after depression: what will be different?

i was just thumbing through one of my favourite books on therapy, escape from babel, and came across a set of questions asked of a person who is struggling with depression (interestingly, just as i found in my little research piece, the depression here is described as a “black cloud”):

  • what would be different if the black cloud lifted?
  • what would be the smallest sign that the black cloud was lifting?
  • what would be the first sign?
  • when you no longer had to spend so much tome struggling with the black cloud, what would you be doing more of instead?
  • who would be the first person to notice you had won the battle with the black cloud?
  • what would that person notice different about you that would tell him or her that the battle was finally won?
  • where do you suppose you would be when you first noticed the changes?
  • what will have happened just before that would have contributed to the change?
  • what will happen after that would help maintain it?

those among you who have experience with depression – what do you think of these questions? are they helpful? how?

isabella mori
moritherapy
counselling in vancouver

6 thoughts on “after depression: what will be different?

  1. Emma

    Hi Isabella,

    Just stumbled across your site and found this post an interesting read. I have suffered depression on and off over many years. I’ve been on anti-depressants for the last 4 years but recently ran out and went for about 3-4 days without. And plunged. I know things will get better once the meds start doing their work again – I realise how much they are actually doing for me when this happens.

    Anyway, the questions you list I think are good. They change the focus from negative, internal woes to “how can I actually do something about it?” If in a depressed state it is possible – if you truly want to break the cycle – then I think these questions are a good starting point. To actively think about the answers enables an alteration of perspective and visualisation of what being “not-depressed” would/will be like.

    Thanks for the post.

  2. Emma

    Hi Isabella,

    Just stumbled across your site and found this post an interesting read. I have suffered depression on and off over many years. I’ve been on anti-depressants for the last 4 years but recently ran out and went for about 3-4 days without. And plunged. I know things will get better once the meds start doing their work again – I realise how much they are actually doing for me when this happens.

    Anyway, the questions you list I think are good. They change the focus from negative, internal woes to “how can I actually do something about it?” If in a depressed state it is possible – if you truly want to break the cycle – then I think these questions are a good starting point. To actively think about the answers enables an alteration of perspective and visualisation of what being “not-depressed” would/will be like.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. Nickie

    I think these are helpful questions. I’ve never been diagnosed with depression, but do recognize several of the symptoms in myself, especially relating to pain. It is helpful to look at things in a way that reminds us that things can and will get better. Something we just talked about in class was that as a social worker, we won’t know what’s important to our clients without asking them. So I’d say the questions accomplish two good things.

  4. Nickie

    I think these are helpful questions. I’ve never been diagnosed with depression, but do recognize several of the symptoms in myself, especially relating to pain. It is helpful to look at things in a way that reminds us that things can and will get better. Something we just talked about in class was that as a social worker, we won’t know what’s important to our clients without asking them. So I’d say the questions accomplish two good things.

  5. John Rocheleau

    That’s a tough one. The thing with serious long-term depression is: it causes you to be repelled by anything good you might find yourself feeling, because it doesn’t match the definitions depression has set for you. You could see the proper direction and action and still not want to take it — even though you want to get out of the black cloud. Your client may be very aware of the answers before you even ask, but may be unwilling or unable to act.

    I have been engulfed in depression for over 10 years. I have not taken medications for more than 6 months at any time. They didn’t provide an answer for me. I have recently begun with a newer one. We’ll see I guess. As a self-employed artist, therapy is hard to afford (I haven’t been able to). Bootstrapping my own healing is what I’ve been doing.

    I try to make the utmost of any clear times I have. I try to take action at those times that moves me in a positive direction, in the knowledge that the clear times will become stronger and longer lasting. Actions count most; they build structure in the real world. To me, the timing is the key.

    All the best,
    John

  6. John Rocheleau

    That’s a tough one. The thing with serious long-term depression is: it causes you to be repelled by anything good you might find yourself feeling, because it doesn’t match the definitions depression has set for you. You could see the proper direction and action and still not want to take it — even though you want to get out of the black cloud. Your client may be very aware of the answers before you even ask, but may be unwilling or unable to act.

    I have been engulfed in depression for over 10 years. I have not taken medications for more than 6 months at any time. They didn’t provide an answer for me. I have recently begun with a newer one. We’ll see I guess. As a self-employed artist, therapy is hard to afford (I haven’t been able to). Bootstrapping my own healing is what I’ve been doing.

    I try to make the utmost of any clear times I have. I try to take action at those times that moves me in a positive direction, in the knowledge that the clear times will become stronger and longer lasting. Actions count most; they build structure in the real world. To me, the timing is the key.

    All the best,
    John

  7. isabella mori

    hello all, and thanks for your comments so far. they begin to illustrate the wide range of experiences around depression.

    nickie, your comparison with chronic pain is something that i’ve often encountered: some would say that depression is a type of chronic emotional pain.

    john and emma, you both touch on something interesting: the willingness/readiness to go for change. would you say that when the timing is right, questions like these can be precursors to change/action?

    and when the timing is not right, then they can feel like an irritating, perhaps even painful, nuisance, a confirmation, perhaps, of the recurring thought/fear that really, no-one understands the depressed person?

    in the end, yes, action is always the key. it seems to me that in many cases, we even know what actions to take. in depression (and indeed, in many other situations), the crucial ingredient that’s missing is this mysterious thing that we call motivation/willingness/ability/readiness.

  8. isabella mori

    hello all, and thanks for your comments so far. they begin to illustrate the wide range of experiences around depression.

    nickie, your comparison with chronic pain is something that i’ve often encountered: some would say that depression is a type of chronic emotional pain.

    john and emma, you both touch on something interesting: the willingness/readiness to go for change. would you say that when the timing is right, questions like these can be precursors to change/action?

    and when the timing is not right, then they can feel like an irritating, perhaps even painful, nuisance, a confirmation, perhaps, of the recurring thought/fear that really, no-one understands the depressed person?

    in the end, yes, action is always the key. it seems to me that in many cases, we even know what actions to take. in depression (and indeed, in many other situations), the crucial ingredient that’s missing is this mysterious thing that we call motivation/willingness/ability/readiness.

  9. John Rocheleau

    Isabella,

    I think you are right on the money. Yes, those questions will lead to good actions if asked at the right time, and yes, they will be painfully irritating at the wrong timing.

    “this mysterious thing that we call motivation/willingness/ability/readiness,” is the catch 22 most depressed people find themselves in. It’s an awful place to be. Depression can take you to such dark depths, and it wants to keep you there. Thank goodness for people like yourself who make an effort to understand and help.

    John

  10. John Rocheleau

    Isabella,

    I think you are right on the money. Yes, those questions will lead to good actions if asked at the right time, and yes, they will be painfully irritating at the wrong timing.

    “this mysterious thing that we call motivation/willingness/ability/readiness,” is the catch 22 most depressed people find themselves in. It’s an awful place to be. Depression can take you to such dark depths, and it wants to keep you there. Thank goodness for people like yourself who make an effort to understand and help.

    John

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