Saturday, April 4

Depression & Alleviation: Learn from the past.

Driving home through rush hour traffic the other evening I caught the tail end of a BBC Radio 4 program "The Medicalisation of Normality" Half listening as I concentrated on surviving the onslaught of kamikaze drivers my ears pricked up at a snippet from Dr Paul A Keedwell discussing an alternative approach to the modern pill-pop=fix approach to an extremely common medical problem.

I was sufficiently intrigued to track down the programme in which the good Doctor suggested that the African Banda tribe, Australian Aboriginals and Native American Indian traditions offered their own systematised ways to enable people to drop out and go somewhere to introspectively reappraise their own needs alongside their position & responsibility within society. The American Indian via a Vision Quest, the Aborigine by a Walkabout. A ritualised way of taking time-out.

A little bit of Googling turned up this extract from his book:

"If we ignore the ultimate causes of depression and go for the quick fix of the pill alone we might find that sufferers become stuck in depression or that depression recurs. We need to learn the lessons of so-called ‘primitive societies’ like the Banda tribe where the ‘illness of thoughts’ is managed with ‘Time Out’ from normal responsibilities. If, in a modern urban society, escape from persistent stress is impossible (due to dehumanising jobs and institutions, consumerist and celebrity culture and lack of community and extended family support), perhaps that is the fault of a modern urban society and not the fault of depression. However, we can encourage and facilitate an adequate spell off work while helping the sufferer to think about whether they should be in a different job, or a different relationship, and so on. We need to ask "What makes you feel trapped and unfulfilled?" "What basic needs are you denying?""

I think I had long had this concept in mind when settling on a title for this Blog.

For after all, don't we all need a break from everyday affairs and responsibilities sometimes?

Its how we get that relief that can differ so widely; But is key to a continued and positive outlook on life and support for those around us.

Some find solace in alcohol. Others power, sex, or money. Some in abuse of themselves, or those near them.

Me? I go for a long walk. Resetting my world view in harmony with the real world. One which we all exist in on a daily basis, but so easily ignore. Or worse, one we believe we have bent to the will of an industrialised human society.

An errant view, that Nature delights in correcting on a regular basis.

Rats, forced into overpopulation in a limited area, and starved of mental and physical stimuli will eventually start to chew off their own tails.

I'm definitely going to keep getting out for those walks!


Mmmhhh, as someone who suffers from depression I tend to agree with you on this. Sometime back when I was going through a very difficult phase of life a very enlightened doctor actually used to pack me off to the hills for a few days r&r rather than prescribe the usual medications. Now I no longer have my pills and medications but I still have my boots. Very strong medicine indeed.
In Buddhism we call this 'Walking Meditation' and use various techniques to maximise it's benefits.A simple balance of the 'middle way'.
Yes, grasping the natural world gets to the root of the problem - everything else only tackles the symptoms.
For me a trip to the wild places is like taking my mind through a vigorous wash cycle and then a nice gentle tumble drying.

This year on my TGO Challenge i am deliberately stoppping short on the first day to camp up high in Coire Lair for some peace and relaxation. Therafter, I shall be half a day behind other Challengers for some peace and contemplation.

When your life crumbles to dust, you need space and time to heal yourself. The mountains are my drugs. The space there, my councellor.

Good post, John.
This subject matter always gets a healthy reponse from the outdoor community.

Go figure?
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