Feeling an oncoming wave of depression and intense emotion can be an overwhelmingly disheartening and scary thing. Depression is a thing that we tend to fear and dread, as though we’re living our life in a state of bobbing over and underwater, fighting rapid waves when all the while all we want is to be swimming gracefully.
When we feel ourselves getting bad again our fear and resistance to our depression ironically is what kicks us deeper in to it. The more we fear it the more power we give it. Then there we are, back at square one, with an ache in your chest, an emptiness in your stomach and a ringing in your head. Thoughts buzzing around making you feel helpless and out of control. “It’s back AGAIN”, “I thought I got over this”, “what’s the point in experiencing the highs when I’m always landed back in these unbearable lows”, “I’m stuck in unhappiness forever”.
These are lies. These are conclusions we jump to because we don’t understand our depression. We run from our sadness when what we really need is to give it attention. Face our dark thoughts head on and analyse them until there’s nothing left. They have no power, we have no fear.
Based off of my own experience I have concluded that depressive episodes are triggered by one of two things; a dissatisfaction with the way I’m living my life/ not meeting my physical needs (thus messing with the chemicals in my brain), or a life event which hits me hard.
Meeting physical needs and readjusting your physical life style is more tangeable and personal. Here, I’m going to share how I learned to deal with an oncoming depressive episode when you feel like you’re completely ‘overreacting’ to a life event.
If you read my piece “hurting and healing” you may draw similarities between elements of this piece and what I wrote there. This is because our triggers are usually rooted in wounds of the past.
When a wave of depression hits, we need to understand that we feel this recurring episode of hurt because there is a trauma we have buried and repressed. When we are triggered by something either consciously or subconsciously, this trauma resurfaces and demands to be processed and felt. Depression comes from suppressing and masking these feelings, or not feeling them out properly for as long as we needed to. It is dwelling and hanging on.
Understand that when we are visited by these feelings; we must feel with intent to release. This is how we free ourselves.
We must have patience, bravery, strength and faith that we are doing this to let go.
This is the process of releasing.
Feel with the intent to release.
Feel. Allow. Do not numb or try to escape the hurt. Simply sit in it.
Trust that you are feeling this pain with purpose. Once felt it will be gone. You are safe to feel, so cry, curl up into a ball and embrace the emotion despite feeling like you’re melting and burning.
Explore and Investigate.
Think of any old thing in your life which has caused you upset/ negative emotion. Any passing thought. Every hurt, no matter how minor or major has accumulated and manifested into this depression, these upsets are all responsible for you feeling this way. Pick one and focus on it. This is where we begin.
That thing/person/action/event which upset you is what we identify as a trigger. Go deeper. Analyse the trigger. Refrain from stopping mid way and telling yourself to ‘man up’,or ‘get over it’. There are questions to be asked and relevant points to be made from this upset. Do not smile through gritted teeth and tell yourself it’s not that bad; summon the bravery to nurse your own wounds and become stronger for having experienced them.
Here is an example of how a trigger would be analysed:
‘I am upset because someone told me that the way I felt was unimportant and didn’t matter.’
Go further. What am I really upset about? Whats at the core?
‘I am upset because this has made me feel like I can’t open up to people about serious things. This makes me feel unworthy.’
Deeper. How does this make me feel?
‘This makes me feel lonely and depressed.’
Why does this make me feel lonely?
‘Feeling unworthy makes me feel as though I will never be able to authentically connect with people, because they do not care about me’.
So you see, though your upset may feel like an over reaction, the main hurt comes from a place deeper down which requires focus and love. Conscious triggers from interactions with people upset us because they root deeply in the subconscious mind. The underlying subconscious wound is what we call a blockage.
Trust the pain. Like an addict being weaned off of drugs, once the pain has been felt it is gone. You are making progress, you are becoming stronger and you don’t need to run anymore.
Once we have identified the blockage, it is time to put it under the hot seat. Where has this come from? Why do you still feel it?
With patience, go back to a time in your life where you last felt the blockage in its raw form.
Feeling unworthy as a result of the initial trigger reminded me of when I was little. I felt as though I never received the attention and emotional validation that I needed. As a result I would act out and scream. Understandably I was told to shut up, but I didn’t know any better. I wanted to be loved but instead I was misunderstood.
Now you’ve identified and analysed the blockage, you’ve hit the jackpot. You’re nearly there. You’ve found the core desire, the needs that were never met. You’re nearly out of the woods and you’ve done so well for feeling this pain. Be proud of how far you have come.
Be the person you needed when you were younger.
See your depression rooting from the sad, unloved child within you that still cries out for attention and just wants to be loved. How can you possibly hate a fragile and vulnerable child who is misunderstood and only wants care?
Be there for yourself. Forgive those who hurt you, understand that they did what they did as a reflection of their own issues, and not because you are un-loveable or did wrong. You knew no better but you have learned now.
See yourself as that child, and validate them. Comfort and love them. Understand that child is lovable and did no wrong. All is forgiven and it is done.
Feel the relief.
Once the pain has been felt, once the screaming child has been attended to, once all needs have been met; you are free. The child has no business lingering when whats keeping them haunting you ceases to exist. You are free.
Feel with the intent to heal. We are a nation of feelers, not psychopaths. We are human. To feel pain and hurt is to become stronger, not hardened. Have patience and care with yourself, rushing the process will stunt its relief.