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...
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...
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...
Says depression helps you to put your life in perspective. She still finds it hard to relax, but...
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...
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...
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.
Did the Landmark course, which allowed him to take responsibility for his own role in the poor...
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...
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...
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...
Tried various careers, including law, which did not suit him; once he left law he started to feel...
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...
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.
Was surprised that so many celebrities with material wealth had had depression and were prepared...
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.
Having a child to look after gave her a routine and responsibilities which got her out of bed and...
While severely depressed, her doctor told her to get out of the house and exercise, and so she...
Many of the people we talked to had pets that required looking after (routine) and they also provided companionship.
His pet parrot needs a lot of attention, and is affectionate and sensitive to him (even if...
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.