Little steps

If you read my musings you will know I often say how something is my ill-informed opinion. This one is something I know loads about and might surprise a few. I am going to talk about how what is made out as hard does not necessarily have to be and how the insurmountable often isn’t. I am going to shake a theory and some duff diagnosis with some reality and maybe you might find something in here that will help you if what I talk about affects you.

There are millions of people in Britain and all over the world diagnosed with ‘depression’. Many, or maybe even most of those people do not have depression. Depression is a chemical imbalance causing many people much pain and suffering. These people need serious medication as they cannot function without it. I’m not talking about that one. I am talking about the one that most people who get diagnosed with depression actually have. This is people who have got a bit down because things aren’t working out as they might. They might also get anxious and even panicky from time to time because of this. This is not something to be taking drugs for. This is lack of confidence.

Confidence is key to how your day pans out. It is crucial to how you look at who you are and how you take on the world. Some people struggle with confidence in their ability to do things. This is because they are concerned about measuring up to what they believe to be the bench mark for acceptable performance, be it parenting or sales, sports or cooking, whatever. If we think we aren’t good enough at what we do. We lose confidence in ourselves and this gets us down. It causes us to be anxious and maybe in extreme cases even have involuntary panic attacks about something we cannot see or describe. One just feels panicky. It is unpleasant.

Sadly though the massive lobby of the drugs companies and the lack of resources in medical care means if you explain these feelings to a doctor he will tell you that you are depressed and prescribe some anti-depressants. Which are mind altering drugs to give you some sort of feeling that it’s all ok. Even though your circumstances have not changed. How can that possibly help? What you need to do is look in the mirror and understand what you are, who you are, what you are good at and what really matters. Are you actually so rubbish or are you just uniquely you?

I am not talking about things of which I have no knowledge. Due to the poisonous actions of a vile creature I once worked with I had a breakdown and spent years on anti-depressants and so on. Very much wondering every day, what is the point? Just trudging from day to day with no great desire to see another one. While all that was going on I was also feeling very homesick. I just wanted to go back to New Zealand. One day though I started to get things right in my head. I stopped taking the pills and stopped trying to do things I was not able to do and do things I could do instead, sort of. I know people don’t hang around blogs for long so will keep the details brief. What the simple point is though is that what you need is to get perspective and understand what is important and what is not. Get things and circumstances right in your brain and do not take drugs to mask a reality. When I decided to stop taking the drugs I read the potential side effects of doing so. It turned out that many of the issues I had been battling were side effects of the pills!! I always read the pamphlet in boxes of drugs now.

We all have things we are good at and crap at. I am all thumbs when it comes to DIY for example. You could send me to a cabinet maker’s college and I would churn out poorly fashioned timber products for ever. I do not have an eye for DIY and I never will have. Luckily I can pay tradesmen to do the jobs I can’t. I don’t have a knack for throwing things a long way. My arm action doesn’t work like that so no point me fielding on the boundary in a game of Cricket. I have no patience for delicate operations like, as a kid, making kit-sets or anything that takes any attention to detail. You cannot teach it to me. I have other skills. I celebrate those. You will have things you are good at. Don’t try to be good at everything because you aren’t, no-one is. Don’t beat yourself up about things you can’t change. Change the things you can.

I get back to the confidence thing. If you are confident you have no need to worry about depression as you are happy and confident. “But Sandy I lack confidence” you might be saying to yourself. Well sort it out. Get your confidence back. Do it in little steps. Don’t try and do things that you feel you will fail at. Do things you know you can do, things that are second nature. You can do those alright can’t you? Then do a little more. Celebrate your success. Do not bite off more than you can chew. You maybe think you are worthless or a doormat or weak or ignorant, or whatever. You may well be some of those things but that is easily fixed with little steps. By that I mean don’t look at problems as a whole. Address one thing at a time, like taking down a wall one brick at a time. Every single thing can be dismantled; as do all problems have a solution. It’s figuring it out that is the challenge. Do it in bits, address things one thing at a time Little steps.

