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Wondering if I can get input on an article about depression

Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:47 am
by Jbrooke
Hi there,

I wondered if any of you might be willing to read the following article and share your thoughts on it? I have been struggling with depression for my entire life and came across this piece. I was curious as to what you think of it: ... e-selfish/

Thanks for any feedback you might share with me...

Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:59 am
by karmarider
It's a silly article. The author comes to the conclusion that depression is selfishness.

Here's my view of what depression feels like: ... eels-like/

What depression is, is the most honest and conspicuous manifestation of what people who can no longer pretend feel like.

It comes from fear. When the mind is in the context that there is something wrong with life, it's inevitable that leads to self-hating thoughts and beliefs, and this manifests in those unwilling to pretend as depression.

Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:32 am
by Jbrooke
That was beautifully written and so full of insight. Thank you for sharing it. I have always greatly appreciated the things you write on your website...

Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 1:27 pm
by randomguy
I think the article linked in the original post has a good intention.
Kr and JBrooke, What do you guys think of these DeMello quotes? I'm a fan of his use of words.

"Don’t say, “I am depressed.” If you want to say, “It is depressed,” that’s all right. If you want to say that depression is there, that’s fine; if you want to say gloominess is there, that’s fine. But not: I am gloomy. You’re defining yourself in terms of the feeling. That’s your illusion; that’s your mistake. There is a depression there right now, but let it be, leave it alone. It will pass. Everything passes, everything. Your depressions and your thrills have nothing to do with happiness. Those are swings of the pendulum. If you seek kicks or thrills, get ready for depression. Do you want your drug? Get ready for the hangover. One end of the pendulum swings over to the other." - Anthony DeMello

"When you cling, life is destroyed; when you hold on to anything, you cease to live." - Anthony DeMello

"You’re not living until it doesn’t matter a tinker’s damn to you whether you live or die. At that point you live. When you’re ready to lose your life, you live it." - Anthony DeMello

Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:35 pm
by treasuretheday
Good points, Randomguy, and you know I also love Anthony de Mello! Tony's books should be required reading for the planet! :lol:

I think the premise of the article certainly has merits. I don't like the writing style or the author's approach. A kinder, gentler delivery would have been easier to hear and digest. An abrasive, surly tone and stance of blame is not conducive to healing, helping, or supporting.

I agree that depression is (and believe me, I have seen it, done it, been there!), usually perpetuated by a lot of self-focus. I would not say that is the same thing, necessarily, as selfishness. But if we stay stuck in self-focus, we can become selfish! When we broaden our perspective to include the beauty around us, the needs of others, life beyond thought, depression loses its grip. If we stay in the 'woe is me' trance, then....what is that going to lead to? More of the same....depression!

I have experienced that depression lifts when I simply commit to stopping the broken record of (mind-constructed) awfullness! I resist doing that sometimes, as my depression likes to fool me into thinking it's Real; that it's Big and Bad and can 'make' me sad! No, it's not easy. Maybe it's easier for some of us to be sad than to be happy. Faded flowers are so romantic, you know!

But it's worth the effort, imo. Our culture likes the easy fix, but I would personally rather invest some sweat equity into addressing depression than pop a pill to relieve it, and deaden all my other emotions and pollute my body with chemicals and become addicted in the process. We can do it! We can move beyond depression without Prozac, etc, etc.!

Remember, depression and grieving are not the same. If you are experiencing a loss, you need to mourn it. You must feel the pain, work through the sadness. Listen to sad music, cry, and cry. You must let it run its course. We grieve, not only when someone we love dies, but when we lose a job, when we move, when we are transitioning in life and saying goodbye to people, places, things, pets, personal traits and abilities, etc. So, grief encompasses a lot of territory.

Best wishes, Jbrooke!

Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Posted: Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:45 am
by rachMiel
As someone with quite a bit of experience with depression, both minor and major, my sense of the OP's quoted article is that it's pretty much worthless.

The nature of the relationship between self-centeredness and depression is subtle and complex. Yes I generally am obsessed with issues relating to self when I am in a depressive episode. But there is not the slightest glimmer of possibility that I could suddenly "pull myself up by my bootstraps" and get over myself. In fact, one of my biggest wishes when I'm in such a state is to nullify my self. Except for short stretches, it's not possible. You'd have to have experienced major depression to understand what I'm talking about.

I try to stay conscious of what's going on during a depression. To ride it out without trying to rush it, push it away, change it. I find that if I approach depression this way, it can actually be a rather thrilling (if, at times, extremely painful) ride and an excellent learning experience. Medication can also help tremendously.

Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Posted: Sat Oct 12, 2013 4:26 am
by runstrails
Great DeMello quotes. Thanks for posting, RG. What I love about DeMello is that even without any knowledge (or concept) of non-duality, his words make perfect sense. It was after reading DeMello that it first occurred to me that there must be more to life. And, now, after all the searching etc., his quotes have just as much of an impact.

Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Posted: Sat Oct 12, 2013 3:34 pm
by karmarider
randomguy wrote:...Kr and JBrooke, What do you guys think of these DeMello quotes? I'm a fan of his use of words.
The quotes are good. I remember from one de Mello's videos (on youtube) that he says that depression does not go away with awakening. You simply stop minding and identifying with it. That's about my experience. I still get periods of insomnia and low energy and weight flucuations. But now there is never a sense of futility, there is no claustrophobic feeling that something is wrong, nor the dizzying feeling of spiraling out of control. I remain in love with life. The physical symptoms when they appear are just what they are--and not me.

Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Posted: Sat Oct 12, 2013 9:04 pm
by Jbrooke
I really like those DeMello quotes a lot. Thanks for sharing them!

I found the article I shared to be conflicting in that is was very shaming, harsh, and there was obvious anger/resentment that fueled some of it but it also incorporated some spiritual views. It was rather contradictory in that it referred to our centre and other spiritual components, but reeked of judgement and criticism and lacked compassion. When I read more of the other articles written by the same man I discovered that he is a deeply religious person who harbors an enormous amount of anger towards non believers, atheists, and has some issues with homosexuality as well. He also has never experienced depression personally but has family members who are depressed and feels they have destroyed his family to some degree.

When I read articles like his that are very harsh and critical and include some spiritual elements, I tend to get conflicted and confused and upset by them. I appreciate that you all wrote and shared your comments!

Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Posted: Sat Oct 12, 2013 11:08 pm
by treasuretheday
But there is not the slightest glimmer of possibility that I could suddenly "pull myself up by my bootstraps...

Possibly, this is the case because you insist there is not the possibility. Of course, the psych community wants us to believe it is not possible.

and get over myself...

it is not the 'self' that needs to be gotten over, but concepts, mental constructs that need to be challenged. Happiness/unhappiness, meaning/no meaning are concepts. They don't really exist. They disappear in the actual living of life, as they have no basis in present reality. Self-focused concepts hook on with great tenacity (& a wish to nullify oneself is still self-focus) as our concepts of 'meaning' and 'happiness' are thus described in negative terms---in terms of what is wrong, missing, lost.

Present reality consists in attention to what is at hand.
rachMiel wrote:I try to stay conscious of what's going on during a depression.
What's going on during depression is a mirage. When one focuses on this mirage of concepts, isn't the present reality layered over and obscured? Are you really "conscious of what's going on" then, or clinging to a dream state, a trance, a line of thinking, a quagmire of feelings, that you choose to validate as 'reality' by attending to it. Depression means we have gone unconscious.
rachMiel wrote: Medication can also help tremendously
Help who? Help what? Instead of medicating we can fearlessly consider that feelings are the inner landscape. 'Problems' are the outer landscape. As De Mello put forth, we are not depressed, depression is 'there.'

I agree that depression can be "an excellent learning experience." And we can learn first of all, that contrary to much popular opinion, we who have been on these frontlines are not helpless victims, tethered to our thoughts, enmeshed with our feelings, slaves to depression. I hasten to add that depression is not easy to face. Indeed, addressing depression consciously is nothing short of a pilgrimage.


Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Posted: Sat Oct 12, 2013 11:41 pm
by rachMiel
Sounds like we experience and cope with depression quite differently. I guess depression manifests uniquely for everyone. There are similarities, but your experience of a depressive episode and mine are ... unique to your mind-body and mine. Even de Mello's advice has precious little "use" for me when I'm deep in the abyss. In my experience it's a different ballgame in there, the "laws of psychological physics" no longer hold.

Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Posted: Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:22 am
by treasuretheday
Well, RachMiel, I respect your path, and I applaud your willingness to talk about it. Surely speaking about the variety of experiences of depression in a public forum is quite useful to many who are 'lurking.' One never knows who might be touched by another's journey in some way.

We need to know we are not alone in our struggles, no matter how differently we may choose to go about addressing them. We join hands, find common ground, are united in our humanity.

Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Posted: Sun Oct 13, 2013 3:20 am
by smiileyjen101
From my take karmarider's sharing of his experience is one 'view' of the state of depression from within an experience of it, but it does not define calm man, it's just his perspective from that standing under at that point in time. The same for the guy who hasn't experienced, or does not admit or recognise it in his experience in the way that someone else describes or exhibits.

I've just finished reading Viktor Frankl Man's search for meaning. And it has answered a lot of queries, especially about the rising rates of existential depression, which I never understood. He says in it that human kind in its evolution lost many of the instinctive capacities - no instinct tells him what to do, and increasingly folks are losing culture and/or religion - so no tradition tells him what he oughtto do, and with time as a luxury not needing to be used for existing / survival there's a chasm of emptiness, a lack of understanding the meaning within one's life, an existential vacuum occurs, and with it a state of boredom, senselessness, and suffering.

But he says so much more, in experience and in meaning.

He quotes Spinoza as saying (translated) "Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it."

The thing is no one else can create that 'clear and precise picture' - we have to do it ourselves, we have to through experience, find our own meaning in life. He says 'It does not matter what we expect from life, but rather what life expects of us.' and
'Live as if for the second time, having already learned from the mistake you are about to choose.'

