These eleven case studies are representative of the scores of depressed clients that have seen me over the last few years. In all cases, names and other details have been changed to preserve complete anonymity.
Freda, a married woman in her thirties had been depressed for all her adult life.
She had been told and believed that depression was a chemical condition and had been on anti-depressants for many years. She had spent time in a mental hospital and was now six months into counselling on the NHS which was making her feel even worse. At the first session I explained why most depressions could be quickly relieved and Freda was liberated by the realisation that her depression was not an illness. By the second session, Freda was more actively engaged in her life and feeling better. Certain traumatic experiences from her childhood were then successfully addressed and removed. In fact Freda had a lot going for her – she was intelligent and had a loving and supportive husband. To her delight, she told me in her third session that she was pregnant.
Liam, now 50, had been chronically depressed for over thirty years
Over these years, Liam had been to counsellors and periodically took anti-depressants. But the periodic decline into depression, particularly as Spring approached persisted. We identified some possible patterns that went back to his teenage years and we worked to relieve these – by a combination of deep relaxation and rehearsal , insightful conversations and powerful metaphors. We also looked at his life now – which in many ways was blessed and good but needed some redirection. After five sessions Liam felt better than he had for many years. He also was confident he had the tools to handle any times when previously he would have sunk back down.
Barbara was in her early twenties, Having come to London and not being happy in her work she was sinking into a depression
The first task of therapy was to explain very clearly to Barbara how worrying and bad sleeping was destroying her capacity to take control of her life. This was immensely relieving for her and having listened to my CD religiously over the week she was feeling much better by the second session. It was increasingly clear as we talked that Barbara needed to find something else to do that would bring her much more satisfaction and there were also a severe doubt of her continuing to live in London. There are also some problems in her teenage years and we both recognised pattern matching from the lack of confidence at that time to her present life. These were resolved in Trance and Barbara continued to feel much stronger. I have since heard from her – she has left London and is working in South Africa.
Rachel became depressed as life problems steadily eroded her belief in herself as a competent and capable woman
Rachel also saw herself as a capable person (as indeed she was) – and so “depressions did not happen to her”. And then when it apparently did, the shock was even greater and she was lost and drowning. There had been medical problems concerning her shoulder that the NHS could not seem to deal with. And this was allied to chronic problems around her main relationship and at work. She was a very committed social worker yet the defensiveness and politicisation of the job created additional pressures, while at the same time denying her the opportunity for real job satisfaction.
As far as was possible Rachel was taking things into her own hands. She had gone private in dealing with her shoulder and she was seeing me, having given up on the NHS and despite very unwillingly, continuing with medication. And she had taken leave of absence from work. To do such a thing can however be a mixed blessing as it encourages time for rumination and worry – and this was what was happening to Rachel. Additionally there were some emotional memories around a previous period of medical emergency that were exacerbating emotional arousal and feelings of being out of control.
And so Rachel began to recover. It was not one thing, but an accumulation of things. We worked on her becoming less fearful of being on her own (as her partner faded from the scene). She began to explore changing her work and maybe even going it alone in some form – and so as her sleep improved, a virtuous circle began to get underway. It took a couple of months before she had turned her emotions around – she was sleeping well and getting her life sorted.
Mike needed to reset his life now he was retired
Mike came to me chronically depressed, having been slowly sinking over the three or four years since his retirement. He was in his early sixties and had, had a successful corporate career. His career had been hard work and insecure at times but ultimately rewarding – as he enjoyed much of it and managed to provide substantial security and opportunity for his family. This had always been his major objective. As a result, he would say that his natural caution and predisposition to work hard and to plan carefully had been justified.
This caution and care had very much stayed with him in his retirement. It was as if he could not relax and let go – for his retirement seemed to bring ever more problems around his living circumstances and the management and uncertainty of his financial resources. A classic depression resulted, in terms of increasingly disturbed sleeping patterns, worrying and mental exhaustion – that seemed impossible to resolve as he “normally” would have done.
What emerged when helping Mike, was that he needed to work out a very different way to see the world and how he could best live in it. The old corporate model no longer worked.
And this became our main focus once we had relieved some of the exhaustion. Thus he listened carefully and regularly to my Lift Depression Mp3 and we did some good relaxation trance work, notably around the period just before and after his retirement.
And then we conducted a couple of extended sessions which were in many ways one on one reruns of my wellbeing workshop. It was very important that Mike could work out the Human Given’s ideas himself. He was particularly taken by my Pagoda Needs Formulation – which made a lot of sense to him and which he could clearly relate to his life now and indeed to his corporate life also.
He began to feel much better after this and in a follow-up session three months later, he was completely recovered. Not only was he actively enjoying his retirement with his wife and family and his many developing interests but he was also dealing in a completely different way with the inevitable tribulations of his week to week life.
Tricia has been depressed on and off for much of her adult life
Sometimes, people have been depressed for so long – not necessarily all of the time but chronically – that they have accepted the depression as central to who they are and the life that they lead. They don’t believe in their heart that they will ever have a depression recovery or ever escape completely from the depression. They have tried anti-depressants or indeed may still be taking them (and scared to stop even though they don’t feel they are doing much). This was true of Tricia.
