This is a blog about coping with depression. You know as well as I do that there are thousands of sites on this topic. So the first question is:
What Makes This Site Different?
• This site is completely independent.
No sponsors, no hidden agenda. No dubious bias.
• This site is fully original.
No dumb, uninspired, predictable, or copied info.
• This site is well-informed.
I read a lot and have a wide personal experience.
• This site is realistic and pragmatic.
No emotional outpourings or feel-good dreams.
• This site is not boring.
I cover unexpected topics and can make lame jokes.
I am happy that many people do appreciate the way I try to bring something different here.
Who Is This?
I see no reason to remain anonymous, hiding behind some nickname: depression is nothing to be ashamed of. So if you really need something to evaluate my expertise and credibility, here is a brief bio.
I am Henk van Setten. I was born in the 1950s in the Netherlands, where I still live (but I’ve seen many other parts of the world, including the USA where this blog has loyal followers). Growing up in an orthodox-protestant family, I was the kind of child that tries hard to comprehend this strange and wonderful universe we are living in.
My parents may have liked me to pursue a religious career, but in the end I graduated as a social historian. I got a university job and wrote several books and articles, such as In de Schoot van het Gezin (In the Bosom of the Family), my PhD thesis about parent-child relations in the past.
In the 1980s I finally became a parent myself. About the same time, my sister Betty ended her life by jumping from her apartment building. This made me write a short novel, Messerschmitt, about someone who tries to understand a suicide in his family. For a while I also wrote columns in the Dutch Volkskrant newspaper (later bundled in Toverpleister, “Magic Patch”).
In the 1990s I was still successful in my university job, but gradually my own depressions became more prolonged and serious. I looked for professional help and tried several kinds of therapy and medication. By 2003 my situation had worsened so much that I had to be admitted to a psychiatry ward and tried to kill myself. I had to give up my job and was treated with ever more intense therapies, culminating in a series of electroshocks.
From 2007 onwards, I began to recover – fighting back more actively. I refused further electroshock treatments and gradually cut down on the dizzying medication cocktails psychiatrists used to prescribe for me. Although I’m not an anti-medication zealot by principle,
the last few years I’ve done without any antidepressants. I’ve taken up writing again; not just for this blog.
In all, I’ve recovered fairly well. But don’t expect me to offer you some kind of magic antidepression strategy. I simply don’t believe in one magic solution. We’re all different, and I don’t claim to know what’s best for you. Sometimes I may have a few practical tips. That’s it.
Any questions? You can always send me an email.
• footnote 1: I wrote that “the last few years I’ve done without any antidepressants”. That’s not true anymore. Last autumn (2012) hit me a little too hard, and since then it’s a small daily dose of one antidepressant (nortriptyline) that helps me to keep going.
• footnote 2: Someone asked about my suicide novel Messerschmitt. It was published in 1992 by De Bezige Bij, and can still be found at some second-hand bookshops. But the book was in Dutch. Still looking for a translator… ;-)
• footnote 3: In the Netherlands there are two or three other people with exactly the same name as mine, Henk van Setten. Please be aware that their Facebook or LinkedIn pages have nothing to do with me.
For myself, I don’t see enough reasons to lose both my time and my privacy with a “social” account, so I don’t have one.