Depression Sucks: 7 Questions That Can Help

Posted by on May 14, 2015

Depression Sucks:  7 Questions That Can Help

Depression. It sucks. Here’s my new working definition of depression: Can’t let go of the past, can’t move on towards the future, so might as well hate yourself in the present.

Depression results in painful sensation in the body* that we attach meaning to such as:

 

  •    why bother with anything
  •    you will never feel joy again
  •    nothing is satisfying
  •    life is meaningless
  •    you are broken and there is no fix

In addition depression can disrupt:

  •    Sleep
  •    Relationships
  •    The ability to work/go to school
  •    Appetite
  •    The ability to care for one’s self
  •    The ability to care for others
  • The ability to do everyday tasks

depression is a prisonInherent in all of this is a deep dislike for yourself. Perhaps even hatred. It’s twisted presence winds its way to your core, compressing your spirit, and it is excruciating . The cause of this is complex, but most likely you can trace the gnarled roots back to your childhood. Most of us don’t grow up without believing something is wrong with us. We get taught it through social conditioning. There is a “right” and a “wrong” way to do most things in families and in the mass culture, and parents often consider it their duty to make sure their children are doing things “right.” So as young children who don’t know this set of rules, we get a lot of correcting.   Believing in this conditioning results in self-hate, which creates a tremendous amount of suffering. In Cheri Huber’s book There Is Nothing Wrong With You she writes:

Suffering provides our identity. Identity is maintained in struggle and dissatisfaction, in trying to fix what’s wrong. So we are constantly looking for what is wrong, constantly creating new crises so we can rise to the occasion. To ego, that’s survival.

Depression can become an identity. “I am depressed.” Notice how the English language sets up a solid state that doesn’t change. In Spanish, there are 2 different forms of the verb to be, Ser and Estar. In general, ser is used to express things that don’t change, whereas estar is used to express things that do. So in Spanish, I’m depressed would translate to, “Estoy deprimido.” The use of estar indicates that feeling depressed is temporary, a state that will change.

7 Questions to Ask Yourself if You are Depressed:

  1. Do I need to grieve? Grief is a natural, unavoidable part of life. No one escapes it. Often when we suffer a loss, we are terrified of feeling the grief associated with it, so we suppress it, which can turn into depression. If the answer is yes, take time to grieve. Allow yourself to fully feel your loss. Be kind to yourself while you do it. Grieve without judging.
  1. Can I identify my “self-hate” thoughts? Identifying the voice of self-hate or self-criticism can be a useful exercise. What exactly are you saying to yourself? Can you hear a statement or phrase that has a distinctive tone that can be traced back to your childhood and recognize it as an interject (the rules and impressions we form and carry with us from our parents and/or those in authority) and not your own voice? Write these down and burn them up! You do not need them because they are not yours.
  1. Can I notice moments during the day when I’m not depressed? There is beauty in everyday, although it is extremely difficult to see through the lens of depression. Still, try. Perhaps it’s the blue sky that catches your eye, a cute puppy, the taste of a bite of chocolate, or the smell of your morning coffee. Allow yourself to take in moments of enjoyment, even if they are fleeting.
  1. Do I need to forgive myself? Did you do something that you regret? Are carrying it with you, using it as the barometer for your goodness, your worthiness, your deserving-ness of happiness? Are you punishing yourself until you can guarantee that you won’t mess up again this badly? As Helen Prejean says, “People are more than the worst thing they have ever done in their lives.” Believe it or not this is true about you too. Deepak Chopra says that the key to self-forgiveness is believing that you have been forgiven. A friend recently told me about a Hawaiian forgiveness prayer called Ho’oponopono. You simply say: I’m sorry. I love you. Please forgive me. Thank you. During difficult times it can be helpful to repeat it throughout the day, whenever you find yourself thinking about what you regret.
  1. Can I be curious about my depression? Where do you feel it? What does it feel like?* Can you feel it and not think about it? If an alien landed in your backyard and said he had no idea what depression felt like, how would you describe it? Try to simply feel it at the sensation level without attaching any story or judgment to it.
  1. Can I go see some art? There is research that shows that looking at art stimulates the brain in the same way that being in love does. Wouldn’t a rush of dopamine be nice? Head out to your nearest art museum!
  1. Who can I reach out to for support? Sometimes inherent in depression is shame, and it can be difficult to let others know what you are going through. Finding a trusted friend to talk to or seeking professional help can offer some relief.

Sending you my sincere wish that you find relief from your depression, because depression sucks.

Warmly,
Jacey

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