The Nervous Breakdown, Pt. I

posted in: Confessions, Sicky 165
It felt a bit like this, in a sense, but with monsters. “Solitude” stereoscope by John B. Heywood, ca. 1856. Image: Wikipedia.



This year of 2019 is pretty young, yet, but she’s old for her age.

Of the 11 or so weeks the year’s been alive, there were three or four in which I was fully out of commission. I’ve hinted around in the past few posts that something bad happened. I wrote about “the worst day of my life” a couple weeks back. Several times in several places I’ve mentioned pain in passing only to say “I’ll tell you later”, skipping stones on the surface of a deep, dark lake.

You could tell. You could tell because you know me, because you’re smart, and because I am a terrible liar. So it’s time to stop dodging; I’m not fooling you and besides, there’s only one thing I want to tell you. What I want to tell you is that I had a nervous breakdown. I’m way, way better now. But I caught a case, boy.

These days, we’re to call it a “major depressive episode” and there’s no doubt it was that. But when I put a name to the ungodly thing, I prefer to use the old-fashioned term “nervous breakdown”. When a gal is twisted up in agony of the emotional kind, lost to an extended panic, unreachable even to her most faithful friends, there’s something distantly (very distantly) comforting in claiming what’s happening is a nervous breakdown. It could even be glamorous, she tries to tell herself, all smelling salts and fainting couches, powders and slaps across the face. All this thinking really does, though, is suggest that because those thoughts exist, you must not be the only person in history who has gone through it. You have sisters in the emotional failure business, in other words. Congratulations.

Part of my hesitation in telling you until now is that it’s such a long, long story. Be patient with me as I roll it out. I may not go in order, and that bothers me but there’s nothing to be done, as one of the effects of a nervous breakdown — whether encroaching, actively having its way with you, or leaving its slime trail — is a lack of focus. I have found it extraordinary difficult to focus these months and getting things straight has taken herculean efforts. Losing focus is just one of the symptoms I’ve had; no two nervous breakdowns are the same. We’re all built differently, so when our buildings collapse, they can fall any which way: One person can get off the couch but her focus is dynamited while another stays mentally present but her body might as well be dissolving in lye.

Where was I?

The first phase of the breakdown hit in early December, but as I’ve looked at everything, it’s clear(ish) to me that I was headed straight for it, or it was headed for me, all year. Or maybe it’s been five years coming, or ten. Maybe it’s in my blood. (My father could tell you that it is.) In the next post, I’ll tell you how it all went down. It’s too much for me at the moment and I’m thinking of you, too.

Tonight, I’ll close with this:

We all get sad. Some of us get very sad and stay that way. You may be low because you’re dealing with brutal life stuff. Perhaps you are generally blue. Perhaps you are sad because it’s winter and the sky is flinty and the wind has teeth. You may be someone who lives with mild depression; you may take medication for it. However or whatever depressed state you may be in, it sucks. It really, really sucks to live in a long, grey cloud. You might wonder, on bad days, “Maybe I’m having a nervous breakdown”. I’ve wondered this in the past, on bad days.

It turns out, the difference between the grey cloud and a nervous breakdown is the difference between a sneeze and metastasized lung cancer. You do not need to ever wonder if you’re having a nervous breakdown. If you are having one, you will know. You will feel as though you are being eaten alive by a sadness monster, and the color will drain out of the world — except the grey, though it crusts over into something darker. The upside, however, to being eaten alive by a sadness monster is that at least it’s a monster. Depression is an all-over ache; a nervous breakdown is getting punched in the face.

Did any of that make sense?

Some might think writing publicly about a mental disorder shows I have neither shame nor sense. You’re right, but for the wrong reason. Sharing this is not scary for me. I don’t feel nervous, or worried — or brave, for that matter. This is my life and you are my peeps. Of course I’m going to tell you about the time I had a nervous breakdown.

Peep. Peep. Peep.

165 Responses

  1. Sarah Busing
    | Reply

    Thanks. One of my closest friends has has a “nervous breakdown “. I am quite familiar w mental illness but this is a new arena for me. Thanks. And I ALWAYS think mental illness information should be shared.

  2. Judy T
    | Reply

    SO that is what I am having… Hope your monster and mine go off into the sunset and leave us alone. But, not alone like, by ourselves….alone as in let us be. Ah, to just Be….

    Hugs, hugs and more hugs

  3. Paulette
    | Reply

    Life is awful, ugly cruel and wonderfully preciously beautiful. Tell your truth. Prayers for a better tomorrow.

    • Denice k
      | Reply

      I understand completely

  4. Laurabeth Yager
    | Reply

    I’m on the verge myself…. wishing you all the hope in the world.

    • Susan Orander
      | Reply

      I’m proud of you for airing your awful time.

    • Joyce
      | Reply

      It is good to talk about your troubles to friends. We all love you Mary. Prayers for better days ahead with more days of sunshine than grey cold days.

    • Colleen
      | Reply

      Oh darn I wish I had not read this I want to believe you are not normal but super human.

      You have survived terrible physical illness and continue to deal with “stuff” from that.

      You have become a hero a woman who has fought and won

      So you have to fight this and win again you have to show us all that it can be done

      I have regular normal illnesses and plain depression but I want to point you and say she made it and her illness was worse so surely I can beat what bothers me

  5. Diane
    | Reply

    Sending you love from a person who lives with serious depression, mostly handled by medication. Sounds like you have gotten help and that’s the best. Couple of recommendations. If you don’t already. Follow The Blogess on twitter and read her book, furiously happy! Also look up Wil Wheaton’s talk to a group of health professionals. It’s good. And the Hilarious World of Depression podcast.

    Be well

    • Jen Scott
      | Reply

      Yes! I got into Dooce . Com as well, some great writing there also. Hugs, Mary. It’s not easy, but you’re worth the fight to health!

      • Sheila
        | Reply

        You are a heroine for sharing your story Mary!

