What is depression? For me depression is as simple as feeling sad. We feel sad when we have lost something important e.g., a friendship, a bereavement, a job, our self esteem or confidence or belief in something. That loss leaves us feeling sad. Its normal to feel sad. The difficulty I have with some of the discourse around depression is the attempt to turn it into a psychological or worse a biological disease requiring treatment medical treatment in the from of anti-depressants. I believe we would have less suicides if we accepted that it was ok to be sad or feel depressed. Depression is a natural part of nature and life. The leaves have to let go the tree, die and be transformed. The sun sets, so that it can rise again. Darkness is part of nature. Pain is normal. Consumer culture tricks us into thinking that we only need light, and pleasure, which can be bought. Wisdom teaches us that pain is part of the cycle of life.
Feeling the emotions of sadness is healing. When people don’t allow themselves to feel sad, the depression builds inside and their natural chemistry is affected of course, just as our natural chemistry is affected when someone hugs us, or when we see the sun rising and happiness rises within, when we smile or share a meal with a friend we feel connected and special. When we feel sad we feel disconnected and alone. When we avoid how we feel we store up problems for the future. If we don’t learn to deal with the everyday problems, we struggle with the big problems when the come our way.
The other important emotion associated with sadness is anger. Anger is a beautiful emotion. It alerts us to danger and risk. Its instinct protects us from harm and signals us to move in a different direction. We feel anger when someone lets us down or disappoints us. If we don’t feel the emotion of anger, it can turn into depression and sadness. When we become aware of its energy we can feel empowered and in control. We need to give ourselves permission to feel anger, sadness and even joy. When our lives are dominated by sadness or anger, which often flow into each other, we can forget to feel joy.
Joy is a great emotion and one that is freely available. Again the consumer culture tries to blind us into thinking we can only experience joy, when we buy something new, like clothes, books or electronics (thats me!). We do feel good when we buy things, but the feelings goes quickly and then we have to feed that feeling again by buying more. My friend Joe Lucey who died in 2007, was someone who lived out of joy. He knew anger and sadness also, but he radiated joy. Today I am trying to live out of joy and share the gift of joy with others.
Sadness can be an addiction. People who have never experienced healing love, can be addicted to sadness, as that is all they know. When joy and love comes along, they reject it and fear it and don’t trust it. At the root of drug addiction are many suppressed feeling of hurt, sadness, anger and loss. Drugs medicate the emotional pain. The key to healing addiction is, discovering your emotional language, experiencing those emotions and getting to know how to express your self safely while respecting others.
I would love to know what you think?