I‘ve written before about depression being natural, and tried to convey in a short story what it’s like. There are those that believe it’s a disease that can be treated, and they may be right, though we’re a long, long way from doing so. I believe that everyone has the right to treat it, or nor treat it, as they choose, and I believe everyone has the right to take their own life if it becomes too much to bear. If you can’t imagine this, you just don’t know.

I’m skeptical about psychotherapy, and about drugs & herbs, though I know some people who swear by one or both. Here are some other therapies that may also work for some people. If you know of others, let me know.

  1. Eat Well: A good balance of foods, nutritional stuff, avoid excess sugar, alcohol and caffeine, eat regularly and moderately, ensure you get your vitamins and minerals.
  2. Light Up Your Life: Turn up the lights, walk in the sun, enjoy candles and lanterns and other exotic lights.
  3. Listen: To music, happy or sad, whatever transports you, and sing if you want to.
  4. Talk: To someone you trust, or care about, or love; yelling and crying are OK too if you feel like it.
  5. Exercise: Get your heart and adrenaline pumping; sex counts too.
  6. Learn Something New: What TH White said.
  7. Travel: Go somewhere you’ve never been, or someway you’ve rarely travelled. Walking, trains, go-karts, bicycles, whatever you like.
  8. Spend Time with Animals: Unconditional love, undemanding company.
  9. Write: No rules, no editing, just writing.
  10. Be Good to Yourself: Don’t beat yourself up. There’s nothing to be guilty for. It’s not your fault. Yeah, I know you’ve heard this, and to some extent it’s crap, but there’s no point punishing yourself for things beyond your control. Give yourself a break. Do what you want to do. Don’t do what you don’t want to do. Give yourself time. Get angry if you feel like it. If you’re up to it, treat yourself to something special. You’re good, important, lovable, even if you (and others) don’t believe it right now. Love yourself as soon and as much as you can. You deserve to be happy, peaceful, free of the demons and the darkness.

Notice that I didn’t include ‘avoid stress’ on this list. I didn’t want to insult your intelligence. Now I’m off to walk Chelsea, with the sad and uplifting music of Procol Harum and Blue Rodeo still rattling around my head:

I sat me down to write a simple story which maybe in the end became a song
In trying to find the words which might begin it I found these were the thoughts I brought along

At first I took my weight to be an anchor qnd gathered up my fears to guide me round
But then I clearly saw my own delusion and found my struggles further brought me down

In starting out I thought to go exploring and set my foot upon the nearest road
In vain I looked to find the promised turning, but only saw how far I was from home

In searching I forsook the paths of learning, and sought instead to find some pirate’s gold
In fighting I did hurt those dearest to me, and still no hidden truths could I unfold

I sat me down to write a simple story which maybe in the end became a song
The words have all been writ by one before me. We’re taking turns in trying to pass them on.

Now I think I know why you sounded so strange on the telephone
Itís hard when you discover what keeps you going keeps you all alone

Dreams so real you thought the smoke might never clear
Now you hide it all behind endless cigarettes and tears

Somebody waits for the time I know will never come
You get yourself so high, then you fall down feeling blue
One day youíll wake up and realize youíve had enough
Thereís a thousand shining moments waiting just to happen to you

Wait until youíre stronger — thereís no sense leaving when youíre down so low
Well it takes the heart a little longer to see the point in finally letting go

You lose your touch out there standing in the rain
When itís all too much you feel like slipping down again

Somebody waits for the time I know will never come
You get yourself so high, then you fall down feeling blue
One day youíll wake up and realize youíve had enough
Thereís a thousand shining moments waiting just to happen to you

And in two days I leave for Paris. The food there’s pretty good, I think.

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  1. Rayne says:

    <sniff> Now that’s depressing…me here and NOT in Paris…

  2. Indigo Ocean says:

    This is a good list. For most people I know who have overcome depression there is one other item that is on the list. There is a sense of faith in something greater than the self, in something greater than any human construct, whether our institutions or our societal pathologies. It is something that is basically good and loving, whether conceived as a force, entity, or natural law. It inspires a relationship of trust and the hope that comes with that. We all wish to feel connected. We want loving relationship with our neighbors and the earth itself. And we want those we love to be well and happy, or else our own happiness is tainted by concern for them.We all care about what is happening to the collective human experience, as well as that happening to the Earth. In some it is less conscious, but at the level that generates a spiritual malaise we all know the truth, whether we can consciously access that inner wisdom or not. Trying to use our intellects to capture the whole truth and see every step to creating acceptable futures for ourselves, our progeny, and our entire ecosystem is just impossible. It overwhelms and depresses. I say that I believe in God because I am a pragmatist. We can’t know conclusively what is going on at that level because our minds can’t capture anything that large. Whether we do or don’t believe is a leap of faith. I figure, if I have to guess, why not make the guess that leads to my living a life with more hope and joy? So I believe in a God force (not entity) that is moving the world towards healing and wisdom. It is a slow and patient process with tides that rise and fall within the great forward motion, so to our limited timelines it could seem like this isn’t happening. But as a leap of faith I find it useful to expect the best so that I have the energy to work to create the best. I am in the world to be an instrument of God’s healing love unfolding in the world, and this brings me joy, peace of mind, and vitality. What else is there to do?

