A self-therapy guide

Prepublication page

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Table of Contents
Advance Reviews

   Depression is a galloping global epidemic. This is not your fault, but the problem with living in a toxic culture. However, there is a cure.

   Bob Rich has been there himself. Drawing on his personal experience, and on decades of work as a psychotherapist, he gives you a manual for changing your life, whether you suffer depression or not.

   In her advance review, Theresa Hortley has said, "All of Bob's novels I've read are full of therapeutic lessons. Here is a book designed as a set of therapeutic lessons that is as enjoyable to read as any novel."

1. You need to be crazy to stay sane in a crazy world

   Pessimism vs. optimism is one of the dimensions of human personality. Interesting research shows that pessimists are consistently more realistic than optimists.

   This is because reality is far worse than you could think without getting depressed.

   Diagnosed depression is a galloping epidemic. The facts are admirably summarized by Tyrell and Elliott. Their main conclusions are worth repeating:

   According to Martin Seligman, depression in 1984 was 10 times as frequent as in the 1950s.

   So, if you're depressed, it's not the fault of your biology, individual circumstances, or personality, but of the world you live in. Maybe you're just smarter and more perceptive than others who are lucky enough to carry on OK in a toxic culture.

   If depression was mainly a matter of heredity, it wouldn't be a growing problem. The fact of its rapid increase points the finger at society, not the individual. Nevertheless, the causation of any psychological reaction is always complex. To learn to gain a less painful way of reacting, we need to understand what leads us to extended periods of sadness. So, read on!

This is a user's guide

   Depression is a way of seeing the world; a way of being. It isn't a disease, a disorder, or a chemical imbalance. It's not something you are, or have, but something you DO.

   There is a lot of evidence for my statement, but this is a user's guide, not some academic treatise. I am not interested in getting into scholarly arguments.

   The causes, nature and treatment of depression are best described in an excellent article Michael Gathercole published in the Australian Journal of Counselling Psychology in 2004. It didn't make the impact it should have, so I've reproduced it with permission. And that's almost all the academic stuff you'll get from me in this book.

   I have two credentials for writing this user's guide.

   First and most important, I personally lived with depression from infancy. Without realizing it, I started to do therapy on myself when I was 21. By 23, I had it in control all by myself. A crash would come occasionally -- then I fixed it. This went on for another 20 years. When I was 43, I noticed that the depression was gone. Previous invariable triggers failed to drag me down. (My personal journey is described in two of my books: Anikó: The stranger who loved me, and Ascending Spiral: Humanity's last chance).

   If I could do it, you can do it.

   I did have a relapse in 2011, as a reaction to a loss I hadn't thought would affect me. Using the tools I'd developed to cure myself, I returned to contentment in three weeks.

   Second, I have a Ph.D. in psychology, and provided psychotherapy for decades. So, I do understand all the science, and know what I am talking about. If I could be successfully of service to my clients, I can be successfully of service to you.

   As with any manual, you need to DO what it recommends. You can't learn tennis by reading a book about how to do it. You can't change your world by reading a book about how to do it.

   I'll start with first aid, which helps everyone in any situation. Then we'll get an understanding of depression, and finally go onto the specifics of living a contented life, even if we are on the planet of the insane ("normal people" who do what everyone does).


   1. You need to be crazy to stay sane in a crazy world

      This is a user's guide

   2. First Aid

      The Basics

      Relaxation and meditation

   3. Know your enemy

      The conventional view

      Sources of sadness

      The causes of human suffering

   4. Controlling depression

      Fixing the thinking

      Rewriting your story

      Act the way you want to be

   5. Cure

      The destination

      Don't Like Your World? Change it

      Processing trauma

      Loving the inner monster

      You get what you send

      The resilient mindset

      Moving hedonic adaptation


      My greatest teacher

   6. Depression in the family

   7. Dealing with relapse


Advance Reviews

Petrea King
Jennifer Bonn
Sally Odgers
Theresa Hortley
Alfredo Zotti
TA Sullivan
Walter Stoffel


Petrea King

Hi Bob,

   Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity of making an endorsement for your book. I started reading and couldn't stop...well done Bob.

   If you're depressed and need someone who 'gets' you, who's been there, and who can walk you through the journey toward living a life worth living, then From Depression to Contentment will be your new best friend. Bob's a straight shooter who tells it as it is. He meets you where you are and can lead you home to yourself.

   May your book find its way into the hands and hearts of those who so desperately need it.

