that effing d-word – getting better

Everybody tells you how hard it is to be an artist. Nobody tells you how hard it is, not being an artist. 

found on Facebook

With the early tides of spring things are starting to look up. I feel very blessed and privileged. Actually, the find on Facebook (see above) and the post on depression and work by ‚elefantenblau‘ inspired me today. Yes, I had a very, very hard time. And yes, I am on the mend, all the while knowing that it is a process and that this process might include setbacks. So it’s not all easy and not all over just like this. BUT, and that is my privilege for which I am deeply grateful, I have a toolbox. A big one. And I don’t mean my mind (Tom Toolbox is how I christened my very quick mind during my TT-training. He is very agile, very slim and has serveral toolbelts around his hips and over his shoulders, so he can provide solutions in every possible situation. He also hardly ever comes down. I remember how during meditation I had to give him little jobs, like slowly circling me and making sure I am not disturbed by anything. Otherwise he would rattle on and on…). No, I mean the huge package (no pun intended, get your mind out of the gutter :-D) of knowledge on psychology and coaching that I have acquired over many, many years.

Even though sometimes I cannot bring myself to actually using it – everybody has weaknesses from time to time -, I still always KNOW the way. And that is something.

For example I know what depression at its core really is. Depression, and it takes a lot of courage to admit this to oneself, is, on a meta-level, two things: a) the depressing of ourselves as a whole or in certain characteristics (like: if you’re a loud, colourful person and you have learned that society doesn’t always react friendly to that, you transform yourself into a silent little mouse. That’s easy for society but it’s killing you) and b) the victimization of ourselves. Depression is a deep expression from feeling helpless, depend on the mercy of others, not finding our way in this world. Which is just natural because we have depressed our own personality. It sounds simple, maybe too simple for many suffering from this condition. But essentially, that is what it’s all about.

There are two things that can help us heal depression. The first thing is action. It’s vital. Depression is a state where we limit ourselves, limit our perspectives until, at the end, there is only one way out. Erich Fromm, many years ago, wrote excellent books on psychological topics. In one of them he described how depression, if not reversed, will always lead to suicide. That is the final station of every form of depression. ACTIONS widen our horizons. Our brain need new impluses, a new frame of reference. We narrow our perspectives if we depend on the mind as a counsellor. Because the mind can only ever refer to the past. If the past was not too nice and the part of our brain that decides what we focus on has decided to focus on the bad on top of it, it can never get better. There’s just no way. But a new frame of reference is not delivered right to your door in a neat little package. It is created by new experiences. If you brain tells you, you will never succeed doing (enter whatever your belief is here), your brain will focus on proving this thought and you will create experiences that will actually strengthen your believe. It’s a vicious circle we all can be caught up in. To change that, we need to try new things, need to see things from another perspective, rethink our lives and shed some new light on matters.

Since ‚doing‘ is something we shrink away from in depression, we need a helper. And that is where GRATEFULLNESS enters the stage. Gratefullness is the greatest power on earth (yes, that’s right, it’s not love, but love is a close second). So depressed people need to establish a new pattern of gratefulness, which at the start feels completely wrong. Sure, it’s outside the comfort zone. But depression made the comfort zone extremely small. The first step to get out of the vicious circle – and to find the energy to actually doing things – is gratefulness. That is the key.

It’s two simple elements, easily integrated into every life, but it takes practice and time – and an actual will to leave the victim’s lounge, take over responsibility over our own life and start over again. It can happen to all of us. I was deeply shaken to have found that I had taken a place in the victim’s lounge again. After all I knew, after all I’ve been through. How did this happen? But it doesn’t matter. It’s human, we all will visit there from time to time. What’s important is a) that we know when the time has come to say farewell again – b) that we know how to get out of there when that time has come – c) not beat ourselves up about it – and d) take the lessons and take whatever valuable information we have gained about life and ourselves from the experience. Because that is what a crisis is form: learning and growing. Think about it, would we ever have learned what we have learned in a crisis without the need of it?

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