Insights Into Depression (Chapter One) by Andrew
The one thin hope I carried with me through my years of depression was that my experience would ultimately help others. The depression has now gone, the illness has been dispelled, and I now enjoy my life more than I ever felt possible. It is now time to see if that thin hope was at all justified.
My depression has passed, but my experience of it continues. To the extent that I even feel a little guilty that I can enjoy my life as much as I do. Not very guilty it’s true, but I do remember what made me depressed, and Life is no better now.
You see it was because I realised why I was depressed that I thought I would have to live with it for my whole life. I was depressed because the world was getting me down. I had every right to feel depressed about living on this planet of misery. I knew that the planet would never change enough, and I thought therefore, I would remain depressed for the duration. That is why no-one could tell me to hope, because I knew that the people who were telling me had not been through what I was going through.
The world is stuffed, after all. You know it and I know it. People suffer and die every day, every minute and more often than not completely needlessly. Even when us humans aren’t deliberately inflicting pain and suffering on each other, all of us can claim part responsibility for turning a blind eye and allowing others to suffer when help is available. It is that responsibility that weighed me down.
I say I still have the experience of depression because I still feel strongly about these things. We all have an unquestionable right to safety and freedom in this world and I cannot say that I will ever be proud to be a human being while these basic rights are almost universally non-existant.
My illness is now gone-cured if you like, but I will always be passionate about change for the same reasons that gave it to me. In a world without freedom, I clung to my depression, in a way, as an expression of my own freedom. The doctor’s road to freedom was the path of normalisation. I am not normalised in the least. I do now feel free and damn proud of what I have accomplished. I can enjoy my life now because I can exercise that freedom and do the things I want to do with my life. I work hard at a worthwhile job because I want to. I love being with my family and spending time with friends. I can also indulge my obsession to aid social change- starting now…
So freedom for me was a side effect of my healing. I tried to be free while I was depressed, but that was impossible, as will become clear, so trying only made me feel more depressed. And I couldn’t stop trying. In the end I had a nightmarish struggle before me every time I was forced to do anything I didn’t want to.
I remember often doing the 20 minute walk to the shops with my wife and baby daughter. I felt like a wounded soldier, my whole body weighed down with pain and depression, dragging one leg behind me the whole way. Other days I could not get out of the house at all. I don’t know if I would have functioned at all if I didn’t have a wife and a child.
I first realised I was depressed at 25, several months after becoming unemployed. I was a subcontracter and my work was rarely checked after I initially proved myself. For six months and more my work got worse and worse until I finally got caught and sacked.
In the end I simply could not get out to work at all. Even when I was finally caught and given one more chance it was not enough to get me to do the job that was needed. I tried, but by then I didn’t have the energy to catch up.
Nor was it laziness to start with. When I first started having problems I fought my feelings and tried to work anyway. I worked at night on the road so nobody noticed me driving around in tears for hours on end. Of course I lost the energy for such battles fairly quickly, and the last time I tried to fight I spent an hour in tears in my car at the end of the driveway, unable to go any further.
Losing my job didn’t help, even though I knew I had to. We had to break the lease on the nicest house we have had in the dozen or so moves in the last seven years and live in an old Bible college for sixty dollars a week. My wife was pregnant and my car was on it’s last legs. When the car went so did my karate classes-my life was necessarily diminishing. All these things were caused by my depression, but they didn’t make it any worse.
I believe we are all capable of handling even the worst of the problems life throws at us. Something else was driving me down and taking all my energy and making me feel steadily worse and I wanted to know what.
Someone once said that the question hasn’t been asked that we don’t have the answer to. I believe this because there is a collective mind and we all have access to it, the trouble is that we often don’t like the answers we get. When I started to take listening seriously I knew that it really was the whole world that was getting me down. I was being affected physically and emotionally by my empathy with the Earth and it’s suffering. Now, holding the weight of the world is hard enough at the best of times, even with my “If I won’t do it, no-one else will” attitude, but there is more.
Empathy is not an illness. It is a natural ability which we can develop like a skill. I had been trained as a rebirther 2 years before. In short rebirthing is a breathing technique used to open up the unconscious mind to promote regression and recognition of past trauma and expose it’s affect on the way we live our lives. Once we have understanding we are able to integrate that understanding within us and choose a better way of living our lives. Rebirthing can be a powerful tool for self awareness and self healing. And just like psychology and other healing modalities it is dangerous when used by people who don’t understand fully it’s effect on our minds.And who does?
Anyway, after opening myself up through breathing and other spiritual experiences, my empathy became gradually both more focussed and more generalised. The empathy had always been there, but now I was getting more messages more often and understanding the feelings more all the time.
Of course, becoming more empathic and understanding of Humanity is a good thing. But there is a hell of a lot of pain going on out there and I was starting to feel it quite intensely. And as a healer and a devotee of Change I was prepared to feel that pain in the interest of a healthier planet- i.e. If I take on some of their pain, maybe they will feel it less.
I did all this without outside advice or support and I did not know that I was susceptable to depression at the time. But I have no regrets because there are serious problems in the world today and they need drastic solutions. I know within myself that I did the right thing then and still am today.
I believe that many of us go through life depressed without even recognising it within us. I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to, or not being able to explore those feelings. It is natural for us to fear the Darkness within us, inside there is pain and suffering and deceit. We do not simply fear the unknown, we really don’t want the pain.
I had faced that Darkness several times in my life, even before I became aware of my depression. I was only 12 the first time and absolutely terrified. And while I was depressed I explored my (or Our) Dark side quite thoroughly and found it quite as horrible as anyone could possibly expect. I was led to believe that there was no escape from that dark labyrinth and in truth I did expect to be there forever, but there is a way out. So for those of you on the edge of the abyss, don’t be afraid at least to take heart from the knowledge that I have been down there and returned whole. And if you follow me on this journey of the spirit and you see how I made it through, maybe the way you need to follow will no longer be so dark.