I'm learning to fight my demons: One man's struggle with depression

Some years ago, I went to see an acupuncturist. I told him my woes, of which, as usual, there were many, and he was quite aghast at what he heard.

‘It’s not acupuncture you need,’ he said with impressive honesty. ‘It’s therapy. You strike me as someone who has everything going for him. You have a nice home, a happy marriage, you love your children, you enjoy your work, yet all you seem to want to do is wallow in a swamp of misery and imagine you’re a failure.’

‘OK, I’ll try therapy,’ I said. But I had no intention of doing so. I had tried therapy once before when I was in my 20s and found it to be the most tremendous waste of time and money. Sure, it was pleasant sitting with a sympathetic woman and talking about nothing but myself for a whole glorious hour. What I loathed, though, was the notion that the solution might involve changing my personality in some way.

However, what I did learn from those therapy sessions is that I am a depressive – a manic depressive, actually, because I go way, way up as well as way, way down.

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14 thoughts on “I'm learning to fight my demons: One man's struggle with depression”

  1. You do realise that Warmists are going to sieze on this and proclaim:- “aha, only the mentally ill are sceptical about man- made climate change” and give one James Dellingpole as an example! Where the truth is, when presented with the true facts about climate, one has to be mad, deluded or making money out of it to believe in CAGW.

    But seriously, self help is the way forward here. I have known some friends benefit from CBT, look it up, try it! Better than medication.

  2. There’s something quite hokey about NLP which leads me to believe the whole ‘movement’ is a load of trendy pop-psychology nollocks. I read a book back in 1980 called, Psycho-Cybernetics, which, essentially say the same things as NLP. Good luck.

  3. First of all thank you for having the courage to discuss your “personal hell” I have suffered from what’s called “Double Depression” a fairly rare disorder, most of my life. It consists of a constant “flat line” depression along with periodic major Depressive Episodes.

    My disorder came from a near fatal encounter with Hospital Staph infection (of the flesh eating variety) in 1958, when I was 11. Unfortunately in those days there were no effective antibiotics so I spent 3 months hovering between life and death.
    The damage done to my Amygdalae and Hypothalmus brain centers by an out-of-control immune system gave me a life sentence of the periodic “Black Dog” as your most famous PM used to call it.

    I do wonder about your avoidance of medications. If you do have Bi Polar disorder it is very difficult to control the mood swings without them. Of course the problem for sufferers, as you have already stated, is that standard meds “flatline” your mood so you miss those great “up” periods. But I really can’t see how you can use the method you are touting when a Major Depressive Episode kicks in. In my experience fluffy clouds and great plans for the future would be crushed under the weight of the black cloud that descends over your mind.

    I am a firm believer in meds, at least for my problem, which is actually physical. The many Freud- following Psychiatrists I have seen over the years did absolutely NOTHING for me with the exception of lightening my pocketbook. Recently I found a physician who specializes in brain chemistry and medical treatment of these disorders. He was a literal life saver as I could be a suicide candidate at some point.

    Lastly I don’t understand why you would even consider SSRI’s such as Prozac ( a real stone age version of the medication group) anyway. Here in the States they would rarely if ever be used for Bi Polar disorder. Possibly for OCD (Obssesive Compulsive Disorder) in some cases. Your OCD is probably an offshoot of BPD anyway. I have some of it myself. I actually own 7 vacuums! But I don’t worry about that, I just sweat out the next depressive “episode”.

  4. James

    Firstly, can I echo the praise rightly given by previous commenters for your courage and integrity in discussing this openly.

    Can I recommend you get hold of a book called “Overcoming Depression” by Paul Gilbert. It was recommended to me about 12 years ago by a psychiatrist (but as a friend, not as a medical practioner) when I was going through a prolonged period of anxiety & low self-esteem probably verging on clinical depression, following the rather brutal break-up of a relationship in which I’d invested a lot of emotional capital. I found it a great guide to the self-application of the basic techniques of cognitive behavioural therapy, and it was a huge help at the time.

    It may be out of print, but if you would like to read it but can’t get hold of a copy, please, please e-mail me and I’d be delighted to pass mine on to you. It’s the very least I could do as a contribution towards ensuring that the multiple and manifest inanities of ManBearPig continue to get the excoriation they so thoroughly deserve.

  5. James, it’s hard for us “normal” people to get their heads round this condition, but the litany of successful, popular and talented people who suffer from it demonstrate that it’s a real and nasty problem. Can’t help, I’m afraid, and at a loss as to what to suggest, except maybe listen to Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, which always gives me a lift. With Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry, Be Happy as backup!

    In the knowledge that you and your work are highly appreciated by thousands of perfect strangers, good luck.


  6. “Simulated Torso says:
    July 30, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    There’s something quite hokey about NLP which leads me to believe the whole ‘movement’ is a load of trendy pop-psychology nollocks. -snip- ”

    Yes, it might seem like that to you and me and others who are mentally healthy- because we don’t need NLP or CBT etc. But to someone that needs help with “matters upstairs” it can be a huge help- gives them the tools they need to regain control of their own thoughts.

  7. James – take heart, your prolonged depression should be lifting soon…………after all, 13yrs of Labour tyranny ended 3 months ago.

    Be patient, life will be infinitely better without the likes of Brown, Smith, Harman, Balls, Straw and others in it.

  8. Having been a long time sufferer of depression and OCD you have my sympathy, I have tried medication and it sucks even Lithium which makes you lethargic and gives you I don’t give a sh*t attitude, tried another which had the effect of turning me into a raging maniac. I decided enough was enough and quit cold turkey. I tried therapy and some therapists have some weird belief systems and generally don’t work.
    Eventually with some thought I changed my diet more fresh food prepared from scratch and I feel a lot better these days and one thing that brings me great peace is going for a walk in the countryside with a dog, being further south latitude wise helps as the sunshine levels are better and so no winter blues.
    As for the OCD that took great effort on my part to stop but by force of will I have stopped most of the worst effects.

  9. James:

    Perfection *always* has to wait.

    I’m touched by your predicament. Any medical aspect, of course I can’t and wouldn’t comment on. But otherwise: would you mind if I gave my advice as a ‘friend’ (it’s a sympathy/empathy/mind thing, I don’t have to be someone you dine with)? Forgive me if it is surplus to requirements and/or what you already know.

    My immediate thought was: Try to think about yourself as someone interested in the truth of things. And be that person — as of course you really are. That does not mean confronting all evils. In fact, the truth may well be that an evil would be bad for you to look straight into — like a sensitive person seeing a film about torture, for instance. So it’s not just ‘confronting reality’ — whose reality? what reality? for what purpose? — it’s about being truthful with yourself about what you can know, who you are, what is the best step to take, and so on. Sometimes the answer is contrary to ‘the obvious’. The important thing is to retain your confidence even when you have discovered something contrary to ‘the obvious’, the conventional, the commonly accepted, etc.

    I hope this doesn’t sound like awful waffle — it’s not meant to be — I’m completely sincere and I’m describing how I orient myself; it means accepting some limitations you may have, right now or always, as truth rather than as something merely bad. Because the love of wisdom — self-understanding and the capacity to understand others as well — that is the greatest virtue. And I think that virtue — the striving after and grasping of real virtue — is important to happiness. It’s essential, in fact. It is the foundation of any philosophy — philosophia, you know what that means — worth the name. (There is much ‘philosophy’ not worth the name.)

    Anyway it sounds as if I’m getting abstract but there is nothing abstract about this. To have integrity regarding the truth — which might *involve* a kind of courage but is not the same as courage, and might *involve* justice but is not identical with being just as most people think of it — this is what I would think about and aim for. In fact the virtue most closely allied with the truth-seeking I’m speaking of is prudence. But it’s not a cold, merely calculating, unerotic prudence. It’s a prudent truth-seeking that wants the best for everyone, including yourself. It’s a yearning for the good and even the beautiful in truth, a reaching-out for truth that you can use. I wish you well, truly. Amanda [Bernsen — surname confidential please]

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