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Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Medication Can't Give You [Paperback]

Richard O'Connor
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product Description


"An uncommonly thorough and useful guide."-Publishers Weekly

"Undoing Depression is distinguished by its common sense, its humanity, and its absence of dogmatism. It is a balanced and persuasive work that explores the dark predicament of depression, and the pathways toward help. I read it with great admiration."-William Styron, author of Darkness Visible and Sophie's Choice.

"This is a vital and invaluable guide for people who are struggling with depression, as close as a book can come to the curative effects of psychotherapy and medication."-Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon

"Undoing Depression is a book that anyone who has ever felt depressed, to any degree, can keep nearby as a useful companion. If you are really depressed, chain it to your clothing. Beautifully written, full of dependable and inspiring information, it offers countless creative things to do in the face of depression without trying to conquer it or win battles and wars. The intelligence in this book is deeply satisfying."-Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul and Dark Nights of the Soul

"Essential reading for anyone who suffers from depression. The wisdom in these pages speaks directly to each individual, as if O'Connor knows exactly what we're going through. MDSG runs dozens of support groups each week and at our literature tables this is always the bestselling book. Packed with the latest research and fresh ideas, this new, updated edition hasn't lost the engaging style and compassion of the original."-Howard Smith, Director of Operations, Mood Disorders Support Group

"This up-to-date, clearly written and illuminating book about the nature and treatment of depression is just plain wonderful. I view it as a gift to us all."-Maggie Scarf, author of Unfinished Business, Intimate Partners, and Intimate Worlds

About the Author

Richard O'Connor is the author of four books, Undoing Depression, Active Treatment of Depression, Undoing Perpetual Stress, and Happy At Last. For fourteen years he was executive director of the Northwest Center for Family Service and Mental Health, overseeing the treatment of almost a thousand patients per year. He is a practicing psychotherapist, with offices in Canaan, Connecticut, and New York City, and he lives with his family in Lakeville, Connecticut.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

Maureen Clark juggled her ski bag and rolled her suitcase over the polished floors of the arrivals lobby in the Vantaa-Helsinki airport. Electricity hummed in the glass prisms overhead, echoing the vibrations of excitement in her bones. After all those months of waiting, she was really and truly here.

She scanned the crowd for the representative from the Scholar Athlete Exchange program who was supposed to be waiting for her. Her smile faltered when she didn’t see anyone, but only for a second. The flight had come in nearly forty minutes early, so whoever was coming probably hadn’t had time to get there yet. No need to let it spoil the moment. She was sixteen, not six. She could wait.

She found the currency exchange booth and traded her dollars for euros and then bought a prepaid cell phone at the neighboring Nokia kiosk. Her dad had insisted she get one “in case of an emergency.” Like she didn’t know the real reason: control. He might have agreed to let her travel halfway around the world, but he still wanted to keep a leash on her. Since she was the youngest of seven kids—the baby of the family and one of only two girls—to say he was protective of her would be an understatement. Try smothering.

Whatever. She wasn’t going to argue about anything that got her a cell phone. She found a phone with a text-messaging option and bought an international calling card so she could use the phone for her own “emergencies”—like keeping in touch with her best friend back home.

She glanced at her watch. Too early in Utah for calls, but she could still send a text. Finding a quiet corner, she pulled out the phone and quickly thumbed in a message to her friend Janessa.

am in will call @ 5 2night b there

A hand touched her shoulder and Maureen jumped, nearly dropping the phone. Behind her stood a man wearing a GoreTex jacket and a pinched expression on his face. “Maureen Clark?”


His posture relaxed. “I was afraid we’d lost you. Arho Peltonen, coach of the SAE club. Sorry I was late.” He extended his hand and she shook it.

Hauska tutustua, ” she said in her best phrase-book Finnish. “Pleased to meet you.”

His smile broadened. “Ah. You’ve been studying. Excellent. Shall we go? If you’d like to gather your things, I’ll pull up the car.”

And that’s how Maureen Clark found herself standing alone outside an airport halfway around the world from her home in Park City, Utah . . . grinning like a fool.

In the darkness, Maureen could just make out the silhouettes of trees beyond the airport parking lot. It was only four-thirty in the afternoon, but already black as midnight. She’d been warned that January days in Finland were short, but she didn’t care. Limited daylight she could get used to. The important thing was that she was here.

Twin beams of light skittered over the ice and snow as a sleek Volvo wagon crunched up to the curb. Coach Peltonen swung open his door and jumped out, hurrying around the front of the car to take Maureen’s suitcase. “Right, then. In you go. I’ll load the bags.”

She slid onto the leather seat and adjusted her lap belt, watching him in the rear viewmirror. So this was her coach for the next ten weeks. He was a little older than she’d expected, with gray, thinning hair and a face weathered by years of sun and snow. Still, he moved with athletic grace as he fitted her suitcase and long skis into the bed of the wagon and slammed the door closed.

Behind the wheel once more, Coach Peltonen turned to her. “So.”

