“The secret is not in what you do to yourself but rather in what you don’t do.”
Carlos Castaneda

Journey to Ixtlan

Depression, Suicide, Freedom

n

Depression

When the perceived world becomes to ominous for an individual to bare – depression is a popular solution that appears. Depression is sophisticated. It is a strategy of freedom through surrender. To the outside world it appears to be a collapse, and as such it disposes of almost all expectations. A depressed person is not expected to function and partake in the workings of the world. A depressed person is not held accountable emotionally intellectually, and even biologically (sustaining the body by eating and drinking). On the inside a depressed person is therefore free from responsibilities, even though on the outside this person may be completely dependent on others.

This internal place of freedom is a place of healing. Cumbersome chains of life are replaced by emptiness and unknown – by an opportunity for re-framing thoughts & emotions. Unfortunately it isn’t usually this idyllic because of interruptions from the outside world. Depression is frightening for observers, probably much more then it is to the depressed. Depression is not a pleasant sight, it isn’t intended to be. It doesn’t cater to outside expectations and norms – it is by it’s nature an escape from all these into a private, intimate and isolated place. It is as natural for observers to fear and misunderstand depression as it is for a depressed individual to embrace it.

When observers aren’t capable of containing their fears, they naturally act on them, they work to dispel them. Unfortunately, when it comes to depression they engage not themselves, but another, and not just any other – a depressed other, an other that is depressed because of similar previous unwanted engagements. They insist on helping, but their thoughts and actions are systemically perceived as threatening and aggressive by the depressed individual they are trying to help.

When observers are capable of containing their fears, they can create and facilitate a supportive experience. They can create a supportive, embracing, protective, light and spacious bubble in which a depressed person can rest and depression can do it’s job. They can help a natural process of healing take place. They can transform their fears into giving, understanding and love – and in doing so better themselves too.

When outside intervention interferes with depression the healing process is compromised. The process of getting better is interrupted. This is what happens with most medications for depression. Medication is easier for the observers because it reduces symptoms and promises “recovery”. Medication robs depressed people of their internal freedom. Medication is intended to pull them back into the reality they are trying to escape. As a result many people live their lives in a place of compromise, with a backdrop of depression that sometimes resurfaces, but is mostly contained & sustained. There is no way to completely uproot a inherent urge to change.

Sometimes when outside intervention interferes with depression it leads to suicide.

“The intelligence of the mind can’t think of any reason to live, but it goes on anyway because the intelligence of the cells can’t think of any reason to die.”

Robert PirsigLila: An Inquiry into Morals

Suicide

Professionals often cite (though it is rarely public knowledge) suicide as one of the leading causes of death in societies – many times outnumbering and outweighing car accident deaths, terrorism, smoking & other life-threatening illnesses. In the dominant spirit of scientific thought this gives birth to the question of what can be done about it? What can be done do battle this disease?

But what if suicide is not an individual illness but an illness of society itself? A society in which so many individuals are choosing an extreme and deadly change needs to ask itself (if such a thing is possible) what are we doing wrong? How can we get better? What is it about our society that makes so many individuals prefer an unknown death over a known life? What is it about our society that makes it so difficult to even admit that we may be having a problem – that we don’t even dare talking about it?

People & societies are strongly affected by the adversities they meet and how they meet them. Terrorism is a prominant example of a force that shapes our lives – it fosters in us fear and violence. What would happen to our societies if we were to acknowledge and allow suicide to affect us? People who wield swords against a society need to be met with violence – hence violence manifests. People who shy away from society need to be met with love – is it not therefore reasonable to expect love to manifest?

Freedom

When depression calls out to you there is very little you can do to resist it. Once inside it is an amazingly peaceful and addictive experience – you really don’t want out. If you follow it through you will change. It is a liberating presence that takes you away from everything you know & despise to something that is unknown & unpredictable. Depression is a process of creating new life – a kind of rebirth.

