|Living With Depression by Nick Weatherhogg|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A courageous look at depression from someone who is currently suffering.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 116||Date: December 2016|
Nick Weatherhogg has been diagnosed as suffering from severe depression. Many of you will be nodding wisely and thinking that you know how he feels: but there are two points he wants to make here. You don't know how he feels. This is his depression and only he knows what it feels like - if he's able to think or express how he's feeling. The other point is that there's a big difference between feeling depressed and being depressed - fepression and bepression as he terms them. He's right: I've been there. My feelings, my experience will have been different, but I do know that it was hellish. He describes the experience as a mental state in which your brain regularly and consistently lies to you.
For me there was a very real difficulty in explaining what was happening to me to anyone else. I found that people who had suffered could empathise with how I felt, but others simply saw someone who looked healthy, but said they were unwell - or occasionally, said nothing, but seemed distracted. So, I was keen to read Weatherhogg's take on living with depression, particularly as he's trained as a psychoanalyst and taught psychology, for the personal experience coupled with professional insight.
Even Weatherhogg has difficulty explaining how he feels although he does point up some symptoms which will be common to many sufferers, with low self-esteem being one which many will recognise. At my worst my feeling of worthlessness was such that I felt I had a moral obligation to free the world of the burden of me. Suicidal ideation is not at all unusual. I never went through the 'Why me?' phase - I was too easily convinced that I deserved to feel this way as I didn't like myself, but many people do ask the question and whilst there's no clear answer, genetic predisposition, challenging experiences, and medical history feature regularly. I liked his quote that it was nothing personal - your name just came up. Sometimes you have to accept that's the way it is. One problem with which many sufferers struggle is that 'depression' is seen as a sign of weakness, with society's search for perfection leading to unhappiness.
Many sufferers want to know how long it will last and it is a reasonable question, but it's perhaps fairest to point out that even if cured it can recur at any time. Weatherhogg has an excellent analogy of suffering from depression being rather like walking along a previously-unexplored railway line running through a mountainous area. You'll keep encountering dark tunnels and you'll never know how long they're going to be before you see the light again. It's perhaps the best analogy I've read.
Weatherhogg provides quotes from authors (Neil Gaiman, J K Rowling and Jennifer Niven were very pertinent) and brief histories of famous people thought or known to have suffered from depression. I appreciated the quotes but was less engaged by the histories, but I do accept that many people have not yet come to believe that they are not alone in what they are suffering and the knowledge that successful people have suffered and survived may well help them.
It takes courage to write a book like this when you are still depressed. Weatherhogg says that he's not a writer, but I'd dispute that: he's put himself out there for anyone to examine without turning it into a pity party. He's been (and I presume, sometimes still is) lonely, feels that he's a failure, unable to function and has been suicidal. He's been bullied in the past but has still retained a sense of humour: I laughed out loud when he described Googling some symptoms and deciding that he had distemper - despite not being a dog.
If you are looking for the symptoms of depression then the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders gives the main points to look out for, but Weatherhogg provides a list which is far more exhaustive and cuts closer to the bone (but he's quite serious when he says that you can't get all of them!) and I liked the fact that he makes the point that any cure is dependent on the depressed person recognising the need for help. He freely admits that depressed people want to be miserable.
So, what help is there? He's brutally honest, particularly about medication and there's a recognition that whilst medication might not bring about a cure it can bring stability, hope and some peace. There's a useful take on the different types of 'talking' cures which your GP can recommend, but I was most impressed by his analysis of the ways in which we can improve our views of ourselves. He's insistent on the therapeutic qualities of work, the benefits of altruism and the need for exercise and a healthy diet - all of which have helped me considerably. I'd like to have seen some consideration of the benefits of cutting processed sugars out of the diet completely as I'm convinced that this has been my salvation. I did this two and a half years ago and haven't had a serious relapse since.
If you think you're suffering from depression or are trying to help a sufferer then this book could be an excellent starting point. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If you need to understand how depression feels then you might also like to try My Depression : A Picture Book by Elizabeth Swados: the pictures fill in where words fail to convey what is happening.
You can read more book reviews or buy Living With Depression by Nick Weatherhogg at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Living With Depression by Nick Weatherhogg at Amazon.com.
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