A-Z

Depression

Life and money for people with depression

Part of getting over depression was finding a less troubled - and more authentic - way of living and working. For some this involved changing their work, reducing work, giving up work or taking early retirement. There were personal and financial consequences, but many felt that depression had given them an opportunity to rethink their lives and identify what was most important to them. As one man said: life is, “Not about success and failure... there is plenty of mid-space between success and failure, there's a huge spectrum, and you're on it somewhere”.

A repeated message from the people we talked to was to be yourself, put yourself first, take time for yourself, and so look after yourself better. By looking after yourself, it was thought you could be of more help to others. As part of recovering from depression, many put their lives into perspective, and changed their lifestyles to have more time for themselves, and to pursue activities that interested them. For one woman, putting herself first meant not leaving things to the last minute, such as paying bills or seeing her doctor. Another pointed out that many lifestyle changes and leisure pursuits are free.

 

Argues that you have to be yourself, and live your life according to your own values, rather than...

View full profile
Age at interview: 49
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 37
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
You've got to live. You've got to be yourself. If you're if you are gay, if you are an argumentative person, no matter what you are, if you are a bit of a bit of a snob, just be it. And, and sod anybody and everybody, anybody else.

Why is it important to sod other people's opinions?

Well, whose life is it? You've got to live your life according to your morals, principles, likes, preferences and the rest. And it's your story. You do what you like so long as you're not hurting, offending and upsetting other people. But how many people do we all know who live nice protected lives because their parents expected of them, because peer group pressure, because everybody in this village behaves like this. Well sod that.

Otherwise you might end up living someone else's life?

You live someone else's life. It's coat hangers isn't it? Sorry you're not going to put me on the coat hanger. I can stand on my own. And if I don't like a particular job, I'm not going to do it. If I don't want to live in a tiny village in rural [area name], I'm going to move. You can do these things. Takes a lot of courage, determination and planning and thinking through and resourcing. Hey, where are we going to get the money from to move. You make your own destiny.

 

Is much more confident to organise her family life so she can have time for herself to walk in...

View full profile
Age at interview: 44
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 41
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
If I want to go and walk in the hills on the weekend when I'm off. I will go and do it, whereas before there was always other people that I had to consider. And it's not that I waltz out now and leave them all. I make sure that everything is alright. 

But if I want to do something, or I want to go into town and meet a friend for coffee or go out in the evening and meet a friend for a drink, then rather than turning it down because, you know, I feel that I need to be there all of the time, or that I will be thought less of if I'm not there all of the time, you know, I am quite able to sort of say to my husband or to the children'. and fortunately they are getting older and more independent'. that I'm going to pop out for an hour. I'll not be long. I've got the mobile phone with me, I'll see you whenever I get back in again. 

So I suppose those are probably the most' and also because I am much more able to relax, I get less wound up by things so if I just want a weekend of chilling out and not doing anything I'm much happier about saying it, you know, I don't want to do anything this weekend. Just want to sit here and vegetate.

 

Was initially afraid to do many social things, but realised that he needed to take up life's...

View full profile
Age at interview: 35
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 17
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I stopped myself from doing things because I didn't think there was any point in doing it, and because I was afraid that I might get embarrassed about something. And I realised that'. you know there were only so many opportunities you're presented with in life, and therefore you have to seize the day and try and take those opportunities, so long as they're not overwhelming. And that's how come I ended up, you know doing, going out and meeting some friends who were interested in the same kinds of things I was. And beginning to develop a bit'. a bit more of a social life, a bit more of a normal social life, I think' 
 
 
Text only
Read below

Says depression helps you to put your life in perspective. She still finds it hard to relax, but...

View full profile
Age at interview: 43
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 40
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I have to say now, you know, you can see the benefits are.... that you put your life into perspective, you try and look at what is more important. Things that you really forgot about, you know, reasons for, other reasons for being on this planet basically [laughs] other than just spending 24 hours, 7 days a week, working for what reason at the end of the day. 

Making you stop and have time for friends I suppose as well. And the hardest part is trying to get this time, relaxing time for me, which I find very hard and I still have to learn that because I'm not easy to relax, I find it very difficult to relax. To sit down like this now is probably the [laughs] longest I have ever sat down but it's set in my mind, I'm saying, "I have to get up and do this, I've got to get up and do that", and now, "you've got to sit here and do this", you know and more. I suppose, more, more time in my home as well, which I didn't...  and more time to like enjoy things that are free, like watching the sky, or the birds, the trees. 