Tricia was in her mid-sixties, married and with three grown-up children and now five grandchildren. She traced the beginning of her depression to a time some twenty-five years ago – a time of great stress when her mother had died, she had been made redundant and there were money worries to contend with.At times over these past twenty-five years, it had got so bad she was considered a suicide risk and had spent time in the hospital, heavily medicated. And she was miles away from depression recovery at those times.
Tricia was quite naturally resistant to the idea that her depression and the way to depression recovery could be simply explained. She also found after our first session that my Overcoming Depression Mp3, though “interesting” had clearly not got through to her. She was though a very good trance subject (as many depressed clients are)and so in addition to some very gentle guided imagery, I used the Rewind in that second session to detraumatise the memories around her crisis of twenty-five years ago.
At our next session, the emotion around those memories of that time had clearly faded but she was still feeling stressed and depressed – Scoring a little better on the CORE system I use, but not that much better. So we went further back to her childhood where we discovered patterns of insecurity related to living just with her mother and severe money worries. We also spent time looking at her relationship with her children and how she could be different with them and so enjoy her grandchildren much more. Finally, we discussed her day to day life now and how she could do certain things differently and find small pleasures.
It was like peeling away the layers of an onion – until depression recovery. All that was left was Tricia as she actually always could have been – capable, efficient, busy, and at last clear to live a life that would work for her. And four months later – her depression has still gone.
Harold has retired from his career in the city but is still very unhappy – burdened by financial worries and a profound lack of motivation
Harold definitely had practical difficulties to resolve around his life now. But much more important was the continuing active pattern matching from much earlier on in his life. One was the sadness and trauma around the death of his mother. And the second was actually much more important and was in truth quite difficult to uncover – The profound belief that life was meant to be difficult and hard. It was only when this began to clear by a combination of reframing work and trance that Harold could begin to see what changes he could make to his retirement life. The most important was that he should stop the part-time work he was doing and really engage in his passion which was to devote himself spiritually in his church.
Tim was a university lecturer stuck in a bad depression
Tim was referred to me by a couples counsellor who was seeing Tim and his wife. Tim came to me classically depressed. Clearly, his marriage was part of the problem but there was more. Firstly he had strong memories of a previous breakdown which impacted on him and he was also losing motivation at work – he was a senior lecturer at a local university.
The first urgent task was to encourage Tim to worry less and to get his sleep better, this took three sessions. Before Tim was listening to my Depression Mp3 and really understanding what was going on for him. But then progress was rapid. He began to find genuine pleasure in his daily life (that he had forgotten about) and as he felt better he could take some control and so improve his relationship with his wife. Finally, he began to make plans for adapting his work schedule in a more interesting and creative way. Within two months his depression had completely lifted, and as important, he was confident that he could better handle any future stressful times.
Carole, in her early twenties, was again depressed – living in London, increasingly shunning friends and uncertain at work
Carole came to me exhausted and lacking energy and motivation. I asked her to listen repeatedly to my depression Mp3 over the next week, which she did and by our second session, she was much improved. She had gone out, was resuming some exercise and beginning to see her situation as manageable. Critically her sleeping was improving and she was more energised. We then discovered that although she had many resources (a happy family life and considerable intelligence and sharpness), this was often sabotaged by the unhelpful emotions and memories that went all the way back to her early school days. We cleared these using trance and rehearsal tools. Of particular importance also was the recognition that Carole could now have, to recognise the early stages of depression in the future. This was partly a very practical approach but also about laying down better and more empowering templates – that she could trust her intelligence to build a life that worked for her.
Frances is a single mother in her mid-fifties – who has spent many years depressed and taking anti-depressants
The source of Frances’s long-standing periods of severe depression and then only moderate easing were two-fold. Firstly very challenging life circumstances around work, home and her extended family and second the difficulty she had in dealing with these while life was so difficult.
Frances came to see me for an unusually large number of sessions – around ten – and since that time she periodically comes back (every three months on average) for a few top-up sessions when events become too burdensome. She is highly intelligent and resourceful and in many ways her problems stem from her not recognising how well she is doing and not being clear in her need how to use these resources to build a life that really works well for her.
Frances is at last no longer depressed and is ready to slowly come off anti-depressants which she has been taking for 18 years. The key trigger for the change was to stop being a teacher which she now realises was absolutely hateful for her. She now works at a solicitors office and loves it.
And by having some spare capacity for the first time for so long she was ready to confront and process what was the great tragedy and sorrow of her life – namely the ending of a relationship which was her fault with the man she now knows was the love of her life.
I believe Frances sees me as an additional source of support and someone who can keep her on the straight and narrow. But of course, she has largely healed herself. I am delighted though that her ambition remains undimmed – to build that life where her needs are properly met by using her own resources to the full.
Trevor needed to have an original depression experience detraumatised
Trevor was in his mid-forties with a wife, a young child, and a job as a floorer. He was also doing GCSE evening classes in maths and science having left school with no qualifications. On the face of it he was living a life that was working pretty well. Trevor had had an eventful earlier life with drugs, booze and criminality very much part of it, but he had escaped this and seemed clear of it. But what was still active was the memory of a terrible depression just as he was freeing himself from this part of his life. I did wonder whether part of the fear was of the memories of his earlier life and the terror of falling back into it. No matter, we detraumatised his memories around all of this using the Rewind technique and he is now free from his serial depressions and the fear of falling back into them.I wonder how many depressed people today are still terrified of their first depression experience? For these, the memory must be cleared before permanent recovery can possibly take place. But this can be done.