Why Continue to Suffer from Depression?
If you work with me to see the source of your problems you will be able to solve them and build a better life, to deal with them at the root, and to build a better life.
What is Depression?
If you are hit by depression then the answer to this question feels obvious. You have no sense of forward movement in life and feel doomed to failure.
There are as many forms of depression as there are people. Some, probably all of us at some time, have been plunged into depression by overwhelming defeats or humiliations. This is a depression in reaction to devastating events. It would be hard to lose one's job without passing through a period of depression. Mourning a death, the end of a cherished relationship, and other losses are severe tests. We may have to pass through a personal hell before a cheerful and hopeful sense of life can return. But these are all challenges that people survive and ultimately through them become stronger and, perhaps even, wiser. It may seem that the light of life and hope has returned of its own accord but really it is because the sufferer has worked through his difficulties, both consciously and unconsciously, and because he has seen himself connected to the problems of the rest of the world. Coming to a counsellor can help in this process but many find their way through this with the help of friends and family, or just relying on inner reserves of their own.
In this process we can glimpse the positive aspect of depression. Our forward movement in life has been checked and we have given ourselves an ultimatum: to concentrate our resources and energies on this problem until the solution is reached.
But there are many for whom depression has a different nature. They are generally those who have taken a depressive stance from early in childhood. At a deep and mostly unconscious level they have believed that they are incapable of living fully without the help of others. They have felt the need very often of calling by means of their helplessness and hopelessness for the assistance, support and comfort of others. Over time those others, family, friends, acquaintances, become less and less willing to put themselves into the sufferer's service: the sufferer becomes convinced that the longed-for support will not come. A perverse and self-pitying celebration of oneself as a noble and sensitive soul may develop, in which self-concern weakens concern for others, and which then makes it extremely difficult for the sufferer to break out into a full life. Deep within there may be a bitterness and anger that the world is so arranged that the help that comes is never enough to change the depressive state. There is an expectation of failure. It also makes it difficult for anyone else, counsellor, psychotherapist or family member, to help. The sufferer too readily takes the help to comfort him in his situation, when he would better serve himself by using it as a lever to solve his problem.
What Helps with Depression?
The second paragraph above gives us the answer to this question in principle. Those who overcome reactive depression do so by actively working on their problems, and gradually establishing or re-establishing a positive view of their lives in connection with the world. The person who has given up hope is in a far worse position until he brings himself to abandon his world-view. One problem is that he is certain about his world-view, which seems self-evident. Another problem is that his pride and self-pity are now deeply invested in that world-view. Another is that being convinced that all striving on his part will bring nothing, he cannot bring himself to act. He looks for others to help but expecting disappointment, and when their help does not change him (how could it?), he feels his hopeless world-view confirmed.
If you are such a person thinking about coming to me for help, you may feel dismayed by my unflattering description of what may be at the root of your problem. And it is certain that you will differ in one of a billion ways from that spare description, since every individual is unique. However, you will recognise those parts which are salient.
All of us, without exception probably, have a mistaken view of life and our part in it. This view is tested by our actions in life and altered over time. The depressive stance in life is more resistant to change because it avoids all tests. Part of what I offer is to help you revisit the formation of your world-view, so that you understand how it was formed and how it could be different. An essential part of my help will be an emphasis on you taking action in favour of others and leaving your own concerns to one side.
Though you may feel you have no hope, I know that the hope that is buried within you will emerge, if you engage actively in the process of psychotherapy with me. You will find more about the help that I offer and how to contact me on my home page Surrey Counselling & Psychotherapy