  6. Catherine
    | Reply

    Sending thoughts and prayers your way. Remember this too shall pass!!

  7. Jain Barrett
    | Reply

    Love. Peace. Healing. Generosity. Love again. You are stronger than you think.


  8. Susan B.
    | Reply

    Much love to you ❤️

  9. Mary Ann
    | Reply

    We have been worried about you Mary, I am so glad you are able to tell us about it. And boy does the term ‘the sadness monster’ help to describe it.

  10. Judy
    | Reply

    Thank you for trying to put into words something the world at large does not understand. What you have is a chronic brain disease no different than say diabetes. The medical community is in its infancy of treating brain disease. So much is still unknown. Wishing you a speedy recovery. Hang in there!

  11. Michele
    | Reply

    Mary, you emanate warmth and empathy for others and are a source of joy, kindness and laughter for so many. Please let those around you give those feelings back to you in turn. It’s okay to get off the train sometimes and take a breather. You are very talented and still quite young but you are a person and not a machine. You wrote this. You will be all right. Maybe take it slow and be really kind to yourself. Thinking of you and wishing you everything the best. ❤️

  12. Carol
    | Reply

    Love you, Mary. Wish I could give you a huge hug that would tell you how much you have enriched my life and helped me be brave. Thank you for sharing and for knowing that we are all here for you. Always.

  13. Marcia
    | Reply

    All of this makes perfect sense! I too had a nervous breakdown. It was 15 years ago, but some times it seems like it was just a few years ago. I worry all the time that the hideous monster is going to rear it’s ungly head once again. I am diligent to not let that happen, but the fear is always there. Be gentle with yourself as you heal from the effects of the battle, your peeps are with you!

  14. Marsha
    | Reply

    I now suffer from panic disorder that, without medication, would put me in a rubber room feeling so bad that I start to think I don’t want to live like this. I could credit the panic attacks to the result of PTSD. I could blame it on the death of my sister and brother when we were in our twenties and life’s plans were to come to a stop. I think it comes from a total of everything and it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. But I faithfully take my meds every day and have a grandchild that is the love and light of my life and I plan to hang around until I’m 100 so I can see him grow up. I also sew, quilt and knit and that fills up my days and nights as well as the living room, dining room, and bedroom!

  15. Pam Parks
    | Reply

    I applaud you for the courage and strength to go public with has been happening to you. I pray that you will find peace, love and understanding in your life. Will continue to follow your journey, good and bad… are worth it! Hugs from Oklahoma

  16. Debby Quillin
    | Reply

    Praying God restores your life. Hugs!

  17. Carola
    | Reply

    I’m glad you are sharing your story. I’ve been there and can relate. Hugs.

  18. Eleanor H
    | Reply

    Your many faithful friends are here for you, Mary
    Much love taje slow and steady steps toward recovery.

    • Paula Gallo
      | Reply

      Thank you for writing your story. So well written. Wishing you all the best. You are a fighter.

  19. Christine
    | Reply

    I’m sorry you are going through this! We girls need to encourage each other through thick and thin. I’ve been through those gray cloudy days and severe depression and understand that feeling. I will say a few prayers for you!

  20. Anna
    | Reply

    I was diagnosed with Major Depression when I was 23. I had lived with it for a decade prior to that, before finally seeking treatment. When I first started having those feelings as a young teenager, I didn’t even attach the word depression to it. It was this soul aching lonliness that I did not know how to tell anyone about. It was a long time before trying to explain to my parents. Longer till I, somewhat, confided it a friend. But I was always too ashamed to say anything to a doctor. It wasn’t until I was in college, nearing graduation, as everything came to a head, and I was having what I like to call mental break downs multiple times a day. I thought I had developed asthma. Turns out I was having multiple panic attacks back to back, several times a day. It was an awful time, and one day, my boyfriend said very lovingly “I think it’s time you got help.” It was the best thing I ever did, and I truly wish I had done it years sooner.

    Anyway, all of that to say, thanks for sharing even this little bit. It helps to raise awareness and destigmatize it. It starts conversations. It helps others who are going through the same thing. I work as a caseworker in mental health now, and that’s always what I want to impart to my clients. You aren’t alone. You aren’t the only one who’s felt this way. Just hold on.

  21. Jo
    | Reply

    Oh you poor sweet thing. Living with such pain. My heart hurts for you.

  22. Yvette
    | Reply

    Mary, I’m so sorry and sad for you. Yes I too suffer from depression and take medication. There are some days I just look outside and cry, why I don’t know. I’m a happy person I hide it from almost everyone including my family. Some people just don’t realize it it a a illiness. I sure hope things get better for you soon.

    • Elizabeth
      | Reply

      I hope you’ll feel better very soon Mary. You are a beautiful person and thank you for sharing. I never knew exactly what a nervous breakdown was…..

  23. Bev Landgren
    | Reply

    I went through my own “nervous breakdown”. For me I called it a panic attack, severe anxiety. It took me weeks to figure out what was going on and ask for help. It took me weeks after that to walk out the other side of it. It has taken me months to find me again. But I did, I walked through it, and I believe I am better, stronger for it. I have more empathy. Like you I believe that it started years ago with the passing of my son. Then 2 years ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Finally this summer, my mind, body and spirit was too sick to fake it any more. I am so sorry you went through this. You will be stronger, keep reaching out for help until you can reach out to help.

  24. Tami Minor
    | Reply

    Love you beautiful girl. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Linda
    | Reply

    I hope you are getting professional and personal help (from family and friends). No one should go through this alone. I’m afraid my daughter may be headed in this direction. She has dealt with terrible health issues in the past 6 years and has had to move back home during this trying time. I pray for her every day and will add you to my list. I’ve always enjoyed your witty and interesting writings, and you seem to have a healthy attitude; your sense of humor will get you through this! Let us know how you are doing, and know you have a big fan here!

