Depression & why you should never tell someone to “just get over it”

Man crouching by wall

Today is World Mental Health Day, a day to bring awareness of mental health issues and hopefully remove the associated stigma.   In today’s blog, Peter, one of our therapists, talks about depression and gives some valuable advice about what to say to people who are suffering.

 
I want to share something on the topic of depression because I am aware of how many people suffer with depression and I want to let you know that you are not alone.  People are thinking about you, so please do not suffer in silence.

Let me start by answering why you should never say to someone who is suffering from a mental illness “just get over it” or “pull yourself together”.
 
Would you say to someone who has a broken arm; “just get over it” or “think positive and you’ll be fine”.  The reason for not saying the above is because we can typically overtly see when an individual is suffering from a physical injury and there is societal awareness that physical ailments and injuries occur in nearly everyone at some stage in their life. 
 
There is an acceptance that, in general, physical injuries heal after a period of time. As a society, we need to foster this same awareness, acceptance and compassion for someone who may be struggling with their mental health.
 
People often have empathy and understanding for someone who has a physical injury but when it comes to a mental health condition they tend to dismiss it as something to get over or to just ignore. I know, of course, that not everyone holds this view but I am gently challenging those who feel they may fall into this category.
 
I am challenging you to really think how it may feel to have an illness in which is affects every facet of your life; one that makes it extremely difficult to connect and be with other people.
 
Depression is a common serious medical illness that requires treatment and it is not something someone can just snap out of.
 
Just because we cannot feel another person’s pain or at times we are unable to see their discomfort it does not mean they are not hurting.
 
It would be extremely beneficial to society if everyone were aware that approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.  In knowing this, perhaps as a society we would be more open and willing to talk about mental health.
 
Depression not only affects the individual living with it but also the individual’s friends, family and colleagues.  Unfortunately, those people may not have an understanding of what depression is and/or may be unaware of the wide ranging effects depression can have on a person.
 
If you know someone who you believe would benefit from understanding more about depression, why not share this short video with them.
 


​The second video below is closely linked to the above video but is aimed at understanding depression from the viewpoint of a person living with depression.   
I would have preferred in the video that they use the analogy of a black fog or cloud, which I have personally heard to be a more exact picture of what it is like to live with depression.  Not to mention, dogs can be hugely beneficial to an individual’s wellbeing, but that aside I still found both videos to be very powerful and insightful. 



A proverb which I have shared with many people and that I have found to be personally transformative is “This Too Shall Pass”.

I am sharing this particular proverb because it would appear that depression has a cruel way of casting a shadow over a person, a shadow being with you forever, an ingrained part of you.  

It is true that depression can last for a long time but it is also true that with the right tailored treatment and support, painful thoughts and feelings can quiet down and pass.

The reason I have underlined tailored is to emphasise the fact we are individuals. By being special and unique we must find our own path to healing and understanding depression.  With the support of professionals, we can find ways of exploring this angle of our mental health and learning why it may be present in our lives.

I have been thinking a lot recently about acceptance.  So perhaps it might be helpful to frame depression as a way of our body directing us to make changes in our life. 

Don’t get me wrong, I wish I had a magic wand that could eradicate depression once and for all and ensure everyone, including myself, always felt content.  I would wave that wand in an instant if it meant people no longer felt emotional pain.

But the truth is, depression is prevalent within our society and I want to remove the stigma around mental health. I feel we should all be open and talk more about mental health and my hope is for people to understand that anyone can develop depression. It does not discriminate against age, sex, gender, job, location or wealth.

I also want to let you that there is hope.  It may not feel like it now but things can and will get better.  I cannot promise when it will be but it is something I hope for you and I wish with all my heart.
I urge you to read some of the letters on The Recovery Letters. There is also a book entitled: ‘The Recovery Letters: Addressed to People Experiencing Depression’

Below are the sources I recommend. I felt they gave me a better understanding of depression and mental health and well-being.
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig – Audible book 
The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris - Book 
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl - Book
Kamal Ravikant – Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It – Book
YouTube Clip - What causes anxiety and Depression - Inside Out: 
 
 
 
A poem by Peter Dillon
 
Depression you’re mean why is it you’re here
What are your reasons for keeping me locked in this fear
Afraid to open up and share how I feel
I’m not all alone but you’re making this seem real
You’ve taken away passion my creativity and fun
But I’ve still got the light and with it I’ll run
The light is my hope and I’ll wait at the start
The race to find meaning, I’ll look deep in my heart
I will never give up I will fight till the end
Depression once frightening now a sort of friend
A friend that is guiding and keeps me on my toes
But now you don’t control me from the ashes I rose
I’m stronger than ever even through a bad day
Cause I’ve learnt the tools to keep you quiet and at bay
 
 
I know first-hand how impossible it can feel to open up and talk to someone but
it is exactly this hardest step to take that can start the healing process.
 
I have had clients tell me that just being able to talk to someone and to know that they are truly listening has made a huge positive impact in their life.
 
As a therapist, I offer a confidential safe space for you to talk about and explore anything you wish.
Therapy isn’t always easy, but neither is keeping thoughts and feelings inside and not sharing them with others.
 
I feel that the real magic of therapy is that for fifty minutes you can talk about anything and know you will not be judged.
 
With loving kindness,
 
Peter x
 

 
 
 At Hertfordshire Therapy Centre we offer a supportive environment for both children and adults to challenge the negative thoughts that are getting in the way of them enjoying their lives.

For more information about the services we offer at Hertfordshire Therapy Centre, or to book a complimentary clarity call to find out if our services can support you, please get in touch by calling or texting 07969 315591.

