Enlightenment Regarding Depression


This is my third Mind Matters News (MMN) about this vexing issue of Depression and the Mental Health Issue. I personally have learnt so much and following the interest that has been displayed by the recipients of the MMN I thought it best to summarize what I have learned.

The information available is truly enlightening. So the format of this MMN is to quote some information (that I have selected from links) to just whet your appetite so that you will be able to receive much more clarity at the link itself.

Depression Is Not An Illness

The most profound article I have read is written by Philip Hickey, Ph.D. who is (in his own words)  “I am a licensed psychologist, presently retired.  I have worked in clinical and managerial positions in the mental health, corrections, and addictions fields in the United States and England”.

Dr Hickey says many things in this article which back up the tools and techniques that are taught with the CALM System and I believe really extoll hope! Here are some extracts:

"….. depression is an adaptive mechanism which has served the species well for millions of years.  When things are going well in our lives, we feel good.  This good feeling is nature’s way of telling us to keep doing what we’re doing.  When our lives are not going well, we feel down or depressed.  This is nature’s way of telling us to make some changes."

"In order to feel good, the following seven factors must be present in our lives:
- good nutrition
- fresh air
- sunshine
- physical activity
- purposeful activity
- good relationships
- adequate and regular sleep”

"…. it is worth noting that all human lives are, sooner or later, touched by major tragic losses.  What matters is:  how equipped are we, in habits and lifestyle, to handle these losses.  When a person goes to a mental health center and asks for help with depression, the first priority should be a detailed assessment of the person’s lifestyle, habits, relationships, history, etc., to determine the source of the depressive feelings"

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Suicide and “Mental Illness”

"The draft Roadmap gives scant regard to suicide. Suicide and ‘mental illness’ –are peas in the same pod but they cannot be understood when defined by the flawed medical model.

"Australia has been involved in the Afghan war for 10 years and we have recently learnt of the 33rd soldier’s death.  This has caused a great outpouring of Government and media attention and rightly so.  However, during the same 10 year period it is estimated that somewhere between 22,000 and 25,000 Australian men (just men) have killed themselves, that is, committed suicide.  Just the number of men killing themselves is currently double the combined national road toll.  The greatest single cause of death for Australians under the age of 55 years is suicide. Last year it was thought to be 6 each day, now it is thought to be closer to 7.

"We have become so frightened of this reality; we run away, divert ourselves, anesthetise ourselves and avoid thinking, talking or taking responsibility for this disastrous situation.  Governments and the medical profession are paralysed.

Source: "Excerpt from Rob Walter’s reply to the government’s draft Ten Year Roadmap for National Mental Health Reform. Point 26. Do you have any other comments on the draft Roadmap you would like to make?"

Antidepressants Cause Suicide and Violence in Soldiers

"Death by suicide is at record levels in the armed services. Simultaneously the use of antidepressant drugs is also at record levels, including brand names like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa and Lexapro.

"According to the army, in 2007 17% of combat troops in Afghanistan were taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping pills. Inside sources have given me an even bleaker picture: During Vietnam, a mere 1% of our troops were taking prescribed psychiatric drugs. By contrast, in the past year one-third of marines in combat zones were taking psychiatric drugs.

"Are the pills helping? The army confirms that since 2002 the number of suicide attempts has increased six-fold. And more than 128 soldiers killed themselves last year."

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The National Institute Of Mental Health : Where to From Here?

The article highlights "the unprecedented reduction in the pharmaceutical industry’s research and development programs for psychiatric medications."

"For NIMH, the problem is clear. Research over the past decade has shown that our current medications are not good enough. Industry has had blockbusters but very few breakthroughs in the past forty years. There was always hope that the billions of dollars invested in this area by the pharmaceutical industry would result in more effective treatments for our most disabling disorders. Now, however, we face the possibility that there will be no “next generation” of mental disorder treatments emerging from industry."

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A Comment from Kate – a MMN subscriber

"I believe that mental health is in an even worse state than your newsletter implies.  The link below is to an article I read recently and was shocked - it is not an Australian article but it gives damning evidence as to the efficacy (or lack thereof) and potential harm that can be done by anti-depressants.  It is a detailed book review of three different books which may be of use."

An Epidemic Of Mental Illness: Why?

The 3 books are listed below. We have talked about 2 of them in recent MMN.

The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth
by Irving Kirsch 

Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America
by Robert Whitaker 

Unhinged: The Trouble With Psychiatry—A Doctor’s Revelations About a Profession in Crisis
by Daniel Carlat 

Book Blaming the brain, truth about drugs and mental health!

"Now, in Blaming the Brain he exposes the many weaknesses inherent in the scientific arguments supporting the widely accepted theory that biochemical imbalances are the main cause of mental illness. Valenstein reveals how, beginning in the 1950s, the accidental discovery of a few mood-altering drugs stimulated an enormous interest in psychopharmacology, resulting in staggering growth and profits for the pharmaceutical industry."