Warm regards

When she was in her 30s, a doctor told Petrea she wouldn't see next Christmas. She is now in her 70s, and still vigorously alive. She has dedicated her life to working with people suffering life-threatening diseases, and her Quest for Life Centre has supported and inspired tens of thousands of them. I feel honoured and privileged by her endorsement.

Jennifer Bonn


   I loved your book! It is so accessible and feels like it could be a lifeline for so many people struggling with depression. I have a feeling you have been the right answer for quite a few people. I love the section titled First Aid: short and sweet, here's what you need. I also like the idea of no meds and the importance of resilience as a life skill. Thank you for letting me read it.

   Your book has me thinking of all sorts of articles for depression like your first aid about Basic and Brief, to Help You Beat the Grief.

   After my second reading, I kept thinking that although this is geared for people with depression, I hope that their family members read it as well. I wish I had been able to read something like first aid that gave me an idea of what I was dealing with, and the best way to deal with it to help my child. I wonder if you would consider a section with maybe how to have a conversation about depression with the the family can help. Good luck Bob! This is great!


Jen was one of my beta readers. Part 6, Depression in the Family, is the direct response to her suggestion, so she is responsible for a major improvement in this project.

   I "met" Jen when I edited her inspirational book, 101 Lessons Learned While Teaching. I'll post the link here when it's published, because the book is beautiful, and could be used as a positive psychology text.

Sally Odgers

   There's plenty here even for those who aren't depressed. This book is a marvellous resource for anyone interested in the workings of mind and personality.

   I chose to listen to From Depression to Contentment using ReadAloud, which is also the way I run through my own drafts. I find this format helps me pick up typos, clumsy sentences, and longwindedness. It also allows me to peel apples, chop veg for soup, pull weeds or do wall presses while I listen, which is a good way to discover if something holds my attention.

   I found From Depression to Contentment well-organised and practical. It's the sort of book a person with depression (or the tendency to it) might keep close at hand and re-read or revisit concepts and chapters at need. I was particularly interested in the passages about looking for the "reward" in depression/anxiety/bad mood/migraine as that's something my sister and I have often wondered about. We were sickly children (she had Stills Disease, eye problems, and juvenile arthritis and I had frequent bouts of tonsillitis and joint pain and anxiety attacks) and we have since wondered if our mother's care for us might have given us a lifelong feeling that sickliness brings one attention and chocolate! Neither of us wants to be ill and certainly there's no reward for it at our age, but maybe that ties in with that passage in From Depression to Contentment. When the book is out in paperback I'll get her a copy (she doesn't use computers), because she gets cycling depression and has had it for years. I don't. I'm frequently in a panic about something or other, but generally for a specific reason outside myself (if you see what I mean).

   If I see points of connection in the book, it's pretty certain other readers will too.

   I found the background including the reason for increasing rates in depression interesting. Not only are things worse in a lot of ways than when we were young, but also, we know altogether too much about it.

   A lot of concepts in here had me nodding along because they're things I either do or know or just happen to agree with. I think a lot of writers would, since we tend to be fascinated with narrative, motivation and characterisation.

Sally Odgers is a Tasmanian writer of many genres, and a huge number of titles. She asked me to mention Everything You Want to Know About Writing and More, Much More.

Theresa Hortley

   I don't suffer from depression, but read this book because I am privileged to be one of Bob Rich's beta readers. All the same, it has proven to be immensely useful to me, personally.

   Depression is everywhere. Every year, a distressingly high proportion of the kids I teach are obviously depressed. Friends, relatives, colleagues -- it's all around me. Now, I can understand where they are coming from, and can be more effective in helping them, though not as a therapist of course.

   But this is far more than a self-help book. It is an inspiration. One sentence late in the book has captured me: "knowingly or unknowingly, all of us are apprentice Buddhas."

   Depressed or not, if you read this book, you will become a better person.

   You wouldn't expect a book about depression to be humorous, but in typical Bob Rich style, he got me chuckling time and again. Just one example: a patient told Bob that he'd known all his life that he didn't matter. Bob's reply: "Right. You crawled out of the womb believing you didn't matter?"

   All of Bob's novels I've read are full of therapeutic lessons. Here is a book designed as a set of therapeutic lessons that is as enjoyable to read as any novel.

As you'll have gathered, Theresa is a teacher: she teaches English, History and Geography in secondary school. That makes her a formidable beta reader, and I am gratified by her good opinion.