The pursuit of creativity, inspiration, personal expression  & freedom is a sign of our times. It indicates that something is missing. People are looking for magical keys that will open magical doors to magical realms. What if for many people depression is/was their doorway & opportunity to this elusive salvation? What if they had been given the opportunity to go through it – would they have found what they are looking for? What if depression is another example of blindness to what is right before our eyes? What if depression is another example of a miraculous natural phenomenon we discard and trample because we don’t understand it?

It is naive to expect a life transforming experience to be a pleasant session of sitting in a group of people in a circle, all dressed in white, holding hands thinking positive thoughts decorated with tears of joy. Life transformation is a difficult and painful process of letting go of superficially comforting and familiar patterns and standing naked before the unknown. Depression is not a disease. Depression is a natural sedative that makes it sanely possible to enter an insanely terrifying change.

This entry was posted in Expanding, inside, Quality. You are welcome to read 9 comments and to add yours

2 Comments

  1. James
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Wow. This is some of the most inane, idiotic drivel I've ever come across, and believe me, as a former depressive, I've wasted my fair share of time scouring the internet as a means of distraction. Actually, this isn't really idiotic, it's just absolutely one of the most ignorant pieces of writing I've seen on the subject.

    While I agree that persevering through a major depressive episode and coming out the other side may in fact be a transformative, enriching experience (still waiting for that day, though) for many people–and I appreciate the optimism–to suggest that the inner world of someone going through a major depressive episode is peaceful makes it very clear that the author, while perhaps having experienced some bouts of the blues (we all do), has never experienced the hell and misery of clinical depression.

    While to the outside observer a depressive may seem vegetative, impaired, and lethargic, inside the head of any depressive rages a veritable tempest of suffering, intrusive thoughts, obsessions, sadness and anger. The mind of a depressive is out of control, howling and clawing with methamphetaminic persistence and madness. It is not peaceful. It is vicious, and the only healing that takes places occurs after the assault has abated. To suggest otherwise only further perpetuates the false notion that depressives need to "snap" themselves out of it, that depression is a disease of the timid and the resigned, that they need to try harder. You don't "surrender" and fall into a depression. You grieve, hate, stress, and guilt yourself into it. Surrender, on the the contrary, is usually the only way out– admitting you have a problem, and seeking the proper resources to assist you is often the first and largest step someone can take in extricating themselves from a major depressive episode.

    Damn, I could go on and on about some the stuff written in this article, but I think I've made my point. Please, in the future, don't philosophize and speculate on topics in which you lack fundamental, basic knowledge that is scientifically and clinically verifiable. This type of writing might serve you well in a morals and ethics class, but when we're talking about a widespread mood disorder on which there exists a massive body of writing–both literary and clinical–you shouldn't get the facts wrong.

    • iamronen
      Posted January 29, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Hello James,

      I am grateful that you've invested what seems like considerable energy in replying.

      This isn't philosophy. This is me looking back at a period my own of clinical depression which lasted 2 or 3 years (not counting the years of rebuilding myself … which continues to this very day). In retrospect, I view my depression as a violent refuge from a violent existence. To this day I carry with me a dominant pattern of seeking refuge which, fortunately, does not take on a radical and violent expression it once did. Also to this day, I am not naturally inclined to experiencing happiness.

      I have no interest in "basic knowledge that is scientifically and clinically verifiable" because I don't believe such a thing is possible in the rich realm of unique individual experience. Any attempt to prove otherwise is a violent intrusion on the beauty of human nature … and, ironically, good cause for depression. I have been gifted by elaborate and systemic Yoga teachings which make more sense and offer more practical tools then any "scientific or clinical" approach out there. Psychology and psychiatry are an infentile and ignorant field – they have at best a superficial understanding of what we are and accordingly offer superficial treatment at best.

      I am sorry to hear you are still suffering from depression. I believe I can help. If you are interested please do contact me.

      All Things Good
      Ronen

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