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Black Dog - my life is in ruins - kevin wooldridge - 6th March 2011

I can`t disagree with anything anyone has contributed to this thread so far. I personally think that it is very important to talk about your feelings. I was surprised when I spoke to a friend a while back when I was feeling low, to discover that she had been through the same. Her experience helped me to realise that the grey clouds affect us all in different ways and finding out how other people cope is a great help. I would also add that I personally think depression can cause and be caused by physical symptoms and sometimes these are treated without considering their source. So it is a good idea to seek professional medical advice. This is a very common problem. Don`t feel you are alone....:face-approve:

Black Dog - my life is in ruins - BuntyFlint - 6th March 2011

About 12-13 years ago I had a serious bout of depression - mostly triggered by unemployment; I got over it/through it by combination of prescription drugs and some really good counselling - which I got through the college I was studying part time at, the waiting lists for NHS counselling were really long and of course being skint through unemployment meant I couldn't afford to pay for any. (Most of) my chums were really supportive and that was a greta help. If possible, keeping busy by doing voluntary work can help, though it can be quite depressing carrying out work that you feel is worth being paid for (especially while paid colleagues whine about their jobs in front of you!) So it's a good idea to do voluntary work from which you can gain transferable skills, but is not exactly the job you've been doing before.

I really look forward to a time when mental health issues can be discussed as freely as any other illnesses and think that the attitude in the UK towards mental health (a combination of secrecy and pull your socks up) really doesn't help. I live in Finland now, where it seems it's discussed more openly, and without prejudice, this is a really positive thing.

Good luck!

Black Dog - my life is in ruins - Drunky - 6th March 2011

Theres i test that you can do on the NHS web site, it sugested i go see a GP, which i will go and do. I can keep people up dated if they want to know, but its not really an archaeological disscussion

Black Dog - my life is in ruins - Boxoffrogs - 6th March 2011

Hi Drunky et al

Perhaps Drunky you should share the address for the NHS site?

Sadly it is a subject that this profession should be talking about, the IFA should be issuing documents on job time (and unemployed time) stress and how to cope with it if its is as claimed a caring Institute....

Being married to a psychologist gives me huge insight into the depths of despair one can fall during times of economic depression and unemployment.

Good luck to all

Black Dog - my life is in ruins - hjb - 6th March 2011

Hi all,

I'm not a regular on these pages by any means, but I just happened to be passing by and noticed this thread...
Speaking as a manic depressive, I have had a number of run-ins with deep depressions not directly (un)employment related, but all involving lack of self-esteem (by their nature). I have been lucky in never experiencing any stigma (although I am careful about who I admit things to), but I am aware that it is still out there; it's such a shame that things like this aren't spoken about more generally, afterall it is a bodily malfunction - noone would think twice about complaining that their knee didn't work properly, so why their moods? I would like to echo the supportive comments on this thread.

Above all, and I know this from experience, I would say that the worst thing you can do is ignore the situation: it is almost guaranteed to fester and get worse. With the added bonus that when work does come along, you will be in no fit state to do it!
Without meaning to sound patronising, changes of circumstances sometimes turn out to be opportunities in disguise (although that's probably a really unhelpful thing to hear right now).
Apart from all the good ideas mentioned already about GPs, friends, counselling etc there are a couple of practical things I can think of which I find help on a day to day basis in the meantime; I am slowly getting the hang of admitting when I begin to feel low, and (after much dismissing this kind of thing as fussing) learning to look after myself and I have found it really helps... and they all have a good body of scientific research behind them if you need convincing!

1) Sunshine. Admittedly you don't have that much control over this, but daylight in general is better than nothing. Go out and walk around, sit on a park bench, sit on the door step if nothing else.
2) Excercise. This is the most difficult to do when you feel down, but is really effective. Make yourself go out for a walk each day (and get the sunlight at the same time!), go to the shops for a pint of milk, that kind of thing. If necessary, arrange as many appointments as you can with various people (even if this means the dentist!!) first thing in the morning as this forces you to get up and out.
3) Eat well. Everyone is bored of hearing this, but it has an amazing effect on your mood. And make sure you eat - it is waaay too easy to feel like you can't be bothered/it isn't worth having lunch! And yes, (I think someone said this already), lay off the alcohol!
4) Get regular sleep. Don't stay up late fretting or lie in late in the morning because it's not worth getting up. Again, hard to do. The fresh air and exercise comes in handy here.
5) Don't let you mind get stuck in a cycle of constantly going over negatives. Ok, this can't be done completely, but at least try and keep it distracted - avoid the sitting hunched in the corner of the settee staring into space with no inclination to do anything!! On days when I can't get out of bed, I go for audio books and kids stories; I find I can't concentrate to read, so I go for something straight forward that is being read to me - Harry Potter is perfect for this, although I can see not everyone might appreciate it ;-)

6) Allow yourself to feel like you have achieved something when you have done each little thing. I don't really go in for the whole awarding yourself gold stars for managing to get dressed type approach, but if you are ill (even if it is only a mild 'under the weather' depression), why would you expect yourself to come up to your normal standards?? You would cut yourself some slack if you had flu. This, of course, is difficult!!

