Beating depression – a new column from author and writer Paul Holmes

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Paul Holmes – author of A Man Derailed: An Autobiography on Depression

Can We Beat Depression? Depression is a very difficult illness to control, you may say this is obvious, but do you really understand why?

Depression makes you see, hear and feel the world in a very different way. You are very reluctant to seek help, as this means you feel like a failure. You will never be open with others about it as you will not believe they can understand. If someone says to you,

“If you ever need to talk, you know where I am,” you know you will not, because what do they care? They made a genuine offer but the stigma of depression makes you put up walls, you want to hide away or worse you want to no longer live. Your senses become so sharp, any negative word or bad action towards you is exaggerated in your mind one hundred times over and so your reaction is to shut yourself away and just prevent any bad situation happening again.

The shutting away action means that these situations become impossible to deal with. Slowly over time you lose friends and contact with family and the downward spiral of depression spins forever more.

How can we reverse these vicious circles that engulf this person’s life? There is one key word that is also the hugest hurdle for sufferers to jump and that is motivation. If you do not care about yourself why would you want to help yourself?

The depression makes you feel like you are not worth it. It is almost impossible to find motivation to do good for yourself when you hate yourself. You are not worth the GP’s time, not worth taking up the hour or two with your friends to explain how you feel and the list goes on. How can we change that way of thinking? It is so hard.

We need to form an environment around sufferers to allow them to be honest and open about how they feel. GP’s do not do this, and how can they in the 3 minutes allotted time we are given? When you go to a GP, you must just go there with the sole purpose of getting referred to a mental health team. It’s not that GP’s do not care, it’s just they do not have the time to sit down and talk things through.

You can never explain things properly as they need to be winkled out of you by someone who is trained in these matters. You will more than likely be rushed out the door being made to feel you have just wasted your time. Another downward spiral starts as you have just been made to feel worthless and so the illness gets worse.

Depression is a minefield. Not just for the sufferer but also for those around them. I know my own depression has not only affected me but also my wife and family. I needed to find that one thing that would motivate me to fight back.

For me it was exercise and food. Exercise made me feel as if I was walking on thin air. Something in my brain switched on and all of a sudden I felt good about myself. I was doing something positive that for a few hours made me feel alive. I do believe that GP’s should be able to write prescriptions for gym sessions. The affect is enormous. Over time things become a little easier, the vicious circles spiral up and all of a sudden you become addicted to this feeling of, well, feeling bloody good.

Read John’s book, A Man Derailed –  his own account of his battle with this illness: