Posted by andrepetr77
19th May 2018

Before sitting down to write this month’s blog, I got up and grabbed a glass of water. Partly because I felt thirsty and partly because I was trying to procrastinate on writing about this topic. It always brings something up for me, even though some of my worst episodes were many years ago, back when I was in my early to mid twenties. Yes, I did say worst. The suggestion that they have got a lot better to manage is true, however, it still also manages to hit me for four instead of six runs when the cloud looms over these days.
For me, depression comes around when there is an unmet goal; a task that I thought maybe I would have and could have finished earlier but things just kept getting in/keep getting in the way. Back in my twenties, it was because of my parent’s divorce and trying to be all things for my mother – son, husband, confidante – all the while suppressing who I was in the process, in order to fit into whatever idealised ‘man’ picture she had invented for me to be and ensuring that I lived up to it by a mixture of emotional blackmail and discouragement. Fast forward fifteen years and my most recent bout was over Christmas last year – my job had finished (again), my plans to study counselling and psychotherapy were in turmoil and I just did not know what I wanted to do.
I wish I could say that it’s disappeared completely but the fact is it hasn’t. I do have a job now, 2 in fact, and my wife is doing amazingly well as a massage therapist and has also been accepted to study osteopathy. My counselling and psychology training will also be going ahead, thanks to her wonderful heart and generosity, as she has saved the money for the first year of my course, while we slowly pay off the debt accrued for taking out a loan for our current bond on our flat and pay off my credit card. I must admit, seeing her doing so well sometimes make me a tinge green with envy and although things appear to be moving in the right direction for me at the moment, I cannot say with any certainty that they will pan out in the way that I am hoping and wishing them to.
Depression can be overwhelming. It can be difficult. It can be painful. It can lead us to believe that there is absolutely nothing to live for, nothing to shoot for. It can come about when we’re working in a place where we may have some secret knowledge, experience, qualifications, whatever it might be – and we cannot, for one reason or another, share the full extent of that knowledge or practice as the workplace may be subscribed to a different way of doing things and you have to watch day in, day out as you see some instances of good practice and some of downright shoddy, bad practice. It can come from being cut off from your friends and loved ones, sometimes due to the sheer busy-ness of life, other times due to just not wanting to see anyone or do anything. It can rear its head when we set our goals too high and demand far too much of ourselves, it can show itself when we think of past circumstances, instances and experiences which may have, in one way or another, interfered with what we want to do moving forward.
So, how do we beat it? Here are some things that I have used to good effect:
- Decrease the pressure on yourself: Australian rock singer John Farnham wrote a song in the 1980’s called ‘Take the Pressure Down’. Do just that. Stop setting such lofty expectations and goals for yourself and most of all, don’t feel bad when your expectations may fall short of the dizzy heights we so unrealistically set ourselves initially.

- Spread things out and create some valuable ‘me’ time: If overwhelm is a constant source of depression, take it easy! Where you can, prioritise. Writing lists, using the organiser in your phone as an ‘electronic’ brain helps not only to free up space in your schedule, it will also free up space in your mind to look at and address what could really be behind the depression.

- Have some compassion for yourself: This is a big one. Too often, we beat ourselves up for having depression, which only makes matters worse. Especially if we’ve had it before and worked out how to cope with it; obviously we shouldn’t be suffering it again surely! Bad news boys and girls: if you’re a person with a genuine heart and feelings and a deep state of being, chances are that this will not be the last time you experience a peeing on your leg from the proverbial Black Dog. Things happen in life. We sometimes get depressed.

- Talk about it talk about it TALK ABOUT IT: I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard people say ‘what’s the point in talking about it? It’s not like it’s going to change anything’. Maybe not as far as what you might like to see change, but it WILL CHANGE THINGS FOR YOU, EVEN MAKE THINGS CLEARER! (SHOCK HORROR!) In my experience, there’s just something about talking through a problem with a colleague, friend, family member, loved one or partner/husband/wife. It makes sense to think out loud, as an old boss of mine once said. Something just clicks in the mind as we talk. After all, there’s a reason why Mental Health and Talking Therapies in particular have hit front and centre of the news headlines. The only way we’re going to end the stigma around it is by forming words and letting those words come out of our mouths.

- Don’t treat depression as ‘not normal’: It’s VERY normal. You are NORMAL. The day I meet a person who says they’ve never suffered depression in their life is the day I look up how to use a Polygraph for fun on Google and get to work on said person. YOU ARE NORMAL.

- Peunltimately, DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE. Seek out a support group. Go to a therapist. It was the great poet Maryanne Williamson, who penned ‘A Return to Love’, who said: ‘And as you let your own light shine, you unconsciously give others permission to do the same’.

Lastly, I want to share a story with you. It’s August 2004 and I’m at Crown Casino in Melbourne at the Buffy The Vampire Slayer convention with one of my best friends. We’re heading into the area to have our photographs taken with the show’s star who has visited, James Marsters (who played Spike, the Billy Idol-esque vampire who became a fan favourite). He’s just given a kick-arse speech on stage about several things and what struck me was how comfortable he was in his skin.
So it’s my turn and I approach him and he greets me with a smile and says, ‘Hey man, how are you? I’m James. Thanks for being here’. I talk to him about the depression I have been feeling and how I have had several nasty bouts which left me thinking about taking my own life. What happens next changes my life and simultaneously renews my faith in humankind. James’s expression goes from an intent listening expression to one of immediate pain, empathy and compassion. For the next few minutes, he’s not James Marsters and I’m not just a starry-eyed fan, we’re two human beings who have bonded over having faced/facing a similar foe. He rolls up his sleeve and shows me his nicotine patch. “Yeah, I know what you mean man. I’ve been having a real rough time myself this past year. It’s rough”. After speaking some more while we wait for the cameraman to load his camera, James puts a reassuring hand on my shoulder and squeezes it, uttering the words that would forever change my life and set me on the path which I now find myself on today: “The best thing we can do for each other as human beings, is to remind each other we’re not alone”. Click. I thank James and he wishes me luck as we say goodbye. Now, the best part is that I went to the Buffy convention again the following year and met both Anthony Stewart Head (Giles), David Fury (writer for Buffy and Angel) and you guessed it – James, who was back again. As I went up to have my photo with him again, I was so sure he wouldn’t remember me. I approach him with a shy and quiet “Remember me?” To my absolute amazement, he looks at me with recognition and nods his head smiling, uttering to me what were immortal words: “Yeah man, of course I remember you. How are you doing these days? “ I was shocked. A mega sci-fi and fantasy TV and film star, with a schedule as busy as all hell, remembered ME. So this is me: telling you that even though we haven’t met yet and may never, doing my best to remind you that the best thing we can do for each other as human beings is to remind each other we’re not alone.

Share Email a friend Be the first to comment on this blog