Depression – A Multi-Pronged Attack

sky ditch eye hole
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You are in a well. A deep, dark well with murky, warm water up to your thighs. If you look up, you can see a tiny chink of light, but it’s a long, long way away.

You are not alone down there in the well. There are many others. It is not frightening because it’s familiar. You’ve been here before. It almost feels quite comfortable, perhaps even safe.

Around the inner sides of the well are ladders, ropes and the occasional handle of all shapes and sizes. Some are short, some long, some a little broken and some sturdy. But not one of them reaches the whole way up to the light at the very top.

And on every ladder and rope, there are people trying to climb up. There are young people, old people, black, white, rich and poor, all heaving themselves up, slipping down, knocking others off as they fall. It’s utter carnage. So it’s easier here at the bottom in the warm water, because anyway who really knows what dangers lurk up at the top? Life at the top can be a perilous place.

Each ladder, rope and handle represents a lifeline.

First you have to haul your heavy wet body out of the soft, warm water. It is now cold and uncomfortable and your body is heavy with all the water, but you try. You reach for the first lifeline.

The first ladder is marked ‘doctor‘. It is a solid, strong and quite easy to climb up but as you progress, the rungs become narrower. So you need to move one of your feet onto another ladder.

This one is labelled ‘exercise‘ and is a little creaky, but seems to be helping you up a little further. As someone falls beside you, you reach out to the rope with the name ‘social interaction‘ on it. You start to feel enthused and energised and begin to look for other ladders.

There are some little handles on the wall with the name ‘meditation’ on them. You grab them. And all the while you can hear a wonderful voice giving ‘group counselling‘ to encourage and teach you how to reach higher for the ladders.

Yoga, Pilates, medication, therapy, exercise, medication, reading, writing, fresh air, light, gardening, baking, cleaning, cycling, good food … There are dozens of them …

Yes, there are ladders all around, and they are there to be used. All of them. Because one alone will rarely work. Each of us is different and some ladders work better for some whilst different ropes work better for others.

But despite our individual differences and needs, there are two factors that unite us. And they are:

It’s up to us to WANT to climb out of the hole, and it’s up to us to DO the climbing.

Katie x

Have you ever suffered from depression or anxiety and was there a trigger?

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53 thoughts on “Depression – A Multi-Pronged Attack”

    1. Indeed … And it’s so easy to let things slip. I find that I get outside and exercise less in winter because it’s so darn cold which I hate. Hardly surprising that like so many others I get the winter blues! Thanks for reading and commenting Mick.

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  1. When I’ve felt low/depressed and/or anxious, it was mostly when I was drinking (which figures as alcohol is liquid depression), and these days when I feel these things it’s pretty much always due to a reason I can point to – i.e. it doesn’t seem to just come from within. Not that this matters, but still.

    This struck a chord though, because getting sober I think can be a lot like this with the main ingredient being that we have to really want to and be ready to work for it. I can totally relate to how getting out can even seem scarier and sometimes WORSE than staying where you are, in the familiar murky waters.

    Exercise I can definitely vouch for and running is for me a godsend! There are often days (my pattern has become a run every other day) when I feel BLEURGH and really don’t feel like it, because it’s hard work most of the time! Yes, I’m at the point now where I can without feeling like I’m dying jog 6-7k and it does feel good, but probably a third of the time it’s still tough. But I make myself, I head out and even those times when I just want to give up and walk instead, I somehow get around the route. Needless to say, I feel so good when I’m back – not just physically (that lovely feeling of when your body’s worked and your heart’s been pumping hard) but also 1) all those lovely endorphins, and 2) the sense of achievement. I just end up feeling SO GOOD! And for me, an alcoholic, this amazing feeling is of course at the opposite end of the spectrum to any “good” feelings my brain will sometimes make me think alcohol will produce. When I feel strong and healthy after a run, the LAST thing I want to do is cause myself harm by drinking! So exercise is an excellent modus operandi for so many things! It just does us so much good and makes us stronger – heart, body and soul! So I can see how with depression and anxiety it works wonders too.

    I loved this post and it’s a great analogy.

    MWAH! xxxx

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    1. 6/7k … ?! Good God! Ok you’re on a pedestal now … no wonder you have that healthy glow about you! But you’re right, it’s so hard to get started (on a run), but the feeling afterwards is mega! (Errr not that I run, but if it’s the same as cycling then I totally get this). I have to confess that I’m very much a fair weather sports person. Give me sunshine every day … it just makes me happy! Xxxxx

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  2. I have suffered with debilitating anxiety and episodes of depression throughout my life. Drinking helped until it became a major source of my anxiety.

