What Your Depression is Telling You
Understand what your depression is telling you and stop it from re-occurring endlessly
When we think about depression, we tend to see it as something we must solve and overcome. But if we only strive to overcome it, we may have missed the point it tried to make. Therefore it returns or never really leaves.
You don't need to solve the depression; you need to listen to what the depression is telling you.
The original meaning of depression, as it has been initially used in clinical psychology, is: "dejection, state of sadness, a sinking of the spirits" (from: https://www.etymonline.com/word/depression).
For some time, we've popularized the idea that depression means 'suppression' as the literal word means "to press down, depress."
Due to pressing down emotions, one gets into a prolonged state of sadness and becomes depressed.
Some claim the pressing down is not the cause; instead, a person suffers from an imbalance of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.
The way I see depression is a bit different, and that's what I'll explain in this article.
We treat depression based on these two general ideas around it
The idea is that if a person who is depressed gets support with learning to no longer suppress emotions, they will get out of depression. When they face suppressed emotions in therapy, they will release some of the heaviness and start to heal.
When this is insufficient, another method is to medicate people to change the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Sometimes these methods, or a combination of both, work. But in some cases, depression returns or does not leave at all.
What is a recurring depression telling you?
If depression returns or seems hard to 'solve,' you may want to look further than treating the depression itself.
You may even want to look further than treating the presumed cause of the depression; the emotions you're suppressing or a defect in the brain.
Because if you're able to look deeper, you might find that: Your depression is a good sign. It is helping you.
If you keep getting or being depressed, it may be time to look at what the depression is telling you.
And, in general, that is something like:
The depression's goal is to make it unbearable for you to continue the way you do
Depression sticks around because it wants you to see something. And it will make your life harder and harder until it becomes impossible for you not to listen.
However, once you get to that point of no return, you may not be in the best place to listen. So listen now because the depression is not taking your hardship into account. It will not stop earlier just because your life has become such a struggle.
On the contrary, that is precisely the depression is for: To make your struggle so unbearable that you need to face what it's trying to tell you.
The insufficient reason to see a therapist
However, at that point of no return, most people get swept off their feet and end up at a therapist. Thinking you want the depression gone, and you need help with just that. Thinking now, you need help with all those underlying emotions and thoughts.
This may result in you doing only part of what you need to do, and that may not be sufficient.
Go to a therapist or anyone else who can help; just do it differently. You will need help with releasing emotions and thoughts most likely, but first, you need to find out why you are depressed.
Your depression does not come from a whirlwind of emotions. Instead, it causes emotions to be triggered that you are not able (you think) to deal with. It causes those emotions because of something that is underneath all that.
Scraping off the sharp edges
Depression makes you feel sad, powerless, lifeless, slammed down, and hopeless. And we generally think that is because of the many underlying emotions we can't face and therefore suppress.
This makes the depression even worse; because we get scared of what we may find deep within.
Maybe we get out of the depression temporarily because we use our therapy sessions to scrape off the sharp edges of some of the difficult feelings. Just so that we can function a bit again and forget about the depression as fast as possible, leave it behind.
We hope the monster 'depression' will leave us alone now.
And if that is all we want, we may find a way to do so without looking at the depression itself. Instead, we succeed in bypassing it by dealing with suppressed emotions or maybe taking medication to scrape those edges off for us.
You think there is something wrong
Many people think that they are depressed because they are doing something wrong or there is something wrong with them.
Why can't I think differently? Why can't I get over it? Why do others seem to be okay and I'm not? Why can I not just go along with the world? Why do I feel like an outsider? Why does nobody seem to understand me?
But it shows not that there is something wrong with you. Instead, there is a lot very right about you.
The knowing of the great disaster
So there is nothing wrong with you. On the contrary: You are very healthy.
You are just having trouble matching the knowing you have inside with the outside, with you, your life, the world, and the people around you.
This knowing on the inside is not allowing you to suppress it, unlike it is for some people, who can happily live not feeling the knowing. That is what may cause the depression to linger.
