay. I'm concerned since I haven't heard back from her. Although I won't reveal the email I wrote in response to her, I hope she reads this.

Dear Friend,
I was very very sick for six years. There were so many days when I considered it a blessing, just to survive. While I wasn't comfortable sharing my feelings online, and I barely had the energy to write at all, during my darkest moments, I used to compose letters to God in my mind.

I not only asked "why me," but I implored Him to let me survive. I explained over and over again what it was like for me--to be in such despair, such darkness, such excruciating pain. I asked what I had done to offend Him because I was sure that somehow I must be to blame if I was being punished so mercilessly and thoroughly over and over again.

"I am a good mother, a good daughter, a good wife, and a good friend. When I am well, I have tried so hard to help others. I realize that I wasn't always the best person I could be. I recognize that I made some mistakes. I know that my sense of humor is a bit quirky and I am irreverent by nature.

"Still, I have never hurt anyone on purpose. I have been sick on and off since I was 18 years old. There were things I have done that I didn't realize were a result of my illness--but I wasn't aware I was bipolar until I was 43. Forgive me.

"During the worse of my illness, I sometimes literally crawled out of bed and prayed on bended knee. I have cried so many times that I have no tears left. I have felt such blinding pain and I have suffered so greatly that I don't know how I can survive one more depression. How can you continue to ignore me day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year?

"I would never hurt anyone as much as you have hurt me by your silence," I wrote. "Whatever I have done was done in ignorance, not by design. But I cannot abandon my son. I will not abandon my son. I waited until I was 39 to give birth. I may not be able to be with him during his entire life but I won't leave him by my own hand. I may be disappointed that I am not the mother I could have been without this illness, but I am doing the best I can.

"Please...and I am truly begging you," I wrote, "please deliver me from this darkness so that I can be there for my son, my husband, and my mother. Give me the strength to go on. Realize that I am at the end of my rope. I don't have much more inside me to continue to fight for my life again and again.

"Please help me. In Judaism, we do not pray on bended knee but I am laying prostrate before you and begging you to take this pain away so that I can survive. I was taught that you never give a person more than he or she can bear. But I need you to know that I can't bear one more minute of pain. I just can't."

My dear friend...I have written this to allow you the freedom to express yourself in whatever way you need to so that you can survive your current sadness. No matter how strong I seem, I, too have faltered. I, too, have suffered. I, too, have barely been able to survive.

In these last few months, I feel we have developed a community of people who are there for each other--if only in cyberspace. I wish I was your neighbor so that I could be there for you in person. I wish I could offer a hug, a word, a smile, or some solace in person. But we are separated by miles and miles.

Despite that, feel free to lean on me. Don't hold your emotions in check; it's not what you need right now. Express yourself completely and fully. There are so many of us who are there for you...who care for you. And if you need to talk in person, I know there are people in your life whom you can call for help. You just need to ask.

It is great that you are strong and provide solace to others. But you do not always have to be the strong one. Reach out. Ask for help. Tell your friends that you need them. Tell your pastor that you need him. Tomorrow when you awaken, make that call, post your feelings, ask for help.

With love,



marja said...


You have shown me that there's something powerful in publishing heart-felt prayers for others to see. First there was your prayer of gratitude a couple of posts ago, and now this prayer expressing pain. As I read your prayers, I find myself praying with you. I am encouraged to pray for myself. Thank you for sharing from the depths of your soul.


Syd said...

Susan, I think Marja summed it up beautifully.

To your friend, please know that it's perfectly acceptable, and quite cathartic, to express your pain. Sadness is an integral part of living with bipolar (and/or depression), and it is a state of being that most people reading our blogs will understand quite well.

If you're able to express your pain, as well as your hope and your optimism (when you're feeling those things), you're helping yourself and helping others. As Susan's courageous post illustrates, no matter how isolated, alone and maybe even guilty we may feel about our sad times, there's almost certainly someone out there who's been to the same place and made it back.

For me, writing about my pain provides a double blessing. It provides a subtle but definite release of emotional pressure at the time, but then later, when I'm feeling better and read what I wrote when I was suffering, it makes me that much more thankful for the good days.

I wish you well and hope you're feeling better soon.