Some client work has brought me to asking this question again. Really I have studied it for much of my life as I spent most of my life (till I was about 27) either depressed or seriously anxious (mostly both in that time).
I used to fight and fear depression for years.
It was a cycle which started off with me mostly submerged in it and then towards the end, became rather like riding a wild beast who had me, rather than me steering the beast. Now I steer both ‘depression’ and ‘anxiety’ to my advantage, as the tools I believe they are meant to be to help pin point me to stop, seek rest and nurture, and re-adjust my course to be more aligned with my core calling, as tools which are a correct part of our navigation process towards actualised beings.
The wild beast was intense (or grey dog, whatever you want to call it). Towards the later years when I cyclically emerged from it and was happy I would feel so good and clear that I thought it could never happen again.
Then I would be intensely disappointed when it did (that’s an utter understatement). Everything would feel utterly heavy and I would fear never getting out of it at all. At those times it felt as if, the real truth was that I had always been depressed, things had always been terribly painful, and this would never cease.
And yet after however many months, I would possibly emerge, switch into mostly just anxiety rather than depression, and feel happy breezes on my face and catch glimpses of sunshine making my soul ecstatic. I still feared the eclipsing onset of depression and so I would try to suppress any feelings which could lead to it, which only perpetuated the cycle.
(You know, I’m lucky, I think I’ve always been connected to the ecstasy that’s available just looking at blue sky and feeling a breeze, even in my hardest times, even if I couldn’t name or acknowledge it. Somehow this is always something that kept me firmly connected to saying yes to life, no matter how weird, shameful or horrible my day to day motions felt. And other than that, spirituality was a ripper for getting me through too).
Nevertheless, I started off writing about the depression to passion emergence and I’ll continue.
Over many years (too many, I was a slow learner) I learned to start to trust the process and that the intense feelings would subside if I listened and acted in accordance with what they were directing me to do.
And more than anything else, first and foremost, I believe that
De- pression is directing us to
(I know that sounds oversimplified but stay with me for a moment there’s more, and if it ends up resonating, great, otherwise trust your own wisdom which is always better than mine.)
I have heard before of the ‘Ladder of emotions’ (first discussed by David Hawkins in his Phd on the ‘Scale of Consciousness’, also used by Esther and Gerry Hicks). Anyway I reckon it could also be called the:
Ladder of Normal Everyday Emotional Processing
Each of the above people used a slightly different order (and really we should each work that out for ourselves) but this is my intuitive sense of the ladder right now:
Ecstasy / Bliss
Devotion / Trust / Passion
Fear / Anxiety
(And obviously its not that simple because we can have a little bit of all of them, all at the same time)
Anyway, the theory goes that wherever you are on the ladder, that’s OK and a normal part of human emotional processing. And furthermore, you will be able to find a slightly better feeling thought that can take you at least to the next rung up the ladder.
(Personally I believe that emotion is just part of our inner compass, our steering mechanism, and its there to tell us to correct our thoughts, so we can correct our alignment to our core function on this earth).
For example, if we’re overwhelmed by emotion (which is ALWAYS UTTERLY understandable given the context of our life circumstances) then we might be starting our processing at the depression end of the spectrum (or even self loathing).
So if we are starting this natural process from the state of depression, then firstly it can help to rest and acknowledge the depression.
Now I don’t know what the best thought is to help someone move from this point on the ladder to a rung higher up. In fact no one does!!! Because its an inner compass and only we ourselves can know what thought makes us feel slightly better. (You can read affirmations until you’re blue in the face but they wont work unless they feel right for you.) As the Hicks crew say, we’re not aiming right for ‘I’m on top of the world and nothing could ever get me down’ but just to feel one step better. Imagine trying to get right from first gear to the sixth gear in a car? It’s pretty hard if not impossible without stalling! So what I’m saying is, that I think the most effective way is to relax and aim for one little step better. Don’t worry, once we learn to drive this inner mechanism, I believe that we can get to breezily happy much much quicker. But it takes practice to drive this Human Being well, and for some of us LIKE ME, it has taken a lot of practice. But I promise, from my part, that I truly believe that using our inner compass utterly works, and, when we get the hang of it, can often work very quickly!