  3. Mary says:

    Thanks, Dave, for today’s post. I’ve linked to you on my blog.Thanks, specifically, for writing what ought to be obvious but is not – that while listening to music – or just while being, they should feel FREE TO SING (I used to feel inhibited about singing but it’s a great release, and hey, I sound good TO ME!).And, people should write without editing sometimes, in order to access their creative potential.All of these and much more are parts of what can bring us from blue to more sunshiny.And, thank you, too, for not adding “limit stress”! Yes, if we are aware and alive and participating, there IS stress. It’s how we cope with life that impacts how we feel each day.Thank you!Mary

  4. Jennifer says:

    I’ve found painting helps. For me, it’s a meditative experience. It’s also a good way to see what’s filtering into the unconscious (or as friends of mine have called it, the “brain pan”).Bon voyage, Dave! If you get a second or two, think of all of us here who are green with envy. :)

  5. mrG says:

    Wishing to feel connected is a good plan, and to that end the Japanese quiet therapies have built up a roster of doable exercises to focus our attention off of ourselves and back into the world around us and our inextricable connectedness to it. Morita Shoma, in formulating some of these methods, was struck by how a key difference between his patients and others was in their degree of self-focus, leading him to his famous statement “it is amazing how different the world looks when we have changed“.One therapy that I also endorse, and which is far cheaper and less risky than psychotherapy, is well-known to millions: Spend the money, take the time, buy the ticket, and see Disneyland!

  6. padawan says:

    “The food there’s pretty good”, you think? Obviously it’s your first trip there, then ;-)Actually, the food here could even be on your list of therapies! Send me an email if you want some good addresses.Enjoy Paris.

  7. Dave Pollard says:

    François: Merci beaucoup. I was being facetious, or perhaps laconic. This is my 3rd visit to Paris, and despite the lack of sun, the visit has been therapeutic, as has the food. We went last night to Les Ambassadeurs near the Champs Elysées — exquisite.

  8. There’s the blues and there’s a funk and then there’s Depression.Your list is great Dave. For the blues and a general funk.But…don’t dismiss the meds entirely. All my life I’ve been generally a melancholic person. So I know of what you speak. And many points in my life I felt an overwhelming sense of what I thought to be, or assumed was, depressionBut two years ago I hit the real thing. The big D. I went on meds for six months. That’s all I needed. Depression is a mental illness separate and distinct from any disposition or mood. I’d just like to make that point. Depression is treatable. As well, I read your story The Box (very good, btw) and I was curious to know about the graphic you chose to go along with it. I have my reasons.

  9. Clinical depression is not that easy to get out of. It is not a matter of will power, distraction or character.I have fought with this deamon all my life and for a lot of it was able to push myself enough to look good and function, but depression and anxiety were always there. They created behavioral patterns that eventually cost me many excellent jobs. I’m bright and well educated so I could always get into someplace good and hold it together for a while, but eventually the cracks showed and became volcanic eruptions. The stress of this kind of battle would leave me mentally exhausted at the end of a work day and on weekends, able to do little more that recouporate for another week.By 45 I just did not have the strength anymore to live like this, so my mind snapped. When I hit bottom and went for HELP from Public Assistance I was made homeless. It’s taken 6 years to rebuild myself enough to contemplate returning to work.Until I was 45 I had no insurance for treatment, now that I do, Medicare and Medicaid, it is a battle to keep them from screwing up my benefits so I can continue to get the treatment I really needed at 21. I’ve spent more energy recovering from the abuse of the system that is set up to help people like me, than I have recovering from depression.Curtis Seyfried, B.Sc., MA., paralegal.

  10. Dave Pollard says:

    Curtis: I’ve heard many stories similar to this. At my recent high-school reunion, I was amazed at how many of my classmates have struggled all their lives with clinical depression, mostly without recognition or sympathy from family, loved ones, work associates or anyone else. I would never suggest that the ‘therapies’ in this article are sufficient, or a substitute for proper professional treatment (for those lucky enough to be able to find it and afford it), for those suffering from clinical depression. For every case of clinical depression there are many others who suffer from mild chronic depression, one-time depression(brought on by adverse circumstances, often), or seasonal effective disorders, and other non-clinical forms, which is what this list was for. At the same time, I don’t think these therapies would hurt even the clinically depressed, though they would not by themselves be sufficient. I am very concerned that many of the clinically depressed have not been able to find (and in many cases could not afford anyway) any comprehensive treatment program that works consistently and profoundly. The whole science of depression is, in my mind, still medieval, and grossly inadequate to meet the needs of clinical sufferers.

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