It is true that I am in favor of a positive approach to psychology. This does not mean, however, that I avoid difficult subjects such as depression. On the contrary, it is very close to me and I decided to make it the main topic of this post. Because it is worth talking about, raising awareness, encouraging, and above all not pretending that such a thing does not exist, or is only a product of an exuberant or even worse - spoiled imagination. Depression is very real and even though I don't support taking life too seriously, I never ignore this topic. The only difference is that depression is from my perspective not a life sentence but a very important stop in our lives. I would also like to add that this article is created at a non-accidental time, because I know that for some of you the period around Christmas and New Year is extremely difficult.
On the Internet you can find a lot of more or less scientific definitions of depression and explanations of where it comes from. However, I would like to share what it is from my own perspective, based on the experiences of myself and people around me. Perhaps you will find some inspiration for yourself or your loved ones. If you have a depressed person next to you and you feel helpless or lost about it, try sharing this post with her. Sometimes such a small gesture can mean a lot to someone and show that you are not indifferent. That despite the difficult situation, you support this person with all your heart, you can see her struggles and you want the best for her.
Fear of depression
People who have experienced episodes of depression in their lives usually develop something that I like to call fear of depression. Depressiophoby. And knowing all the unpleasant symptoms that depression brings, it's really hard to wonder at this phenomenon. We are afraid that we will lose the will to live again, that there will be a feeling of powerlessness, hopelessness, we are afraid of being lost in the darkness from which we will not be able to find a way out. And when depression comes back again and again, we start to believe that there is no escape from it, that it is our destiny. As a consequence, we feel helpless and dependent on something that is larger than us, comes from outside and easily destroys our lives.
What is worse, statistical information does not help here, saying that with each subsequent episode of depression there is a greater likelihood that there will be more of them coming. Visits to psychiatrists are also not optimistic when we hear that from now on we are dependent on mood-stabilizing drugs, because without them our brain can't quite manage. Having said that, I would like to point out that I am not against traditional depression treatment methods - let's use them if they help us, but let's also look for other ways that can additionally support us. However, I'm driving at the fact that when we carry a lot of fear and constantly think about something negative that has a chance to happen, we subconsciously attract these phenomena. Not to mention the fact that constant fears put a lot of psychological pressure on us.
Depression is not our enemy
In fact, depression does not come from outside, it is not something separate from us. Rather, it is a kind of communication channel, the way a part of us tries to communicate. It does not mean that the world has forgotten about us, or some higher force wants our misery (it could be God, destiny, or anything else we believe in). On the contrary, in this way the world, or rather a part of us, wants to make sure, that we will begin to live in harmony with our true self.
Therefore, it is worth treating depression as our ally, a kind of messenger who has very important message to share. An additional positive side effect of this approach is that we suddenly stop being afraid of depression because we really have a common goal with her. It's just that she is a very difficult travel companion - for a reason ...
Rescue of the last instance
Depression does not come for trivial reasons, when we made a small mistake in our lives or for a moment we deviated from our real path. The opposite is true - it appears when, for a long time, we have ignored more subtle signals about what is wrong in our lives. Like many other ailments related to the body or psyche, it is for us a kind of stop sign that says to stop for a moment, look at your life and see if you really feel comfortable with it. Why does it do it in such a ruthless and unpleasant way? Well, apparently so far less painful signals have not reached us, so it had to use the hardest methods.
I must admit that depression is very effective in these activities. It makes us cease to be interested in anything, we gradually withdraw from subsequent activities and after some time there is only us and our thoughts, emotions and feelings. We can no longer ignore what is swirling inside, and isolation from people allows us to finally hear our own voice. In the end, we reach the point where the situation is so difficult to bear that we only have two options - either change something in our life or end it completely. This is usually an important turning point when we notice that we simply don't want to live like this anymore and nothing will happen wonderfully without our initiative. At the same time, it is worth realizing another important and logical thing: you can end your own life anytime, but then there will be no turning back and no possibility to check the second option.
Therefore, it is worth trying and starting with changes. Sometimes we feel in a way what could help us. However, if we feel lost and have no idea, let us ask other people for help. Let's make sure, however, that they are well acquainted with the subject of depression. Otherwise, even people who want the best for us, but have never experienced depression themselves, can hurt us more than help us. This is because they speak to us like to a person who thinks rationally and maturely, and depression, unfortunately, distorts this ability. Then you have to talk to us rather as to a child, in a forgiving way, with love and without expectations. Additional pressure and motivation can be downright depressing. Depressed people do not need the pressure of other people, but their presence.
Too much pressure
Recently, I have seen very interesting graphics in English, saying that from the letters 'depression' you can put the phrase 'I pressed on'. Specifically, we are talking about a situation where we ourselves or our surroundings put so much pressure on us that we are starting to lose ourselves in all this. We try so much to adapt to the expectations of the environment, society, or try so much to please others that we stop thinking about what we ourselves really feel and who we are somewhere deep inside. There is a gap between our essence and the fake character we created ourselves, which makes us feel worse. At the same time, the awareness of what is happening to us comes with a delay, so we are confused and do not fully understand the whole situation. Remember, however, that this is not our destiny. It's just a stop, a crossroads that gives us a chance to return to life in harmony with ourselves.
