Alexandra is author of 4 best-selling books, has developed a unique programme ‘The Beat Depression Programme’ and makes regular appearances on both radio and television. How I Beat Depression interviewed her about her own experiences with depression and methods for beating it.
I understand you have battled depression and beaten it too. Can you please talk a little more about your depression?
In hindsight I think I was depressed from childhood but it was when I was on my knees, literally, after a workaholic burn out aged 30.
What type of depression was it?
I’d been depressed all my life so it was a matter of time before it caught up with me.
I came from a very difficult family and had learnt all sorts of ways to get through it as a child but, of course, those survival tactics don’t work as an adult. For example spent a lot of my 20s in a very high pressure sales job because I thought that if I was successful enough and earned enough money, I would finally be happy. I remember walking to the bank to deposit a large sum of cash and realizing that I could buy whatever I wanted in the street I was on and I didn’t need to actually put the money in the bank. I hit ‘rock bottom’ because I thought ‘well if that doesn’t make me happy, nothing will’.
I moved out of the city and had a type of breakdown where I was unable to function for about two years. I had nothing left inside me. I cried everyday, watched daytime TV and hardly left my flat. I think it was the most lonely time of my life, even more lonely than my childhood.
Can you speak about the various interventions you used to treat the depression?
I went to the doctor who diagnosed severe depression and offered me an anti-depressant. The thing is, I knew that wasn’t the right thing for me and I was very clear about the root cause of the depression – very, very low self-esteem. The overriding symptom for me was deep hopelessness and I had a sense that connecting with others who would know how I felt was what I needed.
So I started to attend some 12 Step meetings and got myself some counselling. It was a much longer road for recovery but it’s what beat the depression for good. Also, having that support system helped me to become confident that I could beat it for good.
What really helped you beat depression?
At the end of the day I think it was recognising that I was beating myself up all the time and finding ways to change that. I realised that I was doing to myself what I’d had done to me as a kid. It was a light bulb moment. For the first time in my life I had the power to change it. I started treating myself with respect and that’s what really helped me beat depression. Of course it’s easily said but a lot harder to put into practice.
Are there any inspirational figures you looked to when trying to beat depression?
So, so many. In terms of authors I particularly love John Bradshaw, Charles L Whitfield, John Powell and Susan Jeffers. I think Robert Holden has got a great approach. I think Melody Beattie is fantastic. But the people who have inspired me the most are those people who turn up at 12 step meetings, week in week out, determined to find the answer to their problems no matter how difficult the road becomes. Those are the people who I turned to in my hard times and they were always there. I can’t thank them enough and that’s why I do service for 12 step meetings today.
Why do you think depression is such a widespread problem?
It’s truly staggering isn’t it? Is it that depression is better diagnosed today? Or is it our modern life? I have pondered how to answer this question for 30 minutes but I can’t come up with a definitive answer. I know the experts at the World Health Organisation are also baffled.
We found you because some of our readers have downloaded your E-book Beat Depression and Reclaim Your Life. Can you talk about how the information in this book would help people who struggle with depression?
I am truly humbled when I find out anyone has read my book. It’s a book about beating depression through practical but realistic steps. The steps are written from the perspective of someone (me!) who has deeply suffered but has recovered. I know what it feels like to be drowning and what life rafts worked for me.
How to do you practice maintenance so your depression will not significantly impact your life again?
I am very vigilant about how I treat myself. I know if I start beating myself up again I am going down that slippery slope so I make it a priority not to!
Also I eat well because I understand the binge-depression cycle and I make sure I don’t get on that one. I exercise three times a week. Also I meditate every day. And, finally, I share how I am feeling on a regular basis. It’s the work I need to do to feel good. Anyone who’s suffered from depression and has recovered has to be mindful about taking good care of themselves.
What would you say to our readers who feel really hopeless and feel that nothing will ever change for the better
My suggestion is this: take it a day at a time, an hour at a time, a minute at a time. If you can accept the depression, instead of fighting it, it will heal you faster. Depression is like wet sand, the more you push, the harder it gets. By accepting the depression you will find a sense of relief. You don’t have to sort out anything else except accepting the depression. Powerlessness is the very first step towards recovery. If you feel the hopelessness right now, just accept it and feel the struggle leave you. Keep doing this and the rest will follow.
Thank you Alexandra! Her e-book can be found at
Her biography and further background information is available at:
People can and do beat depression but it is a long-term commitment. Thanks for reading remember to leave comments below (Facebook or WordPress) and follow How I Beat Depression on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
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