Overcoming Depression by Dean Juniper

How many self-help books are called “Overcoming…”? Is that the only way of looking at mental illness or something? Certainly was for me and that didn’t end very well.

Anyway, I was given this book by my ex-boyfriend. I think he told me that he thought it was “good” or “useful” or something similar. He had a mild depression after we split up and I wonder if this book helped him with that and he thought it would then help me. Mild depression, as in the subtypes of depressive illness used by ICD10 and DSMIV, is an actual geniune illness and the “mild” at the beginning of the name trivialises and demeans a pretty fucking unpleasant experience. But that is another rant. However, mild-to-moderate depression and severe depression are not the same experience and it pisses me the hell of when they are all treated as one and the same thing.

Very little of this book was useful to me. Most of it was very proscriptive and frankly patronising. For example, according to the book, to cope with depression requires that people:

“‘Have aims and hopes that are adjusted to their personal realities.

Maintain a steady, other-blame, credit balance on their personal responsibility account.

Keep up regular programmes of anticipated and realised pleasures.

Sift and select what they read, view and hear so as to exclude the demoralising or the morbid.

Sustain a faith in something or some person outside themselves.

Establish and nourish at least one confising relationship.

Have hobbies, activities , interests and manageable responsibilities.

Preserve healthy rhythms of sleeping, eating, etc.

Stay sensitive to they own mood-changes and are quick to react to them with rest, relaxation, recreation or variation.

Do no carry the sins of the world on their shoulders.

Are orientated to the present and future, and do not dwell on the past.”

Now, there are parts of that quote that I do agree with and can see the sense behind. But there are just so many unspoken unassumptions and priviledges in it. Who says what “healthy rhythms of […] eating” count? Is everyone equally able to “sift and select […] to exclude the demoralising or the morbid” and what is meant by “demoralising” and “morbid”?  I bet there’s quite of range of opinions there. Still, I find it interesting to read as it shows another way of looking at life and living. I do at least realise that my way is rubbish.

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