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Local woman helps others combat depression

Posted at 7:59 PM, Mar 21, 2021

At the home of Terry Bertha-McGuire, you will find beautiful artwork made from shattered glass. Perhaps a symbol that the broken can become beautiful.

We talk to McGuire from her home in Waukesha County. She talks about her online effort to help people combat depression.

"The idea behind it is that anybody with any sort of a mental health challenge or a mental illness can be very easily and very thoroughly convinced that they're alone in their experience," McGuire said.

But McGuire helps solve that myth. Those suffering have an ally thanks to Terry Bertha-McGuire's blog, Facebook group and podcast. She hosts that with her sister Bridget. The podcast is called "Giving Voice to Depression."

McGuire explains, "We keep it hopeful because there truly is hope. It is helpful to have someone be the light when you can't see one."

Their social media platforms reach people all over the world who are struggling. It's born out of their own experience.

"We have lost people we love to suicide, and we both live with depression. The podcast, and the social media support all started after my most recent and unfortunately (knock on wood ...I haven't had one since),.. my worst ever depression."

Today, Bertha-McGuire is shocked by what she didn't do when she felt deeply depressed.

"I was just stunned at how I got sucked into it. How I never once questioned if what I was believing, if what I was hearing was true-- that I'm worthless. that I've lost my value, that there's no hope, that my future is going to be worse than my present. It was completely unacceptable. I believed all that! It never crossed my mind it was an illness, never crossed my mind that perhaps I should talk to a professional."

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, Terry Bertha McGuire, was an anchor and reporter at Channel 6. She left the job to raise her two kids. Even her career as a former TV journalist did not give her the awareness she needed to cope with depression.

"I'd been a reporter, I'd been an anchor, I know how to do research. I know Google, I know Web MD, and I never checked those symptoms," McGuire realizes the stigma of getting help for mental health must be erased.

"If I limped for two years somebody would have said you're still limping, you need to get in, see a Doctor. If I had a gash on my leg no one would ever say just leave it alone, nor would anyone say to you, you know, just wipe the blood off and keep going. What are you complaining about?"

"When it comes to depression people will just say, you know you're not handling things very well. I just find that so dangerous and so unhelpful.

"People will say you have such a nice life. You have people who love you, you have a house, you have a job, whatever they think protects you. It doesn't protect you any more than it would protect you from any other illness like cancer or diabetes."

Through her platforms Bertha-McGuire has discovered the need is great.

"We are coming up on half a million plays, and the Facebook community has grown. I decided to create what I wish I had."

Part of her own healing is knowing that she can help others. It's an awareness that makes her emotional. McGuire wipes back tears as she shares the reaction to her podcast.

"There have been some people who have shared stories that they had intended to take their lives. They googled depression, and we came up and they listened, hearing that other people had been exactly where they had been. They were glad they survived."

"A surprising number have said that listening helped them out of it. I tear up just thinking about it all the time. It's hard to even put words to I mean, we have a little widget on our website where someone can leave us a message, and a woman just said, 'I hope that when you go to bed at night you know you save someone's life.'"

McGuire gets emotional as she exclaims, "How do you stop? How do you stop what you're doing when someone tells you that. I can't tell the stories without crying. I just can't."

Fortunately, Terry has learned to manage her depression.

"I see a therapist every two weeks, and then I got on anti-depressants. I don't push antidepressants, but I also really encourage people to not take anything off the table, that might help at least get out of the hole. Then when you have a floor beneath your feet again you can decide how you want to proceed."

No matter what therapy a person chooses, there's comfort in shared experiences. That's why Bertha-McGuire refuses to stop helping those in pain. But she faced another huge challenge this year. Like many non-profits during the pandemic, her funding stopped in January. Despite her financial hardship, she is committed to lifting souls,

"You can't see somebody hurting and just say, oh it must be really hard to be you when you can actually reach into that darkness say take my hands, I promise you it gets better. I promise you; I was there!" There's tremendous power in that!"

Terry Bertha McGuire is proving that like fractured glass, lives broken by depression can be transformed into a new mosaic of beauty and inner peace.

"I've never had a mission; I didn't even know what a mission was but this is mine," she said. "I'll die satisfied that I did something with this life."

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