Depression is a word that gets tossed around a lot and I wonder if that somehow makes it seem less destructive than it is? We know Depression means feeling worse than just “sad.” We have great descriptions about it — debilitating, flattening; that it steals away motivation, interests, love of life and replaces those things with pure apathy – pure unfeeling. Could there be anything worse? It would seem not. It would seem like Depression takes away one of the main things that make us human — our ability to FEEL. Yet, I have to ask: Perhaps OWNING OUR PAIN is worse? I know for me, owning my pain seemed worse because, I reasoned, “What the hell am I supposed to DO with it? HOW do I own my pain? It’s too much pain to own. Where would I put it?”
So, how do we own our pain? Well, first, we must feel it. If we have become so flattened — so Depressed that we are unable to FEEL — it seems highly unlikely we will move through those feelings. We can. It is not easy, but we can.
Let me back up. I heard once that if we follow our Depression and trace it back, we can often find that it began when we betrayed ourselves. So, if you are Depressed, try and follow it back to a time when you may have betrayed yourself. Betraying yourself often involves not having solid boundaries (“I told myself I would only let aunt Annie stay here for a weekend, and now it’s been 2 weeks!”) or not holding a value you have deemed important. For example, when I was in my bulimia, I was often Depressed. This may have been, in part, because the values in my heart (to be loving, healthy, and honest) were constantly being betrayed. Every time I binged and purged, I betrayed my Self. This is NOT to place blame on me or on anyone with an addiction — I need that to be clear — but rather, to show how the Depression can show up.
A friend of mine told me he felt Depressed. I asked what was going on in his life and where the Depression showed up the most. He traced it to the mornings after a sexual encounter, which was often. He said, “In my 20’s, I was fine with it, but last year I told myself I wanted something more meaningful.” Yet, he had not changed his behavior to be in alignment with his value system; thus, he went into self-hate and Depression. “Every time I do it,” he said, “I am pissed off at myself for doing it.”
Another important piece about Depression that often gets ignored is that Depression can often be a cover for RAGE. Again, there is nothing wrong with the feeling of Rage; it is all in how we choose to deal (or not deal) with it. Rage has been deemed one of those “socially unacceptable” feelings. Anger has become something to be feared. Why? Well, because anger has been suppressed and shunned by society, it often erupts in scary ways: a person gets beat up; shoots up (rage turned in on the self); drives insanely, etc. What if we accepted rage simply as a human emotion that DESERVES A SPACE? Could we outlet it in a more productive way? I think so. Myself, I have screamed aloud in my car (and then burst out giggling, feeling ridiculous — but hey, it worked — the rage dissipated); I have drawn my feelings on paper in black and red (and no, I’m not an artist and that’s not the point); I have gone on a run; taken a kick-boxing class; even done the more-calming practice of yoga); etc. In other words, find an outlet. Explore what might work for you.
Granted, when you are in the vortex of Depression, it can often be difficult to have the motivation to do anything, let alone the work of tracing back where it began; exploring new outlets; and simply allowing yourself to FEEL it. You may need some help, a nudge to get out of the horrible, destructive place that is Depression. If this is true for you, I urge you to call on anyone in your support system or try these free hotline numbers: 1-800-784-2433 or 1-800-273-8255. For support groups, call 1-800-826-3632.
And of course, I am here for you, too. (818) 640-6811. Or (818) 848-3155.
Katie, CEO Aria Phoenix Life Coaching