“So,” she replied.

“I was honored to see your name on our enrollment.” He eased the car away from the curb. “I am a great fan of your father’s.”

The smile melted from her face. Not here, too. As if her huge family wasn’t enough, Maureen’s dad—the control freak—was a former Olympian who had parlayed his medals into a career of extreme ski movies and coaching. He ran a top-ranked ski school near Park City and had become something of a local celebrity. The kind of notoriety he generated was exactly what Mo had hoped to leave behind.

“Really,” she said.

“Yes, yes.” Coach Peltonen nodded. “Saw his final run in Innsbruck in ’76. Watched every one of his films.”

“Uh-huh.” She watched snowflakes swirl past the window and felt the long arm of her dad’s shadow reaching out to reel her in. She stiffened. No. None of that. She hadn’t come five thousand miles just to let his image dominate her life from afar.

“He’s quite a man, your father. We often hear of his school. You must be very proud, Miss Clark.”

She managed to give him a smile. “Please, Mr. Peltonen, my friends call me Mo.”

He chuckled. “And my athletes call me Coach.” The turn signal ticked rhythmically as he changed lanes. “Mo.” He gave her a sidelong glance. “Yes, I think it suits you. No nonsense. Strictly business.”

She didn’t know how to respond to that, so she just stared out the window again. Frost clung to the glass in random sketchy swirls, catching the light of passing cars and obscuring the snow-shrouded trees that huddled along the roadside. It looked so cold out there, yet inside the car was so nice . . . so warm . . . She yawned.

“Oh, no you don’t.” Coach Peltonen poked her arm. “Make yourself stay awake until the local bedtime and you’ll get over jet lag a lot quicker.”

Mo stifled another yawn and shook herself. “So . . . how far is it to Lahti?”

“About an hour’s drive. Should give us time to go over some of the details of the program since you weren’t able to make it for orientation.”

She grimaced. “Yeah, sorry about that.” The other students and their host families had met together the night before. Mo hadn’t been able to make it because she’d needed to stay in Utah for her older brother’s wedding. “Thanks for making a special trip to the airport to get me.”

“Not to worry. You’ll make up for it in practice.” He flashed another smile. “Now reach behind the seat and grab the SAE folder, would you? It’s that one on top there. Inside, you’ll see a yellow paper . . .”

They spent the next half hour reviewing the rules for the athletes in the exchange program. It was nothing Mo hadn’t already seen in the registration packet—no drinking, no drugs, ten o’clock curfew, treat the host families with respect, that kind of thing.

“So how many are in the program?”

“We have twenty-seven international athletes and about two dozen from local clubs. All of you will attend Lahden Upper Secondary School. It’s not far from the Sports Center. The green paper lists your course schedule.”

Mo riffled through the papers until she found the schedule. Just what she’d expected. Overview of Finland, computer science, and precalculus. “Um, Coach? It wasn’t quite clear in the handbook . . . will they be teaching in Finnish?”

Coach Peltonen nodded. “All except the overview class. That’s just for the international students, so it will be taught in English. But don’t worry. You’ll all be assigned native student escorts to help with the language in your other classes. I think you’ll find, however, that communication won’t be a problem. Most of the faculty and students speak passable English. Small country in a big world and all.”

Mo was glad to hear that. Even though she had been studying Finnish from the moment she signed up for the program, she still hadn’t learned much.

“You will attend classes from eight to eleven,” Coach Peltonen continued. “Training runs from noon until early evening—or later, depending on the day and how the club progresses. It might be a little difficult at first—”

Mo raised her brows. “Hey, I’m up for it. My club back home trains about three or four hours a day. This will just be stepping it up a notch.”

“That’s what I like to hear.” He gave her an approving nod. “We’ve also planned some cultural activities during your stay. You’ll find a sample itinerary on the pink paper.”

Mo’s smile faded as she looked over the preplanned schedule. Every possible moment was blocked in. “Wow,” she murmured.

She closed the folder and felt her newfound freedom slipping away.

The coach kept up a running commentary all the way to Lahti, not that Mo paid much attention. She was way too tired. What was up with all the chatter, anyhow? Her dad had always said that Finns were silent, brooding types. Coach Peltonen seemed almost giddy. She would have preferred the silence.

Finally, they pulled off the road and into a parking lot bordered by tall apartment buildings. “You’ll like the Aalto family. They have a daughter about your age. Kirsti, her name is. Spent the summer in Japan as a S.A.S.S. exchange student a year or so ago, so she knows what it’s like to be far from home, experiencing a different culture. I’m sure you two will get along famously.”

Mo flinched at his choice of words. “So, which one is theirs?”

He pointed to the unit straight ahead.

She climbed out of the car and regarded her new home with satisfaction. The building had a contemporary flair with clean lines and elegant lighting—the polar opposite of her massive six-bedroom, glorified cabin of a house in Park City. Towering, snow-frosted pines surrounded the building so that it looked as if it had been...

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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