Is there anything hopeful in going through depression? While depression can be a serious illness and can have wide-reaching implications for a sufferer and their families, Wyn Bramley writes about some of the good things that can come out of hard times like these. Here, we are sharing a second extract from her book Understanding the Depressions: A Companion for Sufferers, Relatives and Cousellors.
No one seeks this awful affliction but nonetheless many claim to have benefitted from it. I know many uni- and bipolar individuals who have for certain periods declined their maintenance medication, so risking their health, career and relationships. They did this because they missed the former richness and colour – including the dark shades – of their extraordinary mood changes. The thoughts and emotions accompanying the highs and lows gave their life meaning and variety, though they dreaded falling prey to the extremes to which their illness sometimes drove them. In order to keep a hold on hope and perhaps to defy Fate, they insisted on casting aside lifesaving drugs for a while. I noticed that those of artistic bent claimed to have done their best work when off drugs, and a bit too high or too low for their doctor’s comfort, but just at the right level for them to create something really satisfying.
I have worked with countless little to middling ‘d’ people who bemoan their proclivity to this wretched state but who, having recuperated, rejoice in the insight and maturity brought forth by their personal explorations in psychotherapy. Life is so hectic these days that getting to know, like, and enjoy one’s Self tends to be shoved down the priority list, to be replaced by gratifications more instant and pleasurable. So if self-knowledge is a valuable thing, it could be argued that any mood problem that necessitates counselling help is desirable. Indeed I hope some of the stories I’ve told show that one of the functions of little ‘d’ is to prompt the person undergoing it to take stock of their lives, for at the moment they may be taking the wrong direction. In that sense little ‘d’ depression may be regarded as the friend who brings unwelcome news but who all the same needs listening to.
Wyn Bramley’s book is available now.