I hope it was not bad form to clarify a few points that were not quite right in Michael Miller's piece; I am not convinced that I would have done a better job if I had had to grapple with a) a long, complicated saga and b) the place where language breaks down.
Also - if you have a long history of depression and worse you realise that most people, mental health professionals included, can't deal with it. The people who can tend to be people who have been through a bad time themselves. I remember meeting someone I had known in London, Sara Jenkins (now Valentine); she talked about a time when she had had what she called 'bad thoughts', and the mind responded to the voice like a hurt dog. I think I imagined that Bill Clegg, who had been through a bad time, might be like that; he wasn't, but I don't know that his behaviour was abnormal.
In any case, I just wanted to thank the reader who recommended Learn Python the Hard Way. This looks like exactly the sort of thing I need (and in fact, if I had been able to work my way through LPTHW during bad times, they would probably not have been so bad).