What does desire have to do with depression?

In the book Dancing with Depression, I didn’t want to say anything that would deter people from wanting to read the book because it didn’t follow certain religious practices or traditions.  I wanted to tell the story as I lived it and so I did not go into the depth of the spiritual reading resources that I felt led to, that felt right for me.  If you are a person who looks at the world in absolutes, there is a right way, that another way is the wrong way, it has to be such and such, you may find as we go along that you will not want to remain with this web site.  I encourage you to keep an open mind.  I had to be open to what was coming to me in a new way.  I had to be willing to do life differently.  I had to be ready  to be guided.  I had to trust.

If you are desperate in your depression though, you may want to know just what it was that sent me on my road to healing and you don’t particularly care to be afraid of reading it.   You trust the path because this woman, who lived with clinical depression, is depressed no longer.  I’m free.

For some people, another’s journey is enough to start building trust in something new.  If I would never have taken the path I took, I don’t know that I would have ever been healed.  If I did not digress from what I’ve always been told and if I had not risked to find my own way of “doing life differently”, I might have remained stuck in depression.

Just that I knew deep inside that life had to change was significant.  I’m a relatively insecure individual and I don’t like change.  I was quite the creature of insecurity full of “must” and “should”.  I learned as a child life “should” go and be a certain way.  I was hanging onto all that I’d learned.  Well, nothing I was familiar with was working obviously.  I was just released from a psychiatric hospital and all the conditioned ways told to me to manage depression weren’t working.  I was ready for change.

But the new direction began with desire.  The new way, what presented seemed to quicken my heart, to enliven me and I was, in fact, looking forward to my new way of being in the day.  Just hospitalized for depression, unable to drive, I was so sick my mind ‘time warped’.  One example, I was thinking I had been dusting the china cabinet for a half hour when my husband came home from work… I had been at it all day!

Due to the depression and knowing I couldn’t function, I quit my employment.  that’s amazing a workaholic could do that.  I could only just take care of me – kind of.   If I felt like quilting,  I quilted.  If I felt like doing yoga,  I did yoga.  (Yoga was a way for physical movement so necessary in a depression.  I know, someone out there is going to be shocked I did yoga…  Did you know the word “yoga” means to connect with the higher?  Keep an open mind.) If I felt like meditating,  I meditated.  Remember, I had been in a place of not even wanting to take a breath.  I felt nothing.  I had no desire other than to stop breathing and not “do” life. Remember, I said if I was going to do life, then God would have to “do life in me”.  Quilting, yoga and meditating were the first things I did that I felt like doing.   They came from tiny desires within.  Where did the desire to do the right things for myself come from?  Not from the depression, I tell you that.  New desires just happened as something awakening in my heart toward these little healing practices.

A lack of desire for much of anything is certainly a characteristic of depression.  We go through the motions of life, don’t we, but we don’t have much enthusiasm or motivation.  Enthusiasm?  What’s that?  Enthusiasm does not compute in the mind and vocabulary of the depressed, does it?  Well, I now live with “enthusiasm” and it started with the simple “doing” of what I desired to do.  I think God took that excruciating prayer of surrender and honored it by giving me desires that had become obliterated in my spirit.  I recognized a desire to quilt, to do yoga and meditate.  Find your desire waiting – and do it.

What had I left out of all my attempts at managing depression?

The first thing I did was to daily return to a meditation practice that I had come to trust as a something that seemed to create order in my life.  I can’t tell you why or how, though.  While employed in the 80’s, it became a desire to sit quietly during my lunch hours once a week.  I found it helped me de-stress and to be more peaceful.  Today even the medical model is suggesting meditation for people with different illness such as high blood pressure, pain management and anxiety, but in all my years of enlisting the aid of social workers and psychiatrists, never was it suggested that I put meditation as an option of managing depression into practice.

People cringe at the word “meditation” for many reasons,  I know, but I absolutely believe a good and compassionate God led me to it. Of my faith tradition, meditation is a prayer practice.   Practicing meditation at least once a week for many years I knew it positively affected my life; I went back to college though I was fearful, I made a significant change in employment, though I was a workaholic and, as a woman, I began to make decisions for my life independent of someone who didn’t have my best interest as a priority.   I began to connect the dots and realized that from the practice of meditation it seemed to follow that a new pathway in life presented for me to follow.  It had happened enough times that I did not question the cause and effect of meditation having significant bearings on life changes when I needed to “do life differently”.  Rational thought; increase meditation from weekly to daily.

The full story of how meditation played a part of career changes, new decisions and new avenues is covered in my book, Dancing with Depression, so I won’t go into it here.  I will emphasize that not only from my experience of healing depression, but I would later discover much of the literature from the medical field of psychiatry and from spiritual writings to secular, all sing the praises of the advantages of meditation.  So just trust us.

