I started this blog in 2008 to share the story of my recovery from severe depression, in the hope that what I write may give practical advice, hope, and spiritual comfort to those suffering from depression, in the hope of helping them to cope with depression and speed them on the path to recovery.
In my enthusiasm to share my story, twelve months ago I joined a depression forum on a social networking site. One member asked others to share what practical things had helped them to recover from depression, so I gave a short list of some of the things that had helped me. This included advice from a friend (also dealing with depression) to find things that interested me and pursue them, learning that my world view had become distorted, regular physical exercise, seeing a doctor and being put on anti-depressant medication, Christian counselling, retraining my thought processes, and putting into practice the techniques presented in the book, "Self Help for your Nerves" by Dr Claire Weekes.
Another forum member attacked my post and concluded with the comment, "and burn the self-help book!" I then saw another post in the same forum titled, "Self help books, what are they good for?" Every comment on that post criticised self help books, with the general consensus being that they were only fit to be used as kindling.
Now with the glut of self-help books on the market today, I have no doubt that some of them deserve this fate. (Such as a self-published self help book on depression I saw on Amazon the other day…)
The fact is that I am indebited to "Self Help for your Nerves" for the very major role it played in my recovery from depression. Only after I read it did I truly understand what was wrong with me and how I had gotten into such a state. Only after I put into practice the amazing, practical advice shared in this book, written by someone who had been there herself, did hope re-enter my life as I began making great leaps forward in my recovery.
My mother had borrowed the book from the public library to lend to one of her friends, but I chanced upon the book before she passed it on. I was hooked from the first page, which said, ‘It will not be difficult for you to read this book: it is about you and your nerves, and for this reason you will read it with interest, whereas to read an ordinary book or newspaper may seem an impossibility, or, should you succeed, may leave you more distressed than when you first began.” (1)
This is the diary entry I wrote after reading the book, after struggling for eight months in a black pit from which I could see no escape:
28th July 1990 -
This book goes on to…describe EVERY single thing I have been suffering from for the past eight months, and even back for the five or so months prior to that. I had no idea all of the strange things in my mind, body, and emotions, were ALL interlinked and caused by the same thing! And it even says how I've been sitting and wondering what happened to me, and wondering if I’ll ever be the same again? The book explains everything, right down to obsessive thoughts, and that people who've developed this thing have probably been stuck with it for weeks, months - one guy even had it for ten years.
And for the last 8 months, as always, I've reacted to it in the same way. I have been scared of it, and feared all the many side effects and things that were going wrong with my mind, body, and emotions. And my other reaction has been to fight it. And now I have learned from this book that these two reactions are the wrong reactions, because they both only make it worse. Basically, my nerves have fallen apart, and have been manufacturing too much adrenalin. I have feared and fought, and this has produced more adrenalin, which made me fear or fight more, and it just got worse and worse and worse. It’s a catch 22 situation, a merry go round.
So this book has taught me how to react so that the merry go round will be stopped. And it’s teaching me how to react whenever it strikes again in the future.
If you pop over to Amazon.co.uk (just click the book's image above) and read the reviews on this book, and you will see that dozens of people have left 5-star reviews as they share with great delight how this book helped to overcome the grip anxiety had on their lives.
"Self Help for your Nerves" provides a comprehensive list of the symptoms that can be caused by anxiety, explains how they are caused, stresses the importance of seeing a doctor. It explains how to break the fear-adrenalin-fear cycle, discusses guilt, how to get a new point of view on obsessive fearful thoughts, being yourself again, do's and don'ts, and much more. And although this book was written some time ago, it's message is just as relevant today. Some messages, regardless of when they are written, contain wisdom that endures throughout all generations - like the most important timeless classic every written, the Bible.
And on that topic, even as I read "Self Help for your Nerves," I recognised immediately that it provided practical ways to put into practice Bible verses such as John 14:1, James 1:2-4, Philippians 4:12-13, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
Please note that this book is readily available from many public libraries, and can be purchased from Amazon.co.uk.
(1) ‘Self Help for Your Nerves,’ Doctor Claire Weekes, Angus & Robertston Publishers, 1989, p1.