I think you really appreciate those sort of things more and I appreciate that fact that, you know, I love trees and I've watched trees in the last two years and I could never watch trees in my life before. And because I've watched them I can draw them, whereas before I used to draw branches in the wrong directions and then suddenly I'd look at trees and thought, "They don't, that's not like that, it's like this", you know. I've looked at trees and I've watched the way they've changed over a period of months, especially when I was in hospital and related to it in a way of life and so I appreciate nature much more.
 

People found different ways to try to change themselves and their lives. Some used a 'mantra' or 'affirmation' that they repeated to themselves over and over again in their heads to try to train their minds to see life differently. An example of a mantra used by one woman was 'I deserve the best.' One man used a technique called 'de-sensitisation' to help overcome his anxieties. Some undertook courses, met new people, or moved to new cities and towns for a better lifestyle.

 

Worked out what she wanted in her life, and then repeated it over and over in her mind as a...

View full profile
Age at interview: 55
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 53
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
And one of the things I found really helpful was to work out what, what I really needed, when I was very depressed. What I really wanted, how I wanted to live and, and use it like a mantra every day, because I understand that we can train our subconscious minds to... to go the way we want them to go by teaching them what we want them to be. And so everyone has to do it for themselves. 

And, and mine was, when I was really depressed, mine was, "I'm calm, cheerful and creative". And I, when I walked anywhere, I would say that over and over and over, not necessarily out loud in case people thought I was quite mad, but I would say it out loud if, if there was no one around, but certainly in my mind, "I'm calm, cheerful and creative". And you formulate, you work out what you want to be, how you want your life, to live your life, what's important to you, and retrain your consciousness and you...when you're depressed you're in a state where you can't aim for anything, you can't do anything, but you can do that I think. I know you can because I did it.

 

Had agoraphobia, heard how to desensitise himself, and so gradually walked further and further...

View full profile
Age at interview: 50
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I continued to have the anxiety attacks, it turned into.... it turned into agoraphobia actually, in that I would drive to work, I would walk down to the office, that was OK. But it was walking far from the car.... I could go to London from the train, I could go anywhere, but walking too far from buildings and things like this. 

So, I mean, I didn't really know much about I was doing. I heard something on the radio about agoraphobia and I started doing what they said on the radio. I started going out for walks and we had a very hot summer so... the summer I was there, I would walk on the seafront and I would gradually walk further and further away. And I realise now in hindsight because I know a lot about this, that I was desensitising myself, and it worked pretty well. But that, that agoraphobia kept coming back in periods of my life, when I was under stress, it kept coming back. It didn't cure it, but you know I got over it.

 
Text only
Read below

Did the Landmark course, which allowed him to take responsibility for his own role in the poor...

View full profile
Age at interview: 45
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 32
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
And I suppose I've been doing' in the last five years I've been doing sort of courses with an organisation called The Landmark. They are really clear it is not an alternative to therapy, its for people who want to take a very cognitive based look at their lives, identify what's going on, and create things in their lives that work better than the things that they're doing at the moment. 

At its simplest what happens is there is you look at life, they have a way of describing the mechanics of life as we experience it. There are a series of.... if you like, tendencies that humans have, you know a tendency to not take responsibility, a tendency to blame other people for what's going on, a tendency to deny what's going on. A tendency to have one's experiences from the past'To have experiences that worked less than well somehow dictate to your intellect that that's all going to happen again'. 

My relationship with my father was so bad and so horrible and awful that I just related to it as that's how it is, you know I breathe, I hate my father's guts. It was just a given, so I didn't actually go to the Landmark course thinking I'll really do some work on my dad, that was landscape'. So my first job on picking the phone up during one of the breaks in the course was to say, "Dad, no this isn't about an argument, I want to talk to you." You know, kind of I'm.... I just said and this is... I can't remember how we got there but I knew exactly what I wanted to say to him. I said, "Dad, I'm ringing to apologise for my role in the breakdown in our relationship. There are all sorts of things have happened. And I've just related to you in a way that makes it impossible for us to be able to manage each other at all.'

 

Did a course on counselling, and although sometimes painful, it helped self-development and in...

View full profile
Age at interview: 59
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 19
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
When my son started school...I actually went into adult education... to an evening class, which was labelled counselling. But in fact when I went there.... it was only 1 evening a week, it was more on.... self-awareness. It was a mixed class... and that's one of the points, that was one of the big turning points around that time. 

