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There’s a Chinese proverb of which I am very fond that poignantly says:

“Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”.

In many of my darkest times, I have actually sought solace and company in a candle.

There seems, to me, a silent understanding and comfort in solitary times, of a “living flame”. There are many parallels for me in this conscious thought process.

For you, your “candle” may be something different (exercise, gardening, washing the car, sowing, knitting, the list goes on).

In today’s world we are surrounded by circumstances that are often completely out of our control.

If we are to be accepting of these “uncontrollable events” then we are equally accepting that life may sometimes “deal us an awful hand” and consequently, longer we live, the more times we will experience events that are out of our control.

This is just the way life is.

Now, there’s good news here!

You may be wondering how this can be a positive thought (?)

Well, a bit like exercise, the more times we are challenged, I believe, the stronger, mentally, we get. Now, please do not misunderstand me. Like exercise, although change and challenge can make us stronger, it does not mean that events in your life will never cause you unmanageable distress and possible depression and/or anxiety. (and so it is with physical injury in exercise)

But, the way we might deal with circumstances as an adult, will probably be different to the way we deal with the same circumstances as a child.

Of course, we all have a finite level of resistance and coping with challenge. All I am saying is your endurance level will, more than likely grow, as you grow.


Often we may feel sad, contemptuous, angry, irritated and bereft. If we accept that this is the statistical probability of life, then isn’t it important that we establish and recognise strategies that may be comforting to us in times of challenge (?).

Over the last forty years or so I have discovered, largely by luck, a   number of “anchor points” or comforting techniques that I can “lean” on nearly all the time. These are illustrated partly in the above “montage”.

It’s kind of difficult to express or illustrate this without sounding melodramatic, but please believe me, having had this disease for at least forty years, you die or you are lucky enough (as I am) to discover coping strategies.

For me these, sometimes, lifesaving beacons include (but are not limited too):

  • Actually lighting a candle
  • Pen and Paper (so that I can write)
  • Recorded music (through my smartphone)
  • My guitar
  • Numerous cups of tea (Very “rock’n’roll” that!)
  • Helpful acts toward other people who are less fortunate than I
  • Carrying out random acts of kindness, towards others

The above are “CANDLES” to me, for they bring shards of light into MY darkness, thus, instead of cursing the darkness, I light a candle.

Take this thinking in a slightly different direction. I have recently written that, if we indeed regard depression as an assailant, then in the same way as many martial arts work, we take the “energy” from the darkness and use it to the demise of itself. (?)

So, if you are the person suffering with depression then I ask you with compassion:

“Where or what, are your ‘CANDLES’?”

I ask this with genuine sincerity.

List out your “candles” and post them up on your mirror, or fridge or wardrobe.

You see when we are surrounded by the darkness of depression; I know only too well, how the ability to think is severely hindered.

Thus, a checklist written down and pinned up somewhere prominently may be a useful tool.


If, on the other hand, you love someone in a dark existence, perhaps you could simply ask them, what has made them happy at any time of their life (?) or perhaps you can just ask them:

“What do need me to do?”

You may be surprised, but it is so obvious, that this simple question, in my experience, is rarely asked by loved ones.


In the western world we often light a candle to remember a deceased loved one. I have done this many times, and somehow there is often just the tiniest feeling of comfort for me. I have also done this many times for people who are not deceased, but are no longer in my life.

We often relate grieving to the loss of a loved one.

A less recognised form of grieving, but potentially equally distressing, can come upon us when we have a significant change in our lives.

In situations such as this we are challenged, amongst other things, with the realisation that we cannot control others actions, we can only control how we deal with or react to/with them.

Again this may be an obvious statement, yet I know this is not always an easy thing to remember or accept when the light in your life has “dimmed or disappeared”.


As regular readers of this blog will know, generally, it is not in my “DNA” to just accept circumstances. Indeed, I have, at my own terrible cost, but worse, at the cost of others too, generally been a “fighter”.

Very slowly indeed (!) I am learning that sometimes “the way it is, is just the way it is”.

This is not to say that I think I am tough, far from it, in fact. I often feel that despite all the luminary scholars, in the field of psychology saying “Strong people are more likely to suffer depression”, I still feel somehow, far from even being in the “ball park” of adequate.

BUT that’s depression for you.


There’s a tenuous link here to a few personal experiences in my life, which leads me to two conclusions.

I am a West Ham supporter, which might well lose me both my followers! (I do try to inject humour sometimes). Now I have supported West Ham since I was a young boy, though I have only ever been to see them play about 6 times in my life. (So I really am not a very good supporter) I was invited to go and see West Ham play last season (2016) with the “other” West Ham supporter (Cue laughter!!!).

If you are familiar with football at all, then you may be aware that West Ham now occupy a new stadium, formally the Olympic Stadium. Now, I really loved the old ground at Upton Park (Boleyn Ground), it was a very intimate ground and of course had all the history attached to it from the Thames Iron Works (West Hams original name – hence the nickname – “The Hammers”)

While I enjoyed, immensely visiting the new ground, the atmosphere was just not there. However, I found myself remembering the first of my two conclusions:

“Nothing stays the same forever, and that’s JUST LIFE”



The second of my tenuous stories is that the older I get, and with more years behind me than likely to be in front of me (that’s a cheerful thought!!)……I find I am less likely to be bothered by the minutiae of life, and live much more for today.

Part of that is due to the realisation that hope can sometimes be a dangerous thing.

This does bring some degree of peace to me in the many “hats” I wear.

As an anecdotal story, my dear lifelong friend, has struggled with work for many years. In so far as working in the finance industry is, even more volatile than the construction business.

Recently, he had a terrible case of “hitting the wall” – severe burnout and exhaustion. You see “Bob”, (not his real name) is a really hard worker and exceptionally conscientious man. So, working for a very long time, with long hours under a tonne of pressure, it’s not really surprising that something had to give.

For Bob, this was, a life changing experience and terrifying at the same time, because he has always been so mentally strong.

Finally after 30 or so years, Bob fell to pieces, hit the wall. After a spell of self-reflection/introspection and lots of tea and some CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), working on such things as mindfulness, Bob returned to work but with a modified perspective.

In Bob’s words: “all I can do is my best and if that’s not good enough then that’s just tough”

With my coarse tongue, I “reframed” this to:

“Do your best and FUCK the rest!!!”

Thus the second of my two “mantra”:

“If it’s meant to be, it will, if not, it won’t, and that’s JUST LIFE”



If you are a West Ham Supporter like me you have my sympathy!

You may well need counselling at the end of this season!!

And if you find yourself juggling too many balls, or under unreasonable pressure at work or home, then try and think of this:

“If it’s meant to be, it will, if not, it won’t, and that’s JUST LIFE”


“Do your best and FUCK the rest!!!”

I wish you all a good week ahead

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