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Closing Comment

This issue is not going to go away, and indeed looks as though it is heading in the wrong direction. Although most of the articles and quotes are sourced from USA we know that the pharmacological approach is alive and well in Australia. I personally believe there are alternatives and sometimes – for possibly limited times – the pharmacological approach is required and I would always say ‘together with "other" approaches’.  I have done three MMN on the topic of Depression and will now "move on."

So John, are there recommendations that I would make? Certainly! The main one is that it is always a healthy approach to take action oneself – not to “just have things done to or for you”! Take responsibility for yourself and be involved in your own therapy program. Specifically I would say use the CALM techniques for developing a habit of positive self talk, do goals, have purpose, relax quickly and meditate. I can be more specific if you wish to drop me an email.

All the best


"Your gift from God is your potential – Your gift to God is to use it."

Rob Walter's Success Story of Moving Through Depression

Depression has been close to me for most of my life. Practising the CALM techniques, developing the ability to meditate at a deep level has enabled me to pass through multiple ‘black doors’, gain personal insights, insights into the current mental health industry, complete the depression process, live completely drug free (having been advised otherwise), regain full mental and physical health and again have a positive influence in the community.

On my 50th birthday I was materially successful beyond my expectation. I believed in a just world, I had been well conditioned to take a very active role in every positive aspect and institutions of my community to which I contributed with great energy. I appeared to have it all, what could go wrong? To achieve this I drove myself relentlessly, mercilessly, the tougher it got, the harder I pushed. I developed chronic arthritis in both hips over a long period, but still I pushed. However, I sensed my life was unsustainable. Then one night seemingly out of the blue, I was shocked to the realisation I could no longer fall asleep. I simply could not sleep. Diagnosis, depression, bull dust! I’m not depressed, I just can’t sleep. Impossible, says the Doc. Take this Prozac, it’ll kick in, you’ll be right. Didn’t happen. My life felt in free fall. I was hospitalised for 3 weeks drugged until I didn’t know what day it was and then sent home and told to go back to work.

My experience in the Mental Health system was terrifying. It felt like – “I was drowning. I longed for a life saver to appear to help me get to safety, but instead what I received were well meaning people shouting instructions from the shore. Not only couldn't they swim they'd never even been in the water and they were reading instructions from a book that had no relevance to my predicament. I felt totally disconnected”.

Back home, if I thought things couldn’t get worse – they did. The months went by, every day was worse than the one before; I was taking a smorgasbord of drugs, my life became a living hell, a nightmare, death appeared as sweet relief and suicide became an option. Equally this was hell for my family, and if it was not for their love and support I wouldn’t be here to write this.

Back to hospital, knocked senseless again but for a much longer stay, long enough to start to enjoy the organised activities and I received visitors. One person in particular, no advice but conveyed the thought that something outside my comprehension was happening. I still couldn’t sleep without the knock out drugs. I changed doctors, he told me “We really only have two things, Largactil (Chlorpromazine)and ECT and recommended ECT.  I’d seen “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, but sort of surrendered to the idea ‘What have I got to lose’. The weirdest thing happened, the experience was pleasant and I just slept for the rest of the day, naturally, no sleeping pills. Having taken high doses of Benzodiazepines, technically, I should have been dependant but stopped cold turkey with no effect. I spent the next day at Luna Park having a great old time. The remaining course of ECT had no perceivable effect. I was discharged, went home with more questions as to what I’d experienced but very grateful that I felt normal. I knew there had been some sort of shift within me but I couldn’t understand what it was, but I was determined to find out.  I couldn’t get a straight answer to explain my experience from anyone in the medical profession, the most honest answer was, we just don’t know!

I plunged back into business, I had lots to resolve, and at the same time resolved to have my hips replaced.  How that unfolded and the success was a second ‘miracle’. Was I out of the woods? No, I thought I was cured of the “illness”; I had more lessons to learn.

Depression didn’t lead me to Sandy’s CALM courses. I was enjoying some peace between catastrophic experiences and found when profoundly relaxed but alert I was having “Thomas Edison” moments and able to solve the odd problem with no effort, but great clarity. I wasn’t alarmed but relaxed and intrigued, my psychiatrist was rather dismissive, thought I was manic and wanted to prescribe Lithium. I simply couldn’t get straight answers to what I was experiencing. Around the same time I read an interview in our local newspaper in 1998, of an acquaintance, Glen Connor, wheelchair bound, who beat the world Snooker champion Eddie Charlton two games straight. Glen attributed his success to Sandy, who, he said had taught him how he could use his mind to great effect. I spoke to Glen who suggested I make contact and subsequently did Sandy’s 2-Day, CALM Life Skills Seminar. (Glen went on to become a very successful accountant and business advisor recently writing a hand book for small business).

However I still couldn’t pull a unified understanding together of my life, what had happened, where I was going, and just pushed back to doing what I knew, being driven by the same old habits and fears. Set up a new business and dived back into the “swamp” working like crazy again.

