Those who know me know that whilst I love colours and will wear pink, I am not a Barbie pink kind of girl. Why then, wondered one friend aloud, is your website so pink?
I wonder the same. The appearance of the website in all its pink-ness was as magical as a healing transformation itself. I chose a website template and then looked for images to make it more personal. I picked a photograph of roses taken on a very happy day out, because often during sessions flowers appear to me symbolically.
So far, so logical. When I uploaded the rose image, I could smell the roses. Yes, really, that deep, heady scent of a beautiful rose, and not just a passing whiff of it – that scent remained as I pulled the website together. I even shook my head and got up and walked away to clear whatever this was, but it remained as I worked on setting up the pages. As I played with the colours, the scent was strongest when I chose pink. When I replaced the rose image with an abstract design, the scent disappeared.
So that is the reason for this pink-ness. Divine guidance comes to us in many forms, and I suspect most of us most of the time unwittingly dismiss the subtle clues that light our path. Not that this was a particularly subtle clue! In healing sessions I often experience a strong scent of flowers as a transformation occurs. I was initially reluctant for various reasons to enter the public domain with a website, but this experience reassured me it was the right next step. Now I trust that when it is time for this bloom to change, I will be directed with equal certainty. I trust that that next step will be equally fragrant!
I have discovered working with depression and bipolar clients the importance of replacing the pattern of mental health challenges with more healthy and useful resources. It is not enough to just clear the depression.
Depression in itself or as part of a bipolar pattern is by nature all-consuming. When it clears fast and unexpectedly (especially in someone who has tried all sorts of other therapies previously with limited results) there is a vacuum in the experience of the individual who has so long identified with being who they are in that state. Last week they could not get out of bed; today they are washed and dressed with relative ease in time for breakfast and not sure what to do with themselves. Sometimes that is literally how they appear to me when I look at them energetically: as I clear what was holding their depression pattern in place, it is as if they no longer know how to be who they are without it. Often I “see” them sit, rather unsure what to do next and how to be.
When the manic phase of bipolar is shifted in this way, that vacuum is even more pronounced, and this is where an unexpected danger arises : if you are used to periods of very high energy where anything and everything seems within your reach and all experiences are of heightened intensity, who are you when suddenly you are unplugged from that high energy and are operating from the level of energy that the rest of us consider normal but for you, frankly, seems flat and uninteresting? The risk is that you continue to seek out that high through other means, such as drugs and external stimulants.
For those who find themselves most creative during their manic phases, there is also the issue of becoming attached to those periods of higher levels of productivity. I am not saying an individual would choose to be bipolar, but for some there is a fear that once the bipolar pattern is removed, that level of creativity will be lost. Of course mental health is not the only area where we become attached to our conditions and diagnoses; I just mention it here in the context of who we are without that particular pattern.
So now when I work with clients with mental health challenges I take account of all this. I build it into the sessions and, when appropriate, warn them in advance of the changes they might experience and how to manage them. In some ways it is a nice problem to have: if you have been resigned to a condition you were told you would just have to learn to live with, how life-affirming to have instead the opportunity to re-create your day to day!
Yorkshire folk take some pride in being down to earth and no-nonsense. How is then that the seaside town of Scarborough headlined in the US as well as the UK for all the wrong reasons : medicating its penguins for depression! Mainly it seems because of the recent bad weather – Penguins Given Anti-Depressants.
For sure, animals do display symptoms that appear to be depression. Dogs in particular are known to get the blues, for example when a companion animal (or human) dies. They lose their appetite and become inactive, losing interest in their usual pursuits. Usually, they are restored to their former waggy-tail well being with some extra love and attention and even the arrival of a new companion.
The ready availability of pet medication for depression and anxiety is alarming. I am not an animal behavioural expert by any means, but in my experience depression in an animal is primarily a behavioural issue that, if addressed, will clear the symptoms.
If you are placing your animal in circumstances or an environment that gives rise to symptoms of depression or anxiety, then surely the solution is to remove the triggers to which the animal is responding. If your penguins need more sunshine, set up daylight lamps for them to bask under. If kitty gets anxious because you leave her locked up alone in the flat all day whilst you go out to work, consider whether that is an acceptable way for kitty to live her brief life. Just because you adore having a bundle of warm purrs as a possession, does not mean you should have her when you are not providing the environment and level of care and attention she requires to live a well and happy life.
I have not yet met an animal that needs anti depressants. I have met plenty who were helped by adjustments to their energy fields when it is more than just a behavioural issue and even more that respond to good old fashioned love and attention and having their material needs met appropriately. The good thing about both these options is that Fido (or Pingou) does not need to lie on a psychiatrist’s couch for a diagnosis, nor are they chemically harmed.
If anyone from Scarborough is reading this, penguins have energy fields that can be adjusted as well.
I am not questioning those who are quite clearly depressed. The question is for those who maybe feel “down”, sad, not quite themselves, not sleeping well. Perhaps they have suffered a major life event such as a bereavement, the breakdown of a relationship, redundancy. These are the folks whom practical advice and support and/or an “alternative” approach really can help; they do not need to be numbed from what they are feeling through inappropriate use of medication.
It is a question thrown up by Dr Chris Dowrick in his research last year, reported in the press – Depression ‘over-diagnosed’ with drugs dished out to patients who are simply sad or unable to sleep, warns expert.