  26. Alison Hingston
    | Reply

    Big hugs Mary

  27. Sher
    | Reply

    Oh, Mary. How I appreciate your honest sharing. I’ve seen that gray. The “I can’t walk up the stairs to the top floor of my condo, without pulling myself up every step by the banister” gray. And the, “I can manage to get in the shower, but I can’t lift my arms to wash my hair” kind of gray. It’s been 10 years since my “breakdown.”
    I wish I had words to help. The obvious ones are to tell you to take care of yourself. You appear to be doing that.
    Thank you again for sharing.

  28. Debbie Taylor
    | Reply

    Mary, Thank you for being so transparent in sharing your life story. I am moved by your candidness and I believe in sharing your story it will help us all. You will be in my prayers.

  29. Patty
    | Reply

    We are your peeps. I have had experience with family and friends that suffer as you are suffering. We will hold you up right supporting you and hug you. You are love. Do what you need to do and come back a whole healthier person.

  30. Denise Ahonen
    | Reply

    Love ❤️

  31. Darla
    | Reply

    Dear Mary, this monster will pass,slowly at first but it will pass. Many of us have passed through it, each in our own way. I just want to encourage you and let you know your not alone! Let others help and comfort you and help you through it.

  32. Bonnie
    | Reply

    Oh, Mary, I am so sorry. You are loved by so many! Take good care of yourself, take time, and let yourself feel better.

  33. Gaynell Lindo
    | Reply

    Your comments echo how I feel. I just had not named it. Thank you for sharing. (Those words are too mild for how I feel.)

  34. Deb
    | Reply

    I think you are brave. The only way to remove the stigma of mental illness, is for people to be open about it. Take care of yourself. Don’t be afraid to share your journey. You never know whose life you may touch.

  35. Bonnie
    | Reply

    Take each step as you can. You will get better

  36. Anne
    | Reply

    I am sorry for your distress, unfortunately I have known too many loved ones who have experienced similar circumstance. I am thankful to have avoided great depression. Wishing you comfort, acceptance, gratitude and ultimately happiness.

  37. Lori Ransom
    | Reply

    I am with you. All the bad stuff. All the cloudsy days. But know you are most definitely NOT alone. God bless.
    Lori Ransom

  38. Lori
    | Reply

    Been there. Done that. I can say with all sincerity and sympathy that it is horrible to feel as you have felt and are feeling. The term ‘…eaten alive by a sadness monster…’ struck me so hard I had to catch my breath. Know that you are NOT a failure in any sense of the word. You are enough. You deserve happiness and love – from yourself and others. You needn’t do anything to earn it because you are enough. You are enough, you do enough. Be brave enough to search for the life YOU want – not the life anyone else says you should have. Know that you are valued and you are loved. And know that you are enough exactly as you are.

  39. Juanita carpenter
    | Reply

    Get your health back for all of us that love you

  40. Donna
    | Reply

    Thank you Mary, once again, for sharing such a personal and difficult topic. So many people suffer in silence, and without wonderful folks like you, they will continue to hide away and suffer in secret silence. Thanks so much for dragging those monsters out into the light and making them a lot less scary. Sending you lots of love.

  41. Mary Masal
    | Reply

    I’m sending the turbocharged prayers in your direction, Mary. HOLD ON. You are gonna make it. Hugs coming too. MaryM from Dallas.

  42. Giuliana Nakashima
    | Reply

    You are brave, are you crazy? Maybe? Maybe I Am too but, brave you are and stay that way, courage is a flashlight or some days on!y the glow of a lightening bug but it’s still a light hang tough.

  43. Sherrie Brady
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing.

  44. Jess Irwin
    | Reply


    When I was going through something similar… you saved me. Quilting saved me.

    I don’t know how else to say it.

    I’m sure there is a metaphor about stitching oneself back together. But… we know it’s not that simple.

    I love you. Email me if I can help. I would like to help.

  45. Lauren Matheson
    | Reply

    Be fair to yourself; this was not “emotional failure”. If anything it was an emotional hurricane.
    I have heard glitteringly, breathlessly positive things about your QuiltCon lectures. Your strength to perform while the Monster ate its way up your legs is extraordinary.

  46. Annie Ray
    | Reply

    Love you girl. Call me.

  47. Robyn
    | Reply

    Mental Health good or bad is like your analogy with the sneeze. All power to you in telling your truth. My huge admiration is radiating out into the Universe (hopefully towards you, but it is starting from the Land Down under). You will have so many people’s support, but I hope there are close special family and friends to help you when you need it.

  48. Pam
    | Reply

    Thanks so much for your willingness to share your story. Love, hugs, and peace being sent your way. ☮️

  49. Shannon
    | Reply

    Sending good thoughts for your wellbeing and admiring your bravery for speaking out.

  50. Pat
    | Reply

    Your written words have power.

  51. Cindy
    | Reply

    Be good to yourself. Hugs and healing to you Mary!

  52. Liz
    | Reply

    Thanks for opening your heart to us, dear Mary. You are so strong.

  53. Penny Arnold
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing Mary. That was incredibly brave & took a lot of energy. I don’t know your faith but I pray you find (know) Jesus and see the pain/love He has for you. God doesn’t always take away the depression but He makes it tolerable. This is your ministry to help another…

  54. Nadine
    | Reply

    Dearest Mary- I was really sad to read this and know you are suffering. What you are writing about is very common. You are not alone. I wish I could come over to your house- wave my magic wand and make it all go away. I will send good and loving thoughts your way!❤️❤️❤️

  55. Jane
    | Reply

    You are brave to share your story. I’ve missed you and started praying for you some time ago. You are not alone. Be especially kind to yourself now. A yard is hard, but an inch is a cinch…in life as in quilting!

  56. Robin
    | Reply

    I feel I can not help you. But I feel for you. Your story touched me enough to respond. No perfect life out there. Breathe deep, take a walk.

