Ruminating On Rumi

As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears.

~ M. Rumi

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Depression As A Journey

Depression. Just being depressed is depressing. We, as a society, attach a value to the attribute of being depressed. Depression is negative. Either we accept it as a terrible experience or we dismiss it as an excuse for laziness or some other undesired character defect. Perhaps, we're wrong. Perhaps depression is the body and mind's natural shutting down defence. In other words, when we don't rest, when we don't stop this perpetual motion of acquisition, be it for stuff or knowledge, our being may just respond enough is enough with depression.  And when in depression, we still don't listen to our inner wisdom and exhaust ourselves with ways to "get rid" of our current state, we may find ourselves on a wheel of physical pain and emotional depression. When I say we, please include ME in capital letters.

A question which may be asked is which comes first physical pain or emotional/mental/spiritual depression? I think the answer would likely be it really doesn't matter. What matters is that when it becomes apparent that life no longer brings us joy (much not all of the time), we need to become aware of it. Easier said then done, it may not be so obvious to the one depressed. Even when loving individuals &/or trained professionals try to communicate the outwardly obvious depression, the one affected is able to negate it. (For after all, much of our lives, we have been taught to negate our feelings particularly the ones that are deemed not nice.) With others a diagnosis of depression can equally be depressing because now we may jump on the wheel of allopathic medication and psychiatric care. In other words, we want someone else to fix what we see (or may not) is wrong with ourselves. Once again, feeling out of control, we may think the answer is to give control to someone or something else. (Maybe this is also a clue, the notion of controlling our lives may also contribute to depression.) Perhaps the only thing wrong is that we just don't notice or haven't been taught that our body naturally depresses or slows down because we need to care for ourselves. Perhaps we truly need to feel this to heal it.

For me, that care has been in the form of learning to be okay with depression. In the book "The Zen Path Through Depression", Philip Martin writes, "Depression is an illness not just of the body and mind, but also of the heart. Depression offers us an opportunity to deepen our spirit, our lives, and our hearts. There is much that we can learn about ourselves and our world through this journey. Through attentive, compassionate practice with the depression, it is possible to experience an even deeper healing, and grow in our spiritual lives."

When I first saw my incredible counsellor Myrna, we talked about the many "tragedies" of my growing years. I thought I had dealt with those ghosts, spent time with them, explored them, forgave them and understood them. This learning to live with the stuff of our experience is indeed a sticky business. Myrna used a model of a spiral. As relative times passes and we move through the spiral that is life we bump up with the old but from a new place of experience. At this time, if we typically stuff feelings or even not, some past experiences may need to be revisited (not necessarily resolved) to move on.
Perhaps this is where sadness comes in. If typically we turn away from our sadness and don't allow ourselves this time out from our work-a-day world than perhaps that is where it escalates or rather sinks into depression.   It is only a matter of degrees when sadness becomes depression. My dear friend calls sadness, "feeling flatter then pee on a plate".

More on this next blog....