It is summarised as follows in the BMJ :
Medicalising unhappiness : new classification of depression risks more patients being put on drug treatment from which they will not benefit.
- Clinical context—Diagnoses of major depressive disorder and treatment with antidepressant drugs are increasing
- Diagnostic change—DSM-III homogenised the diagnosis of depression and the new DSM-5 classification broadens the definition further, allowing the diagnosis of major depressive disorder just two weeks after bereavement
- Rationale for change–To provide more patients with access to effective treatments
- Leap of faith–Accurate diagnosis of mild depression is possible; treatment is necessary and leads to better outcomes
- Increase in disease—Although community prevalence of major depressive disorder has remained static, diagnoses doubled among Medicare recipients in the US between 1992-95 and 2002-05
- Evidence of overdiagnosis—Depression is now more likely to be overdiagnosed than underdiagnosed in primary care. Rates of prescribing of antidepressant medication doubled in the UK between 1998 and 2010 and in the US 11% of the population aged over 11 now takes an antidepressant. People without evidence of major depressive disorder are being prescribed drug treatment
- Harms from overdiagnosis—Turning grief and other life stresses into mental disorders represents medical intrusion on personal emotions. It adds unnecessary medication and costs, and distracts attention and resources from those who really need them
- Limitations—We do not know whether clinicians will follow the DSM-5 proposals
Conclusions—Patients with mild depression or uncomplicated grief reaction usually have a good prognosis and don’t need drug treatment. Clinicians should focus on identifying people with moderate to severe depressions and sufficient impairment to require treatment. BMJ, 9 December 2013
So, the guidance on a diagnosis for depression allows someone who may be grieving for a loved one to be diagnosed as having a “major depressive order” after just two weeks! That’s basically most of us! Which of us who has lost someone they love deeply would not still be grieving after just two weeks! How many of us two weeks on from such a major trauma would not prefer to be curled up alone with our memories and some time to process our emotions? In fact, it would be unusual not to be sad for some time after we suffer such a loss. Of course, for some people the sadness does not shift and it does become depression, but they are not the ones we are talking about here. We are talking about you or me showing up at the GP two weeks after a loved dies and saying I am not sleeping, I feel so sad, I don’t feel up to going back to work , etc. The response in such cases should not be a diagnosis of depression requiring medication!
The irony is that we have more knowledge and information (and access to that knowledge/information) than ever before, and yet the diagnoses for depression are increasing. As Dr Dowrick’s study clearly highlights, this is not because more of us are actually suffering depression:
Although community prevalence of major depressive disorder has remained static, diagnoses doubled among Medicare recipients in the US between 1992-95 and 2002-05
That reference is to the US but in the UK we tend to follow where the US leads, and his next point bears this out :
Depression is now more likely to be overdiagnosed than underdiagnosed in primary care. Rates of prescribing of antidepressant medication doubled in the UK between 1998 and 2010
Doubled in 12 years!! Where is the evidence that justifies that rate of increase in prescribing anti depressants? The medical reps may well be pushing sales on the premise that medicating “mild” depression aids recovery, but the evidence says otherwise :
In patients with mild to moderate depression symptoms, there is little or no benefit of antidepressant medications compared with placebo. Medications are more beneficial in patients with severe depression. – Cochrane Review, Effectiveness of Antidepressants Compared with Placebo for Depression in Primary Care
Interestingly, this review was based on 14 studies, most of which were funded pharmaceutical companies! No wonder we don’t get to hear about them! Don’t take my word for it, take the time to do your research and there is plenty more of the same accessible online.
This is an interesting issue to ponder alongside how we remove the stigma of depression for those who are suffering it. Let’s pray that as a consequence of a breakthrough on that front, we don’t inadvertently make anti-depressants appear even more justifiable and acceptable in all cases!
Dr Dorwick concludes –
- Harms from overdiagnosis—Turning grief and other life stresses into mental disorders represents medical intrusion on personal emotions. It adds unnecessary medication and costs, and distracts attention and resources from those who really need them………….
- Conclusions—Patients with mild depression or uncomplicated grief reaction usually have a good prognosis and don’t need drug treatment. Clinicians should focus on identifying people with moderate to severe depressions and sufficient impairment to require treatment.
The irony will not be lost on those who really are experiencing depression, that once you are in that state it usually takes you and those close to you a lot longer than two weeks to realise what is happening. Catching depression as early as we can is imperative; it makes treatment so much easier, whatever the modality. However medicating when drugs are not required can worsen what might have been an easily remedied state. Ask those who have experienced weaning themselves off anti depressants how awful that experience is!
If you feel sad or down, whether it is grief or some other cause, such as post natal symptoms, or related to some other medical condition or an accident or event, do seek help. Talk to family and friends if you feel able. Sometimes it is easier to talk to a third party; call the Samaritans, go online and talk to others. Do go and see your doctor if that feels like the right thing to do, but go armed with knowledge so you are better placed to avoid medication as a quick fix. Above all, make sure you get support; we all need that from time to time, even if we are not depressed.
If you come to me for help, the process is quick and simple in the first instance. When you book your session, tell me in a sentence what the issue is and let me do the session for you. That’s all I need. No personal information, no intrusion, no need to even speak to me or see me. You don’t need to prepare anything or be or do anything in particular during the session. If you are already taking medication, change nothing. I will contact you afterwards, by which time you will likely have experienced some shift already. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. Read the testimonials section for recent feedback from clients.
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.”