Nacho Coller: 'I thought that being a psychologist would control my depression; that mistake'
Nacho Coller is one of the most interesting voices in Spain in the dissemination of Psychology .
His casual and close style of explaining his experiences and opinions regarding his life and his profession as a psychologist have led him, in addition to Clinical and Sports Psychology, to collaborate in numerous media in both press and radio, as well as to develop a facet of lecturer and trainer. Currently collaborates weekly in the section on psychology of the program À Punt Directe on the Valencian television channel À Punt , with Carolina Ferre .
Recently, Coller has published the book A turtle, a hare and a mosquito, in which he talks about different aspects of the vital philosophy necessary for us to be mere spectators of our lives. It shows basic principles of psychology explained through a format, sometimes autobiographical and sometimes imagined, full of sense of humor and timely reflections.
- Related article: "The 6 differences between sadness and depression"
Interview with Nacho Coller, psychologist and disseminator
In this interview, Nacho Coller talks about different aspects related to mental health, also explaining how was his first person experience of depression.
Psychology and Mind: Your book is characterized among other things for displaying a very personal sense of humor. Do you think that psychologists are missing this deal more than you to your way of disseminating beyond therapy?
Nacho Coller: Well, I think so. One of the things that most reinforces the figure of the psychologist and that the staff most appreciates is authenticity, coherence and showing a certain vulnerability, that is, showing us human. I believe that the fact of spreading psychology with an accessible and fresh language without losing sight of the rigor, normalizes psychology and brings it closer to the general public. we have to bet on a psychology available to everyone.
In the book you explain several keys to turn the page and stop obsessing about the problems of the past. For example, learn to live without rancor or assume that nobody is perfect. Of all of them, which one would you say is the most important?
I'll take two. To assume that achieving perfection is a deception that leads to frustrating us and living under the umbrella of anxiety; and know how to turn the page and cut with those situations or people that generate discomfort. Of this last, the word forgiveness has a determining role, both when it comes to forgiving ourselves and learning to excuse others. Without sincere forgiveness, there is no life satisfaction.
You also talk about resilience, our ability to overcome adversity. Do you think that this is a skill that normally appears spontaneously and almost without realizing it in many people, or is it necessary to have made a conscious learning about how to manage one's own emotions?
I believe that there are many people who do not need to consciously work on the management of emotions. For example, without going any further, the number of people who fight for their survival and who are able to cross a sea full of dangers and a thousand borders, who live or have lived with death, with pain, with violations and with what worst of the human species, and even so, they are able to maintain a smile, to show generosity by helping the one they have by their side; they are able to live.
I do not think any of these people have done a conscious job or have signed up for an emotion management course, they have just kept fighting, they have fought for a dream, they have fled from hell, they have opted to live a little better life and the fact of getting going and facing the vicissitudes of life has made them get the best out of themselves. I would bet for the motto, more life and less mind and evidently more life with a sense.
Have you ever told yourself that you suffered from depression? How does a psychologist feel that he has gone through such a delicate stage of his life?
Well, I went through different stages. The first, in which the first symptoms began due to an excess of stress that broke out in a championship insomnia (I slept two, three or four hours each day), of disbelief with a "can not be what is happening to me, that this Is a passenger". I thought I would control my depression, which was why I was a psychologist. That mistake.
The second stage was that of silence with shades of shame and a lot of guilt (what will they think of me? What a professional you are! You are a failure!).
The sadness, the insecurity, an underground self-esteem, some problems at work, mourn in silence (some men are like idiots), blockages and irritability among other negative symptoms, led me to ask for professional help. In the third stage of this process, at the end of the depression, I accepted that I was not superman, I took medication, I transferred my discomfort to the people around me, my friends and my family, I started and I was hooked again with the lifetime.
I had a terrible time at that time, but I tell you one thing, the best things that have happened to me in my professional and personal life (in my case the two are very close) came after that depression. The day I published an article in which I narrated my experience I think I closed a stage and some pending account with myself. Do you know something? When you show your vulnerability you become stronger, and I believe that today I am a better person than I was before.
In the problems related to the symptoms of depression, do you think you continue to blame the person who suffers for it, as if you were not trying hard enough to overcome it?
That's right, this is a classic in many relatives or friends of people who are with a depression and our obligation as professionals of psychology is to disclose just the opposite, which is not that he does not want or does not try, is that he can not. The culture of effort is good for the world of business and life, but I like the culture of gratification and reinforcement more.
Normally we talk about problems like depression in a way that it seems that what is wrong is isolated inside the person, as if the context in which he lives does not matter. What aspects of our society do you think have more power to promote the onset of depressive symptoms?
But if the context is very important. Not having a decent salary, not being able to reach the end of the month, living in a work environment in which the boss or colleagues make life impossible for one, the accelerated pace of life we lead, the excessive pressure from certain neoliberal spheres in the one that sells individualism as a formula to be happy, the denial of suffering and the hundreds of slogans of everything to a hundred that you have to be happy at any price and if you do not get it you are a failure.
By the way, there is another factor that favors depressive symptomatology; listening to electrolatin or reggaeton, this is not good for mental health. His music dries up my meninges and his lyrics are embarrassing to others ...
What is your opinion of antidepressant drugs and their effectiveness in treating depression?
I have never liked to enter into the dynamics of drugs, yes or no, just as I did not like falling into the demonization of antidepressants. My opinion agrees with what WHO indicates; in the face of mild depression practice sports and put yourself in the hands of a professional psychologist, no more and no less. In the face of mild-moderate depression without functional repercussion, psychology; and when the depression is moderate - severe with functional repercussion, combination of drugs and therapy. Regarding the model of Therapy to use, I recommend ACT Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, it has excellent results.
In your book, you also talk about "people who are sinewy." Do you think that most of us are capable of recognizing them, or do we tend to act as if they were not and even reward their negative attitudes?
Well, I think we do recognize them to a large extent, what happens is that living with them is very complicated and you can fuck your life. Think of your place of work, whether it is your partner or several others, or a boss; they can burn or annihilate you emotionally and psychologically.
The people are petty people, who live with the complaint, negative, resentful, who have a gray and hollow life, who always go with the loaded shotgun waiting for the fault of others, who love to speak ill of others behind their backs, who have As a slogan I am wrong if you are well, and I am fine if you are wrong; These types or types are a time bomb that is good to detect early and learn to take distance from them. And it's not easy to get away from them.
You have some reason in the question because on many occasions, especially at the beginning of a relationship, we laugh thanks to the dreamer, be it for social courtesy, because they catch us off guard or because we all have a tiny tincture.
Using positive humor is a good tool to get stuck as little as possible, and if you can put feet in dust and take distance, better than better.
Finally, and putting the focus on Spanish society, what idea do you think is worth claiming in regards to our way of managing our own emotions?
Accept your own and others' imperfections, bet on positive humor and be generous with those around you, gratify and recognize the advances of the people you love, show gratitude, be kind and condescending with oneself and with others, accept that we are not superhuman and that suffering is part of life and finally, live life with passion and intensity; that life is very cool and is full of fantastic people but sometimes we spend real putadas.