"In my life, I have known some sadness and much happiness; I have enjoyed memorable experiences and moments of regret. I have often felt hurt and pain, but such emotions could never match the tremendous happiness and joy of having seen my children born and grow up into adults of whom any parent could be proud. I have tasted disappointment and sometimes had to eat humble pie, but I have also had the good fortune to marry the best home cook in West Yorkshire. I have loved and lost and eventually finished up as the luckiest winner in the 'Romantic Jackpot Stakes' in my 70th year of life when I married Sheila.
From all my emotions felt; one has always thankfully remained absent; that of 'depression' and feeling so low that only the ending of one's life seemed to show a way out.
None of us will travel our journey through life without experiencing some degree of hurt, hardship, disappointment, sadness and grief. Few of us will go through life without experiencing the pain of bereavement, whether the creature we mourn is person or pet. There are some people though, who will experience what I consider to be possibly the worse illness of all; acute and long-term depression.
It might surprise some readers that while I recognise the tremendous pain that involves a person seeing a loved one diagnosed with a terminal illness; at least that person has the opportunity to prepare for their last supper and say a proper 'Goodbye' to their family and loved ones, as do they. But, let's say a healthy young person with all their life before them goes out the door to the local shop one bright and sunny day, gets hit by a passing bus and is killed instantly Imagine the tremendous shock and pain it will cause their bereaved loved ones to have experienced the unexpected cut off ,and for the life of their loved one to have ended in a moment!
Even a person who becomes insane or some elderly parent or partner who has acute dementia doesn't know most of the time or none of the time what is going on around them. This rapid advancement of this savage illness that eats into their memories, yet also protects them from the knowing the mental condition that afflicts them! These are definitely situations where ignorance can be a kind of bliss by representing an absence of worry for the sufferer.
But a deeply depressed person is heavily cut by each perceived slight spoken to them. They are wounded deeply by every small criticism they may receive. They wrongly believe that they are a burden on their friends and family, who, they come to believe would be better off without them. They forever find themselves trapped in negative thoughts at the bottom of a pessimistic pit, writhing in a state of permanent regret. Their emotions are imprisoned within the darkest dungeon of despair. They find themselves entwined within a bouquet of barbed wire that stifles all softness and comfort in their thoughts and emotions, and allows no prospect of escape. As they start to lack all sense of meaningful purpose to their lives and lose all happiness and hope, they become physically, emotionally, psychologically and mentally lost in a storm of 'learned helplessness', as the final morsel of self-worth is drained from them.
The problems that most of us can expect to go through in our lives vary enormously from person to person. Sometimes hurt and heartache occurs and can be relatively short-lived, enabling the person to quickly get back on track. On other occasions, the hurt and pain can be protracted from what ought to be months if healthily processed before physical wellbeing begins to return and emotional healing takes place. When such hurtful emotions remain suppressed and not healthily processed, however, months can grow into years and years into decades!
The difference between emotions being healthily processed by the body instead of undergoing repression and transformation into an emotional breakdown and acute depression is akin to going into a tunnel; some are longer than others, but eventually, one can see the light at the end of the tunnel and will come out of it. However, if you experience 'deep and sustained depression', it's nothing like being in a tunnel.There is no light or end in sight and eventually, the person who is depressed starts to feel themselves in a deep cave no way out!
I would identify depression as being one of the worse illnesses on record that is invariably hidden deep inside the walking wounded of this world. It is a medical condition that receives inadequate funding and resources from every Government of the day. I would call this condition the Cinderella of our N.H.S. It is like the invasive enemy of every social gardener; the bindweed that strangles all healthy lifeform continuing to grow around it.
In my professional life, I worked with hundreds of depressed people over the years and I found their condition to be one of the most difficult to help; yet they were the group of people whom my success rate proved the highest. It was always hard to strike the right balance, as there are a number of types of depression; some more difficult to positively intervene in than others. Part of me acknowledged that when at its most severe, depression requires some tablet medication from the doctor 'on a tempory basis'. My work with depressive people informed me, however, that on a long-term basis, taking antidepressants did more harm than good; and once they became addictive, the pills were as hard to give up as an alcoholic finds stopping drinking alcohol, a chain smoker, tobacco, or a heroin addict finds giving up the needle.
My research over twenty-five years with this type of client revealed that most patients who were prescribed strong drugs by their GP to combat the worse effects of depression were left on them so long that they became addictive to them. I also found that although all doctors are supposed to review their continued usage after a six week period, most patients went years without a review. From the two hundred and fifteen (215) depressed people I worked with and whose long-term progress I followed up and researched, over fifty (50) had been taking their antidepressants for over ten years and over one hundred and thirty people (130) had been on antidepressants without a break for over five years! From all the two hundred and fifteen people I worked with (215), all except twenty-two of them (22) had stopped taking all their drug medication by the end of the six-month weekly group programmes I put them through, and from the remaining twenty-two (22) group members, twenty (20) had reduced their drug intake significantly. A ten-year follow-up programme on two hundred and one (201) of these group members (I was unable to trace the rest), revealed that one hundred and eighty-eight (188) had remained drug-free since their programme membership ended. This success rate within the national Probation Service was unrivalled at the time, and to the best of my knowledge has remained so ever since.
Without going into all the reasons behind the methods of work I found most effective, I include some of those methods of work I consider essential in helping people with acute depression:
One: Top of the list to form a foundation for all other work to be built on is Relaxation Training or any other meditational discipline such as Yoga or Transdential Meditation.
Two: Some form of Fear Reduction, Anger Management, Stress Reduction and Social Skills Training.
Three: Working in groups is a more effective way, than on a one-to-one basis. Knowing that you are not alone with this condition helps one to feel less alone.
Unfortunately, there will always be those people who help has evaded or was not made available before their depression converted to a form of emotional disturbance and mental breakdown that made them suicidal. I've attended the funerals of half a dozen such people in my life. I always found the suicide of a loved one to be even more distressing and harder to live with by the bereaved, than if they'd died by any other means; even murder!
When depression invades a person, the body is effectively at war with itself; their mind and body are at war with each other in a vicious search for peace. My knowledge of the French-Algerian writer, Albert Camus, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, informed me that he often experienced depressive episodes in his life.This leads me to believe that he was in effect referring to 'depression' when he made his famous quote that 'Peace is the only battle worth waging'.
Bear in mind when you hear one of the most common responses to depression, 'Snap out of it!' being voiced, that if the sufferer of depression could snap out of it, they most certainly would. Also, beware that when one makes the polite enquiry of 'How are you?' to any depressed person, the depressed person is more than likely to hide their true feelings with the response, 'I'm fine'.
If you are someone who gets depressed, then I urge you to learn how to relax and practise this discipline at least once daily. You don't even have to outlay money for a suitable relaxation tape. As one of the country's foremost Relaxation Trainers between 1972 and 2005, I produced a Relaxation tape in the early 1970s which I freely gave to 5,000-10,000 people who could benefit. Just follow the link below to freely access this tape, but bear in mind that it was produced over forty-five years ago. It was so popular at the time that I rejected an offer of £10,000 for its copyright, as I wanted it to be a gift to people who suffered from stress and depression, and who found it difficult to get to sleep and to stay asleep. It is called, 'Relax with Bill' " William Forde: February 18th, 2018.