It is encouraging that more people are willing to share how depression affects them, as author Andrew Solomon does so eloquently in the video posted below. I respect Mr Solomon for doing what he feels best to manage his depression, however I added the comment copied below the video to the discussion about his talk on FinerMinds.
Just as more of us need to be willing to speak up about the mental health challenges we are living with (ourselves and/or with our loved ones), more of us need to be willing to share what else works (really works), to show that drug treatments are not the only (or necessarily best) solution.
We assume that others are aware of these alternatives, because we have discovered them ourselves, but for the majority that’s just not true. Here in the UK the first port of call is usually the family doctor, and that invariably leads to medication and/or (if they are lucky) cognitive behavioural therapy (eventually, resources are stretched and waiting lists of several weeks are typical). Rarely are alternative remedies suggested, let alone ones that can correct the underlying cause of the depression, rather than just manage the symptoms.
I am seeing every day what an alternative approach can achieve, as I witness people rebuild their lives, often after years of debilitating depression. Some continue to take a much reduced dosage of medication, many no longer need it at all. All of them experience a shift, sometimes profound and immediate, other times more subtle and over time but still deep and effective. The commonality is that they invariably reconnect to a sense of self that previously eluded them.
I know that when I describe what I am able to do when I work with a client, it may well sound unbelievable, but the results speak for themselves. Even I am still amazed every single time a client reports their improvements. I marvel at what is possibe and dream of a time when this might be the norm for us all, the end of needless suffering.
The more successes I witness, the more I wonder why so many people whose lives are being devastated by depression resist a alternative approach just because it is not mandated by their doctor. Nothing matters any more, you feel empty, there is no point to life, no point to you, no desire in this nothingness that paralyses you and has swallowed the life you once knew. How can it get any worse, yet still we limit the solutions we are willing to try. We care about the sceptics who scoff aloud at the suggestion of an “alternative” remedy and perhaps we have so long resided in their ranks ourselves that our minds have long since closed to anything our leftbrain cannot track.
Yet still I wonder, if there is a good chance that it will help and does not cause you harm, why would you not try it?
I ask that question in all sincerity because I have encountered people to whom I offered free help who chose not to avail themselves of the opportunity. How tragic if the belief prevails that we must learn to exist with depression, chemically modulated and detached from our vital selves, rather than explore potentially life-changing so-called “alternatives”, just because we have bought so deeply into beliefs peddled to us by those who profit financially from the ever increasing masses succumbing to their drug treatments.
We buy the lies, convinced that we are exercising rational judgement, as we conform to the story of How to Treat Depression With Drugs that is constantly leaked surreptitiously into our belief model when, in reality, we have surrendered both our critical thinking and that deeper knowing that transcends the logical mind. In “we” I include not just the person experiencing depression, but all of us, including health care providers and concerned family and friends, who unwittingly through good intentions perpetuate these beliefs without closer scrutiny.
It is time to break the trance, to educate ourselves and those we care for and to do so before it is too late. Don’t think it will never happen to you; depression arrives in many and unexpected guises and it could be you, me, any one of us next. We don’t get to choose at that point, which makes it all the more essential to know our choices now. I just hope that if it ever happens to me, someone steps up and offers me a solution that doesn’t involve a fist full of pills and a life time of monitoring how close I am to sinking once more into the abyss.
Anyway, here’s the video, with my original comments below. And no, Mr Solomon has not taken up my offer (yet).
“I applaud Mr Solomon for his willingness to be open and share in this piece. It is a welcome contribution to ridding depression of its undeserved stigma.
“My one qualification is that it is a great shame that the success of non allopathic treatments for depression is not shared more widely. Medication may well play a useful role for some in managing depression, but it is not a cure and nor is it the only solution. There seems to be as much embarrassment about having recourse to “alternative” remedies as there is about the depression itself! This talk does not help that cause. TED, of course, has its own agenda in that regard, so prehaps we should not be surprised!
Whilst Mr Solomon may find “alternative” approaches something simply to be tolerated and of little more value than fodder for his wit, they do help many with depression, biploar and other states on that continuum. They are only “alternative” because that is where they are placed at present in the Western matrix. I hope the dear lady who found peace in discovering her creativity with yarn never becomes aware of her moment of fame here. I hope that those in the audience who found her story amusing never find themselves reliant on yarn as their lifeline to a life that depression stole from them.
“I speak from experience. I have experienced bipolar first hand in a loved one and I work successfully with people with mental health issues. Often they have struggled to stabilise their condition even with medication and seek help as a last resort, usually referred by someone I have worked with successfully.
“Depression CAN be cleared from the energy system, and to keep repeating the now prevalent belief that it is an incurable condition that one has to learn to manage and live with (usually medicated) does a huge disservice to those who could benefit from the “alternatives”. At the same time it perpetuates the myth that Big Pharma works so hard (and spends so much) to maintain, that depression is a chemical imbalance that is best (only?) managed chemically.
“One day even the scientists will understand better what depression is. Those with depression now can’t wait that long, so let’s be more willing to consider all the options available, especially those that cause no harm to the individual. The worst that can happen if I work with someone depressed is that their condition will not improve and they will feel disappointed (and that has yet to happen). Let’s not make it harder to be open to such potentially life-changing possibilities by making them a target for mockery.
“Mr Solomon does not even need to believe in this “alternative” work for it to work for him. If he is willing to suspend his scepticism long enough to try something different, I am happy to work with him (gratis) to see what’s possible in shifting his depression. There is no need to stop taking medication and doing whatever else you do to manage the depression, as my work is alongside all that to start off with. It’s fast (usually a difference within days if not hours) and non-intrusive (we don’t need to see each other or even speak and I don’t need to know any personal information). It’s not toxic and does not result in damaging addiction. Yes, it sounds completely woo woo but, the important thing is, it works. It results in true vitality and a sense of being connected to life again. I remain in awe, even though I have now witnessed amazing breakthroughs countless times. What’s to lose in giving it a go – except perhaps some coveted beliefs?
“A footnote for those trying to meditate their way out of depression : my experience is that meditation is very useful, but will not per se correct the energy issues that must be addressed to shift the depression. In fact, once those issues are addressed, the whole experience of meditation tends to change to a much more useful and profound one that can enhance a new, depression-free life.
“My Blessings to all those on this challenging path; may you experience amazing breakthroughs and live a life you love.”