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Interview 07

Age at interview: 45
Age at diagnosis: 45
Brief Outline: Used a raft of strategies to recover including time off work, attending a support group, counselling, physical exercise, interaction with nature and pets, and spiritual healing.
Background: An athletic 45 year old man who was originally born in Brazil, now living with his partner in London. His most recent episode of depression started in late 2002 and was triggered by workplace pressure.

More about me...

 
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He got some relief from depression, feeling better and sleeping better after spiritual healing.

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And I came across this [community centre] and I saw something saying 'Spiritual Healing' and it wasn't on that day, so I went there and I made an appointment. And I think I had about 5 treatments, 5 sessions of this spiritual healing and I found it very comforting and very, I mean the whole thing' I mean just I think you have to believe that, otherwise I wouldn't be there. So I do believe and I did believe, so that's why I went, and I had had seen these things in Brazil and with the kind of physical problems and like stomach ulcers it did work in a way that drugs did not work at the time. 

So I went there and I told them I'm depressed blah, blah, blah. And I don't know if you know how it works, but I mean I closed my eyes and this person just, it's all energy and sometimes I could feel the hands but they didn't even touch me. And I used to' I mean the days I had or when I was having it, I left there kind of relieved and light and feeling much better, not that I think that would cure one's depression, but it gives you a kind of momentary relief'. Yeah, it made me feel lighter and I also tried, I have a friend who gives Johrei, and one day she came here and she, she gave me one treatment and it was also very this one there is touching you know, it's almost like, I think she did more in my head and my back but there this one you have some physical touching, and also again it's through energy and if the person's not touching you, you feel the heat and oh, so those 2 treatments I thought they were kind of very useful in a kind of giving you some relief. And I think even in terms of sleeping I think the days I had the healing, the spiritual healing, I think I felt, I think it's almost like feeling, feeling nourished in your spirit and yeah, so I thought it was very useful.

 
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It took him about 6 months to accept that he had depression and to be able to tell his GP about it.

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So January 2003 I kind of came out a bit of this downhill process, and I decided to go to the doctor and talk about the problem of losing interest in sex, and I was quite embarrassed about going to a doctor and saying, 'Well, you know'.' And funnily enough he asked me, 'Is this anything to do with'.' he didn't say depression, I don't remember what he said, but he asked me if this was related to stress. 

And I said, 'No', almost as if I didn't want to accept the fact that you know' So I said, 'No, no, no.'  I said, 'it's actually very embarrassing.' And he said, 'Don't [feel embarrassed] because I see it every week, men with this problem, and he said, I'll give you Viagra.'  

And then I was, 'Okay', so he gave me Viagra and it took me a long time to try, and then once I did try and then, it does work or it did work. But I realised that I felt horrible because in fact it was not even the fact of performing sex, or not, it is not even wanting to have sex at all.

So when I look back now, it started in November 2002. And so it was like 6 months, almost for myself to accept that I was' or something was utterly wrong with me, to go to the doctor and ask for help, you know. Because in previous depressions I had managed not to go to the GP. I never took medication for depression before.

 
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An English acquaintance was surprised he was having psychoanalysis, but in Brazil seeing a...

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When I told them I was having psychoanalysis, the guy was really, the English guy was really shocked and he said, 'But why?' And I said, 'Well, if you cannot understand why someone has psychoanalysis or whatever, I have to tell you.' I had to kind of shock him more and I said, 'because I was feeling suicidal, is this enough?' 

But I said to him, 'In Brazil or in the US'.if you don't see a psychoanalyst, you have a problem.' [laughing]. So it's almost like, for me it was' it is still very easy for me to talk about my feelings.

 
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Felt abandoned when holistic teacher left the country.

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But anyway, the bottom line is that this teacher disappeared after 10 days back to Argentina and the, it was really like you know, and I remember on a Saturday I went to bed just for a nap in the afternoon, I was fine. When I got up I said, 'I'm depressed,' like this, [sound effect] and I was depressed for one week but this was to do with the 'loss' that it was very intense emotionally speaking, the involvement with the group, blah, blah, blah and then this person disappears. It's almost as if you, you felt abandoned and I had a Brazilian friend who, who also took part in the workshop, and he felt depressed as well.

 
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While very depressed, doing exercise helped to fill in the day, and watching Wimbledon also...

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My day would start 10 o'clock. I used to be having breakfast at 11 or finishing at 11. I never leave the house without a shower even if I go to the gym or even after work, I come back from work; if I go for a run I take a shower before. So by the time I left to go to the gym it was 12, so by the time I got to the gym it was half past 12. By the time I came back from the gym it was 3 or 4 o'clock so the day had almost gone by then for me. So it was almost time to think about having dinner and stuff. So that made the day go a bit quicker' I don't like television in general, I never sit down to watch, I don't like TV but in June one of the things that also kept me going was watching tennis on the television because we had tennis, yes, we had Wimbledon. So I was, there were days when I was in front of the TV from 12 until God knows, 8 o'clock with breaks going to the gym, watching in the gym all the while but. And I did watch another championship, I think it's called Queen's in London, so to a point that when the'. this tennis period ended, I said [laughing] now I am going to learn tennis, because I got really hooked! So yes, exercise kept me going'.

 
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His pet parrot needs a lot of attention, and is affectionate and sensitive to him (even if...

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Yes, my pets are very important because I have an African Grey who is as demanding, more demanding than a dog, so not only do I think about feeding this parrot, but she needs getting out of the cage and flying, and she's very affectionate to me. So on days when I couldn't face getting up, I had to push myself to get up because I needed not only to feed her, but to give her some attention. And funnily enough, they're very sensitive, and I think they pick up that you're not well, and it's almost as if they behave in a different way, almost as if they're feeling sorry for you, you know. And this is very gratifying'

So how does your parrot behave differently, do you think?

