Dealing with Depression – Part Three

 

Well I am back on form after spending weeks feeling extremely tired and depressed. At the time it was awful. I felt as though my life was over. I thought I’d never be able to get a job again, never pay off my debts, never get into a relationship. I knew that my thinking wasn’t helping and I was just spiraling deeper and deeper into depression. I felt suicidal nearly every day. The thing that kept me going was the knowledge and experience that I had been through this before and that it would pass, even though it didn’t feel like it. I also knew that such periods often precede times of love and abundance. One of my mentors reminded me that “the greatest gifts often come from the greatest struggles.” Lots of things helped to eventually come out of the depression but the two things that really helped were surrender and anti-depressants.

I have talked about surrender before and I still believe that it is the ultimate key to life. I kept trying to fight the fatigue and depression. I would spend a couple of days resting and then I would say to myself “Right, that’s enough of that. Time to get on with life. Time to pull yourself together.” At one point I received guidance through an energy reading to stop resisting and rest for at least a week. Deep down I already knew this but every time I rested I felt guilty and beat myself up. The guidance from the reading made me feel as though I had permission to rest without guilt. I spent most of the next week sat in front of the TV and comfort eating. I went swimming and went for walks in the park but only when I felt I wanted to and not because I was forcing myself. I also kept saying my law of attraction prayer mentioned in my previous article How to Get What You Want – The Health Experiment.

Illness can come when we resist our bodies need to recuperate. Illness forces us to stop and take time out. Down times help us to grow spiritually. Times of rest are essential for our bodies to re-engerise and the quicker we rest and the less we resist the easier it will be and the quicker such periods will pass.

Anti-depressants are often a taboo subject, especially in “spiritual” and “self-help” circles. Many believe that taking anti-depressants, along with such things as eating meat and drinking alcohol lower your vibration and disconnect you from God, the Universe, source energy or whatever label we put on our higher power. I believe in an ideal world maybe we wouldn’t need anti-depressants, eat meat or drink alcohol and I believe that maybe one day that is how we will live (although alcohol and marijuana are natural products, created by the Divine, so who knows?). However, I don’t believe we have reached that point yet. I asked my higher power to heal me and anti-depressants is one of the modalities s/he uses to achieve that.

One of my aims through writing this blog is to take away the stigma of depression and anti-depressants. I saw an excellent video by TED this morning on this very subject. A teenage boy talks about depression and the stigma of it and how we can overcome it. I don’t like to admit that I have depression. I am scared that people will judge me as a weirdo. I don’t like to talk to people about how I feel as I think that if I do that won’t want to be my friend anymore as they’ll be scared that my negativity will rub off on them.  One well meaning friend often says to me, “we all get a bit low sometimes.” She just doesn’t get it and that can be hurtful.

Another one of my mentors is a satvic energy healer and she calls her anti-depressants her “God Pills.” She helped me to recognise that anti-depressants can help and support me as I build healthy habits in my life. I am hoping that once I have built these habits I can come off the medication and if not then that’s OK. I have an under-active thyroid and I have to take thyroxine for the rest of my life. Diabetics have to take insulin for the rest of their lives. Some people that have depression have to take anti-depressants for the rest of their lives.

While I was in my period of depression, all my good habits and practices mentioned in my previous article Dealing with Depression – Part Two went out of the window. I have been feeling better consistently since 16th June and I have began my practices again. I have also added Buddhist chanting to my list of practices. I am very chilled about these practices. I only do them if I want to do (and I usually do!) and I don’t do them all every day. As a minimum I usually pray and meditate. I aim to go for a swim and / or get out for a walk in nature as often as possible. I keep surrendering to my higher power and trust that s/he has everything under control. All of these things bring me so much peace and serenity and I have to say I love it.

 

Dealing with Depression – Part Two

You may have noticed that my blog has been quiet lately. I’ve been experiencing a  period of fatigue and depression. I have often felt like giving it up. Sometimes it all feels too hard. When I feel like this, it’s made worse by the fact that I feel like a hypocrite and beat myself up for it.

It has been suggested by some of my friends and mentors that if I write honestly about my experience, not only will I benefit, I will help others as well. Being of service is known to be one of the keys to happiness.

Throughout this recent low time in my life I have neglected my daily happiness practices and I’m sure that contributes to the depression. It can be a vicious circle, whereas when I do my practices it can be a virtuous circle. I have a number of happiness practices including prayer, gratitude,  meditation, grounding, morning pages, visualistion, affirmations and intentions, of which the core rituals are prayer, gratitude, grounding, morning pages and meditation. I have written about some of these in previous blogs and others will be covered in future blogs. I am also intending to add Tai Chi. When I do these practices from day to day I often don’t feel as if they’re working but if I look closer I realise that life is smoother and serener when I do the rituals and life becomes chaotic when they’re missing. I still get down times when I do the rituals but they are fewer, there is more time in between and the down time is shorter.

Yesterday I felt very low and when I went to bed I couldn’t sleep. My mind was churning about what I should and shouldn’t be doing. I remembered two important happiness practices: surrender and ho’oponopono. I prayed for help to surrender and then lay there repeating to myself, “I surrender, I surrender.” I also repeated the ho’oponopono* prayer: “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.” Very soon I began to experience a sense of serenity and calm and I went off to sleep.