Alfredo Zotti

   In a non-academic fashion, Dr Bob Rich, who was a practicing psychologist and now retired, writes about his experience with depression, both as a once sufferer and as a once therapist.

   He makes it clear in his manual that Depression in not an illness but it is what people "Do" for reasons that he clearly explains. He also suggests that people should do the opposite of what they normally do when depressed as for example, if their depressed state wants them to sleep all day and give up on normal life and normal routines, they should strive to do the opposite, get up and continue with their engagements despite of the depression.

   Is this even possible? Of course it is, I have done it as a sufferer and so has my wife.

   Without going too much into specifics, which one can clearly read in Bob's useful manual, what he says comes from personal experience and years of being a therapist. This is perhaps one of the most resourceful and most helpful books on the market today. Well worth reading; it will help the reader to understand Depression from a recovery perspective and get well on the road to recovery.

   Depression can be turned into a positive and can actually enrich our lives if we just try. It is not easy to acquire the skills and the knowledge necessary to learn to cope well and to recover. But this book will make the effort easier.

   Specific interventions like guided imagery and mindfulness meditation are suggested and explained. All and all this is a valuable manual on how to live well with depression and acquire the right skills and knowledge that will tame the Depression to a point where the person will live well without being affected by symptoms.

Alfredo Zotti is a long term campaigner against the stigma mental health issues subject people to. He contentedly lives with his lifelong bipolar disorder, and is the author of several books.

TA Sullivan

Summary: This is a self-help guide and workbook designed to help the reader overcome depression. The advice and exercises are based on years of providing therapy for his patients, as well as years of following the spiritual practices offered through Buddhism. By following the exercises and advice in this workbook, you can release yourself from the grip of depression, and find contentment.

   Recommendation: Yes

   Review: I can't say that this book works, but only because I'm still working on the exercises supplied in this workbook.

   The advice (while similar to that I have read in articles and books by other therapists) was written in a friendlier, less clinical tone, which makes it much easier to understand. This guide also comes with a set of exercises designed to help you overcome depression in series of steps. For someone who suffers periodic bouts of severe depression, I understand how accomplishing even small steps toward a goal can boost a person's confidence, which makes a person that much more eager to tackle the next step. In addition, the exercises also help the reader develop more positive habits while letting go of the destructive ones.

   Although the author states that using these exercises can help you eliminate the need for medication, I would strongly suggest using a buddy-system while completing these exercises. I say that, because I know how easy it is to fool ourselves into thinking we're getting better when we're not. And having someone to discuss things with, or at least monitor your progress, could be beneficial.

   Having said that, I have been working on the exercises and I do believe I'm seeing some results in regard to my perception of the world. I look forward to seeing even more results as I progress through the exercises outlined in this workbook, From Depression to Contentment.

TA Sullivan was born in the back of a cab and has continued to be unconventional in all that she does. She makes a living as a technical and marketing writer by turning boring into readable. She has written articles for a variety of magazines and small newspapers, contributed short stories to several book anthologies, and has had two table-top books of her photos published. You can read some of her musings and articles at her blog, Tas Through the Looking Glass, or view some of her photos at

   After a near-death experience (NDE), she turned her writing skills toward the esoteric. She has written a book about dreams and dream symbology (On Dreams and Dream Symbols), meditation (Mastering Meditation), as well as a two-book set describing her NDE and her encounters with a group of highly evolved souls (Choices).

Walter Stoffel

   As a drug and alcohol counselor, From Depression to Contentment proved to be a most timely read for me. Though addiction causes its own set of problems, substance abuse is often driven by an underlying mental health issue. I'm always looking for guidance in helping people and I found it in this book.

   Dr. Rich leaves no stone unturned -- he draws on science, academia, religions of all stripes and personal experience to forge strategies for self-empowerment. Most importantly, the author provides concrete homework for the reader, putting theory into practice As a result, Dr. Rich has constructed a comprehensive plan for improving one's approach to life, whether depressed or not.

   This book is an informative, pro-active jump starter for anyone striving to feel better.

Walter Stoffel B.A., C.A.D.C.

Walter Stoffel is a freelance writer and publisher who specializes in human interest memoir and fiction. Though having previously participated in multiple dog and cat rescues, nothing prepared him for his life with the title character in Lance: A Spirit Unbroken. His follow-up book will be released in early2019 and is the fictional account of a young boy's struggle to survive his childhood.

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