I want to say something to those who don’t consider themselves “religious” or “spiritual”.  I want to encourage you as you seek something better to make a difference in your depression, to just keep an open mind.  While those many years of weekly meditation made a difference, it was not a “religious” experience.  It was a spiritual experience. Spirituality is about relationships; to something higher than the self, to the self and to other (people, places, things, illness, work, drugs, shopping, eating, etc.)

While I had grown up in a mainline denomination, I can say it was not that religion that healed me of depression.  In fact, I never considered while I struggled with depression and suicide ideation to even go talk to the priest.  Why?  Maybe I anticipated no one really understood.  Or that I would be told it was “wrong” when it felt compulsive, beyond will, to me.  Or someone would tell me all the reason I should want to live…  Well, I just didn’t so I didn’t want to risk misunderstanding or ignorance.  (There’s a lot of that going around.).

 

Honestly, while my denomination had specific beliefs, traditions and teachings, in those times of returning to deep daily meditation, I lost all names for God that had been familiar.  I just experienced deep compassion.  That’s my best descriptive name for God or Higher Power now – compassion.  I have no doubt I have been cared for, delivered, helped and resurrected by Something that made no big deal about “It’s” name…  Though I tried, scriptures seemed to go dormant and dry.  Prayers I had been used to praying seemed insignificant.

I was definitely in a new place spiritually.  Maybe it’s like being so close to someone, a family member or friend, that you no longer need to call them by a name as you are heart and soul connected.  I think God came so close to me that the names disappeared and only presence remained.  I’ve come to understand all I described above isn’t about what some would call, “losing faith” but it was the deep experience beyond words of being scooped up, absorbed, rescued by Grace.

Initially with meditation, I didn’t expect much.  I just wanted peace of mind.  I just wanted my brain to quite screaming at me.  I was trying to connect to the peaceful place of meditation, the process of quieting the mind, to stop the thinking, the ruminating and the anguish.  It was a desperate realization there nothing more I nor could do about depression and that everything anyone had done with and for me was not enough.  There was nowhere else to go.  Nothing more I could do.  I could not imagine what else could be factored in.  I had no clue as to what “doing life differently” would entail.  All the suggestions for managing depression weren’t enough.  I had nothing left to try.  All I had was a simple desire from within.

Where am I Now and How Did I Get Here?

It has not been a quick journey out of depression, or an easy journey to this point in time, but the “process” has been well worth it.  Only hind site allows a clear view of where I’ve been and gives a perspective to where I am now.  If you have lived with depression, then you know of the characteristics we share; suicide ideation, worthlessness, no personal value, negativity, poor mental focus or concentration, irritability and anger, low to no motivation, poor self-esteem, physical pain, anguish, anxiety…  Well, there’s no need to elaborate is there?  What you hope to receive from me is the pathway of liberation out of depression.  It has been since the fall of 2010 that I have had a depression episode.  But the journey out began in the worst of times –  on the floor of a psychiatric hospital on suicide precaution.

I say the worst of times because it was the first time (Dec., 2002) when the love for my husband and children made no difference.  People who reach suicide planning know what I mean.  The mind of depression is absolutely unable to reach the heart where love resides.  Once one reaches planning, the ability to reason and will choice is all skewed.  The “key”, if you will, to my journey out began with what could be considered a “spiritual” principal, if that is of importance to you, or just the human need to come to a full realization when something is not manageable. Surrender.

On Dec. 26, 2002, I was able to pray: “Lord, if you are there, there is absolutely nothing in me that wants to take another breath, not even with the love of my husband and children.  Yet I cannot stop my breath.  If I am to do life, you will have to do life in me.”  A peace poured over me like someone was pouring from above, over my head and to my total self.  I then heard, “You will be delivered.”  Here I am, curled up on the floor wanting sooo much to not be alive, yet I ask, ‘From what would I be delivered?’ Sad, but true.  It was the only life I knew.

I was discharged the next day.  By the time I returned home, I just knew I needed to do life differently.  I now know that was a deep, new encouragement from something greater than myself.  Everything that one is encouraged to do to manage depression had been done; I took care of stress, ate well, saw my social worker and doctor for medication, tried to mentally stay “up”, worked very hard to will living.  It was exhausting.  Yet, depression remained a significant part of my life.

What could “You must do life differently…” possibly mean?  What more could I do?  What had not been done?  I had achieved my education. I had re-married well.  My children and grand-children were well and nearby.  I had friends.  I had a career.  I was employed.  I volunteered.  Other than depression, I was in good health.  Bottom line; I was still depressed.

