I remember, many years ago, I was suffering very badly from depression. I was unable to get off the couch and days rolled into weeks which, in turn, rolled into months of starring at the ceiling. Everything I had tried hadn’t worked.
I had spent years in therapy. Why, after spending all that time had therapy ‘not worked’? I had trained as a therapist. I knew ‘from the inside’ the nature of mental health problems. Why hadn’t this knowledge helped? In desperation I had turned to the psychiatric profession who duly treated my depression ‘aggressively’. I was on a cocktail of five psychiatric drugs. But they hadn’t worked either. Why?
I felt at the end of the road. Nothing was working. Therapy, insight or drugs. I felt I had nowhere left to turn. I remember standing one rainy winter’s night by a railway line. I had scaled the wall and scrambled to the edge of the track. High speed inter-city and local trains screamed past frighteningly close. The police and my mother were repeatedly calling my cell phone, but I ignored them. I was perilously close to death.
Fortunately there was enough of me that still wanted to live, and I turned away and started walking home. The police were searching for me and quickly picked me up. The officer was relieved to have found me alive. The care and compassion I saw in his eyes reconnected me to the human race. He didn’t make a fuss, for which I was grateful. I was returning home to try one more time.
This time, though, it was different. I was going to sort my life out. I had spent years putting my faith in other people’s solutions. My therapists. My lecturers. My trainers. My psychiatrists. If I was going to be rescued from my living hell, I was going to have to do it for myself. By myself. I realised I had to start to take responsibility for myself.
The changes I made to my life transformed it. They form the basis of the work I now do with my clients. What I realised was that I had spent years expecting professionals to sort my life out for me. This therapist, this drug, or this book … will make the difference. I was outsourcing my happiness, and couldn’t understand why it wasn’t working.
I sometimes see this with my clients too. They want me to work it all out for them. Tell them what to do to be happy. Like me, they fail to realise I am only a guide. I can only support and encourage them on their journey. The journey, however, can only be travelled by them.
So I learnt to take responsibility for myself, my life, and my happiness. The result is a happy and successful life for me. It also gives me something solid to base my work with my clients. It seems to resonate with my clients, and I simply can’t keep up with the demand.
It also made me realise in choosing my own therapists and consultants, I need people who had themselves been battered by the rough waves of life. Qualifications, though important, are not my main criteria. I don’t need a therapist who has had a charmed life and read lots of books!
So why am I telling you this? Well one simple reason is to get you to think about your attitude to the people who are trying to help you. Whether this is a friend, family member or therapist. However good the advice, unless you take responsibility for your own suffering, it is unlikely to help in the long run.
There is another reason, though. I’ve decided to put my insights down in a book. I want to say what depression and anxiety looked like from the inside, and what I needed to do to take responsibility, and recover. I want to inspire others to do the same. I want to go beyond the fifteen or so people I can see each week.
I hope you are interested in this project and want to follow its development. Check out my new website “How To Beat Depression Without Drugs” and register your details. I will keep you informed of developments.
If I know there are people supporting me it will help me enormously. Thanks.
Dr Phil Tyson is a Men's Psychotherapist based in Manchester in the UK. He offers:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (cbt) for men in Manchester
- Counselling for men in Manchester
- Psychotherapy for men in Manchester
- Telephone and Skype counselling for men wherever you live
- Supervision and consultative support for therapists in Manchester
- Mediation for employment disputes in Manchester and the UK
- Dr Tyson is writing "How To Beat Depression Without Drugs" a self help book for sufferers