Take a moment to enjoy getting something right. Don’t do things that make your life a misery, do something else. It’s not being lazy or avoiding the issue. It is understanding what is getting you down and back stepping a bit to look at things a different way. This applies to work as much as your private life. I earn a lot less than I could doing what I do, but I do what I do because I can do it without people monstering me for more than I am able to contribute on my own ability. I work with nice people who appreciate what I do rather than people who see me purely as a means to generate profit. I’ve done that as well and it made me ill. It’s more lucrative but it makes your life worse.

We can actually do anything we want to do (within reason) just by understanding things properly. Not by accepting the status quo and believing hype or accepted thinking. My best example of this is stopping smoking. The accepted public thinking is that stopping smoking is one of the hardest things you can do. Well actually it is not. It is easy. I know it is easy because I did it. I stopped from 40-60 Red Marlboro’s a day to none without any patches or medication. I just stopped. It was not particularly unpleasant and certainly not hard. I just understood my motivation for stopping in my head and stopped smoking. I read a book. It is a good book. I do not read usually motivational books because I am a cynic. But this book made me realise that I could not make any plans in my life without making arrangements for my cigarettes first, which is ridiculous.

I was not all that bothered about health or cost. I just decided that I hated the fact that I was completely beholden to a ciggy. So I changed my circumstances. I stopped smoking, simple. However, society tells us, including the very people who staff the clinics, that stopping is so hard you will suffer. So guess what? You start out on a process you believe will be hard and unpleasant and you will use replacement therapy to swap one thing for another. You will battle against your will power and mostly you will fail because you had the wrong mind-set from the start. Start believing stopping smoking is no big deal and you have a million times more chance of success. I rang my local NHS stop smoking clinic to offer to talk to people who are struggling to stop smoking. They weren’t interested as they supported replacement therapy. So that was a bit rubbish. I know stopping smoking is easy. I have convinced some smoking people I know of this and they have found it to be so. So there you go

So much about who we are and what we are good at is in our minds. To throw in a Kiwi example, The All Blacks are the best Rugby team because that’s what everyone thinks. We don’t have a conveyor belt of supermen in New Zealand. Just lots of self-belief in our rugby from the day we are born.

I wrote a speech to the All Blacks which possibly demonstrates what the mind-set looks like. It was a bit of fun and just me messing about with words but you get the idea hopefully. I’m sure it was the reason they won the World Cup of course. There is a link to it below. (Yes I am kidding. I don’t think they read my blog)

In conclusion if you think you are battling with depression maybe you are just battling the wrong enemy. It may well be that you are down because you have lost confidence. Your confidence is crucial to your ability to face things. Get some confidence back, get some self-belief and your day will get better. Little steps.

All Blacks speech

18 thoughts on “Little steps

  1. shacklefordlb

    I have to confess that I don’t suffer from depression. I don’t lack confidence. And I have never smoked. But I do understand the little steps thing. I use a similar technique in almost all aspects of my life.

    A well written story, Sandy. Why not post this on Love All Blogs under Health and Mental Health. You’ll get more readers too.

    BW,
    Lesley x.

  2. kfc1404

    It’s very fashionable to be “depressed” amongst the “ladies who lunch” set these days. It demonstrates the very shallow meaningless existance that is their lives. Shame.
    But, on a more serious note there are some who are depressed, but, unfortunately in the UK the very new medications that are very effective, non-dependant and have extremely few if any side effects are not allowed to be prescribed by GP’s, those very helpful people at NICE have probably not had an “incentive” from the manufacturer yet!!!
    Google Valdoxan/Agomelatin. Also difficult to get prescribed, but not impossible is Pregabalin which is a excellent GAD medication. It’s primary use is for epilepsy, they discovered it’s use in anxiety by chance.

