Instead of drugging myself into insensitivity, I had to deal with the real, raw emotions of life. There was an enormous amount of anger. I became a student of anger, learned what it was for, why we have it, what to do with it. I learned how to be angry, and got to be quite good at it. So good, in fact, that doctors started kicking me out of their practices, which turned out to be quite helpful. I discovered that they weren’t doing me any good anyway, so I broke my all-American addiction to going to the doctor, seeking salvation. Instead, I read the Bible and learned how I was supposed to be living my life.
Paul went to hypnotherapy summer camp, came home and tried to hypnotize anything that stood still—the dog, his secretary, the rose bushes, whatever. The American medical industry busily tells us that our problems are in our minds—they recognize the power of the mind to create illness, but now I learned that the mind could create health. Paul and I dealt with menopausal bleeding, root canals and unstable adrenal glands by using hypnotherapy.
Dr. Ghaly did acupuncture. He’d studied it all over the world, and now did it all over my body. Needles in the ears and temples could reverse a bipolar shift; a needle in the chin reduced fever; needles in my left arm stopped the chest pains.
My newest best friend became Dr. Stephen Wechsler, a chiropractor. I learned how very, very much good chiropractic adjustment can do, and let it do it. I got better.
The idiot doctors didn’t know what to do about my low blood sugar, so I started learning about diet. And I got more better. I began to engage in political action; I got people fired, too. I learned the curative power of power. The only way you can recover from depression is by fighting back.
Then I met James. Eighteen months after I stopped taking antidepressants, I again became desirable to men—or, at any rate, to one particular man. I fell in love again. And as I loved, I studied psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology and learned what damage the drugs had done to me, body and soul. I went back to the primal animal to understand sex and the role it plays in our lives.
As I moved out of menopause and away from drugs, I became a Wise Woman. I would wake up in the morning, lie in bed, and think. As my brain cleared of drugs, my mind began to cogitate. I had sacrificed decades of learning to drugs; now, I was figuring things out again. My mind made great leaps and bounds, covering vast amounts of terrain, making connections, understanding relationships.
One of the sets of relationships that I came to understand was my sisters and how damaging they were. All my life, they had used me as their scapegoat, their whipping person. Subtlety and persistently, it was made clear to me by them that I was less valuable than they were. So, while maintaining a perpetually close and loving relationship with my mother, I dumped my sisters. It was excruciatingly painful, but if I was to grow into healthy self-respect, it had to be done.
Spring came, again and again. I moved from a geriatric center to an elderly-and-disabled apartment building. I moved from the city to the suburbs. I adopted a garden, got down on my knees and pulled weeds. I got a power wheelchair and a physical therapist. I moved again, this time to a residence for the middle-aged physically disabled, and I planted my own flower garden. After six years of home health aides, I began to change my own sheets and do my own laundry. I became a volunteer on a Support Line, talking others through the horrors of mental illness.
And I never, ever got depressed again because I had learned how not to be. After forty-four years of tormented depression, I am now a full-time happy person.