  57. Annette
    | Reply

    Please, never be ashamed, for you have nothing to be ashamed of! As for not having sense? You are very brave! Allowing others to share in your journey can be risky, but like you said, we’re your peeps! We love you! I don’t feel that you need to share your story with me. Knowing that you have been dealing with this beast is enough.

    I believe many of us have or are suffering from some sort of depression or mental illness. As someone who has dealt with depression for over 30 years, I believe quilting/crafting/artistry is the perfect outlet for me It’s a solitary activity that allows me to express ourselves creatively. I will can put it aside and pick it up again as I am able. It is comforting.


  58. Diane Burdin
    | Reply

    Mary, I’m so sorry about the pain you are suffering. Be patient with yourself.

  59. J. Michael Voiles
    | Reply

    We have your back.


  60. Susan Skuda
    | Reply

    Hugs. (Peep.)

  61. Veronica
    | Reply

    Mary ,
    In tears for you ,reading your message. I am so , so sorry that you’re going through this agony. No physical pain to touch it. No words to describe it. I wish that I had them now , to bring you some comfort & relief. The only thing that I can think of to tell you is , Thank you , for being brave enough to share this delicate , precious, gut wrenching truth with us , & for letting us know where you are. Severe depression is the most frightening state & place that I’ve ever , ever been. To know that anyone in the world knew that that’s where I was, and cared , would have been a life saver. To be able to tell anyone where I really was , took more courage than I had. The instinct to go to ground & curl up like a wounded, lost little animal, huddled in pain & fear & loneliness , is all that is left.
    I wish I was there with you – I wish I could just sit , & hear you , even when you had no words. Most of all , then. You don’t need any words now. You need rest , and love. We know , thank God , where you are and love is coming to you all of the time from all of these hearts of ours , that you have touched & smiled with.
    Watching your lovely videos , teaching & interviewing Quilting People has brought comfort, company & solace to me through many dark times , these past years. Your good heart shines through, every time , & I wonder if you know how much comfort those videos still bring ?
    Mary , I’m thinking of you now , all of today , and I will be until you are one day , in a safer place. Xxx Veronica

  62. Mary Lou Maloni
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing.

  63. Cindy Hiteshew
    | Reply

    Hi Mary. I do know a little how you feel. I too have been bitten by that monster. This last January my meds stopped helping me threw the dark Gray clouds. Been trying new meds, but still haven’t found the one yet. I hate feeling like this. Quilting which I loved, I no longer have a intrest. No interest in much of anything. Thank you for sharing. Hope you feel like your old self really soon.

  64. KimS
    | Reply

    If you can name your enemy, you can rise up and beat it. War is never pretty. God’s speed. We are cheering for you. You are never alone.

  65. Duane Flaherty
    | Reply

    Good thoughts and prayers.

  66. Angie
    | Reply

    Mary, thank you for being so strong and showing that is is more than ok to share and help one another. Praying for peace

  67. Carla
    | Reply

    Depression. Been dealing with it back and forth my entire lifetime. I make quilts, you write. Bring it on, we are your community. Hugs!

  68. Kris
    | Reply

    Mary, I’m sending you good vibes and hope. I’m so sorry that you are in soul-pain.

    My favorite line, “You have sisters in the emotional failure business, in other words” is my favorite because having sisters and knowing we are not alone is important.

    And, I have to argue with that one word: Failure. We don’t tell people who have cancer that they are failures – so why should we think that people who have depression are failures?

    Thank you for speaking out. Your voice is important to me, and it’s good to read your writing again. I hope that it is healing for you, too.

  69. Jane
    | Reply

    You are stronger than you realize. Hang in there!!!!

  70. Julie P
    | Reply

    Mary, I am so sorry you have been going through this. You have given words to something that can be so deeply dark that words can be almost impossible to find to describe the hell on earth of this state of mind. I get it. I really do. Thank you for your words.

  71. Melanie Moschella
    | Reply

    Thank you for trusting us with your story. I’m sending love, hugs and good thoughts your way, Mary.

  72. Jeanette Smith
    | Reply

    Praying for You and yours

  73. Dee
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing the depths of where you’re at on this path you are walking. You are not alone in your journey. Let the shadows around you remind you of the LIGHT that is shining and the restlessness of your thoughts remind you of the HEALING that’s rising. You are loved.

  74. Kathy Douglass
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing. You may have temporarily lost your way, but your extraordinary gift for the turn of a phrase will never be lost. “The sky is flinty and the wind has teeth”.

  75. Lynne Bassett
    | Reply

    Mary, dear, just look at all the love and support you are being surrounded with! See how wonderful you are! I have been worried about you. Thank you for sharing your struggles with us. I am yet another of your friends who has suffered from depression and panic attacks—and got labelled a “hypochondriac” by the emergency room doctor for it. >:( It was actually my dental hygienist who recognized what was going on with me! Lol! See how helpful it is to talk to people about it? Fortunately, this was many years ago and I’m fine now. Sending you love and prayers that you also are healthy and happy soon!

  76. Sue Roork
    | Reply

    Dear Mary, I too suffered from a major depression, or a nervous breakdown as you are wont to call it. I found myself at the dinner table unable to eat; just couldn’t, and thats when I knew I needed professional help. But that was many years ago. After after many tries I finally found a doctor that fit. Of course medication was needed when I couldn’t eat but talk therapy with the right doc was more helpful to me over the long haul. Love to you, Sue

  77. LeeAnn M
    | Reply

    Mary…. thank you so much for sharing your story! There is no shame in sharing your story… I believe it makes you a stronger person. I have been living in silence the last four years because of a dark personal matter. I’ve been hiding in my home the last four years because I’m so afraid of people knowing what I’m going through I am going to therapy to learn that this is not my fault and I don’t have to be ashamed or embarrassed….I didn’t cause the abused when I was a child nor did I cause what happened in my marriage. I am working daily to crawl out of this hole. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your story….I applaud you I look forward to hearing more about your story…I can use the inspiration.