Around 2002 after a particularly hectic period I crashed again, because ECT worked before, straight into hospital and started a course but this time it was like trying to start a “clapped out” engine, I didn’t want to restart! Accepting that things were not right I agreed to take another cocktail – Lithium and antidepressants, returned home and back to work after 3 weeks off! Well, if life was tough before, now having the saddle bags filled with lead raised the degree of difficulty 10 times. Again fortune smiled, with the love of my family and the loyalty and support of staff, battled on.

Around 2004, out of the blue, Sandy conducted the 2 Day CALM Life Skills seminar in my home town! I dragged a couple work colleagues along, the best thing I did was to purchase “The Peaceful Place Meditation CD’s Collection.

Then early in 2008, depression loomed again, but this time the lights went on for me and I started to gain some insight and the words “you will repeat the lesson until learned” came to mind and I knew what I had to do. I had been attending a weekly intensive meditation group for a number of years and would from time to time listen to one of Sandy’s meditation CD’s and just with that support was able to diminish and stop taking the antidepressant and gradually reduce the lithium and go for periods without. If life became a little more anxious and I had trouble sleeping I’d take some lithium and then back it off again (this is not a recommendation, just what I did).

I now knew it was the very vocation and the circumstances of how I became engaged in it that caused my distress, it simply wasn’t my life’s purpose, it was someone else’s. Somehow I always knew this but felt compelled, powerfully, habitually to comply.

I had a choice, described in the story of “The Black Door”, I chose the “Black Door” to go against a life time of conditioning. For me it took great courage, in fact more courage than I thought I could muster. I knew I would have to close the business, the drought was really hurting, the GFC was looming. However to complete everything methodically, I needed to sleep well, I told my doctor what I needed, he cooperated and delivered exactly what I needed.

Then I really gave the CALM CD’s a real workout! The three CD’s, PP10 Self Worth and Confidence, PP15 Overcoming Fear, PP18 Overcoming Worry and Anxious. PP10 Self Worth and confidence I would listen at least 3 times each day, over and over and my confidence grew and grew. The result was that everything went like clockwork and even the seemingly impossible evaporated. I emerged from the “Black Door”, free, drug free and with a wonderful new job for the next year.

For the next 2 years, I was determined to understand myself and find out why my life had been what it had and the direction it took and why I made the decisions I had. I concentrated on PP6 Forgiveness, PP13 Inner Peace and Harmony, PP14 Improving Relationships, PP16 Acceptance and Letting Go, PP17 Unconditional Love, over and over. Soon not only could I go to PP (Peaceful Place) quickly but I could get to theta, the meditative state quickly. To prove to myself in a very practical way I used PP 8 Weight Release, which if I hadn’t done, I would simply not believe it is possible, no diet, no extra exercise and the weight disappears.

Using cues from PP7 Tapping Your Creativity I was able to regress and identify the source of compelling feeling/emotions – they weren’t real, just memories and once recognised popped like balloons or evaporated like clouds. For example, I had a lifelong fear or discomfort of sitting through a film in a movie theatre. Even in adult life I preferred not to go to the movies. Using Sandy’s technique, reached the meditative state recreated the feeling/emotion and followed back to my memories as a 2 year old when my baby sitter, to fill in the day would go to the movies. A bit disconcerting for a two year old who missed his mum! The result, the feeling/fear/emotion evaporated, it was no longer there, it wasn’t real. I have now joined my wife as a member of the local film society and am thoroughly enjoying the new experience.

In 2010, I completed Sandy’s ICCC course at the Chevalier Resource Centre. I thought I knew some stuff but that took me to higher level still and I now realise the sky’s the limit.

My favourite story Eckhart Tolle tells in his book ‘The Power of Now’.  “A beggar had been sitting by the side of the road for over 30 years. One day a stranger walked by. ‘Spare some change?’ mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his baseball cap. ‘I have nothing to give you,’ said the stranger. Then he asked: ‘What’s that you’re sitting on?’ ‘Nothing,’ replied the beggar, ‘Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.’ ‘Ever looked inside?’ asked the stranger. ‘No,’ said the beggar. ‘What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.’ ‘Have a look inside,’ insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to prise open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.

Eckhart Tolle writes, I am the stranger who has nothing to give you and who is telling you to look inside. Not inside any box, as in the parable, but somewhere even closer: inside yourself.

To prise open the lid, requires some tools. The tools Sandy, provides through CALM, visualisation and imagery, through his techniques, knowledge and training can achieve break-through results in an astonishing relative short time.

The mind is defined as the brain in action; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, a wonderful servant but terrible master. A computer analogy, we are like a lap top, going through life thinking that’s all there is. Not knowing we are connected to a main frame computer that’s hooked in to the internet. The possibilities are without limit.

I recently spoke to an experienced meditation teacher and when asked how long do you think it takes to become proficient at meditation, she replied, “10 years” another replied, “could be 30 years”. Using Sandy’s CALM techniques, you may not become a Buddhist monk, but you will get positive, helpful and useful results almost immediately and life changing results in 4-6 weeks. You don’t even have to believe it! JUST DO IT!

Rob Walter


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