For anyone 'suffering' in depression (yeah I get that reading about it might not be high on the 'to do' list :wink:) and especially those with phobias the latter part of the book is a brilliant discussion on the differences in psychotherapy and logotherapy of which he was a practitioner.

His not just survival from four concentration camps, but his awareness in and from it - from the very suffering and the very growth of experience puts it in an incredibly gentle and powerful place, with brilliant examples. Saying yes to life in spite of everything.

Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Posted: Sun Oct 13, 2013 4:30 am
by treasuretheday
Ah, Victor Frankl! Thanks for introducing him into the discussion, Jen.

Yes, Frankl's book is so wonderful, and I agree that it's a 'must read!' Such wisdom and an awe-inspiring example! One can't walk away from his book without the conviction that a person is ever without some choice of his or her own. And choice is what gives us meaning. If we deny that we have a choice, meaning evaporates.

Frankl learned to exercise authority over himself rather than become the tortured plaything of circumstance. And there are no more horrific circumstances than the ones he found himself in. He took full responsibilty for his behavior and attitude, in the midst of these circumstances that were well beyond his control. And in a brutal place that denied him the most basic of freedoms, he encountered his moral freedom of choice. This was a remarkable accomplishment, but I think he achieved something even more remarkable. He accepted present reality as he ceased to focus on the past or the future!

What could be more hopeless, more desperate, than a Nazi concentration camp? And yet...he discovered, in the absence of life's usual joys and creative endeavors to which most have ready access, that the grace and dignity with which one suffers such extreme deprivation could provide meaning, beauty, and nobility to existence. We learn from his example that noble thoughts and deeds depend simply on our will to choose them, not upon being graced by noble circumstances.

Yes, this could all be brushed off as a bit stoical, and words like noble and courage and dignity sound hopelessly old-fashioned, misguided, and just plain dull to many, I am sure.

But one never knows what lies ahead on the path. Certainly a giant of humanity such as Victor Frankl is a fine example to remember. He is a hero who quietly made life work for him against tremendous odds. He lights the way for us all.

Re: Wondering if I can get input on an article about depress

Posted: Sun Oct 13, 2013 6:32 am
by smiileyjen101
I agree he's incredibly wise, but I would like to add that suffering in the physical mental emotional spaces that folks might compare, and comparison with anyone is flawed and can also be detrimental.

A girl I knew who suicided from existential depression felt that as no one could find the reason for her suffering because the very thing of it was that no reason existed... she felt that she would never feel any different than how she did. Frankl would tell his patients to be 'patient' that this state would change in time, as time changed things. What if their 'purpose' their reason for living came when they were 80 years old? Or any time in between?

One thing that I really hope rings home from his book is the notion of suffering 'filling all available space', regardless of the content of the suffering. This would go a long way to stopping folks comparing.
A man's suffering is similar to the behaviour of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or small. Therefore the 'size' of human suffering is absolutely relative. Vicktor Frankl
This makes the most sense to me. Sometimes folks hold others' experiences up as notions of 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger', and yet have failed to see their own growth of adaptability, resilience in facing their own experiences. I make the notion that if the worst pain a person has suffered is a tooth-ache, that is no different in facing the 'worst' pain of anything else. It's how one meets, faces and deals with that 'worst pain' that teaches them how to deal with their next 'worst pain'.

If one compares their 'worst pain', or ability to grow in experience, to another's they may miss the very important opportunities in their own lives, or manufacture and manifest fear that they would not be able to endure another's worst experiences. Learning resilience, learning strength of spirit does not require immense suffering. It only requires immense presence - in good times and in bad.

In some ways that original linked article maybe, albeit insensitively, touches on this. What I understand of existential depression with no clinical / chemical basis that can be addressed externally, just that sense of 'no purpose' to life in the face of relative not hardships, and no desire to face hardships in order to grow .. I'm not saying that well either.

I worked with a girl who had been diagnosed with existential depression, despite all her relative 'good aspects' and no major dramas in her life she saw absolutely no purpose to her life, and prolonging it just made her more depressed. For me in ignorance of how that could ever manifest I admit I wondered if it was 'spoiled brat' syndrome or some need to create drama when there was none.

At the same time though she couldn't comprehend my 'tragic optimism' - the saying yes to life in spite of everything in view of my own experiences - to her I should have been really pissed off with life! Ironically the last afternoon she came to work she drew a smiley face on my white board in my office, with the word SMILE!!! And she was laughing. It didn't make sense given her and my demeanour, her reminding me to smile - but she knew full well (and I didn't) that she would 'involve' me in the unfolding discovery of her solution to her suffering, which she had planned with meticulous precision and using many of her many talents in her thorough intellect. Her suicide note told that she knew that what she had done would hurt others, but she just couldn't make herself 'care' enough - which was kind of the point of her life as she saw / felt / knew it.

So, this book has helped me understand that more.

But most importantly, folks shouldn't think he was any super-hero or anything, he was just living his life as it unfolded. My Granny used to say 'your back was made for your burden.' and 'what's for ye won't go by ye'. (and in humour what's not for ye, will not be jumping the fence.) So this man in the original link, he's commenting on something he knows nothing about in experience, which is fine if everyone understands that, and more importantly if he does.