  78. Susan
    | Reply

    Peep. Peep. Peep. Been there as you well know. Love you xoxo

  79. Kate
    | Reply

    There is zero shame in admitting this and to do so has probably helped many many women. I have anxiety. There are no two ways around it. I take medication for it. The stigma of mental health is one we’ve created ourselves. Take your time, be safe with yourself and do what you need to recover. You will eventually feel better most of the time.

  80. AmyC
    | Reply

    Mary, I’m glad you survived this, and I hope you have enough support around you. The world is better with you in it. You are one of the bravest, smartest, best-writingest ladies, and it is an honor to know you.

  81. Pamela W Weeks
    | Reply

    Sending love and light.

  82. Shirley
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing. Sorry you are going through this but it is important for others to understand and you have a wonderful way of expressing yourself.

  83. Kathleen BeBeau
    | Reply

    Huge hug, thanks for writing about this and hoping for sunshine and color in your day today.

  84. Barbara
    | Reply

    Mary, another beautifully written post. Your sharing has always been a way of helping and caring for others who might be experiencing carrying this monster around. You were so missed and loved while you were gone. While reading your post a song was playing – “You Are The Most Important Person To Me” and you are to many!

    You will come back stronger, braver, and our hearts will be one. We will all here waiting because Sewing Sisters have your back!!! xoxoxo

  85. Sue-Ann
    | Reply

    I know you don’t feel brave but you are
    I suffer from mild depression but do not know what you are going through

  86. Donna Ronning
    | Reply

    I suffer every day with depression. This winter has been horrible. It’s so hard to keep going. It’s comforting to know that we aren’t alone, although I sure feel alone.
    Prayers for you and and all who suffer with severe depression.

  87. Theresa
    | Reply

    Mary, I am so sorry to hear that you have been going through this. I also had a “nervous breakdown” 30 years ago. It was the hardest thing I have ever been through. I have never had another. Through counseling and medication I have been able to stay clear of that again. My best to you.

  88. Barbara Allen
    | Reply

    Dear dear Mary, we all have our stories, and I won’t bore you with mine. Suffice it to say I sympathize, maybe even know some of your pain; you have my total support in your recovery and in your conversations with your peeps. We are here for you. We love you. Carry on, magnificent woman, because you are not alone.

  89. Caroline Parr
    | Reply

    I hate this for you, but I’m so grateful that you are able to tell us what you’re going through. I do so hope that you are on the upswing now!

  90. Colleen Sain
    | Reply

    Keeping you in my heart Mary! Wrapping your shoulders in a warm hug. Standing with you all the way!

  91. AJ
    | Reply

    I am one of those “sisters in the emotional failure business” and have been up close and personal with every scale, claw, and tooth of said monsters. Love, prayers, and healing thoughts to you, dear Mary.

  92. Nancy Kursewicz
    | Reply

    Your Peeps care for you and just want you to feel better. ❤️

  93. Tami
    | Reply

    Oh, Mary. This same monster has stalked my family and nipped me once. I am so sorry it got to you too.

  94. Georgia
    | Reply

    Love you. Keep writing. Keep sharing. You matter to me, and many others.

  95. Marissa
    | Reply

    Like so many others have commented, I understand. I’ve been there. And I’ve come out the other side a much better person. Hugs to you, and prayers for you, as you stitch together your story and your life.

    It get’s better….

  96. Heather
    | Reply

    I’m not sure the perfect way to phrase this, Mary, but this helped me. Thank you for sharing yourself with us on the good days and the bad ones. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. Sending all the warm, cuddly hugs.

  97. Laurie Walt
    | Reply

    The fact that you’re telling the story is proof that you have survived! Will watch for the rest of the story, take your time. Really sorry for all your pain. Mental illness is a monster that alot of people shrug off, but it’s real people!

  98. Carole
    | Reply

    I truly feel your pain. Thank you for sharing , Mary.

  99. Laura
    | Reply

    Wishing you wellness and wholeness and happiness

  100. Patty
    | Reply

    Love to you Mary. I remind you that you are not alone as you remind the rest of us with depression and anxiety disorder that we are not alone. Talking about this helps everyone. We joke in our family that we should get a family discount from our psychiatrist, because that is part of how we cope with our genetics. We are lucky that we have found a good professional to help us on our journey. Praying that your help is the best.

  101. Bev
    | Reply

    So when I try to explain my anxiety and depression to my family and friends, I am going to make them read this. I cannot put it into words. You have done that for me and have given me courage to come out and share my journey too. Thank you Mary!

  102. Linda Wynne
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing this. I went through this not long ago, never wanted to get off the couch just ,sit and stare out the window, sleep, always a feeling of disaster was going to happen, afraid, worry worry worry ,and completely isolating yourself from all around. The loss of mother, daughter, and husband within a few months of each other just put me on a downward spiral. Finally beginning to dig my way out of this hole. I’m sit quietly by my sewing machine, maybe make a simple table runner, building up to more moderate things, taking short walks ,and lots of medicine. My prayers go out to you

  103. Debra
    | Reply

    WE. ARE. YOUR. PEEPS. No judgements, only love and total support. We will hold you up.

    • Carol
      | Reply

      An old Chinese saying that I have clung to through many years of darkness: “If I keep a green branch in my heart, a singing bird will come.”
      Meds, friends, and family support are essential. You are so brave and strong. Your peeps love you. Be kind to yourself.

  104. Carla
    | Reply

    My heart sends warm fuzzies for you to get through this life event. You are very brave for sharing. I look forward to hearing a positive outcome.