    I am on medication and am generally pretty happy, with sobriety, yoga, adequate sleep and good eating habits.

    I have still had a few shorter episodes of depression even with all this.

    But…I am currently going through a separation after finding out my husband of 20 years was unfaithful. And although it is more painful than I can even put into words, I am ok.

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    1. Awww you sweet, dear girl … I’m so, so sorry about the situation with your husband. Dear God, life is so unfair and cruel sometimes. I know what you’re going through and I’m so sorry. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Keep an eye on yourself, it can be a trigger for the ‘blues’. Sending you a mammoth hug and a smacker of a kiss and I know that it won’t do much, but be assured that I’m thinking of you. Katie xx

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  3. I was quite depressed in past years, to the point I hardly spoke to anyone or left the house. Some days I wouldn’t even come down from my room to eat until literally more than half the day went by, all because I didn’t want to see or speak to anyone else who was home. Those were painful times. The years were such a blur that now if I try to think about specific events that happened then, I barely remember much of anything.

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  4. Hello! I am new to your blog and I enjoyed reading this. I do suffer from both depression and anxiety. I was abused when I was younger. I started the blog so I can hopefully write more about it and maybe do a book.

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    1. I look forward to reading through your posts … I’m sorry you’ve had a really rough time and I hope you’re ok at the moment? Writing has been wonderfully therapeutic for so many people here and often the starting point for writing a book … you’re definitely in the right place! Welcome! Katie x

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      1. Hi Katie, Neurofeedback is a kind of therapy during which you train your brain to operate on positive freuquencies. It allows you to break down walls you would normally keep up. It’s super effective with PTSD and ADHD!

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    1. Oooh ….. I really hope you’re ok right now? I’ve just read the most wonderful book about having a goal, making the commitment, focussing and attaining that goal. It might all sound a bit non-British and rather American, but it certainly works. Anything is possible, any situation can be changed with a plan in place and tiny steps consistently taken. It’s really helped me to write the book. Hope you’re having a lovely day, albeit that it’s ABSOLUTELY FREEZING! Katie x

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      1. Awww poor you … do hope you’re feeling better today. 😷 And as for the rest of it … I think I know where you’re at and I’m sending big hugs and hoping very much that you can find a plan. They’re my forte if ever you need a sounding board. X

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  5. Depression IS awful. I suffered for many years but have been free of it for many more. I did it by realizing my culpability in my own depression. I changed my thinking, my behavior, my relationships, everything. I worked hard and depression was eventually only a bad memory. While there are many different “ladders” as you describe them, most people will recover by doing pretty much the same things, albeit at different times in their recovery. I forget who mentioned “triggers” but there is ALWAYS a trigger. The trick is to pay attention to the times our moods suddenly drop and look at our thoughts for the prior hours, sometimes even a day. Our moods always follow our thoughts. Anyway, glad I found you and I hope you and you’re followers all find their way to good mental health. God bless

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    1. Oh that’s so lovely to read. Thank you. Yup, there is always a trigger … each and every time. I’m so, so happy that here in you, there is a success story! Changing our behaviour which in turn helps to change our thinking is absolutely crucial. CBT is a fantastic tool. It’s really hard work, but you’re the absolute winner! I’m so happy for you! Katie

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  6. I’ve been at the bottom of that well many time. I tend to call it a swamp myself, with various patches of quicksand that want to suck you further down, down, down… but the well metaphor works well, too. And the need to rely on multiple ladders–that rings very true for me.

    For a long time, I felt like I didn’t really have any particular triggers to provoke another depressive episode. It seemed like something random that overtook me almost out of nowhere. What was my problem? I have a great husband, sons I love, interesting work… but of course, it is more complicated than that. I also endured emotional and sexual abuse when I was younger, and the traumatic residue of those experiences reappears when I am in stressful situations. This has been a repetitive experience (ie. I’ve fallen back in the well multiple times), but I think I am finally firming up those ladders and learning how to climb better. I’m hoping that in the future, if I fall in again, I won’t spend as much time splashing around (or sinking) at the bottom. Instead, I’ll head straight for my best ladders and use the climbing muscles I’ve developed over time.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

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    1. Oh thank you so much for sharing this with me. Sorry it’s taken so long to respond, I’ve been bogged down with a moving house thing so have been neglecting my blog. I’m sorry.
      I’m so glad this resonates with you, but sorry that you’ve clearly been to hell and back with some traumatically awful times in the past. If I may, can I send you the biggest of all hugs and a smacker of a kiss. You’re so brave to be able to open up about this and strong too to not let it determine how your life continues. I look forward to reading your blog. You just keep firming up those ladders just in case you ever need them and I’ll be there to give you a helping hand. Katie x

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