Asking the blind to see
Those who suffer with a depressive illness may well take a sharp intake of breath, wince and feel their stomach churn when someone, albeit someone who is trying to help, says: ‘Ah, I see, you are stuck in a viscous cycle of self-doubt.
Because you have a negative core self-image, when life gives you a blow, your mood sinks lower than most, which prompts another torrent of internal abuse, which lowers your mood even more.’ Without being too cynical, unfortunately all too often (and particularly at work) this is followed by: ‘The trouble is I need you to trust your instincts.
We all deal with pressure; you really must find a better way to cope.’ Gulp… those fateful words. It was my GP who compassionately taught me not to listen to people who criticised me for feeling so down; as asking someone who is depressed to believe in themselves is like asking a blind man to see.
You see, when things look black, the mind automatically generates negative thoughts, which in turn makes your mood sink lower. Little wonder then, that this mechanism is known as the ‘internal bully’, proverbially kicking you when you are down.
To make matters worse, mood needs to be positive before the mind can battle this internal bully with self-esteem and compassion. Self- doubt is therefore not a conscious decision but an automatic physiological reaction that you cannot stop. Hang on… then I’m defeated, aren’t I?
Fear not, or, to coin a better phrase ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’. If you are depressed you cannot (unfortunately) stop the self-loathing that springs to mind, but you absolutely can work on your fear, which in turn improves your mood. When anxiety (fear) is reduced your mood lifts, making room for self-love. A great friend of mine who volunteers for the Samaritans explained to me that the cure for depression is like a table with four legs: you can cope without one leg but not without two.
For me, by observing my faith, remaining close and devoted to my family, looking after my friends and taking responsibility for my health, I am able to manage the way I feel – these then, are my four legs. And if you think about it, it is easy to see why: they make me feel secure and stop me feeling afraid. If you are coping all on your own with any type of depressive illness, let me give you an incentive to see your GP.
With the help of your GP and a psychotherapist, you can establish your safety mechanisms by creating a support network and learning more about the way you are feeling. You will, like me, walk away cured of depression with your own personal care package: an understanding of how to prevent your mood from sinking and a healthy and happy family and social life to boot.
Please, please, if you are reading this and think that you may be depressed- especially if you are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm – make an appointment to see your GP as early as possible. They are the best people to help you out of a depression and in my experience, will work through it with you until the bitter end. God bless