  105. Nina
    | Reply

    Mary, I must admit that I have been experiencing a nagging worry about you for a while. No, nothing I could really concretely put my finger on, but nevertheless, you would pop up in my brain periodically and I would push thoughts away. Perhaps it is because you have shared so much of your physical pain and distress with us but also because of so many diverse things you have been involved in during the past year or two. It seemed like you were running at full speed without slowing down or stopping long enough to catch your breath and to just take time to “smell the roses” as the old saying goes. Oh, this is not a criticism at all but rather an observation. I retired following a horrific accident my husband had which has required a lot of recovering during the past decade. And, because of all my experiences I have become so aware of how fast everyone else is going through life and many times I have felt/thought that people are so busy all of the time but at the end of the day are people really busy with things that matter or are they just busy constantly because that is what everyone thinks is expected. It seems like most people today do not set aside time on a regular basis to spend time only with themselves and focus on their center of wellness, for lack of a better term. Anyway, my heart and thoughts are with you. You have spread your love far and wide and like so many others you have become near and dear to me. I love, love, reading anything and everything you have to say. And, yes you have taught us all so very much. There is so much power in the power of prayer, people good loving thoughts, however one want to phrase it.
    You are moving in the right direction and I know you have received much good advise and I know you have such strong wonderful family support, and now is the time to continue to allow people in to help and support you. None of us can take this journey alone! Love, hugs and blessing to you.

  106. Mary Lu Booker
    | Reply

    Love you, Mary.

  107. Joan Figlar
    | Reply

    Thanks, you’re the Best!

  108. Helen
    | Reply

    You have so touched my heart. I too suffer from the “monster”. So many do. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this time. It will pass……my daughter is living proof. We do pray for you. God bless and heal you. Love! one of your “Peeps”

  109. Patricia Coomes
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing Mary. When I shared I had cancer and now an auto immune disease I felt by sharing I could help someone else. You may never know how you helped someone going thru a nervous breakdown by sharing. Praying for you.

  110. Pam Williams
    | Reply

    Hang in there. It will be okay.
    I was at Quiltcon in Nashville!!!!!
    I take medication to keep myself on an even state. I also have to take medicine to sleep. Just stay vertical!
    Best regards, Pam Williams

  111. Rhonda
    | Reply

    From one Iowa girl to another let me tell you how brave you are in seeking treatment. For years I felt like I was trapped by overwhelming anxiety and panic attacks that robbed me of the joys of everyday life. On the outside I told myself I had to keep up the charade of happiness and boy, was that exhausting! I refused to even tell my doctor I was suffering.
    Now, looking back I see some good it brought even through the suffering. My sons are both on anti anxiety meds and living full lives. Without me sharing my journey with them the chain would have continued through the generations.
    It’s ok to have weaknesses. That’s what makes us human.
    I do have to say though how thankful I am now that anxiety and depression are used in everyday conversations. I think part of my recovery was realizing that EVERYONE experiences both at some level in their lives.
    I will also say that it was through creative processes…writing, baking, quilting and etc. where I found the most comfort and self-confidence.
    Keep sharing, Mary. We are all here sitting beside you with mugs full of tea, fresh baked cookies to share and a quilting project in our laps…listening and praying for you.

  112. Mary
    | Reply

    Prayers for you. It takes a lot of strength to talk about a subject that isn’t discussed enough. Thank you for sharing. Just know you are loved.

  113. Bob Collis
    | Reply

    I wish I could say something that would make everything better. I have to cope with panic attacks and depression. Reading your post makes me feel not so alone in this.
    You’re not alone! We all care what you’re feeling, and want you to feel better!

  114. Tami Von Zalez
    | Reply

    Yes, it all makes sense. As one who has come through a MDD, it took me 5 years to recover (with medication). My doctor has warned should I have another episode, it will be deeper and more long lasting.
    In light of that advice, I configure my life to try and avoid tipping into the void. How do I do that? I value stability now, in my personal and professional life. I try not to overload myself with my crafts.
    You are brave to write about this subject. It catches so many of us by surprise, that we can continue on our current path, but we can’t.

  115. Susan Buckingham
    | Reply

    We love you. Telling your story helps take the pain out of it, maybe just a little. We have 3 adult children who take anti-depressants…yes, it’s in my husband’s family. That said, especially during these awful frigid gray days, that monster tries to attach itself to many of us. Thanks for sharing.

  116. kathy
    | Reply

    Dear Mary, I would love to give you a big hug, just to let you know your friends love you.

  117. Debby Hendrix
    | Reply

    You don’t know me, but that’s ok. I’ve never responded outside FB to folks I don’t know, but today, dear Lady, you moved me. Your words moved me, the way they jumped out in front of the bus all over let us in. Your bravery moved me.
    I can offer you nothing but love…the ‘we are your tribe’ love…the ‘all for one’ love…the love that transends all and ‘exists at the cellular level’ love. So I do…and it is enough.

  118. Joan
    | Reply


  119. Kelly Ashton
    | Reply

    Please take good care of YOU, Mary! Thanks for sharing. Much love to you….❤️❤️❤️

  120. Barbara
    | Reply

    I hate that you’re feeling this way Mary. I wish I could do something to make it better. I do hope it gets better.
    Warm hugs to you, hope you feel them in your heart. xo

  121. Anna
    | Reply

    You are in good company, my darling. I call mine “The Pit” and I have fallen in and clawed my way out more times than I would like to admit. Whatever we call it, it is a terrible, awful thing. Just don’t give up. If, while you are running from your monster, you happen to fall in my Pit, just know you can reach out and hold my hand. We can claw our way out together.

  122. Jennifer
    | Reply

    Dear dear Mary, I wondered where my Sadness Monster had gotten off to! He is not a nice guy, but you can outsmart or outrun him!

    Just think: today the sun came up, Spring isn’t far away, you got off the couch (or at least out of bed), you reached out to the people who love and support you. That is a terrific start. It is all Hope-full. Hope was at the bottom of Pandora’s box, as well as at the bottom of the dark place in which I was was hiding from the Monster. We all love you, We hope, and know, that you are going to get and feel better.
    The sun will come up tomorrow, too, and Spring will be one day closer, and you will get off the couch again! If that’s all you can do for a while, then that’s all you can do. But you will be doing something the Monster doesn’t like, and maybe he will just give up one day soon.