There is one more thing connected with the pressure mentioned above, which in my opinion is the ultimate direct cause of depression and other diseases. I mean emotions, and more specifically those that we are not used to express and which have accumulated somewhere inside us. The experiences that we go through in our lives provoke the appearance of all sorts of emotions and this is a completely normal and healthy reaction. The problem arises, however, when we have been taught that some of these emotions are 'bad' and should not be shown. Maybe someone once told us that girls should be polite and can't get angry? And boys don't cry and can't be afraid? As a result, we begin to pretend that our anger, fear, sadness and other emotions do not exist, and after a while we stop noticing them ourselves. Meanwhile, they are still within us. What is more, the fact that we suppress everything inside means that we direct all these heavy emotions against ourselves. Guess what happens when our internal limit is exceeded ...
Therefore, it is good to start the changes we make in our lives against depression by emptying our tank of emotions. This will not happen in one day, but requires gradual, consistent work and expressing emotions on a regular basis, of course in a constructive way that will not hurt anyone. So instead of shouting your pain at someone's face, let's try to shout at the pillow in the comfort of your home. We can also equip ourselves with a boxing bag, cry out well from time to time, or just go out to the gym. Over time, we begin to notice what we need at a given moment and what works best for us. It will gradually become our natural ritual and need and we will feel lighter. In this way we give our emotions a signal that they are noticed and respected, and therefore they will no longer need to insidiously demand our attention. Let's also experiment with the emotions that come most difficult to us - are they really not in us, or have we masked them for so long that we are no longer aware of their presence?
We mask and deny not only our emotions, but also our needs. It is about those needs that in the past were not met, so we subconsciously feel their presence very strongly. Each of us has a specific set of needs, very characteristic of people. For example, each of us must eat, but it is only when we are left without livelihood that we really feel this need. If we have money and a supermarket around the corner, we stop thinking about hunger at all, or even derive pleasure from satisfying this need. On the other hand, if we are hungry and cannot eat anything, it gradually takes control over us, begins to incline us to specific behaviors, we cannot focus on anything else. Because hunger can be ignored for a short time, but in the long run, the only solution to deal with it is to satisfy it.
There are many similar needs, such as security, closeness, belonging and love. They are particularly important in childhood, when our satisfaction is directly dependent on other people, our caretakers. If any of these needs are not met, we begin to push this need aside, pretend it does not exist, divert our attention so as not to feel it. Sometimes we function this way for many years, but "hunger" comes back at some point, often in the form of depression. That is why we often see then that we behave a bit like a small, hurt or emotionally neglected child. We do not realize that we carry such a child inside and it begins to speak through us in the most difficult moments. This is a good time to look at our unmet needs and look after them - because now, as adults, we have more influence over them. In a sense, we become our parents and we are responsible for meeting our own needs.
Depression is a form of stubbornness
We now come to a very important point on the map of reflections on depression. Well, from my perspective, depression does not develop in people who have a lot of humility and are always open to new solutions. Depression comes when we become stubborn and do not want to accept the fact that something went wrong. We do not want to accept the fact that there are some things that we have no control over. That there are certain things that cannot be controlled and that they will not always work as we planned. One such situation is, e.g. separation or being in love without reciprocity. We are so oriented only to the one person we cannot be with that it seems to us that everything else does not make sense. If not this person, I am doomed to eternal suffering and do not want to live. Meanwhile, the truth is that the world is full of people and if we want to look around, then in time we will find another person who will seem interesting. But a depressed person does not want to acknowledge this, he feels that he knows better and that all the alternatives are not for him. He is focused only on the one thing that went wrong and believes that this was his last chance.
Many situations when we are faced with something that we have no control over, relate to relationships with other people. I think that's why depression so often affects introverts, for whom this part of life can be extremely problematic. Unfortunately, the only reasonable solution is to accept that we cannot control other people. Each of us is different, has free will and uses it primarily for his own sake, which is a healthy and natural strategy to survive. Of course, it's good to expect support and warmth from your loved ones. But if every time when someone does something without considering us, we feel offended and rejected - well, you know how it can end. The relationship always involves more than one person and we only have a direct influence on our own part. We can try to talk to other people about our needs if we think this is the right direction, but it ultimately depends on them how they will behave. And does our world really end if someone every once in a while does something for themselves and not for us?
Depression vs consciousness
Looking around it is easy to see that depression particularly often affects intelligent people who think a lot and live primarily in their heads. It is also directly related to emotions, which (surprise) also have their source in the mind and in our interpretation of reality. Therefore, for conscious people, expressing emotions is particularly important, because most often their amount is directly proportional to our propensity to self-reflection, and to the ability to see what is happening around. What we discover then is not always easy, and suppressing it is the easiest way to depression. Depression, as the name suggests, is intended to deactivate pressure. Because our natural mode is a life full of free choices, without excessive pressure, orders and restrictions, and subconsciously we are all aware of this. So what happens when we combine consciousness with free expression? Freedom. Freedom to be yourself, freedom from pressure from the environment, freedom from depression, which in the clash with personal freedom simply loses its point. And this is what I wish for all of us.