No one knows how many people who hide their faces from public view live what appear to be normal, successful lives…I was going to talk about Marsha Linehan in my previous post and I got distracted by something the journalist wrote. Today back to Dr. Linehan who said of her own experience with depression: “I felt totally empty, like the Tin Man; I had no way to communicate what was going on, no way to understand it.”

Tin Man, there is something about depression that, like the Tin Man, has no heart, no feeling. With all that he was experiencing and feeling Mottsu was convinced he couldn’t connect with anyone, that he couldn’t feel anything. Not knowing how to reassure him and feeling confounded about how be in any way helpful I cast myself as the Scarecrow with no brains, no ideas. Wally, our timid terrier, was the Lion without courage. Shortbread was just going to tag along, our own Toto.

I didn’t appreciate how helpless the Tin Man was or the depth of what must have been a hopelessness. I was a bit consumed by my own helplessness, I didn’t know what to do. His despair bought him to a crisis and left him isolated and without hope. I couldn’t make things better with a story, not even a cute one where we might dance down a yellow brick road.

I can’t quite reconcile that he didn’t feel anything, that’s what he believed and I don’t know for sure. I do believe he was overwhelmed as the full force of his feelings were all turned inwards back onto himself. Unknown dark feelings. There is a line from a very odd song by America that has been playing in my head “But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man, That he didn’t, didn’t already have… “. The dear Tin Man in my life had no way of knowing what he already had, he was convinced that he was malfunctioning and he was wretched. I couldn’t reach him, and he in turn didn’t find the words to tell me how it was for him.

Dr Linehan’s approach, when faced with a suicidal Tin Man, is acceptance, she has “…found that the tension of acceptance could at least keep people in the room: patients accept who they are, that they feel the mental squalls of rage, emptiness and anxiety far more intensely than most people do. In turn, the therapist accepts that given all this, cutting, burning and suicide attempts make some sense.”

By understanding and accepting as she listens to her clients experiences, maybe Dr Linehan restores their voices, and in doing so provides some hope.

Crisis counselling is available around the world. In Australia Life Line 13 11 14.