Anyway, having said that I don’t know what would be a better feeling thought for another human being to try when moving up the rung from depression, I do have a possible idea which could be tried.
For example, to move from depression to feeling slightly better, we could try acknowledging the intensity of our feelings with;
‘Its utterly understandable that I’m emotionally exhausted or depressed, given the circumstances of my life’
(And it ALWAYS is understandable, trust me, we’re all innocent and if we were raised in perfect circumstances by perfect parents and a perfect environment, then we would have healed all our shit as babies and we wouldn’t be experiencing the current difficulty we experience. Or don’t trust me, its up to you. But in my experience this hypothesis or belief (or maybe even universal truth) really helped my healing process. And my inner compass says, if the thought feels good, at least try it out, and if it works, adopt it whole heartedly. I believe we do have a truth meter right in our own being)
Another possible thought which may help is;
‘I deserved love (instead of imperfect role models who had no option but to transfer their bad feelings of anxiety and mistrust to me.) (Parents can only give what they’ve attained themselves after all, no point blaming them!)
*That’s another point where I went entirely off the rails, blaming my parents. Maybe I’ll explain more about that another day, but trust me, if you know what off the rails is, I did it.
So anyway, the thought ‘I deserved love’ may, and I say MAY (only way is to check in on what the thought feels like for us in that very moment, and if it doesn’t work, choose another thought that does, even a little) take us to feeling angry for all the ways we were denied love in life.
Now without necessarily blaming anyone anger is at least a higher feeling than depression, in which case we are on the right track!
Have patience, take rest.. I believe depression is a sign post that we need to rest and create space for a healing process which is actually designed to stop us and realign us, whenever we are off course from our passion.
I see it as the natural helping hand of the soul saying;
‘Tania, stop, you’re off course’ (At first hinting it by feeding me a feeling of anxiety and dis-ease)
And then when I really don’t listen, the soul saying;
‘OK, if you wont stop and re-direct I’m going to take all energy from you so that you HAVE to stop and re-assess.’ (by the way I also believe a similar process can happen with sicknesses that are designed to slow us down).
It’s like the soul says;
‘I give you depression to slow you down and stop you in your tracks
BECAUSE I want you to be happy and I want you to re-assess and change, so that you don’t continue thinking thoughts which lead you to paths of emotional discomfort’
This might sound weird, but I actually think it is the soul saying ‘I give you depression because I want you to be happy’ . And I believe it because of the following.
Years after my really difficult times, I started to notice that sometimes, very rarely, I would feel emotions which were kind of the same as those that I used to label depression. Kind of like having the same flavor of ice cream I had had before, but labeling it a very different thing (no, that’s a bad analogy, but I’ll continue).
So I’d get a feeling which felt really similar to my old territory of depression. Only this time I almost liked it. It almost felt like a warm bath of ‘stoppingness’. I could tell that it meant that it was really time to have a ‘doona day’ or sit under a tree and look at the sky for a really long time. And when I recognised that that is what that feeling was telling me, I stopped fearing it. And when I stopped fearing it, I stopped resisting it. And when I stopped resisting it I actually realised that that helped it pass much quicker than it ever had before. And when I realised that it always passes, and was able to trust in that, then I really even started enjoying it, and resting back in my doona. And I had learned, that for me, it was a mechanism that actually enabled me to find greater happiness, IF I LISTENED TO IT CORRECTLY AND ACTED ACCORDINGLY in seeking solace and rest (nature is my best source of solace as are particular friends for particular times – generally I get a ‘gut feeling’ about who to talk to-, but each person needs to find what will give greatest solace to them at each point in their journey).
Anyway, so I reckon depression is the soul saying;
‘I want you to re-assess and change something, because I want you to re-align to your course and your unique passion, so that you can find true satiated happiness’
I think that we can use this process FOR us rather than fighting it and having it work against us.
I have been specifically helping people emerge from difficult emotions towards their passion since 2011. If you are curious about how I could help you, follow this link to book a free initial session.