Is there a pathway out?

I did find something that eventually made the depression “go away”.  After hospitalization, I followed Something calling me to a different way of life and by following that path I became free of depression.  Eureka!  Until I wrote the book Dancing With Depression where I wrote of my life and recovery from depression,  I never saw a Presence.  While I lived in the darkness of depression, I also lived in the darkness of being aware there was something spiritual going on deep within myself.  It was that hidden grace working within that I followed and cooperated with through the years despite not know of its workings!  It was a gift and it is a gift I live by giving it to others.

I have not experienced a depression episode since Fall of 2010.  What I want to share through my blogs are little pieces of that pathway.  I share the full story in my book Dancing with Depression: A Spiritual Pathway for Recovery from Darkness to Light, published by Tate Publishing, Mustang, OK.  (Or contact author in Topeka, KS  or ordered from major bookstores.)

While I prayed for help,  it never crossed my mind that I would actually be free of depression.  After 50 years of depression I began to believe this is just the way it is.  I suppose I hoped for healing, but I didn’t hope with faith. Know, where I did not, that hope for freedom from depression is very, very possible.

I was one who followed the typical medical model of care.  I talked with a quality psychotherapist who referred me to a doctor who knew how to manage the medications.  It was during hospitalization, while I had done all the right things, that I realized there was nothing out there who could help me.  Nor was the love of my husband or children enough.   I absolutely did not want to breathe but I couldn’t stop myself.  On the floor in a a dark bathroom curled up in a fetal position, I hear, “Look up”.   I was then able to pray.  I would later learn that experience in the spiritual realm is called “surrender”.

What’s important about the root of depression?

My root of the depression started as an 8 year old child who experienced a significant loss of attachment to her parent – not the death of the parent.  No one knew of what happened.  I didn’t talk about it.  In our family we didn’t talk of such things as feelings. The loss of attachment felt terrible because it seemed my dad was making a choice for something besides me.  I wasn’t important in my perspective.  Eventually, the troubling loss developed into unresolved grief from the event which then developed into childhood depression.  That was in the mid 50’s.  It would be 1992 before I self-diagnosed.  Quite by accident I ran across the symptoms of depression.  I had them all!  I sought a doctor and was put on medication for the first time.  From 1958 to 1992 is a long haul.  Many live with depression’s joyless state.  It absolutely robs one of the experience of life.

While I can significantly remember what happened and my perception of it, it was also the accumulating years without diagnosis and treatment that exacerbated the initial problem.  The more often a depression is not recognized and treated the more likely it is to return and to return more often and be more problematic.  By the time I was 45 years old and for years afterward, suicide ideation was my way of solving life problems.  Suicide was a constant temptation.

Beginning with the end…

You are visiting with a woman who never thought she would ever live in this world free of depression after having lived with it for over 50 years.  It started in childhood so I never knew life differently.   Circumstances led me to accidentally discover the characteristics of depression at 45 years old before I even realized I had it.   I had no other perspective.  I suppose I thought most people just lived this way; low self-esteem and motivation, lack of joy and interest in life, cried easily, and an incredible fatigue.   I generally felt like I was walking through life on the deep end of the swimming pool.

In your google search, you might have tagged such words as clinical depression, suicide, hospitalization, despair, dysthymia, loss of work, inability to function daily in self care, poor self-esteem, no motivation or joy, isolation, irritable, frightened, worthless, grieving, confused, despairing and mental illness.  After discovery and recovery, I eventually searched such terms accompanying depression as; recovery, prayer and meditation, 12 step program, self-help, spirituality, surrender, grace, hope, life and living, or maybe spiritual growth.  While these terms may be out there accompanying depression information, I never ran across the helpful “marriage” of the two; depression and spirituality.

It would be after my own experience of having a spiritual awakening, much as a spiritual experience such as Bill W. of the well known Alcoholics Anonymous had, was I able to write about the importance of adding the spiritual dimension to the typical medical model.  In the book I chronicle my inspired pathway for full and complete recovery by the grace of a Higher Power (God).  The book is Dancing with Depression: A Pathway for Recovery from Darkness to Light and can be ordered from myself in Topeka, KS, Tate Publishing, or Amazon).

Through blogs, my intention is to let people know what happened for me and to increase the hopes of others who travel with depression and anxiety.  For years the recovery was slow gradual recovery, but after the spiritual experience I never again experienced a depression.  I hope you are encouraged to believe there is actually hope for recovery for depression and anxiety and hopefully to eventually discover complete freedom is possible.

I was telling the story of my journey out of depression at a church when a woman turned to me and said, “You can’t heal from depression.  No one can.”  Well, my friend, I did by cooperating with the grace of God.