Live in rooms full of light
Avoid heavy foods
Be moderate in the drinking of wine
Take massage, baths, exercise and gymnastics
Fight insomnia with gentle rocking or
the sound of running water
Change surroundings and take long journeys
Strictly avoid frightening ideas
Indulge in cheerful conversation and amusements
Listen to music
advice to melancholics -A. Cornelius Celsus, 1ST century ad
It is typical for us humans to expect everything to fly into our mouths without work, art, effort, grief and suffering. But all of this is not God’s way; rather, it is His will that we should work hard for our food and that we should want to support both ourselves and those around us.
There is an old joke about a bookseller who is trying to sell a book to a student. ‘It will do half your work for you,’ he claims. ‘Great,’ says the student. ‘I’ll buy two copies.’ It is only human for us to want to have all our work done for us or all our problems solved by a simple remedy such as a pill. The bad news – and, of course, it is not really news at all – is that wondrous though a pill may be, St John’s Wort included, it will not cure all that ails you. The good news is that there are so many ways to help yourself, many of them quite painless and even pleasurable, as the advice of A. Cornelius Celsus above would suggest. Celsus was the doctor to the Emperor Tiberius, a cruel, powerful and frightening man, and the gentleness of Celsus’ advice was perhaps as much politic as it was wise. Paracelsus, an outspoken man, fearless and impolitic in the conduct of his own life, had no qualms about expressing himself frankly. If you want your life to be better, you need to exert some effort to make it so. In my own dealings with depressed people I have found many ways in which modifying elements of one’s life can contribute enormously to an anti-depressant lifestyle that works beautifully in conjunction with anti-depressant medications, including St John’s Wort. In this chapter we will consider some of the many ways that you can help take control of your life and conquer your own depression.