A man I know quite well became prone to bouts of deep depression, bordering on suicide. In desperation, he sought the services of a psychologist, telling them: "I seem to see nothing but shadows and darkness everywhere; the world seems so full of anger, horror and evil".

The psychologist told him: "What you need is a really good laugh, to relieve your pent-up tensions and alleviate your negativity. I reccomend you go to the Capitol Theatre, where the world's funniest and most lighthearted clown, Orlando, is performing every night this week. He is a wonderfully skilled entertainer, and your spirits could not fail to be lifted. Go and see Orlando!"

My friend slumped in his chair and sighed. "But Doctor," he said, "I am Orlando."

amberdextrous amberdextrous
51-55, M
9 Responses Nov 9, 2009

This whole conversation is very interesting to me... Not only the story, but also the discussion on the usefulness of counselors. I've struggled with social anxiety disorder my whole life. Throughout middle school, I would have panic attacks in crowds, and even when logically I knew that no one was paying much attention to me at the moment, I felt like I was constantly being judged. For this reason, I've avoided people for most of my life, and I've never been able to form close relationships (the only close friends I have, I've met online). I started going to a counselor in middle school, and although she was a nice woman, I always felt like her concern was fake. She didn't really know me beyond the walls of her office, so I didn't feel like she could care that deeply about my feelings. If I had true, close bonds with friends or family, I think that would probably be more effective than talking to someone who's getting paid to listen to me ramble.

Thank You for your comments, and for sharing part of your stories, alteredego and polly. It is brave and inspirational of you both to be so honest and open with your self-revelation.<br />
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My story here is entirely fictitious, but fits pretty closely to my life. Professionally funny people are very often depressives, just as comedy is very closely associated with tragedy. Behind the clown's make-up I had licence to express parts of myself that are generally forbidden to white middle class men and, as polly says, it is easy to overlook one's own real-world needs and become burned out.

Thank You for your comments and your insights, Banner. You are right, I believe, about the breaking down of traditional family support systems being at least partly responsible for the epidemic of despair that is spreading through affluent western socieities. Apart from people living in active war zones, we westerners have the highest rate of depression in the world by a long way. people in third world countries have nowhere near our levels of material comfort, but they do often have extended families who can usually help them cope with their problems before they reach the clinically depressed state.

I don't feel I can add anything useful to the comments but I was surprised to happen across this discussion. it is hard to know sometimes whether a person wants support, a listening ear, medication and support, practical tips alongside, but all want a defintive answer as to how to get out of this black cloud of despair. The main thing is you have to know someone really emathises and genuinely cares, the healing doesn't just come from meds or the other things but the listener is part of the healing. I believe if it is a doctor then they could give the right tips and meds, but if they are remote or seem disinterested ie: you are just one of their clients, not someone important to them that is not a help. No trite comments are dreadful, hurtful and could plunge a patient further into despair. Some counsellors have no idea. They are becoming more popular because people are living further from their families and their is not the closeness anymore. Of course their are people who lock themselves away from help from just anyone because they feel so low and think they'll never get better no matter what. Having said all, the right doctor, counsellor or friend who sticks with you is a true treasure

Reads quietly, nods.

Sorry, Orchalia, I think I must have expressed myself badly. My reference to trite advice and educational requirements was in relation to TriumphGirl being told at every visit to "think positive!" That sounds like fortune-cookie stuff to me.<br />
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Also, in saying that whole industries spring up to exploit the suffering of others, I was probably using hyperbole; I have no doubt that the majority of people in your field have their hearts in the right places and the interests of their clients genuinely in mind.<br />
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Thanks for your comment.

I'm really sorry Amber, but I have to disagree with your comment... The industry of counselling and psychology and psychiatry (which all form part of mental health), is not here to exploit the suffering of others... And I am saddened that you seem to truly feel that way.<br />
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Where I live, we have regulations and governing bodies that stipulate how a psychologist or psychiatrist or social worker will act. To become a licensed worker in these fields DOES require a much higher education.<br />
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I will confess however that as of yet no formal qualifications or licenses are required to become a counsellor. There are no governing bodies. So if one decided to put a sign on the door of their house claiming to be a counsellor, they could.<br />
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In that respect however, to AVOID people who are ill-prepared or out to expolit clients with real issues, we always reccommend that clients attend a recognised establishment to receive their assistance; and these are not hard to find - also thoroughly screening their staff with police checks, working with children checks, prohibited person checks, confidentiality and mandatory reporting RECOGNISED training... and that is all BEFORE the interview!<br />
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But, in reference to your story, I have found (and indeed, know people) who are depressed to this degree - and, unfortunately, these people are very efficient at disguising their true emotions, which can in turn lead to unoffered help, when they may need it just as much (maybe more) than another. In these cases, it needs to be the client seeking initial contact, and at the right places - but that in no way means they cannot ask for help from a close relative or friend to find it.

How sad, TG but, sadly, typical. Such trite advice shouldn't require any formal education, surely? It amazes me how many industries -such as counselling- spring up to exploit the suffering of others. I'm sure some people genuinely want to help, but when they give the same advice as your grandma would, why pay for it? You can probably get better advice on most things right here on EP.<br />
X, a

Ohh...the masks that we all wear! <br />
I was seeing a counselor and just stopped bothering to go last month. Every visit all she had to tell me was to "think positive!" our last visit she flat out told me "I don't know what else to do for you..." "Just great, thanks!!"<br />
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