Those classes went on in various forms and another for about 2 years. And we covered some areas which were incredibly painful, and I would sit there thinking, "What am I doing here, why am I putting myself through it." But in fact, I learned so much it's... it's a big part of my journey. Over 2 years I actually had 2 different teachers... both were psychosynthesis trained, which was a method of psychology I'd never come across before. But it was sufficiently interesting to keep me going for 2 years. I met some terrific people in these classes.... I suppose we were all on a similar journey, and they were... it was worth going.... I wouldn't go back and undo it.
 

A number of people had worked long hours and considered themselves 'workaholics' before depression. After depression, people believed that over-working was part of avoiding who they really were, so they tried to change.

Although it could be a struggle financially, some people changed to part-time work or retired to pursue more meaningful activities and reduce stress. A man who was financially secure was able to leave his work to recover from depression and take up a project that suited him better.

 

A combination of Incapacity Benefit, pension and an inheritance, meant he had enough to retire on...

View full profile
Age at interview: 68
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 57
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
The Incapacity Benefit I got plus my occupational pension enabled me to get by'. my father left us a little bit of money, which enabled us to pay off our mortgage so we didn't have to pay the mortgage here, and also we were able to have the conservatory put up, you know that paid for that. So you know, there was a lot to give thanks for within reason. 

I suppose a disappointment for me was, in a minor way, having to leave work in the circumstances that I did. I've hardly seen anybody from work since I left, I suppose I was in a bit of a state, I suppose, they were perhaps embarrassed by me, I don't know, I don't know. I've not seen many people from work, and it's not that far away. 

But somebody once said to me when you leave work, you're forgotten in a matter of hours or so! Somebody else said, 'As long as that, I thought it was twenty minutes!

 

Depression made her question her priorities. She was glad she left her work in her 30s rather...

View full profile
Age at interview: 39
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 33
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I think it's (depression) sort of made me question what I thought was good about my life because I was in a very busy and hard-working career, and whilst the depression wasn't the main, or the only reason, that I left, there was a re-organisation at my work, I do think, oh, thank God I left there when I was 36 rather than 56. You know, I understand that I need sort of time for me now, and that I'm a person in my own right, and I'm important and I have, you know, the right to have some quality time for me.  Whereas perhaps before I didn't...I might have thought it but I never actually did it. I think it puts things.... sort of life into perspective and you.... some of the sort of silly inconveniences of life you think, whereas before you might have got het up about them, now you just think, well, so? Or, so what? [Laughing]
 
 

Tried various careers, including law, which did not suit him; once he left law he started to feel...

View full profile
Age at interview: 69
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 39
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Anyway I had quite a varied life, but I tried to do various things like for instance, I tried to be a farmer and it was too' too much for me. And I had, I suppose you could call it; a sort of a breakdown when I was' that was when I was seventeen. So I had to give up the idea of farming. 

Then I went into my father's law firm, I got a university degree in law, which I found really hard but I did it. Went into his firm and after about twelve years as a solicitor I reached the point where I couldn't do the work any more at which'. And I used to be very angry with clients coming through the door, I just wanted to throw them out really. I couldn't concentrate on work. And so I thought you could get a pill to cure you of this if you went to a doctor. 

But whether' I didn't really want to be cured of it because I'd have to come back into law. What I want to do is leave this bloody awful job, which I should never have gone into in the first place. 

And so I left the left law and I had a bit of money, a relation of mine had left me some money, so I had enough money to keep going for a year or two without working, and so deliberately drifted. And I quickly felt better from the symptoms that had stopped me doing the law, and I went to an organic gardening school run by a private man who is a writer on organic gardening, and I did a year's training with this chap. And then I went to a Rudolf Steiner further education college and I got training in what they called biodynamic agriculture, which was'. it's a sort of organic plus.

Some people found that once their depression had begun to lift, their concentration and confidence was not as good as it used to be. Voluntary work, anything from walking dogs, to part-time office work for charities, could be a way to get back into meaningful work and rebuilding confidence (see 'Distraction, activities and creativity').

Some older people who became depressed worried that their lives were over if they got depression (e.g. they would not return to work and retire). But this was not necessarily the case. A man in his 50s found that depression could result in new life perspectives and opportunities.

 

Depression can open up opportunities, and you can do much to change your life, including creative...

