INTERVIEWED BY SAI DONEPUDI
Depression causes many people to lose their motivation for even daily, simple tasks like tying your shoe laces or washing the dishes. However hard it may be, you need to strive to keep your head above the water and beat depression. Today, we present someone who beat depression and never looked back, David Baker. Baker’s a survivor of depression and anxiety and is a huge inspiration to his audience on his Instagram account @depression_beaten, where he advocates for mental health awareness and shares his personal experience with it to help people dealing with depression and anxiety through their journey. This interview goes into depth about depression and clinical drugs.
1. Please introduce yourself, tell us a little about what you do and tell us what mental health means to you.
“I am David Baker, I am currently living in England, I am fifty years old. For over thirty of those years I had depression and anxiety. Over the years I went through extreme highs and extreme lows. It was during the moment of my worst low that I found the strength and courage to turn my life around.
I chose not to be a prisoner to my depression any longer and focus on myself and my well being.
Now several years later I use what I have learned from being depressed and what I have learned on my journey of self discovery to help others find their own way to a depression free life. Through writing about my life experiences and what works and what doesn’t I can help people from all over the world.
I have a passion for spreading the joy of being depression free. When I wake I feel excited about what I am going to do next. Being depression free opens your mind to so many new opportunities in your life and I want everyone else to be able to feel the same way.”
2. Do you believe that SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) should be considered depression? Or is it strictly just a state of mind?
“SAD is a part of depression. I don’t think it’s a separate entity.
I know that during my depression when the nights would draw in I would automatically tell everyone, “Uh-oh, here comes the Seasonal Affective Disorder” as if it was a sign to people that I had an excuse for my behaviour over the next six months. David is miserable, oh it’s OK, he has SAD.
The thing is that I was depressed all year round. The nights drawing in was just a trigger for another negative thought. If it was summer and you travelled to Ecuador where it gets dark at six each night would you suddenly have SAD? Of course not.
SAD will only bother you if you want it to. Like a big scary dog. If you let it get too close to you it will bite you. Your attitude towards SAD and depression is what controls your life. Either it controls you or you control it.”
3. Do you believe that antidepressants do more harm than good? If so, why?
“There is a time and a place for antidepressants. When you first realise that you have depression I would say that antidepressants are fine for stabilizing your mood.
What you do need to be aware of is that after a while the effect they have on you will cease to work. You will then see the doctor again and he will just up the dosage. And over and over again until you are numb to everything.
That is not how it should be.
I used antidepressants for many years with varying success, but in the end they did nothing for me.
My feeling on them now is that you should, as quickly as you can, stop taking them. Your body is an instrument that is designed to tell you certain things. Happiness, joy, love and of course sadness. Sadness is a message from the brain that something is wrong and you need to fix it.
Masking that sadness with pills does not remove the issue. It is like covering a b*mb with a bucket and hoping that it will go away.
Eventually you will have to face the issues and deal with them.
And if you have a bomb under a bucket I suggest calling the b*mb squad!”
4. What would you say to people battling depression currently?
“The first thing I would say is congratulations. You have won the first battle by acknowledging that you have depression.
Secondly I would say what are you going to do about it!
Depression is a monster that you have created, quite possibly over many years. So it is only you who can go slay that monster. Others can give you advice and point you in the right direction, but in the end it is only you who can win the fight.
For me during my thirty year struggle I heard the answers many many times. I rejected the solutions every day. I told myself that self help was BS. What I was really saying is that I was comfortable with my depression. I enjoyed the feeling of depression. And more importantly I did not have the drive to do what was necessary.
Finding daily motivation to win your fight is easy. With technology at our fingertips you can have a video on positivity up in seconds. You need to find what works for you. In the beginning it may be trial and error. What you can’t do is give up. That would be a crime to yourself.”
5. Do you believe in self diagnosing, especially when it comes to something as severe as depression? Furthermore, do you believe that there has been lots of misdiagnosing done by medical professionals when dealing with depression?
“You should always seek professional guidance when you have got depression. That is a must.
They are trained to diagnose and give some solutions.
Depression though I find is a very personal problem. What your depression is like could be totally different to what my depression was like. I believe that everyone’s depression is different. So why should we believe that every doctor can cure every depression. They can’t because it is impossible for them to understand everyone’s depression. They can only generalise and in most cases they will throw pills at you.
Therapy is a great way to talk out and find the root of your depression. You may find that what you thought was the cause was really something different entirely.
Once you have been the medical route you need to work on your depression yourself. The answers they give you are coming from the outside. The answers to your problems are internal and only you can sort that out.
Seeking someone like myself who guides based on experience is always an option. Talking to someone who knows your struggles can be a comfort.”
6. Do you believe that depression could be genetic?
“While I had depression I would have said yes to this one hundred percent.
My Father had depression and took his own life when I was eleven years old. Both my Sisters have depression. So the possibility that it is genetic is high.