    Hugs to you!

    And if you want to come to Woodstock to escape for a day, let me know. The Monster doesn’t know how to get out here anymore!

  123. Carolyn Shelton
    | Reply

    I’m sending prayers and positive vibes. Thank you for sharing but more importantly I’m so glad you are getting help with this dark monster. Please keep us updated.

  124. Mae De la Rosa
    | Reply

    I, too, have had those episodes. I have worked very, very hard in therapy and on being diligent about my meds. I have been working with the same psychiatrist for 25 years. Three years ago she declared me in remission of my depression. It was a hallelujah day, for sure. But I earned the snot out of that. I’m telling you this because it’s possible. Maybe for you, too. I hope that in sharing this with your ‘peeps’ you find comfort and support. I understand you. I support you. Keep on keeping’ on, girlfriend. A whole lot of people would miss you more than you know if you left. So, stick around another while for us. I promise, it’s worth it. You’ll come out the other side eventually.

  125. E
    | Reply

    Opening up to honesty and transparency are the first, hardest steps. You have done that. People love you and care about you. Seek out their help and guidance. You are brave and you are strong. God has your back and his arms are open to you. Trust him, everything will fall into place.

  126. Jeanann Montney
    | Reply

    Since today is March 4th – or “forth”- what an excellent time to avoid the Monster. Peace to you.

  127. Diane
    | Reply

    Wonderful you!! The healing is in the talking….the telling of our story, way past the time that others want to hear it….Keep on keeping on…talking and telling…. Depression, situational or hormonal ..or nervous breakdown in a puddle , not functioning… Articulately sharing and sharing some more…xoxoxo to brave and wonderful you.

  128. Fellow Quiltmaker
    | Reply

    Dear Mary,
    There is no comparison but because my brother took his own life years ago I listened with interest to a series on the Charlie Rose program about the brain. One episode addressed depression where Andrew Solomon described his experience in a way that spoke volumes to me. You also write eloquently about the herculean efforts in your life recently. Thank you. The the more we are educated, the more we can all build a support system that my brother did not have. Best regards to you coupled with love and hope and good wishes.
    -a fellow quiltmaker

  129. Irene
    | Reply

    Love to you Mary. Hope you have brighter days ahead.
    You are in my prayers and heart ♥️

  130. B
    | Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing! I often feel I am on the edge. Unfortunately it seems to be manifesting in very high BP right now. Only cause given us too much stress. I took a big step to reduce some of it today. Fingers crossed.

  131. Cathy Henderson
    | Reply

    Oh dear girl,

    Thank you for sharing. You have been on mind often since your last post. You can and will get through this trial. My love and prayers for strength and restoration.

  132. elizabeth a hinze
    | Reply

    Thank you Mary for sharing. It takes great courage to do that. And I think
    it will be healing for you. You truly are in my prayers

    • Karen
      | Reply

      Been there. In that. Sheer misery. Worse when your kids are entangled in the net-and when you feel that all your faults and sadness suffocate their air supply too. Funny how the happiness that comes with marriage and motherhood is the very thing that drives her mad. I question everything. I doubt Everything. I am terrible. I am trapped. And nobody knows me.

  133. J
    | Reply

    It’s so hard to describe isn’t it? The feeling that you know something is wrong, it’s bad, no one can help me not even doctors. That is how I describe it, but fighting it doesnt make it better, let it come because just as it came it too will go. This too shall pass and you will feel sunshine on your face again.

  134. Margaret
    | Reply

    Sharing your story is very courageous. It may also help another soul find its way. Many prayers are being lifted up for you and those you have touched.

  135. Julia S
    | Reply

    Thank you for writing about this and being so open. We all need to realize this is a medical condition and not something you choose. Praying for you and others that are dealing with this.

  136. Darlene
    | Reply

    Stay strong.

  137. Wynn Martin
    | Reply

    I hope you feel the love that we all are sending your way. Like so many others, I know that feeling. It isn’t fun and it will go away. Take each day as it comes and remember my favorite all purpose prayer — this too shall pass.

  138. Linda Duff
    | Reply

    Oh Mary .. to wave the proverbial magic wand and take it all away from you, and heal you (in all ways). I read your post, and the replies of some of your peeps, and had tears in my eyes. I hope you know that you are loved beyond words, and that I’m adding all my good thoughts and prayers and hugs and love into the mix for you. Stay strong .. do what you need to do to help yourself through this time. Know that we are all out here rooting for you.
    Much love from Winterset,
    Linda D

  139. Linda O
    | Reply

    Mary — Turn to your quilts. You always light up when you are talking about them and they will be the bright light that leads you out of your dark place. Focus on the pattern and the colors, not necessarily whether you finish it or not. Stop looking for that safe place and simply create one. You know what a safe place looks like and feels like. You know how to do this. It’s your wheelhouse. Every single ounce of strength you have ever used in the past is still with you. It’s there in your quilts. It’s there in you.

  140. Cathy
    | Reply

    My heart broke to read your post. Someone very close to me years ago went through this…good news, it gets better…it really does! This song is meant for you. If you have never heard it, it is well worth a listen:
    You’re Gonna Be Ok (Lyric Video) – Brian & Jenn Johnson

  141. Anita Brayton
    | Reply

    I saw you speak at QuiltCon. You appeared happy and “on”. However, and maybe because I’ve seen you before, you did appear to have lost weight or maybe recently been unwell. Thank you for sharing. Hope this means you’re on the recovery road.

  142. Suzanne Brown
    | Reply

    We are all wrapping you in our collective hugs , love and support!!!
    I too have been worried about you and love you!!

  143. Regina Sweet
    | Reply

    I understand completely, been there! There are times I feel a slippery slope coming and I withdraw and try to work through it! Have Faith in yourself that you are good and deserving!