    1. sandysview

      I had a big row with a brain doctor when he was so keen to prescribe me with stuff that he was only doing it as he was incentivised to do so. He disagreed most strongly so I put it to him that if the drugs sales reps have big targets to meet and expensive foreign holidays for doing so then someone was getting a benefit from selling more drugs or there wouldnt be sales targets for them. They wouldnt sell lots of drugs if doctors didnt buy them and prescribe them to everyone. Anyway you know what I mean. Thanks for your insight.I’ll look those up

  3. citygirlnomore

    A really nicely thought provoking post – there is a great deal to be said for mind over matter and it appears you have mastered this art. I do think drugs have their place, but only ever as a last resort. Interesting read

  4. Ashley

    Nicely said Sandy. I too have experience in this area, having been married to someone with depression for nearly 20 years, the “needing medication” sort. I agree with you that lack of confidence is a huge factor, but I always wondered which came first, the depression or the lack of confidence. Then I saw my son at the age of 11 gradually lose his confidence, become anxious and miserable and lose the will to live (I’m not exaggerating) and I could see that he needed medication. He is doing well and we hope that once he has got through the teenage years we can reduce and eventually stop the medication. I think there’s a huge spectrum of how people feel and how people are equipped to deal with this sort of thing, and it’s important to know that there are options….it’s possible that once you had had that time on antidepressants that they changed your chemical imbalance enough so that you were then in the space that you could stop taking the pills and start making little steps to improve your wellbeing…and possible that if you hadn’t been put on the tablets when you were that you may have slid further into depression and so on.
    For some people that need help taking those little steps there is something called Cognitive therapy, which pretty much does what you describe that you have done for yourself, teaches you to understand yourself and to re think how you deal with stuff and so on.
    Anyway thanks for sharing this, you are indeed a man of many talents.
    Ash x

    1. sandysview

      I heard about cognitive therapy. I have a friend who is a fan. I think a lot of therapy is just someone listening to you pour your heart out.I think losing confidence starts the depression not the other way round. I’m sure your son will be fine. Just keep him away from the Papa Roach track, ‘Last resort’ xx

      1. Ashley

        Yeah thanks, he will be fine I’m sure, I’m glad we got onto it when we did.
        Thanks for the song warning..duly noted!
        I’ve always said my therapy is talking to my mother, sister and best friend, and feel grateful that I have people who listen to my endless ramblings and angsting!!
        Ash x

  5. Mel

    this rings a bell with me, I was prescribed drugs in my 20’s. Fortunately I worked out that the problem wouldn’t be alleviated by a *pill* but by removing the problem, a boyfriend. hey presto, the low feelings disappeared once I dumped the scumbag. However, I do suspect depression is also caused by a chemical imbalance in some people who have to use drugs to alleviate their symptoms. Well written and as another “viewer” said, thought provoking.

  6. Roger Evans

    Having suffered from depression once, the key event in my recovery was walking into a local library and reading the symptoms of depression in a medical book, all of which I realised I had. It was as clear as day. Classic symptoms, such as waking up at 4 every day unable to sleep, not wanting to eat because everything tastes like cardboard, a feeling that you are literally standing on the edge of an abyss. It made me realise that I wasn’t “down” or lacking in confidence, but I was seriously ill. I went to my doctor who prescribed a medicine and counselling. Within 3 months, thanks to an effective drug and a very professional counsellor, I was better. In other words, I had clinical depression and the NHS gave me the right treatment.

    What concerns me is that I have met many people, since, who say they are on medication for depression. When I’ve asked them if they have any of these classic symptoms they say “no” and start talking about how they feel they lack confidence or are feeling down because things haven’t been working out for them. That is not depression. As you say Sandy, greater self-awareness around what you are, who you are, what you are good at and what really matters is the prescription, in this case, not drugs.

  7. sandysview

    Thanks Roger, I’m glad its not just me who thinks people are taking drugs when its not the answer. I feel much more vindicated by your comments. Thanks so much

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