I would recommend that everyone incorporates some kind of happiness practices into their lives. They don’t have to be spriritual or religious practices. They can be tailored to suit your beliefs and needs. I would also recommend starting slowly with one or two practices and building on them. I sometimes try to do too much and then I get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing.

It has been my intention for a while now to start a happiness club to help myself to achieve happiness  and also to help others who can benefit from what I’ve learnt and continue to learn. I feel that this would benefit me and others enormously. There is a big part of me that is terrified of failure and that’s holding me back. I have to take the plunge and move forward with this project.

This reminds me of my dear friend Sarah Shepherd’s recent article about The Energies of May 2013, where she quoted Patrick Overton, “When you come to the edge of all the light you have, and must take a step into the darkness of the unknown, believe that one of two things will happen. Either there will be something solid for you to stand on or you will be taught how to fly.”

I’m praying to God and the angels to give me the courage to follow through with this project and I’m asking you to pray for me to whichever higher power you believe in and if you don’t believe in anything, please just send me some positive vibes.

I will be running happiness clubs in Ipswich and online. For more information and to register, please email me at sam_brook@hotmail.com and type “I want to learn to love myself” in the subject heading.

 

*Ho’oponopono will be covered in a future article.

Mindfulness for Depression

This week has been extremely stressful. Work has been very busy and I’ve felt under a lot of pressure. The week started on Monday with a client complaining about me and asking for me to be removed from their account and ended on Friday with a conference call with the three directors of the company and a member of my team, where I got well and truly bollocked.

I have been referred to a Mindfulness Course with CBT through the Suffolk Wellbeing service, which is designed to help people with recurring depression to avoid relapse. The course is every Friday between 6 and 8pm, so my bosses agreed that I could finish work at 5.30. Unfortunately two of the Directors asked me to do something at the last minute and I didn’t finish until 5.45 and what with getting stuck in traffic, I ended up arriving thirty minutes late.

The facilitator asked us to introduce ourselves to the person sitting next to us. The lady sitting next to me and I just looked at each other and then I said abruptly,

“So what’s yer name then?”

In a strong accent she said, “Shall I go first then?” which I heard as “Shaggal Guffirst.”

I blinked. What sort of name as Shaggal? I thought I must have misheard.

“Sorry, can you say that again?”

Again I heard, “Shaggal Guffirst.”

“Shaggal?” I said incredulously. As soon as the words left my lips I felt that I made a faux pas. The lady looked at me.

“SHALL I GO FIRST THEN?” she said slowly and loudly, as if talking to a child.

I laughed out loud and apologised. She seemed unamused.

***

The facilitator talked about the seven principles of mindfulness: non-judging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance and letting go. He explained the importance of being present and aware of everything and looking at everything as if for the first time.

“We’ll be starting with an eating meditation,” he said, picking up a bowl and a spoon.

“Did he just say eating meditation?” I thought, thinking I must have misheard again. My head was still in  a spin from the rush to arrive on time.

To my delight, it turned out that it was an eating meditation. I saw him dropping small things into the bowl, which I hoped was chocolate but which looked more like raisins. He then went around the room using the spoon to drop one or two raisins into everyone’s hands. Being mindful brought my awareness to my inner dialogue.

“Oh crap. Is that raisins? I hate raisins.”

“I wonder if I have to eat it.”

“Think about it with a beginner’s mind, as if you’ve never seen or tried a raisin before.”

“Oh crap, he’s put two in my hand. I’m going to have to eat two.”

I wondered if eating the raisin mindfully with a beginner’s mind might mean that I did like raisins after all.

The facilitator asked us to really look at the raisins. To squeeze them, to hold them up to the light, to look at the creases, to listen them, to squeeze them next to our ears. I was amazed to hear a distinct sound as I did so.

We then placed them on our bottom lip for a few moments and noticed the sensations, before placing them in our mouths, moving them around our lips and our gums with our tongue and then finally slowly chewing and swallowing.

I have to admit, it was a very profound experience. I have read a lot of stuff about eating consciously and this brought it to a new level. I didn’t think I could enjoy my food unless I was stuffing it in my face and this exercise proved otherwise.

We moved on to a body scan meditation and it was difficult for me to be non-judging and have a beginner’s mind. I have meditated for years and I was slightly scornful of what I considered to be a “secular” form of meditation. There was a part of me however, that was very impressed that the NHS was funding a mindfulness meditation course and I felt that maybe there’s hope for the world yet. Apparently studies have proven that taking part in such a course can significantly reduce the chance of a relapse into depression.

I reminded myself of non-judging and beginner’s mind and started the meditation with that attitude. A couple of times I felt bored and wondered how on earth I would last for half an hour. I kept bringing myself back to the breath and back to the meditation. The meditation lasted for well over half an hour and I was pleasantly surprised to note that actually the time passed really quickly and when we finished, I felt extremely relaxed.

I’ve got a feeling that this mindfulness course will benefit me tremendously. It’s an eight-week course. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

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