The Weight of Depression
Depression often conjures images of deeply melancholic, sadness imbued individuals who can’t crack a smile and weep at the drop of a hat.
Now while depression symptoms may show up like this, depression like any other mental health issue has many faces and often falls on a spectrum of expression.
Actually – hold on a minute here – everything I have been reading recently has claimed that depression is not something that can be solved with simply thinking positively and it is not merely a mental state that people find themselves in, but a quote I found states … “Depression is a medical condition informed by a chemical, biological, and structural imbalance that impacts mood regulation. There are many contributing factors to depression, and no one factor accounts for the symptoms of depression. Depression cannot be willed away by positive thoughts.” Mayra Mendez PhD, psychotherpaist So what I get understand from that statement is that it is a physical /body state that affects emotions and feelings. And yet the most common help for mental health ‘disorders’ is talk therapies to help people sort out their thoughts?!?! (I do realise the positive impact of talking things out, and expressing out thoughts on our emotions and feelings– THINKING is a WHOLE other subject that I love to play with!) I don’t know how much ‘real’ research has been done – I am not here to prove cleverness with statistics. I am writing this to stir creative perspective, shift feelings, open up realisations and most of all create curiosity about depression as an experience within the body. That said, research has been looking at the effect of exercise, art, music, body therapies, medications, nutrition and other alternative therapies to help with depression. And yet the misconception of depression being solely a mental health issue persists. The descriptions I have heard and read about of how depression feels or shows up for people mention: Heaviness Lethargy Fatigue Foggy Listless Feeling bound Held down Void of any feeling Disconnected Overwhelmed and empty at the same time Numb Frozen in place Unable to feel and experience life fully So I want to put forward, backward, sideswipe some things into the swirling mix of depression debates, alternative / supplementary ways to view depression. To depress something means to apply force to create downward movement. Ok in less smarty-pants terms - to pull, push, or hold something down. In terms of body movement, depression is the word used for the downward movement of the shoulder girdle (shoulders and shoulder blades) and the lowering of the bottom jaw. To depress the shoulders opens up the neck, and eases the contraction in the upper traps and neck muscles giving the impression of more upright posture (think meerkat looking out over the savannah). To depress the mandible – lower the bottom jaw - opens the mouth to yawn, to eat, to speak, to sing, to stick ones tongue out.
To create the movement of depression with the body is an act using muscle contraction to pull the above mentioned body parts in a downward motion, in turn another area to rise or change position. Yet when we apply the term DEPRESSION to the mind we view it, feel it, experience it as a death knoll or a state of misery or closing down of who we are. What is that all about?!?!? Now this may be a very tenuous link – but I find tenuous links serve, at worst as a pattern interrupt and at best as the welcoming in of an epiphany – How has the medicating of and talk therapy-ing the vocabulary out of people been working for those with diagnosed depression so far? It has just made us all more aware of how depressed we often feel and not actually offered any healing, lightening or freeing of the individual. The system often only offers coping mechanisms to ensure we continue to be cogs in the machinery. WELL let's have a little written think about that then. If you were choosing to depress something, in terms of the definition of the word, not the condition… You could: Add weight Add force Add pressure Add obstacles Take away lightness Take away energy Take away freedom Take away clarity of the path Hold it down with a forceful grip Pull it in the opposite direction Now go back and read all of those without trying to apply them to the condition of depression or the above mentioned body movements. Just read them and see what pops into your head with each one. · Where in your life do you feel or see any of those happening? · Is it a physical thing? · Is it a relationship? · Is it a work issue? · Is it a belief about something? · Is it a role you have assumed in your life? · Is it an experience you have had in your past? Go on – go back and read the first list again and let yourself think about where those terms apply in your life, body, mind, emotions, circumstances….. *** from here on in this post when I use the word depression I a referring to the list of how depression feels – NOT the clinic symptoms and diagnoses). I had to do it 4 times to get a proper feel and realisation of where in my life I experience DEPRESSION (the pulling down and holding down of – refer to the list of HOW depression feels) Which if left unchecked or I remain unaware of, Creeps up on me and sends me into a spiral of what would be categorised as ‘high-functioning depresssion’. But its not so high functioning really... Just because I can get a lot of things done, Spin a lot of plates, Interact with people in a seemingly personable way, Continue to engage with the work I do Make a life that seems to have plenty of good stuff in it It Does not reveal the true state of what I am feeling and experiencing. Only I can know if and when I am feeling Free Light Clear Energised On track Connected (these are my words for the state I view as the opposite of depression in my life – what are the words you would use to describe your opposite of depression?) If I am experiencing ‘depression’ and have left the areas causing the downward pull unchecked or ignored then there will start to be outward symptoms that others start to notice, and can categorise as “Something not being right!” Unfortunately our current western model of medicine requires that there be signs and symptoms of disease or illness before we acknowledge the depression as a clinical issue and take action. BUT what if we could learn to notice the beginning feelings, patterns and situations that start to take us toward it being a ‘something is not right’ condition. This is why I am completely in favour of people being allowed to voice their experience, feelings, perceptions, and seemingly strange symptoms without having to prove or validate them with evidence or science. Because it might just be the expression they need to notice the ‘depression’ before it becomes something that needs medicating or time out from life to claw their way back from. For each person their experience of heaviness, fogginess, fatigue, numbness, disconnection etc… will be individual and triggered by things unique to them. And the paradigm is slowly shifting to allow people the space and voice to be able to explore and express these things in their own way. However for most of us, the thing that stops us from exploring the depression in its earliest feelings and patterns is our own inner critic. I should be better… I couldn’t possibly… What would people think… Just get on with it… Don’t be so stupid… No one else feels this way… If I acknowledge this feeling I am weak… I a say these things I will be ashamed… If I allow myself to feel this it might never stop… Our expectations of ourselves based on our perception of how we think we should be in the world is what stops us from allowing ourselves to experience the *depression, and in doing so notice what other things are being opened up, extended or freed from pressure. Before we become completely weighted down, lethargic or any of the ways in which you FEEL depression. I would like to know your experience, perception, story around depression, because our state of being is tied inextricably to our physical bodies and vice versa. To share our patterns, feelings and experiences starts to lift those restrictions imposed that allow things to embed more deeply than they need to. If you want to share in the comments feel free to If you prefer to DM me and share and have a conversation – my inbox is open!