Behaviour Depression

How Depressed are you Today?

When I did my psychotherapy training we were told to treat clients with care because they were vulnerable and to listen to what they say. Whenever anyone lays down a rule to everybody I always question it. We are all descendants of survivors. The further back we go in history the worse were the living circumstances for the vast majority. I believe it is best for practitioners to talk with them as we talk to everyone else. We are all in the same boat. A client once said to me “You cannot imagine how awful it is to be depressed”. “Indeed I can. I grew up during the war and was depressed throughout my adolescence. In those days no-one paid attention to children unless they didn’t do their homework”.

My client said “Am I working with a damaged therapist?” “Of course you are. You won’t find anyone who is not. My experience is that unless we have worked through out own difficulties and come to terms with them, we are not fit to work with clients”.

One day I had a phone call from a lady who was very distressed and wanted to come to see me that afternoon. She was crying so hard I could scarcely make out what she was saying. I made an appointment in two days time. When she arrived my husband opened the door and told her to go upstairs to my consulting room.

She sat down and continued crying very loudly for a few minutes. As she slowed down I spoke to her. “How long have you been doing this?” She stopped crying and looked very surprised. “I don’t know” she said. “You must know. You are doing it” I replied. “ten years?” She thought for a moment and started to cry again. “Two weeks?” I said. “You are slowing down now. I think I can cry much better than you.” I threw myself about and made the strongest screeches I could imagine. “See what I can do! Try it again and put more energy into it.”

She burst into laughter. When she had stopped she said “Don’t you want to know my story?” “Not particularly, but you can if you must.”

She started and before long she got into her stride.. I stopped her after ten minutes. “Do you know what you are doing?” “What do you mean?” she said. “You are very good at complaining. One of the best I’ve ever had.” She paused again and then laughed and couldn’t stop. “I didn’t know psychotherapists were like this.” “No they are not” I replied.

“Can I come to see you again? I don’t know what you are doing but I feel a lot better.”

“Well I suppose so but you must practice laughing every time you feel like crying. It must be more fun.”

“You do say funny things!” she said as she put her coat on and went downstairs chuckling to herself . My husband was astounded. “Whatever did you do with her? When I opened the door she was crying and ten minutes later I walked past your door and she was laughing!” There must be something in this psychotherapy lark. Well done!”

This lady came back after only two more visits. This doesn’t happen twice. Every client is different. She was an attention seeker, a particular species that I come across quite often. All they have to do is to find a new method.


Depression and Sickness, Really?

Time is a mystery. It can seem to go very quickly or very slowly. It depends on how you are feeling and thinking. Some people never think they have enough time and others believe they have too much.

If you are in hospital and too sick to do anything, it is most likely that time passes slowly. However, if you are unconscious, time may pass quickly or slowly. However these are unusual situations for nearly all of us.

Since time immemorial most human beings have had no choice in what they do to earn a living. If we enjoy our work time goes quickly and if we don’t it goes slowly. Therefore employers end up paying more to slower workers because they take more time than quicker ones who work faster and better. When we enjoy what we do we feel well, and rarely get sick. Employees who take off more time sick than the rest are the ones who don’t like their work. Employers beware!

If we all did what we do best there would be far less illness. Have you noticed a time when you were feeling tired and fed-up and you suddenly get a piece of good news and your instant response is to feel overflowing with energy? One moment you feel like going to bed, then something good happens and the next minute you jump for joy.

‘Depression’ is not an illness as many psychotherapists have been trained to think. It is a normal state of mind that we all feel from time to time. The opposite is ‘joy’ but no-one calls that an illness. But if these two emotions, depression and joy become excessively strong and happen in quick succession it is diagnosed as an illness: ‘manic depression’.

Does this mean that we should try to hold back a bit and become calmer? Not at all! Even if this is possible. Our feelings come and go in response to what is happening in our lives.

There is a proverb ‘Moderation in all things’. My father said it to me when I was studying and playing the piano for much longer than he thought was healthy. I don’t believe it. I got intense pleasure from these two activities. They helped me to get through the most difficult time in my life, my adolescence. Fortunately I had a stronger character than my father and he could not stop me. My reply to him was that Beethoven would never have composed so much beautiful music if he believed in moderation. His reply to me was “I don’t see what you like in that heavy stuff. I like a good tune.” There was no answer to that. He went away and I went on playing.

Why is it that some people get sick through working too hard and others do not? If we love what we are doing from our own skills, without trying to copy anyone else, we nourish our spirits and our bodies. Creative people often live to a great age and never retire.