For thirty years, I was
plagued with chronic depression. In a desperate attempt to cure
myself, I read everything I could on the subject. I took the
psychological approach as well as the religious approach. I
experienced some relief using these methods, but eventually the
feelings returned. The stronger the depression, the more
aggressive my search. Self-help courses and recovery groups
brought minimal relief but never a cure. Each improvement was
eventually followed a setback. I began to believe that I was
inherently flawed. It was even suggested that I was possessed by
an evil entity, a thought I rejected. And yet, when the feelings
were at there their strongest, I doubted myself, becoming more
One day, I realized just
how terrified I was. I felt like a house divided against itself.
Desperate feelings require desperate measures: Voluntarily I went
in for psychiatric evaluation. I began weekly therapy and was
prescribed Zoloft, which altered my mood almost immediately.
gained many insights during therapy, but eventually Zoloft caused
the side effects of hyper-activity, chills and headaches. I felt
as if the cure was worse than the depression, so I quit taking the
drug. I did continue therapy until it was mutually decided that I
no longer needed it.
I thought therapy had
solved my problem with depression until I had a extremely
devastating setback and experienced the worst depression of my
life. Suicidal thoughts began into intrude my mind, yet no matter
what, I would not surrender. If depression was going to kill me,
to squeeze the life out of me, it would do so without my help.
I struggled through my work
day hiding my depression, but when I got home I would be
exhausted. I just wanted to lie on the couch and do nothing.
felt hopeless. And contrary to professional advice, I isolated
myself, knowing when I was alone that my depression was at its
strongest. If it was going to defeat me I wanted to feel it
absolutely. I was tired of running from the monster within.
day I realized that I was at a standoff with my depression. It
wasn't getting any worse and it wasn't getting any better. I
realized that it wasn't going to kill me, and it wasn't going to
let me enjoy life either. Then I decided to start analyzing what
was going on with me. I knew I couldn't feel any worse, so I might
as well treat my condition as a puzzle that needed solving.
First, I went back to the
basics. I looked up the word depression in Webster's
dictionary; it is defined as a disorder marked especially by
sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentrating,
excessive sleep, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and
sometimes suicidal tendencies. Yup, I agreed, the dictionary was
intellectually correct, I experienced all of those things, but
when I explored my feelings, I made some amazing discoveries.
One of my discoveries was
that my depression was actually a variety of strong unexpressed
feelings woven together. This entanglement of unexpressed emotions
left me feeling like a net had been dropped over my spirit and
pulled tight. The more I struggled, the more entangled in them I
became. Instead of judging my feelings of depression I decided to
observe them. I noticed that I was afraid of my feelings.
observed that throughout my life whatever I feared eventually
became my enemy. How did I make my depressed feelings my enemy?
did it by accepting someone else's belief that my depressed
feelings were dangerous. By accepting this unedited belief, I
erroneously concluded that my feelings could lead me to killing
myself. In making my feelings the enemy I gave them power over me;
the moment I did that, they dominated and controlled my life for
over 30 years.
To make my feelings the
enemy, I also had to convince myself that something outside of me
was responsible for what I felt. I accomplished this by blaming
others for my feelings. I blamed God, my parents, my teachers, my
circumstances, my genes, my past, and my environment for my
negative emotions. Once I realized that I was doing it to myself,
I simultaneously, experienced a sense of sadness and hope. I felt
sadness because I realized that I had been causing myself to
suffer. I felt hope because if I could cause my depression, I
could cure it, and that excited me
The first step was to
make depression my friend. This was a scary process because I was
very afraid of what I felt, to overcome the fear, I personalized
my feelings. I began talking to them, and writing to them.
my depressed feelings that I was afraid of them and that I was
tired of being afraid. I told them I wanted to make them my
friends and see what they could teach me. That was the beginning.
Today, my depressed feelings are my friends. When I experience
depression, I know that spirit--my inner guide--is using those
feelings as a way to teach me something that I need to learn.
My inner guide uses these
feelings to let me know when I'm off track in my thinking, trying
too hard, headed in the wrong direction, or not taking proper care
of myself. I no longer struggle being depressed for long periods
of time. When it comes, I work at embracing it, so I can hear the
spiritual message being directed to me. When I hear the message
accurately, the feelings leave me, and I am filled with an
exuberance--a renewed passion for life. If you are willing to let
your feelings of depression become your friends--if you are
willing to learn from them, embrace them--you too will once again
be excited about living life generously and passionately.
Originally published on Frederick's website (which is
Spiritual Insights Into Happiness.
Reprinted with permission.