What is Depression?
"Depression is most commonly known as a quiet suffering, however, perhaps it is a silently screaming of the soul to express it’s authentic and creative self. In addition to the sadness and hopelessness that is commonly experienced with depression, we feel disempowered, invaluable and non-existent."
~ Lisa Riley
Depression is Inner Rejection
Depression, in its essence, is the repression of rejected aspects of self. During a depression, a repressed aspect of self arises for love and attention, and our conscious (socialized) mind rejects it.
I first learned how to track my depressions when I was in my 20's. I noticed how a suppressed aspect of self would flit through my awareness for a second or two, and then in a state of anxiety, guilt, shame, embarrassment or fear, I would push it back down again.
As I pushed my repressed aspects of myself out of conscious awareness, the self-rejecting cycle of depression would begin again. In my depression, I could feel myself becoming more distant from myself and other people. In my self-repression, I could feel myself withdrawing away from life.
Depression is a Withdrawal of our Greatness
Many women avoid giving their gifts to life. We fear going out front and being different from the crowd. We repress is our innate greatness and ignore the possibility of living into our creative highest potential.
Even highly achieving women suffer from periodic bouts of depression, crushing self-doubt and periods of despair - especially if their high performance is driven by negative self-talk and the feeling of never being good enough.
Depression is a refusal to live with creativity and authenticity. Depression is a resistance to the truth of how your life needs to unfold. You can ask yourself some good questions when you start to feel your life energy withdrawing and spiralling down into a deep dark hole of depression.
Ask yourself the following questions and write down what first pops into your mind:
What am I afraid to express or create?
What am I afraid to say?
What am I afraid to change?
What am I afraid to accept?
What am I afraid to give?
Who or what am I afraid to give to?
Who am I afraid to love?
Who am I afraid to forgive?
What am I afraid to hear?
What am I afraid to let go of?
What pain or loss do I not want to feel?
What truth about myself do I not want to know?
At the root of every depression is the fear of what we would have to do in order to grow into the person we are meant to become. The parts of us that are afraid welcome depression. Depression nurtures the kinds of fears that stop our life from progressing.
If you look deeply enough into your own mind, you will see that depression is helping you to avoid something - such as a decision, a choice, or a needed character change that you need to make in order to move forward into your highest, most courageous self-expression.
Depression as an Initiation of the Soul
“The word “depressed” is spoken phonetically as “deep rest”. We can view depression not as a mental illness, but on a deeper level, as a profound, and very misunderstood, state of deep rest, entered into when we are completely exhausted by the weight of our own identity.”
~ Jeff Foster
Sometimes a depression gives us time to clear out unhealed emotional pain. Old emotional pain arises to be healed with love when we are strong enough psychologically to handle it. When we are going through periods of depression, we will get through to the other side only after we meet our rejected inner aspects with presence and acceptance.
Richard Moss MD describes depressive feelings as “abysmal.” He shares, “Abysmal feelings are intrinsic to being alive, and I believe they are in service to awakening to your deeper intelligence. Perhaps it can be said that when you are ready (even if you do not believe you are), your soul calls you down into them as a process of spiritual initiation for the purpose of healing.”
“Transpersonal psychology regards these feelings as both “pre-egoic” and “trans-egoic”. Pre-egoic suggests that these are residual imprints from very early in life; and trans-egoic means they are archetypal dynamics, part of the very structure of consciousness and never merely personal.”
“Darker feelings are often inevitable during an illness or whenever your ego feels threatened, such as in times of change or uncertainty. Even taking a vacation is notorious for stirring up the dark, as if something inside of you knows that the familiar daily busyness has been keeping you too distracted in ego-driven activity to attend to your soul’s calling. For the sake of essential regeneration and re-birth, you must go down to the abyss for a while.”
7 Ways to Heal Depression
1. Get honest with yourself through creative or written self-expression. (See the questions above.)
2. Connect with others in social situations, or share deeply with a friend or a therapist
3. Give your time and energy to service or volunteerism
4. Feel all of your emotions fully with acceptance and unconditional love
5. Give to friends and family in need, even when you are feeling emotional pain.
6. Move your body with daily exercise.
7. Give 100% of your wholehearted energy to daily chores and tasks.
Climbing out of depression involves looking within with honesty, asking for help, and making a true effort to move your life forward. Moving out of depression involves looking honestly at your submerged passions and taking small steps towards actualizing them every day.