The 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.