Recently I visited Beachy Head, which is one of the most beautiful places in
It is important to realize that a person suffers from depression. Symptoms manifest themselves by sadness, loss of interest in almost everything or poor lifestyle ... There are a lot of tests on the Internet where one can establish the degree of intensity of depression. In my article How to deal with problem seekers I mention that these people do not want to admit that something is wrong in their lives. If they sought advice, they would have learned how to deal with their anger or rage more constructively.
Charles told me that before he was diagnosed with depression he would never want to admit to himself that he had a mental health problem. He only realized when he had to seek psychiatric emergency. The situation was so bad that it took him three years before his started to improve. It was only during therapy that his psychologist drew his attention to the fact, that during his childhood other members of his family were dependent on him. Everyone needed him, and therefore he was not able to receive emotional support he naturally needed as a child. In addition, the members of his own family sexually abused him.
1. Remember that you suffer from depression and seek professional help. In the case of suicidal thoughts you should seek help urgently.
Then we discussed the extent to which depression can be classified as an illness. Of course psychological conditions cannot be "caught". Aside from some minor exceptions, such as bipolarity, depression cannot be passed through genes. We can of course come across cases where family members are predisposed or affected, but the question is more, how they learn to cope with difficult situations - often using the same or similar tactics as the rest of the family. When we break a leg, we know for certain that it will be kept in plaster for 6 weeks. In case of mental illness we cannot exactly pinpoint the length of the duration. Charles, while depressed, thought that there was no chance that he would ever get better. He especially could not stand it when he was told by others to pull himself together and that others in his situation managed it. Today he knows that depression will sooner or later pass. Although Charles used to be desperate, he always believed that light would appear at the end of the dark tunnel.
2. Even though you think there is no chance that you will ever improve, everyone eventually overcomes depression in their own time. Keep in mind therefore that at the end of the path of suffering light is sure to appear.
In the case of Charles, his illness manifested itself as a result of something that had happened some 30 years ago. The trauma of sexual abuse had caused a feeling of inferiority, feelings of guilt and fear, and when he was little, he could not confer with anyone. Therefore, he learned not to share his feelings with anybody and bottled them up inside him. At work he was not able to say NO, when asked to work over time. Increasingly he quarreled with his wife at home till he suffered a nervous breakdown. Nowadays people are in constant pursuit of material values, they want to have more and more. Among his work colleagues it was always debated who has a better car, and comparison was made against those of their neighbors. When somebody in the neighborhood bought an expensive car, he or she started the competition for the best car in the street and everyone gradually started to own better equipped cars. By that Charles meant to say that nobody has time to get to know oneself and that we all try to reach something we do not even know what. We leave ourselves to be ruled by various vices such as alcoholism, cigarettes and drugs, but also seemingly less harmful activities such as spending excessive time working, studying, exercising, watching television, or spending time on the Internet. Charles explains that enjoying reading to broaden your horizons is beneficial, but if you read to escape something, it could be apparently harmful.
3. Make time for yourself so you can find out who you are and what you expect from life. Watch yourself so as to discover whether you do not exaggerate certain activities, even those that seem harmless at first glance.
Charles always thought that he had a special gift to be the only family member to get on well with his grandfather. His grandfather did not have an easy childhood, when he lost his parents at a very young age. He found it hard to cope with and often lost his temper and shouted at others. Charles's mother suffered a nervous collapse, but Charles helped her to return her purpose in life. When the psychologist asked Charles, who was giving him emotional support when he was little, he did not know. The psychologist opened his eyes and guided him on the right path. But before Charles was encouraged to relive the moments when he was sexually abused in childhood. This method of therapy did not suit him at all and he used to return home with an even worse mood. Therefore, here follows the next strategy.
4. You definitely need professional help as it would be almost impossible to manage everything on your own, but you need to choose the appropriate form. If you feel worse after therapy, it is necessary to find something new and continue with it, because problems are usually very complex and need longer time to be solved.
As a result of his abuse in childhood Charles learned to back away from everything and tried to satisfy everyone without letting others know how he felt himself. He was never able to tell his abusers NO and was too scared to talk to his parents about his incidents of sexual abuse. Whenever sex scenes appeared on television, his parents immediately expelled him out of the room, stating that he must not watch such obscenities. They were far too ashamed to discuss any sex education openly with their children, so when Charles asked them how he came into this world, the answer was that he was brought by a stork. On the other hand, adults who abused him told him the truth, but not always in a way which he could understand. He said he felt that he was selling his body for truth and that he felt ashamed and unclean. Likewise, he felt as uncertain in relationships with women and did things that he did not want just to please others and this is why he was unable to refuse extra requests of work. Therefore, the next advice from Charles is
5. Learn to say NO and explain to others how you feel.
Eventually it was his depression that said NO for him. Charles was so ill that he could not work for three years. His body gave up and did not want to do what it was asked and this way arranged some healing time. Charles felt often guilty that he was useless and not able to take care of his family and provide for his wife and children financially. He constantly blamed himself for everything, but then began to understand that he can become interested in other things for which he previously did not have time. His children got on better with him, because he played more with them, read to them and took them on trips. And he resolved that he wanted to help others who were experiencing similar situations as he used to, and therefore participates in patrol at
6. Do not blame yourself for things that turned out badly. Often these are matters that you could not influence for better. Try to find something positive in a negative situation.
Living with a depressive is not easy. But Charles told me how he appreciated his wife’s help and encouragement and how she eventually pulled him out of depression. But a lot of friends, family and even the neighbors were very nice to him at that time, and he is again very grateful, because without their help, he would not know how to manage it. His seventh strategy is therefore as follows.
7. Surround yourself with people who can help you during your difficult period
Meanwhile, we admired a beautiful sunset and Charles told me that tomorrow would be a new day. When he started to pull out of depression some days were still very bad, so he always thought that he should be looking forward to a better day the following morning. He hung his motto, TOMORROW WILL BE BETTER on the living room wall and those words helped him to become increasingly positive at times when it looked that everything was just going down the hill again.
It was time to say goodbye, and on my way home, I reflected that for the English who are not very open and need some alcohol to come out of their shells, it must often be difficult to deal with depression. When I first came to
Charles remained on patrol until late that evening and before we parted, he told me that the above strategies worked for him and as each of us has a completely different experience, all of his advice may not necessarily be suitable for everyone. Charles had many other interesting comments, but I have already written about many of them in my Seven strategies how to cope with illness or disability, which can also be found on the pages of Disabled World and Pozitivní noviny cz (Positive Newspapers).
At the end I would like to return to the question which I asked myself in the course of writing this article. I think that depression is not an illness as such, but it contributes to many health problems that people and doctors cannot explain as they did not appear on any tests. We constantly learn more about how our mind and physical body are interlinked and interact. Doctors still do not know exactly how exactly drugs heal depression. In research studies, both people who take antidepressants and those who only take placebo, get better. In any case, it is necessary to consult a psychiatrist and never stop taking any medication at once. I rather think that depression is a series of bad habits that can be gradually overcome. It's also a warning that something in our lives is wrong and that we should pay attention to this and do something about it. It is therefore possible that depression often comes back because some internal conflict persists, but as Charles says, in time we should be able to overcome it.