WELL BEING. #2 Depression

qiUnBt7The worst thing to hear when one is depressed is “Pull yourself together”, “It will get better.” For years depression has not been recognised as an illness and as a result those views have continued to pervade. For anyone that has suffered depression, they will know the stigma that the illness attracts. One is thought as weak which only goes to reinforce the view’s of those that suffer from this dreadful illness; because it is an illness, just as much as Flu or Cancer. If one suffers from Asthma it is no good telling that person that the air is full of oxygen!

So what causes depression? Unfortunately, some are born with it. For others it is a single event or a series of unfortunate circumstances that grind a person into the ground. Some are predisposed to depression preferring to see the glass half empty than half full.

Treatments for depression vary from chemical/electrical to cognitive behavioral treatment, also known as talking the problem through. For myself, this is what worked for me, and more on that in a moment.

When one is depressed you have no energy to do anything, even to seek happiness. Yet happiness is the one thing you crave so you look for things to make you happy with the least amount of effort. That is a slippery slope to addiction. Alcohol, drugs or even an unhealthy interest in what ever makes you happy at the time. The problem is that these “effort free” solutions are short term and ultimately compound the very problem you are trying to resolve. Happy in the short term then you slide back into that depression that raises the worst of emotions…….guilt!

Like everything in life including happiness, means a little bit of work of your part. The last thing a depressed person wants to hear. That person wants to hear a magical solution, a solution that means they can become happy again without any effort on their part. Emotional exhausted the last thing you want to do is explore the very thing that caused your breakdown. Raking over glowing embers of your own demise.

And so it was that I took the offer of a series of counseling sessions provided by my employee. As a police officer who had pretty much seem it all I slowly found myself grinding to a halt, like swimming through treacle, running out of energy and slowly drowning. The event was the death of my mother, my last surviving relative. For some reason, as distressing as losing her was, it really pressed on me that I was the only one left. It made me question everything. What was the point, everything was futile, why carry on. Certainly not suicidal, but for the first time, seriously I thought about everything. Everything is a very big subject to contemplate! I found myself not wanting to love those persons still alive, still important to me. For if I didn’t then I wouldn’t have to suffer the pain of me losing them. That caused me much guilt and anger, primarily because of my own selfishness.

So I talked through the problems with my counselor. I didn’t find it helpful and it was difficult to open up. Persistence prevailed and whilst talking a voice came out of my throat that wasn’t mine. “My life has no foundation!” As soon as I said that I broke down. I was talking to myself. The truth knocked me sideways. An unhappy childhood came back to haunt me.

That was the turning point. I thought about what has stability without foundation. After some thought I imagined a boat. A vessel floating on life’s problems and as long as I kept water tight, then I would not sink. Myself being water tight meant looking after myself both physically and mentally.

It meant that I was important, as important as any other person alive on this planet. I was no better than any other but equally I was certainly no worse.

Depression is horrible and will find out any one. Sometimes you have to hit the bottom before you can rise again. But don’t see it as a flaw. See as it something that made you stronger, better. Anyone can have faith in themselves when things are going great. It hard to see how valuable you are when you have no value in yourself. For someone that has hit the bottom and thankfully come out of the other side I can tell you that where ever you see yourself right now, if your in that muddy pit with no hand holds to grab on to. Trust me they are there, just outstretch your hand.


10 thoughts on “WELL BEING. #2 Depression

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    1. Stef Many thanks. I may be asking you to contribute to a future blog if your okay with that. Nothing more powerful and instructive than the experience of those that have been through it.

  1. I always found/find your blogs interesting and informative. Sometimes they challenge me and my perceptions. This one humbled me Dave. Thank you for sharing x

  2. I rarely comment on others blogs, but I’m going to on this one.

    You hit the nail on the head with

    ” “The worst thing to hear when one is depressed is “Pull
    yourself together”, “It will get better.”
    Its almost impossible to explain to someone who hasnt suffered with depression, how desperate you are to be happy, but how it just seems to pass you by, whilst others are able to embrace it.

    This is your blog, so I won’t go on, but its an excellent piece of writing, and if people take the time to read it, and then re-read it, they may just get an inkiing of how it has been for you, and how it might be for others in a similar situation.

    I particularly enjoyed the part of the piece in which you talk about the need to take personal responsibility. Its only through doing this, that I myself was able to remove myself from the system of anti-depressant after anti-depressant, and accept, that my life will not be perfect,but that I, we, have the power to improve our lives, just that little bit more.

    Beautiful writing, honest, succinct. I will be sharing this with others.

    1. Max I read your reply with an open mouth. We are not islands, we were designed to love each other and spend time with each other. When we don’t, the system shuts down. But only we as the individual have the power to reboot. We need help and guidance but ultimately it is ourselves that must help ourselves. Love and peace Brother.

  3. Courageous and moving to read , the strength it takes to accept and take action doesn’t come easy. I’m married to a psychotherapist (2nd wife ) every police officer should have one. Support needs to get better and we can only learn how by listening to people like yourself who are honest and brave enough to show us the way

    1. Thanks. The answer is very simple and Im conscious slightly hippy. In the work that we do, we should see ourselves as family, if we don’t then there are loyalty issues apart from the fact of backing up your colleagues issues. I have always referred to them as brothers and sisters. But that is me. By the way. Im not showing the way. Im brave enough to be myself. Thats all. It took most of my life though to do that. A LEAP OF FAITH

  4. Great work Dave. The very, very hardest thing to believe when you are depressed is that any good will come of it. Let’s face it, if you were capable of that level of optimism, you wouldn’t be depressed in the first place. But your concluding remarks are absolutely spot on.

    Suffering depression can prompt the kind of self-examination that means that you can come out of stronger. You can, with effort and persistence, begin to see what makes you a valuable person and what makes your life worthwhile. I know from my own experience that, in a way, depression can give you the head-space to make these discoveries (as long as you can hold it together enough not to go down the road of addictions and destructive behaviour, which admittedly isn’t easy).

    There is actually some new research that bears this out (Measuring the Bright Side of Being Blue: A New Tool for Assessing Analytical Rumination in Depression by Barbic et al). The authors say: “Depression has long been seen as nothing but a problem. We are asking whether it may actually be a natural adaptation that the brain uses to tackle certain problems. We are seeing more evidence that depression can be a necessary and beneficial adaptation to dealing with major, complex issues that defy easy understanding.”

    Goes to show how ridiculous it is that depression is stigmatised. Might as well stigmatise other evolutionary adaptations like humour or living in social groups.

    All the best, Martin

    1. Martin

      A great reply and respect to you. Depression as a reaction to tackle a problem. I have never thought of this. Very very interesting. Many thanks for taking taking the time to post.

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