  144. Tracy
    | Reply

    I am honored to be one of your “peeps” and thank you for sharing! I too had a BREAK-down, it was years and years and years ago. There was no blogging or sharing in those days, although it would have been so great to just have a friend who had gone through or who cared to hear. So, Mary, your peeps are here to hear, to love you through it all!

  145. Lisa
    | Reply

    *admiration intensifies*

  146. Kathryn Darnell
    | Reply

    I look at all the people responding to your heart and I can see the love, concern and pure compassion pouring out on the screen. You have an ARMY behind you who would gladly stay up all night with you and fight off the sadness monster. I am one of many Captains in that ARMY. We are all Captains of our own ships and always watch for vessels in distress. We are here for you.

  147. Donna
    | Reply

    Dear Mary,
    Because you have been open about your health, I know you have been through a lot of life challenges, and you have pulled through. I am glad you are strong enough to share this with all of your friends. We are all here pulling for you.

  148. Kate
    | Reply

    Mary, sweet Mary. I have been where you are. Take your time. Sharing your truth is important. There is no judgement here. Take your time.

  149. Nancy Bonaguro
    | Reply

    Dear Mary,
    Just know you are loved and prayed for.

  150. Rebecca
    | Reply

    You sharing this is so touching and while I wish we could help somehow, just know that your readers are thinking of you and your stories help me feel connected to the humanity in all of us. (no matter how much or little you choose to share)

  151. Nikki Reynolds
    | Reply

    I see the number of women who wish you well is quite large, and I’m glad of that. Everyone is mentally ill at least one or two times in their lives, but most people want to deny it; good you aren’t. There is no point in denying it, because it shows. I’m one of the chronically ill ones: major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Under good control now, thank heavens.

    But what I really want to say is that I attended your lectures at QuiltCon. They were wonderful. You are a deeply reflective thinker, and a keen observer of culture. In another life, you might have become a cultural anthropologist, and written gloriously academic papers for consumption by other academics, and handful of other curious folk. I’m glad you didn’t take that path. I’m glad you are a quilter, and a writer, and a speaker. I’m glad you challenge us regular folk to think deeply and to reflect on what we do, and don’t do, when we quilt. Thank you. I’m sorry you are struggling with deep mental illness, but I believe your ability to observe, analyze and reflect will help you to “deal”. That, and all of these lovely people wishing you well and sending “good vibes” your way. Good luck!

  152. […] time for The PaperGirl Sunday Evening Post. Tonight, the continuation of the grim story I began last week. Descend into torment with me, won’t […]

  153. […] you haven’t read the first and second posts in the series already, you should, since in this story, the chain of events is the […]

  154. Donna Dougherty
    | Reply

    Ni one has to rrad this really. Its very long. But it helped me.
    It’s s good that you feel that you can share your story. The support today that still is not perfect is so much better during the last 50 years. After years of abuse from a mother that sent me to bars at night with her neighbor at 12 and 13 and being raped by her ex husband and being threatened not to tell. Then a cousins husband would walk around their apartment when I was 14 and went there to clean and do ironing after school. When I finally told her why I had stopped going, her response was it’s not your fault he has sex issues. But to protect herself she never told anyone to get me help. I had a difficult childhood filled with terrible secrets I had to keep so others wouldn’t be hurt. Physical, verbal and then sexual abuse from my husband to myself and my children. I was 16 and since my mother was part of the abuse she never told me not to get married and my father never knew. I was protecting him . That’s who they threatened. I was too young to know I should have told him anyway. Not telk I was sexually assaulted at work at the post office in 1998 was I finally able to realize I needed to find help. After many therapists, social workers and psychologists and physchiatrist. I moved to another area when my anxiety attacks were so bad. I’d be up against a wall if I were out and got one so I’d start sleeping when I could during the day and would go out to get groceries at night. Lost family and friends because I couldn’t say out loud what I had gone through. It took me 5 yrs to find a Doctor and his suggested therapist to start making a difference in my life. It’s taken 15 yrs of therapy to talk about this out loud. I still go to therapist every week and see my Doctor every 3 months. I am medicated. I could have turned to alcohol or drugs to get through these 50 years of abuse and anxiety attacks and acting out. But somehow I’ve made it. I’ve still no contact with mist of my family. And at 65 I worry about dying alone. There must be some reason I’m still here. I survived beatings and being thrown down steps by my ex, a case of pneumonia where I was told I could if died in hospital 17 days and 5 months of at home recovery. A motorcycle crash where a woman said she thought she could beat me across the intersection as I was coming up to her minivan I screamed I’m gonna die. 19 months later released from Doctor and miraculously still had my leg. Then I had an asthma attack so bad that the doctor in we saud he had never seen an adult patient that bad that lived. Another 2 weeks in hospital. Just this last Dec there was a gas explosion in the house where I live he was installing a new stove. It blew out windows at the other end of the house, moved the cabinets 1.5 in from the wall. Blew things out of the cabinets into the floor and broke. Only because the house is so old and apparently because it has so many air leaks and not tight. Did it not go completely up I would have died.
    I can’t help but think there us some reason I’m here to have got to 65 without becoming an alcoholic or drug user or being in jail. Somewhere in my genetics my ancestors knew how to survive.
    I know that famous people sharing their stories make a difference in others lives and I know now that if I had shared all those years ago no matter if anyone would have been hurt I may have turned out different but then again do i want to be different than the person I am today.
    I love me. And going through everything made me who I am today but wonder if I would have been just as good a person today if I hadn’t had to go through all the abuse and tragedy.
    Just wish I had the money if I had been able to keep working. I’ve been homeless slept in a tent and now live in a house with someone that is verbally abusive but I have a dog and need to stay here as long as he is with me. I will not give him up. He is my link to sanity. Then i will join the millions if seniors that myst live in housing and do without because our government does nothing for seniors. This will be a time when i know i will need my therapy more than ever.
    Congratulations on having the strength and power to share so others will know they are not alone.

  155. […] winter, when my life fell into a blast furnace, there were eight items of clothing I could put on my body from day to day that didn’t make […]

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