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A mother’s final, best lesson: Part 4

Pushing an elephant up the stairs

A Weblog title like this, Pushing an Elephant Up the Stairs, can hardly be ignored. You just must click on it, right? And what you find is a simple and elegantly designed page by British blogger, Francesca Gray, who is writing an uncommonly powerful journal of her struggle with depression.

There are encounters with her children who are as obtuse and distant as all teens teetering on the brink of adulthood. I’ve wanted to smack the daughter myself more than once, but they seem to be basically good kids behaving like normal teens.

Francesca doesn’t always sleep well. She tells us of dark, late nights of the soul searching for online friends with whom to talk. You begin to understand why when you discover her companion Weblog, Diet Coke, which focuses exclusively on mental health issues.

Recently, she posted a five-part series, When the Darkness Won. It is a compelling account of her suicide attempt and hospitalization where she was tended to for several days by a remarkably useless set of professionals who could not (would not?) help in any meaningful way. It is some of the most powerful writing I’ve ever read on the experience of depression from the inside. The terrible loneliness of it:

“…[I] wear my ok mask for the occasional visitor. No one unexpected so no one sees the beneath. No one looks too closely anyway. The mask becomes real.”

And the terrible fear of its return after “recovery”:

“Never again.

”Until the next time.

”Until the day I woke up to find myself once more peering through darkened glass.”

In chronicling her climb up from the darkness toward blessed ordinariness and letting us in on the daily struggle, Francesca, which is a pseudonym, is offering up her life as an example for others - a hope for fellow depressives and insight for those who love them.

Though Pushing an Elephant… is hardly a day the beach, I don’t mean to suggest that the mood of this blog is always dark. It surprises each time Francesca indicates her interest in the technological intricacies of blogging and the Web itself which seem to me to be out of character for her. Obviously I am wrong on that count and her glee today in snagging an early gmail address can be nothing if not encouraging for Francesca in getting that elephant closer to the top of the stairs.


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