Depression is defined as a long lasting low mood that affects your ability to do everyday things, feel pleasure, or take interest in activities. Depression can affect people of any age. It is the most common mental illness. Definitions aside, for those that suffer from depression, the effect and experience is uniquely different for everyone.
Depression can occur for many differentt reasons. Some people are unfortunately more susceptible to it than others. There are numerous types of depression. To explore them all in detail is simply beyond the scope of this article.
I personally see depression as a battle. Some people are fortunate enough to overcome it. Some people are tragically overcome with the darkest of thoughts and ultimately take their own lives due to the enduring emotional pain and ultimate loss of hope. While others live with it and manage each day at a time.
“I am one of the lucky ones… Some people have to endure it their whole lives.”
I suffer from reactive depression due to my continuing battle to gain some kind of contact with my children following my divorce. I have been denied contact with them by their mother. I last had contact with my children fifteen months ago. This form of contact denial is known as parental alienation. For those unfamiliar with the term parental alienation please see here.
I am one of the lucky ones. I am able to manage my depression most days. I have only been managing my depression for fifteen months. Some people have to endure it their whole lives. As mentioned above, some people tragically succumb to suicide, as the emotional pain is simply too much to endure.
With regards to my reactive depression in the context of parental alienation it is the metaphorical equivalent of the alienating parent standing in front of you. They then proceed to tear your heart out, tear it in two and refuse to ever give the other half back to you. As those affected by parental alienation will know, you can try and dismiss it all you like; however it is all too obvious that the alienating parent (the contact denier) somehow enjoys and revels in the pain they inflict upon the targeted parent.
So what’s this got to do with drumming? Well I have recently re-acquired my drum-kit following my divorce. And I recently played the drums for the first time in over fifteen months. And this leads me to distraction and coping techniques in terms of managing depression.
When I played them I was so focused that my mind was prevented from wandering and ruminating. I was in what is known in psychological terms as being in Present Moment Contact. This concept works within the same way as mindfulness. I have discussed this concept in more detail in a previous article of mine entitled Under Pressure.
My point is that with depression it is incredibly useful to find a coping/distraction technique that works for you. I fully acknowledge that even when a successful distraction technique is found, one will not always be able to engage with it. I am sitting next to my drum-kit right now, as I write. However at this moment in time I couldn’t bring myself to play them, not right now. But there will be times when I will play them and they will help me.
Finding a positive distraction technique will help. We all know there are plenty of maladaptive ways to cope with depression. However such maladaptive ways just mask the issue. Equally, not being able to find a positive distraction technique should not be seen as a failure.
If possible, simply talk to someone you feel comfortable enough speaking about how you feel. Look online for appropriate support groups. But most of all always try and keep some hope, even in the darkest of days.
I normally conclude my articles with a quote. However on this occassion I would like to end with a lengthy statement made by Stephen Fry the British comedian, actor, writer, presenter, and activist:
“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather. Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”