The recent coverage of mental health issues in the media has been brilliant – so refreshing to see and be a part of – but one thing they’ve all completely failed to address is the root cause of many mental health issues and the reasons for the increasing incidence of such problems.
It’s all very well setting out to ‘cure’ or solve the problem, but wouldn’t it be much better not to have the problem in the first place?
Personally, the symptoms of my depression were absolutely textbook – work and relationship stresses, a busy lifestyle, unhealthy reactions to changes and challenges in my life and a lack of coping skills.
All of this piled up and I ended up with a prescription for anti-depressants from my GP to fix the issue, and that’s it. No other treatment.
Previously, I’d tried NHS’s array of talking therapies and CBT with zero success, so this was off the menu. Where do you go from there?
If I went to the doctor’s surgery with a dislocated shoulder they’d be unlikely to send me away with some painkillers in the hope that it’d pop back in by itself at some point, so why are mental health issues treated in this way?
The answer to this is simple; most GP’s understanding of mental health issues simply doesn’t extend to a genuine long-term cure, more a short-term patch over the problem involving giving a medical diagnosis and prescribing chemicals, or maybe some ineffective counseling or therapy.
The concept of not really addressing the underlying mental health issues and simply medicating their way out of the problem is the modus operandi of 99% of the medical profession.
The problem is, when you look at the research, this methodology has an incredibly poor track record. The medicalization (i.e. declaring that you have a medical problem – a broken or damaged brain) and prescription drug route just don’t work for most people.
This is because many members of the medical profession fundamentally misunderstand the nature of many mental health issues. When you suffer from depression, your brain isn’t broken like a cracked bone or snapped ligament – more often than not, it’s a collection of unhelpful thought processes, negative reactions to life events and poor coping skills making and facilitating a depressive state of mind.
But that’s not to say that someone who suffers from depression has done it to themselves. Unless you’ve been taught good coping skills, or how to not have unhelpful or negative thoughts, then you’re likely to be quite helpless when the time comes to call upon these facets. You simply won’t have them in the mental locker to bring out when needed.
It’s like being presented with a motorbike when you’ve not been taught to ride – nobody’s blaming you for not knowing how to ride a complex machine with lots of working parts.
So, if you’re reading this and wondering, as I did for years, what’s wrong with you, the answer is almost certainly; not a lot. Yes, you’re depressed but this isn’t due to a chemical imbalance in the brain or something broken, missing or malformed.
It’s because you’ve not been taught how to deal with depressive thoughts or cope with life’s inevitable hurdles in a way that’s positive for your overall wellbeing.
You’re in a cycle of negative thoughts and behavior that, often, you don’t know how to get out of, or even identify as being negative.
Once you understand this fundamental difference and realize that your depression doesn’t require chemicals, years of therapy or interventionist rehab to cure, it becomes incredibly easy to move beyond depression to a happier existence.
And how did I do this? The Thrive Programme – recommended by a friend-of-a-friend – taught me these vital life skills and coping mechanisms in about six weeks through studying the book and face-to-face sessions.
But the first and most interesting part of this process was the quiz that I took before I began the program to identify areas of my life and thought processes that I did or didn’t have control over.
This feeds into the concept of ‘locus of control’, which defines how you view things that happen to you and events in your life and categorizes your attitudes and beliefs into ‘external’ and ‘internal’ beliefs.
Once completed, the quiz gives you a great idea of where your unhelpful thinking styles and beliefs are emanating from. It’s then possible to deal with these properly.
Through this and the other strategies developed by Rob Kelly, The Thrive Programme equipped me to manage my thoughts in such a way that, several months on, I’ve not allowed myself to become depressed, even once.
Let me repeat that: I DON’T ALLOW MYSELF TO BECOME DEPRESSED. Imagine how different life would be if you could say the same thing?