Depression and I go back a long way. After all these years she is still a bit of a mystery, always slipping into the shadows whenever I try to look at her head on; a mirage on the horizon that I never can get a firm grip on.
But I’m starting to see that depression might just be a friend trying to tell me something.
Looking back over my life now I see it has been way of whack for many years. So much of my life situation was eating me up. Wounds from past traumas unhealed; family relationships pulling at my seams; keeping up with my over ambitious self expectations; carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.
Depression has been deeply rooted in me since a teenager and wound its way around my life in a way that seemed impossible to untangle. I had very little awareness of my situation, on the surface I was successful in my career, well liked and managed to care and carry people along in my exuberant ray-of-light energy. Like the duck who seems calm on the surface, underwater showed a completely different story. For over a decade I couldn’t clearly see the underwater frenzy until I finally burned out and have had the privilege of unwinding my life, seeing where the spores of depression mould were tucked into so many creases and crevices.
There are many theories on the root of depression, depression is often spoke about like something we ‘get’ like a virus one can catch. ‘Depression’ as a diagnosis is simply a convenient term to describe a set of symptoms (feeling unmotivated, irritable, low, decreased interest and pleasure in most activities, fatigue, worthlessness, concentration difficulties). On a scientific level it is believed to correlate to a low serotonin level (serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain). Having read, researched, experienced first hand and observed in others for over 15 years I’m still reflecting and wondering really why people get depressed.
Since I have cleaned out many depression moulded crevices in myself I no longer medicate for depression. Largely I would say I’m depression free, I at least have not dived into a dysfunctional depressive episode in the last six months. I do notice though that a dip seems to happen when I’m not really where I’m meant to be in life. When I notice a dip, I experience a period of confusion and what I recognise in myself to be depression. When somehow out of that dip I finally make a decision to change something in my life the depression has suddenly lifted.
This experience is leading me to wonder if depression is the knock-knock-knocking of a friendly warning saying ‘No my sweet, that’s the wrong way’. Depression is like a ‘STOP’ sign. Once stopped we then have the task of working out exactly what we should be doing instead. But actually before ‘doing’ it is helpful to start by ‘being’. Depression almost forces that. Nothing is fun, we don’t want to do anything – well thats really quite perfect, just ‘be’ for a while. In ‘being’ the next step will eventually start to crystallise.
Most times life situations that lead us to depression are too complex to get any form of clarity by just holing up in bed. When life is more than we can cope with we need external support to heal, this support can take the form of family, friends, therapist, yoga, meditation, change in lifestyle, exercise, change in environment and even medication.
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