View full profile
Age at interview: 55
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 51
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
That there is hope, there is, you know. That isn't the end. I think your feeling is, "Right", particularly if you're ageing you know, "Right that's the end of my life, that's the last thing I'll ever do", you know. "And all I'm ever going to do now is either retire or whatever", you know and certainly things change totally, and a lot of things...a lot of opportunities opened up which I would never have thought had happened. 

Strangely enough there were certain things, practical things that made these things happen. One was a... a friend of mine bought me a mobile phone and that opened up the social side of things, which it hadn't existed before. So and then the other thing was I started playing around with computer graphic packages, Coral Draw was one I was working in, and I'd started doing kind of abstract art basically using that. So sometimes there can be things that can facilitate things happening, but I think you definitely need to, I mean I started using the phone more than I'd ever used it in the past. So it was a communications thing. 

It made you more social?

Yeah, I'd probably go out more, I'd have a drink and that sort of thing, which I'd not done before. But that came partly because of being involved with the band. So the band would be going off and we'd go off and have a drink together that sort of thing. So you get to talk to quite a lot of people that way.

Being well off is no protection against depression but financial security has clear advantages. Most people we talked to were not well off and their finances could add to their stress. Some people had gone into debt through over spending, especially if they also had mania. A few declared bankruptcy. People who have to take time off work with depression will usually qualify for state sickness or other benefits, and may have cover through an occupational scheme.

 
Text only
Read below

Was surprised that so many celebrities with material wealth had had depression and were prepared...

View full profile
Age at interview: 39
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 32
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
It's actually [pause] in a way surprised me that so many celebrities in such places and positions of society actually suffer from depression. And it's been an eye-opener for me that, you know, they're coming out into the open. And I feel if they're prepared to come out and say it, it's... and do something to help themselves then at least that should be a springboard for people such as myself to be...

Why has that surprised you that celebrities have come out with depression?

Because I felt that the kind of life-style, at least on a materialistic level, that that would have helped them to escape from going down with such things as depression. But it is obviously clear that, you know, materialistic, you can have a very big house and 3 or 4 cars, whatever, at the end of the day it all depends how you feel within yourself and within your mind, and nothing in terms of monetary wealth can ever make any changes to that.

Work provides most people with structure and routine as well as money. Although it can help to stop work, the removal of all routines and responsibilities can be a problem - there is the risk of 'doing nothing' (see 'Hope, advice & wisdom for people with depression'). Some people who were out of work found that having a routine (without too much pressure) could help to get them through this period of time.

 
Text only
Read below

Having a child to look after gave her a routine and responsibilities which got her out of bed and...

View full profile
Age at interview: 36
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 34
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I think with having my daughter that really' I couldn't really wallow in self-pity' I couldn't afford to be ill for too long. I mean, it was hard. I because I've got my partner'  he works and you know with very limited extended family, so it was very much, I've got to get up and I've got to get on with this. And I just felt it was unfair on my daughter. You know, I didn't want her to see me ill as well. So I think she' you know, got me through it, because it's like I will get up and, you know, I've got'.  Basically I had to review my life and re-evaluate it and just leave that behind. And I think the biggest thing for me was letting go'like coming to terms with it and actually, you know you can't do this but you know, it's ok.  And accepting, it's about accepting. Accepting that for me that it's ok. I've worked all my life. I've had a child, blah blah blah' I can't, I'm not superwoman let's just take some time out.  '
 
 

While severely depressed, her doctor told her to get out of the house and exercise, and so she...

View full profile
Age at interview: 50
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
So I think probably for a year I hardly went out of the house. I, there was a ladies' group on a local church that I used to make myself go to because I...you know the doctor had said, "You need to get out. You need to exercise". Which was laughable because I could hardly walk, never mind actually do any exercise. But I made myself get on the bus, go to this meeting. I could just sit there really and not say anything, just be amongst people. Felt like hell [laugh] and came home. And just continued to just be vague about what was wrong with me to people. Fortunately I had changed jobs so I didn't really have friends who followed me up from the new job because I'd not had a chance to make friends. People from my old job didn't know what had happened to me because of course I'd left there. 

Many of the people we talked to had pets that required looking after (routine) and they also provided companionship.

 
Text only
Read below

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

View full profile
Age at interview: 45
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 45
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
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.

Last reviewed September 2017.

Last updated October 2010.

donate
Previous Page
Next Page