I know that 'the knowing' sounds very vague. It basically is a whole list of things that can slightly differ per person, but in the end, it comes down to a similar thing.
It's the thing that you don't want to know so badly that you become depressed as a result of it.
That thing is the great disaster. It is a truth you think you cannot bear. You think if you let that in, you're done.
Everyone can encounter multiple great disasters, which can feel like life slamming you down. Until you start noticing what encountering them does for you when you are willing to face them, then you meet the next one with open arms.
Why it makes YOU depressed and others not
You may think you are weak or mentally ill for feeling the threat of the great disaster. You may think:
"If the threat would be real, then why am I the one depressed? It must be something in me."
But it's not. The great disaster is true for everybody. In slightly different ways and with different impacts, but not so very different in its core.
You are depressed, and others may not be, for one of these reasons.
You don't have enough safety built in your inner life to keep the disaster away from your consciousness.
That safety in your inner life can be impacted by your inner and external world. Think about financial comfort, relational safety, and security, internal emotional or mental safety.
Those who do have these things -a more solid sense of safety internally- don't live in some other reality. They succeed a lot better at keeping their great disaster away far enough not to have it disturb their lives.
Until potentially, something happens that triggers it.
You, however, cannot shake the disaster off: The depression is asking you to face it. The depression does not allow you to create comfort so that you don't need to deal with the disaster.
And that gives you a lot of potential to get to some core realizations.
You are being asked, by your SELF, not to cover up what you know deep down you have to face. For some reason, you want to face it, and you can't wait for disastrous events in life to slam it into your face.
But you fear those events coming anyhow, and that keeps you stuck. That leads you to be depressed. The depression then leads you to not deal with it. And deep down you know it will still come, and you feel you can't stop it.
So it's a vicious cycle.
You want to face it, even though you think you don't want to.
You want to see the disaster, even though you think you can't face it. It's impossible, you think.
That is why depression stays or returns after a period of cushioning your nervous system: You still want, and need to face it.
Another reason you are depressed and someone else is not can be that your chaotic/unsafe/traumatic past makes the great disaster linger along with you a bit more closely than with others who had a very safe and loving upbringing.
Same as with the reason I gave before, your inner and outer life have less buffer material to keep the disaster out.
In your mind, you likely feel you have less ability to prevent the disaster from happening. It feels like a more significant threat to you; therefore, you are more conscious of it.
When you didn't grow up in a loving and safe environment, you already came very close to the great disaster. You might have already experienced it even. Yet you couldn't cope with it then, so you had to suppress it.
That is why YOU may feel the threat more and why the impact of the disaster is anticipated as more significant for you.
You still think the severity of the impact of the disaster will be the same unbearable impact you experienced as a child.
But your system has no idea that you are an adult and can cope. With the proper support, emotional regulation tools, willingness, and courage, that is. That's what a therapist, coach, or counselor can help you with.
Moving through the disaster can change your life forever
What moving through the depression, instead of around it, can mean for your life is a huge deal.
Your depression can be an incentive to get to know the great disaster faster.
You are also more likely to be able to experience the full fledge meaning of the disaster than someone on a, let's say, smoother path.
This is a good thing because, as a result, you have the potential to become incredibly free, empowered, happy, and fulfilled.
Once you face the great disaster, you won't need so much cushioning anymore, unlike others who'll need to hold on to thick packs of cushioning to keep the disaster away.
Welcome the disaster in
Keep an eye out for this week's Sovereign Bee-mail (which I'll send out later today), in which I present a questionnaire that can give insight into what the great disaster may be for you (not just for people with depression).
Know that the best way to face it is to let it come up within yourself, naturally. Because your subconscious knows when it is time.
I offer sessions that help you with just that: Helping you to bring up what's in the subconscious, by teaching you how to connect with it, and healing what needs to be healed along the way.
I'm also working on a small book in which I describe what some of the general great disasters are, how they surface, and in what way they are related to what some call 'spiritual awakening.'