Kristian Hall, who has marked the trail out of depression, provides guidance to others.
Hall outlines his own struggles with what he calls his “demons.” It began when he was a child, with a loving but alcoholic father, whose drunkenness caused “many frightening situations.” When Hall was 14, his father died; this kick-started the author’s long battle against deepening negativity, depression, and ultimately, suicidal thoughts. He was fortunate to have the support of his mother and sister who pushed him into therapy.
In this well-organized manual, Hall explores the specific methods that he used to become “a happy person,” as well as his research into other possible avenues of assistance for the many, especially young people, who suffer as he did. The author emphasizes the significance of “reality filters” that can be a help or a hindrance in attaining a positive mood or mindset. We screen everything that happens to us through mental filters. If you are in the grip of a “demon,” burdened by a thick negative filter, one tiny criticism will be remembered and a mountain of praise ignored. This in turn will reinforce a pattern of beliefs that everyone is against you, that you will never get to be happy. Hall advises that you must constantly battle against “parts of your own psyche that do not benefit you.” Various techniques are offered for clearing your filters, beginning with cognitive behavioral therapy; CBT allows you to get beneath the layers of generalizing, over-dramatizing, polarizing, and “should-ing.” Hall suggests simple starting points like getting up when you awaken, going to bed when you are tired, and developing mental blocking for negative thought patterns, one of the most powerful of which is simply, “Shut up.”
RISE FROM DARKNESS is arranged in a straightforward manner, with explanations of the mechanisms of depression, examples of ways that depression keeps its hold on people, and a myriad of “maps” to get out of it. Having experienced the problem, Hall is, though not a psychologist, certainly qualified as a mentor with the zeal to help others. He is careful to cite useful books by experts in the field. He details a number of practical exercises, always positive, such as saying “Thanks!” when life’s small happenings go your way. He recommends creating a “gratitude diary”, setting easily accomplished goals, enjoying nature, and designing a “super week” of upbeat activities.
Written by a survivor, RISE FROM DARKNESS presents pathways up and out of depression that are understandable, realistic, and doable.