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Becoming a Creature of Habit

Coffee and flowers

On the blog today, Sarah, one of our therapists talks about building good habits......

Creatures of Habit

Over the years, I have to admit, I have never been a creature of habit.

To be completely honest, I’m more of a spontaneous reactor to a situation. For example, and this is hard for me to admit, I have always tended to just clean my house really well when people were coming over. That is quite a hideous thing to reveal, but it’s true.

On a day to day basis I have always found other activities that thrilled me far more…. like reading, or researching, or…..watching paint dry….anything but housework!

At the same time, though, it always felt good to have a clean house. I enjoyed walking into a room and seeing everything clean and orderly. The trouble was that I hated the in between bit of giving up hours to achieve that feeling. I couldn’t imagine anything more dull than spending an afternoon polishing my glassware.

Is It Just Me?

Over time I just came to believe that this was me -  the way I was born to be. In particular areas where I was interested, I was a driven, hardworking woman and I could happily spend hours achieving what I wanted. Setting up my Cognitive Hypnotherapy business filled my life with joy; spending time preparing for and helping clients was and is, a pleasure; reading for hours felt like an absolute treat. But cleaning? Or doing my day to day finances? These were forbidden zones of absolute torture.

I knew that I needed to create a habit that would make doing the things I hated, easy. It was just a question of how.

During my Master Practitioner course we had looked at the idea of Slight Edge (a book and concept by Jeff Olsen) – doing something every day, something small, something easy.

If I’m honest it didn’t work for me when I tried it. The reason for this was because I was trying to apply it to something that didn’t need habit – my business. My business was something I loved. I could work through to the early hours setting up my website and writing articles or learning new techniques. Where I had the problem was with the things I found boring, mindless, a waste of time.
  
So, How to Begin a Habit?

As time went on though, something seemed to enter slowly, secretly into my life, my way of thinking. I read an article by the excellent James Clear about the power of habit and, slowly but surely, I started to apply this idea into the places it was really needed. He wrote that habit needed to be easy to achieve and needed to be consistent too, but this time I decided to apply it to a different area of my life. 

Now, don’t laugh, but my first attempt at creating a habit was to clean a section of my bathroom each day. My bathroom is tiny so each section is about 6ft high and 3 ft long perhaps. It takes 5 minutes maximum. I allow myself, in emergencies, to miss a day, but no more than a day and, to be honest, I like keeping the streak going. It makes me feel good. It’s a challenge, but an easy challenge.

My bathroom has 6 sections and it is now cleaner than it has ever been. I have even incorporated cleaning a section of the floor into the routine. Before, I had to lug my hoover upstairs or brush the rubber tiles, then mop. Yuk. I hated cleaning the bathroom floor, but now it’s just a foot square part of a section that never gets dirty enough to have to hoover. Just a quick wipe and I’m done.

Is this sounding a little sad??!!

5 Minutes a Day

The hardened cleaners amongst you may well sneer at my new habit, but wait… I now have a sparkling bathroom on 5 minutes work a day. My mind has perked up and noticed how good it looks. Before long the quiet thought came into my head that…maybe I could do a tiny section of my lounge?

Maybe I could spend 5 minutes having a look at my finances? Maybe I could become a person of consistency in all areas of my life and not just the ones that really interested me?

The secret is to only do a tiny bit. Initially, that tiny bit doesn’t appear to have an effect, but if I keep that streak going day after day, 5 minutes, 5 minutes, 5 minutes, it adds up to something that makes a real difference in my life. I can feel my mind changing. I can feel myself becoming organised and feeling good about myself. I can feel the satisfaction of knowing I have done my 5 minutes and that’s all I have to do.

Our minds like patterns and when a good pattern of habit is created our minds start to wonder where else we could apply the same technique. Where else can we create this good feeling?

I Like Coffee, You Like Tea

We are all different and some people might be reading this and wondering how did anyone get to the age of 53 without having created the habit of cleaning. But this was just my Achilles Heel, just my area of most resistance. Other people’s pet hates might be found in other areas like….drawing up your CV; emailing clients; finding time for exercise; doing homework….a myriad of varying tasks that to some people are a pleasure and yet to others seem like torture.

By making a habit that is so easy to complete that it’s nearly impossible not to do we are scaffolding for success. It’s completely fine to do 5 minutes, or 3 minutes, just as long as we do it. And if we don’t do it one day then we can be kind to ourselves and do it the next day.

Anything more than nothing is something and all those tiny somethings add up, over time, into a real difference in our lives.

When Good Habits Lead to Happiness

I feel proud of myself now and not a little smug that I am achieving an outcome I had thought impossible for me.

I remember once having a client who was going through a difficult period of her life and her measure of how good a day she had had was her coffee table. If she could keep the coffee table tidy and organised she had achieved something to be proud of. It was something so small to any outsider, but to her it had meaning. As time went by, the tidiness of the coffee table spread to the area around it and so did the feeling within her. She began to feel that there was a future, a light at the end of the tunnel.

We all have our ‘coffee tables’, our ‘bathrooms’. They are different for all of us, but beginning a habit is a simple way to take back control, to feel good about ourselves, to feel proud.

Our good habits can revolve around anything we choose – from cleaning to emotional wellbeing, from homework to finances – it doesn’t matter. What matters is beginning and doing something over nothing
 
​_________

 At Hertfordshire Therapy Centre we offer a supportive environment for both children and adults to challenge the negative thoughts that are getting in the way of them enjoying their lives.

For more information about the services we offer at Hertfordshire Therapy Centre, or to book a complimentary clarity call to find out if our services can support you, please get in touch by calling or texting 07969 315591.

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