I should say that I am also on various happy-making pills, but they don't work if you don't look after yourself as well!

One more thing -- this is a funny thing to say, but depression has it's positive sides too (generally once you're out the other side, of course!). I think it has made me much more empathetic and more observant about people and situations.

I'm sorry if this sounds at all preachy or patronising (and I didn't mean to go on for so long), but I have been on quite close terms with depression before -- I live in fear of it striking again, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
Hope some of it is useful.

Black Dog - my life is in ruins - Boxoffrogs - 6th March 2011

Thank you HJB for an insightful reply to this thread, the missus agrees with all you have make yourself walk get a dog! I still get up around 7:30-8:00 every day and to bed around 10-10:30 it helps! Day time I bake... for England! Reading is not possible, well it is but why bother if the last paragraph has got lost in the "how am I going to pay the bills " loop in the head....

Keep sane every just upsets folk!

Black Dog - my life is in ruins - destroyingangel - 6th March 2011

Thanks for the helpful comments and advice everyone... particularly HJB:face-approve:

I'd also like to thank people for the private messages that have been sent to me... if anything, it shows that there are people out there who care and have had similar experiences (and also ways of dealing / ameliorating the problem). To be honest, for me I do wonder if it is just a phase or cyclical thing which is exacerbated by bad times... and that when things get better, I'll get better. I don't know.

Is it something that the IFA should be aware of and, maybe, be doing something about it? Instead of just asking "are you employed / unemployed?", maybe they should also be asking "how do you feel?" or even "what can we do to help?". Silly, I know.

Depression was brought up (well, skated over) at last years IFA conference, but as to what degree anything has been written or acted upon, I can't say. I'm not here to bash the IFA (why should I?) and certainly I don't think the IFA is the place to deal with the actual issue of depression. However, if it was brought up at the conference last year (albeit very lightly), surely they are therefore aware that it occurs amongst it's community (archaeologists per se). As to what degree it occurs within archaeology is open to debate... however, going by what I've experienced and heard over the past 30 odd years, there are a lot of very unhappy people out there (and not just with the archaeological work situation). I'd go as far to say that the archaeological profession (as touted by the IFA) has a very wide range of issues to deal with... depression yes, but also alcoholism, drug misuse/abuse, gambling and debt. To me, a lot of these problems appear to be overlooked or even swept under the carpet... they shouldn't be.

The IFA web-site has a page dedicated to 'The Recession' (providing lots of stats on just how bad the situtaion is), but nothing on what to do in case you are made redundant - the just how to cope with losing your job and/or not being able to get a job... and the stultifying nuclear winter vacuum you feel while being stuck in it. Furthermore, are there any stats for those who are in work, but feeling under threat, stressed and depressed (cuts, possible redundancy, "you must perform better")? Looking at the IFA recession page (particularly the recession seminar PDF), there are a number of ways of how a business can cope with the recession, of how the IFA will cope with the recession (i.e. reduced fees to those that have lost their jobs so that they can stay members)... but nothing on the actual human cost of the recession i.e. the way in which individuals or familes actually have to cope (or not cope) with the loss of theirs, or their partners, archaeological job. I know that this is not strictly within the IFA's remit - they are there to sort out the nuts and bolts of the actual profession (and, hey, they are also corporate, so maybe they just don't have to care). But is the BAJR Forum the only place available to actually bring this sort of thing up and, possibly, the only place where I can get specific advice from like-minded individuals? Furthernore, it is the only place where some action might be taken? Who else can help - IFA, ALGAO, EH?

I've been in archaeology for a long time (more than most I suppose) and this is the longest bout of unemployment I've had... it has got to the point where I feel I no longer want to work in archaeology or, rather (and more to the point), that archaeology no longer wants me. It's wrong I know... I shouldn't think like that, but I do.

Black Dog - my life is in ruins - Drunky - 8th March 2011


Heres the link, lots of info, the quiz may seem a bit stupid but the questions did make think

Black Dog - my life is in ruins - Boxoffrogs - 8th March 2011


Thank you for this, now all we have to do is encourage others to visit it and take the test. Maybe BAJR could do more by putting a link into this thread as a permanent status!

Black Dog - my life is in ruins - destroyingangel - 8th March 2011

Thanks for the link Drunky... and Boxoffrogs... maybe you are right!