Preface

The hardest part of writing this book was deciding on where to begin.  The ideas presented in this book are the result of many years of study and thought, and my own experiences with depression.  While most of the ideas are not new, the combination in which they are presented represent a new approach to self-help.  This approach stems from the belief that we are aware of the reasons for our behavior, regardless of whether or not we are willing to admit these reasons.  It also stems from the concept that we need to be responsible for our own emotional state of mind, and that it is harmful to place blame for our bad behavior on other people or inanimate objects.  It is also based on the belief that no one understands what motivates our behavior better than we do. 

I am not a professional writer.  I wrote this book as though I would be sitting with you and telling you the information that is presented.  The language is simple and easy to understand and follow. 

 I am writing this book because of some experiences in my own life.  I have suffered from depression at two separate times in my life.  The first time I did not seek professional help, and the second time I did.  I was shocked out of the first bout by a very traumatic event that forced me to face the reality of what was going on in my life.  The second time around I sought help only to be left as depressed and confused at the end of my counseling as I was at the beginning. 

In both instances I remember feeling completely helpless and unable to get out of the depression I had sunk into.  I remember not being able to focus on any single thought for more than a few seconds, with my mind racing from topic to topic.  I remember sitting and sobbing helplessly for hours on end for no apparent reason, unable to function any more.  My life had become a living hell.  I knew I was in trouble, but had no idea how to get out of the mental mess I found myself in. 

The help I sought during my second bout of depression was in the form of one of those mental health clinics.  As an outpatient I managed to talk my insurance company into letting me go to the clinic for four weeks, twice the “normal” duration.  I’m sure there is some good clinics out there somewhere.  But from what I have seen the majority are little more than people processing plants that usually leave people as depressed and perplexed when they leave, as they were when they started.  The problem with these clinics is that there is very little if any one-on-one counseling.  You “share” your problems with your group and together you are supposed to work out your problems.  Clients leave and join the group as needed by the clinic.  There is little, if any, consistency in the group as each person’s problems are different.  The counselors must follow a set pattern of information they have to present while trying to fit their set approach into all of the individual problems the clients present.  This simply does not work.  In fact, we were told that most people would return within a year with the same problems, only to go through the same routine again.  It is my contention that if two weeks in their clinic does not “fix” people’s problems, then they are failing their clients. 

Toward the end of my visits to this clinic I asked perhaps the single most important question I have ever asked anyone.  We were told that “wrong” thinking got us into the trouble we were in.  So, I asked “If wrong thinking got me here, can right thinking get me out of this mess I am in?”  Unfortunately, I did not get an answer.  They were not interested in teaching me “right thinking.” 

After leaving the clinic, I decided that I would have to answer my question all by myself.  I embarked on a soul-searching journey that eventually brought me back to a healthy level of sanity and stability.  I swallowed my pride as I asked myself all the tough questions I had been avoiding.  I decided that the only way I was going to get out of the depression was for me to learn to accept the reality of life as it was presented to me.   This reality I had to face was not so much about people or events that I was blaming my depression on.  Rather, the reality I had to face was my own inability to cope with these situations.  It didn’t take much for me to realize I was living in some sort of distorted fantasy world, partially created by my depression and partially created by my own thoughts and unwillingness to face my faults and myself. 

Once I recognized the need for me to be brutally honest with myself about my own motivations, beliefs and values, it became readily apparent that those thoughts that led to my depression were about as real as pink elephants.  Starting with the simplest idea, I began to argue away each of these unrealistic thoughts, beliefs and values I possessed.  I replaced them with realistic thoughts, beliefs and values.  It was not an easy path to go down and took a lot of strength to admit my faults to myself, and to be sure there were many I wanted to hang onto.  However, I can testify to you today that this process of brutal honesty works.

In this book you will find the same approach to self-counseling that I followed.  I will explain a lot of things to you and coach you along.  I wish I could guarantee you that this approach is exactly the right one for you.  However, that would be an unrealistic promise.  What I can assure you is that even if this approach isn’t the best approach for you, there is a lot of ideas and concepts presented in this book that can help you cope with life and perhaps avoid falling into a state of depression in the future.