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(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

I’ve been down before, heck I’m most likely down now thanks to assorted losses, but that doesn’t mean I understand what it’s like to have major depression. What I’ve experienced is more that feeling where you hit a bad spot, but you keep problem-solving or trying different things to feel better. You know, you believe that “someday” you will feel better, even if you don’t have a clue when that someday will be.

Major depression, however, seems closer to not believing in that someday.

And as much as I don’t know what that’s like for me, I do know what it sounds like in my daughter. When someone you love has fallen into the abyss of major depression, you just can’t give them platitudes such as “just deal with it” or let them experience every natural consequence of their actions.

To each person who tells me to relax and let her get herself through this blue period, there is this gut response that tells me we can’t afford to see if that will work—the potential cost is just too high—and Sherman agrees.

Until we’d walked with her on this path before, I would have thought they—especially the experts—were right.

This time she didn’t cry for help as early. You see, she’s older and wiser, which may actually mean she is deeper into depression this bout because of the coping skills she has gained over the past few years.

So why, during this period in her life, is this the semester she is studying The Bell Jar? What is purely literary or a treatise on various aspects of society in a time and place long past becomes something more to those who identify too well with the narrator’s thoughts. I’m an English major, for goodness’ sake, but this book has long since moved from the academic to the personal for me—and I still don’t really “get” what Plath is saying in the same way my daughter does.

While I did what I could to get her connected with help within the university, I cannot assume it is enough, even if we’ve been really blessed to encounter caring, knowledgeable professionals—and believe me, after our previous experiences with her depression, we do not trust someone just because of a title or supposed experience. Still, at a time when I do not live where my daughter does, it helps me to have these contacts who can reach out to her if she stops reaching out to them or those closest to her.

Constant vigilance—despite the cost for me. Yes, this is supposed to be my time—to either move on to what’s next or at least to mourn my losses—but I no longer feel this discord with our daughter is something personal or natural to this age in her life.

No, I believe major depression is talking for her, drowning out the sounds of possibility and hope that do exist in the midst of all that seems so hard right now. The good she minimizes while amplifying the bad.

I must fight for the someday of her feeling better while her defenses are down, even as I and others direct her to believe that she can fight for herself. Someday can’t come soon enough—especially for her.

And so, I also pray without ceasing all the day long.

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