Silhouette of a Man

Befriending Depression

Learning to play all the keys of our heart’s piano

We all have times of feeling low. It helps to understand what these are saying. Since we haven’t listened to and resolved our little depressions, we don’t know how to process our big ones. As we learn to love ourselves more fully, we need to do for ourselves what wasn’t done for us. We are empowered as we come to accept who we really are.

We all know from our own (and others’) depression, that there is no magical ‘quick fix’. It has been our enemy for so long that to start to befriend it will be a slow process. Depression is a symptom of something below the surface that is not sitting comfortably. Our body doesn’t give us distress signals just to give us a bad day. It is saying, “Slow down, something is getting jammed.” When our emotions are overwhelming, taking medication can help us get through for a time. Antidepressants should be taken with care and should not mean that we avoid the underlying issues.

When we feel that we have nothing to live for, that we have lost energy, hope and direction, we can do one of two things. We can either try to distance ourselves from the struggle, criticize ourselves for being down all the time, or we can choose to draw into ourselves with attention and compassion.

Are we able to move into this dark and painful shadow to receive our deep feelings of loss and longing, and begin to hear what these feelings we don’t like are trying to tell us? Can we risk being our own best friend when the going is not easy and it’s still stormy inside? Can we begin to live in a new way with ourselves? We can be grateful that we do feel, even though some of our feelings are so dark and difficult. It’s like we are learning to play both the black and the white keys of our heart’s piano, which will make our own unique song.

Basically, we are needing to change our attitude to depression. Our depression is simply saying that our reality is too difficult. We may feel expectations are too hard, that our resources are inadequate, that our future is bleak, and we may have become outwardly angry or sluggish as internally we collapse.

There are lots of possible causes for emotional disturbance. Sometimes it will be inherited as genetically we each have been given an emotional landscape. Otherwise, it could be hormonal swings or social factors which cause us to lose hope and to disengage. There may be physical reasons which rob us of our desire for life.

Depression will surface at our places of greatest stress where we feel a lack of ability to control our life circumstances. It shows us that we are grieving losses that need to be heard and mourned – loss of autonomy, loss of dreams… Our society doesn’t cope well with grief around loss and tries to speed up the process and ‘get over it’.  It takes courage to stay with the process and not hurry through it superficially.

It’s important to remember that when we’re in desolation we need to just keep going, and not make big life changes. We can trust that if we do our inner work, this will shift into consolation and hope will return. When we are low it’s like we’ve fallen into a deep hole and are unable to see the horizon. All we can do then is just to slowly fill up the floor so we can climb out and gain a better perspective.

In this process it helps to create simple, external structure in our lives which will pace and steady us. This begins to give our emotions a reference point, without which our unresolved emotions can be all over the place. Step-by-step we are creating a space where our inner self can start to be restored.


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