The trouble with all that is that before my Father took his life I was fine. I was incredibly happy. I had a great life as eleven year old boys go. So why the change? I changed because of my environment. I allowed my sadness to take root. People who I was around tried to comfort me and at some level my mind got the impression that if I was sad people would be kind to me. Over the years that mutated into what became my own depression monster.
I created it. Nobody else did.
How I reacted to the events of my life shaped me.
And it was only me who turned it all around into a wonderful life.
You need to own your depression. It is all yours. “
7. I hear you’re a writer and a mental health advocate. If we may ask, what prompted you to start focusing on the topic of depression?
“For me I always loved to write. But because of my depression I would always give up on my projects. I would let the negativity and doubt drive my decision making.
It wasn’t until I beat depression that I realised that I could take all the pain and suffering I had over those years and use it for good. I know that there are millions of people around the world looking for solutions. I realised that if someone who was as negative as me can escape the depression maze then I knew anyone can.
I find what I do each day exciting and I am driven to help people beat their monsters. And the best way to help as many as I can at once is with my words of encouragement and tips and tricks to get through each day. This is why I started @depression_beaten.
Everyday is a challenge, but it gets easier with every weapon you put in your armoury. You can see drastic changes in your mood very quickly and the more time you put in the more changes you can see.
Anyone can beat depression, all you have to do is want to. You can’t just wish or dream it away. It takes action and if I can help people with that then all the years I suffered were not for nothing.”
8. Why do you think depression is so stigmatized in society?
“Simply because it is seen as a weakness.
The pack mentality will always shun the weak members. This is why in school or the work place there is bullying or teasing. Someone always wants to be the strong one. The funny side is that the one doing the bullying normally the one that has the biggest problems.
People prefer to focus on other problems than their own. If you point and say that some person has a bigger problem than you, it makes you feel better for a while. People want the spotlight off of them. Like a magician, they want you to look elsewhere so you don’t realise what is going on.
Sadly we live in a world where that behaviour gets tolerated. Instead of finger pointing we need more compassion for others. We need more empathy for what others are going through. People need to support not shun.
To use a well said phrase . “In a world where you can be anything you want, just be kind.” “
9. How would you respond to negative comments online?
“During my depression I was a keyboard warrior. I would bite back at every negative comment. I just had to be right all the time.
Now it’s the opposite. I move on instantly. I do not give negativity a second to rest in my mind. I have worked too hard to have a positive mindset to let someone who I don’t know, will never know say that they don’t like something I am doing.
Sadly people focus on the negative. You could have ten positive comments but only see the negative one. Take the time to respond to only positive comments. Even if it is just a “thank you,” for commenting.
It is hard to ignore things at first but you have the power over what you want to see. That delete button is a wonderful tool.
Don’t like it, delete it, don’t eat it!”
10. Do you believe that social media could ultimately trigger depression?
“Yes without a shadow of doubt. Social Media is the biggest problem we have today with fighting depression. Social Media is designed to ensnare you and keep you scrolling for as long as possible. The companies that run these websites are designing algorithms with the specific intention to get inside your mind. When you type something in google do you think it is a coincidence that what you were thinking about pops up before you have finished typing? There are only two industries that call their customers users. One is the illegal drug trade and the other is internet sites. As the recent documentary The Social Dilemma said “If you are not paying for something, then you are the product!” When your brain sees a little heart or thumbs up, like or follow or whatever it triggers a dopamine reaction. It is as addictive as any drug or alcohol. Also there is nothing to stop anyone seeing thousands of negative posts or images. Many young minds are affected by what they see and read. Social Media is a constant mis-representation of what real life is about and for not just for the young. Even older people can get dragged into the unreality. People tend to only post the great things that happen to them. It gives an image of a glamourous life and then others feel insecure about their lives. When in reality the image of the glamorous lifestyle was probably fake to begin with. It is not a coincidence either that most designers of the sites we use don’t let their own children use Social Media. If they don’t want their children using it that should be a clear message to you. Companies like facebook, twitter, pinterest and instagram all use what you click on to build a profile about you that they can sell to advertisers. You are a commodity that is being sold to whoever is willing to pay. Now here is the problem. It is a double edge sword.
Without Social Media I would not be able to get my messages of positivity out into the world.
The internet is the most amazing of tools when used well. You can have pizza delivered to your door within minutes, what’s not to love about that?
You need to spend minutes online instead of hours. Put a limit on your time. I have failed at this many times. But I am working on that!
I only use Instagram, I deleted facebook and twitter many years ago. And I turn off all notifications.
The internet is a tool to use.
Don’t let that tool use you.
Use your time online positively. Take a good look at what you are trying to achieve while on Social Media. Make sure you keep a balanced opinion on all subjects and don’t get all your information from one source.
The same can be said for being offline too.
Life is about balance.
Not too much, not too little.
Keep your thoughts centered and your life will be wonderful.”