when I remember
Do you or someone you know suffer from depression? If so, you or they are not alone. The irony is those that suffer feel deeply alone. Depression is not just sadness. Depression is not feeling a tad “down” on any given day.
Depression is an all-consuming, shape-shifting, viscous blob of torment.
It appears and disappears at will. Sometimes your bones ache, sometimes your hair follicles are needles, sometimes your breath is a chainsaw motor, sometimes.
If you can explain why you feel sad, this is not depression. If you are lucky enough to not suffer from depression please understand for those of us who do, here is how you can honestly help. Just be there for support. Ask us what we need. Sometimes we need to talk. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we need to cry. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we just need physical contact. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes it seems as if we don’t know what we need at all because we don’t.
But here is what we never need:
- Tough love. Tough love does not help someone who honestly suffers from depression. All that does is make us feel more isolated, sensitive, and withdrawn.
- Ignoring us. If you are uncomfortable with someone because they suffer from depression and choose to ignore them when they are “down” then you need to let go of that friendship/relationship now. You will only continue to cause more damage to that individual. They deserve better. They deserve someone who will show up and just be. (If you honestly, cannot do that for another human being then you need to look inward and do some healing of your own. Compassion is key.)
- Suggestions on how to “cheer up,” “just smile,” “think happy thoughts,” “don’t worry.” Honestly, I understand how if you do not suffer this silent saboteur of life you can not grasp the inner workings of depression, but I can assure you if clichéd, offhand remarks would improve this situation it would not be as prevalent as it is today. None of the above statements help. Ever.
[It is like telling an upset person to calm down. Really? The last time you were honestly upset over something and someone told you to “calm down” did that make you feel better? No. Of course not. You probably got even more agitated or irritated. But if someone acknowledges your situation and feelings while just listening and reaches out to hold your hand or hug you, (if you respond to touch) then you naturally calm down. Connection, presence, and genuine compassion are key, keep that in mind with depression.]
What we do need:
- Just listen to hear us speak. Listen to understand, not to respond.
- Acknowledge our feelings, thoughts, emotions if we choose to share them, but do not try to suggest how to “fix” something.
- Just share space with us in silence.
- Hold our hand.
- Hug us.
- Reassure us you are here for us. And honestly be present.
I am not a doctor or a licensed therapist, but I have struggled with depression my entire life. I have taken nearly every type of medicine modern Big Pharma could whip out and have sat on so many leather, pleather, vinyl, fabric covered couches with “Let’s start at the beginning,” until one day I said enough is enough! I wasn’t getting better. I was getting worse.
I quit all of the artificial, toxic chemicals (years ago) that were prescribed to “help” me with a list of symptoms that were often worse than the depression itself. And I began a journey into self.
I got quiet. I changed what I ate. I began drinking more water. I started a gratitude journal. I began to write poetry and share it publicly. I was published. I began to really explore who I was. I got quiet again. I let go of what no longer served me.
Then a year ago, I began a committed yoga practice and it saved my life. Literally, saved me. I’ve learned so much about myself as an individual and how I can push myself to achieve a greater awareness and deeper breath and presence. (Not to mention, I can do all sorts of cool arm balances I thought I would never be able to achieve.) The tricks are cool, but what makes them possible is focus, presence, and commitment to self.
Depression doesn’t go away. And the viscous, inky cloud rolls in from time to time, but I am now able to embrace the moment and not judge my limitations which enables me to recover from the choking depths quicker than before. This is progress. This is healing. This is self-care.
This is the now.
This is love.
I can’t tell you what the path will look like for you, and it may contain a mixture of eastern and western practices that will evolve or change with time. But I can say, you need to get real with yourself and evaluate the people in your life and your situation, and figure out what is no longer serving you for the good. The more we understand who we are, the more we understand what we need and what no longer serves us on our path, the more we understand life and meaning itself. The power is in forgiveness and saying goodbye.
Sometimes we really are alone. But in being alone. Silent. You will discover an even greater inner strength. It is from that inner strength that we learn we are, in fact, all connected. In healing yourself, you help others heal. I share this here today and hope my message will reach others simply needing acknowledgment today.
Namaste. The divine in me bows to the divine in you.
In love and light,