[Sigh] I couldn't say because sometimes she can be very aggressive as well. Sometimes I have cuts and I have a bite here but it's, sometimes even the way they look at you, or maybe this could be a perception of me looking at her the way she looks at me.

 
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Was comforting to be with people who knew what he was talking about, he bonded with the group,...

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I went to this group, it's not therapy but the Depression Support Group, I felt really great to be surrounded by people who spoke my language. Because when I'm talking to the therapist, it's him there and me here the patient. 

But in this group I felt that we were more equal, you know because we all had gone through the same thing, so I felt almost an immediate bond, if you like, with all those people though I'd never met them before. And I don't know who I'm going to meet the next time I go, I presume some people are going to be there because there is a core of people and I presume that some people, the newcomers, I'm guessing that probably some or one of them would be terrified, and not come back again, you know. 

But I felt very comfortable so, you know the advice I give to people is to try some kind of support group, you know people who are going through the same process as you are. Because again, when you're going through this process alone, you think that there is something utterly wrong with you and that it's just you on earth going through that thing alone. And then when you meet other people you say, you know I have the same problems.

 
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When he told his neighbour about his depression, his neighbour hugged him and offered comforting...

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I decided to tell my neighbours because I mean I like them, I wouldn't tell them if I didn't like them. But, because some of them are' work from home you know, and they used to see me at home. I just felt better for telling them what, that I am depressed and they, they were very supportive the first day I told them. He ' He, this neighbour next door, he even kind of hugged me and said, 'It's going to be okay.' And sometimes a very small gesture like this or a card, you know or someone looking at you or holding your hands, God knows, anything that's' Some stuff that's probably done on a daily basis' That you don't see has any meaning, you know like a handshake or a hug or a kiss or, I think it helps.

 
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Even though the proposal he was working on was successful, he had to work with a man who he...

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In November I was very stressed at work and I was being challenged in a kind of very negative way, and there is this guy who doesn't like me and I don't like him. And so, I was kind of being pushed to my limits of' I was challenged all the time, blah, blah, blah. So I had basically to produce' I was putting a proposal for a client, a very important client to the company and I did this without any support'. And the guy I was working with was saying that what I was doing wasn't good enough, but in a very negative way. And I felt really, I've never felt in my life so kind of'. feeling that I wasn't capable, unable to perform. I did suspect he might have been homophobic. At the same time I think the first symptoms of depression started with me losing interest in sex, and I'm a very sexual person, so it was totally lost' And then after Christmas I got back to work and in my first week in January this year, I learned that I had been successful in this proposal so that gave me a boost.

 
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Feels that the stigma of mental illness is less in Brazil than in the UK, and he is encouraged by...

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I think in England you still can be labelled, you know I think mental illness in England you still have the kind of stigma. But I deal with this much better I think, because in Brazilian culture it... I grew up with people seeing psychoanalysts and having nervous breakdowns you know, because one dies or whatever. But funnily enough, if you read the newspaper, you see all these artists, having breakdowns, and it's okay and it's almost as if they're not humans or we are not.... God knows what, the distinction we make between them and us. 

But you know, I think even Beckham, the other day it was in the newspaper that he had or was about to have a nervous breakdown last year, blah, blah, blah and I said, "Oh good," you know, I even find I think it's really good that someone like him that is a football player blah, blah, blah goes and say, "I was about to, you know, stop playing for Manchester because of the pressure and this and that," because it breaks this assumption that depression is an illness for women or illness for weaker people. It's not, you know anyone can get depression.

 
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Fears further depression, and compares depression recovery with being in remission from cancer....

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I mean I don't know if this would be helpful for people who access the web-site and are having their first depression or people like me who have been depressed, because also in a situation like me, this I think is important to say and I forgot....when you come out of a depression is the fear of having another one. You know, because again, I keep asking myself whether this is a cycle thing, you know like there is a time of cycle that you are getting again and again and another one. And when you come out of one, you just despise, you know you're terrified of getting another one, and when you have another one, having had one before, the only consolation is that you know you're going to come out. But this doesn't make the pain any easier, you know it's still very painful...

It doesn't make it any easier having had previous experiences, it's always horrible.... But the fear of having one again, it must be almost like people who have cancer, and then they have this remission periods you know, that, yeah it's a remission thing that scares you the most, so sometimes, even when I feel a bit down, not necessarily [laughing] is going to develop into depression, I worry about you know, and I say, "Oh my gosh you know", and I want to feel happy again as soon as I can. So I'm sure it's not going to develop in to the more serious long term depression.

 
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Feels under pressure to get better because he feels a burden on his partner and friends, yet...

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And I think also, this was discussed in the Depression Group which I found very interesting, I think having depression and living with someone who is not depressed at the time you are, or someone who has never had depression, I think we feel very, I mean we put on ourselves this pressure of getting better, because it must be a burden on the other person.... and a burden to friends. 

Actually, my partner has played a key role in my recovery - he was very supportive during my depression periods - I do not know how I would have coped without him. It must be very hard dealing on a daily basis with someone you love with depression! Many times he has forced me to do things and helped me out of the house in times when I did not feel like doing anything. I believe having a loving and caring partner has helped me get over the most horrible periods of my depression. However, having said all that - not even your partner can rescue you from your own depression! It must be very frustrating for them. I really do not know which is the hardest position to be in - the person suffering with depression, or being with someone suffering from depression.

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