Does DEPRESSION have any BENEFIT??

Is DEPRESSION Really an ENEMY??

One of my clients today sat sadly curled in a fetal position. Tears flowed. Blame. Rage. Betrayal. Confusion. Disbelief. Fleeting suicidal thoughts followed by momentary murderous thoughts. Fight or flight. Total senselessness. Total groundlessness. Exhaustion. Most of these, right now in the acute phase, will pass by afternoon's end. Shortly thereafter, depression may follow. It wouldn't be unexpected. Or unreasonable.

Much has been written about depression, its causes, its different forms, wonderful holistic cures, conscious compassionate talking-therapies, hypnotism and amazing medicines. I have been down the Dark Alley myself many times and am grateful for ALL the resources available.

There is less written about the BENEFITS of DEPRESSION. My client blows her nose, drinks some filtered water and reaches for a piece of dark chocolate. It is too soon, the pain too raw to embrace the benefits of depression with her today. Yet under her puffy eyes and running mascara I see the value it could have in her life. And I reflect on the value it has had in mine.

As an Artist, and a Life Skills Coach (1), it took me years to appreciate the intensity, hue and variation of all the colors on my palette. Sapphire blue, daffodil yellow, emerald green, and poppy red caught, and held captive, my dancing eyes. I had no time, or interest, in the browns and grays. They were not "happy" or "energetic" but dreary and depressing.

In looking back I see my preferences somewhat mirror the society in which I live. Sunny California where everyone is tan and fit and lovely, drive bright shiny cars and live in houses with lots of windows, hot pink is/was the new black and everything drips with bling-bling. Born and raised in this environment, I managed to fit right in.

But what happens when the biggest, brightest, most popular does not provide the kind of comfort and security that motivated the journey to begin with?? The mirror has two sides and if all the shiny is on one side, there is going to be some dullness on the other. If we unconsciously (or consciously) seal ourselves against the darker parts of life, we will see illness, loss and depression as an enemy.

WILL I EVER BE THE SAME??

My client, rung out and exhausted, clutching a large furry pillow, looks to me with big round questioning eyes. "Will I ever be the same?" she asks genuinely.

I wait a moment while holding her gaze. "No," I say quietly, slowly, "you won't ever be the same." I let her sit with this thought. She stares out the window not really seeing what is before her.

This client, like me so many years ago, bought into our culture's value system (or lack thereof) without much independent evaluation. It starts at birth with our own parents often doing the same. We think we are "living" when really so much of what we do is "follow conditioning:" grow up, go to school, fall in love, get a car, get heartbroken, go to college, get a job, get an apartment, get married, get a house, have a baby, etc. (2) We believe in "happy all the time." (3) The formula leaves little room for infidelity, birth-defects, cancer, bankruptcy, war, death, etc. We somehow believe that if we follow the script we will be spared the pain of being thrown off balance by life‘s darker underbelly.

Casual conversations often include references to "balance" in life. The feeling of having none, the desire to have more, or the exasperation of trying to hold onto it. Deeper reflection often uncovers how little understanding of balance we really have. If we did, we wouldn't fight depression so much; we would accept it as part of the symmetry of life.

"I guess I knew that," she says a few minutes later.

"Yes, you did," I say with a small reassuring smile.

THE CHOICE IS YOURS

Although depression is most often uncomfortable (4) I have learned to honor its visits instead of slamming the door in its face. Not my favorite guest, it always leaves me with more insight, more compassion for myself and others. I write more. I paint more. I meditate more. Its presence pushes me forward by making me stop. Slow down. Reassess. Listen. Distill what I have learned. When I was in the midst of depression, wanting to be alone, frequently withdrawn, often immobile, consumed by despair, it was hard to imagine there might be a mystery at work sculpting me into a form that more resembled my authentic self.

Other countries around the world, other cultures address the mysteries of depression in a more holistic way. And, to be expected, they have fewer issues, not as many pills, and less anxiety about melancholy. Depression is often associated with maturity, Saturn, and the souls desire to have us function with more wisdom, focus and purpose in our lives.

"How do you think all this will change me?" She asks coming back from her reverie.

I smile. "You know that is your choice." She smiles too, accepting the simple truth.

THE BENEFITS OF DEPRESSION

If "depression is anger turned inward" doesn't it make sense to examine what made us angry to begin with?? Were our boundaries violated?? Were we betrayed?? Do we have unrealistic expectations of someone else? Did we not get what we wanted?? What steps can we take to understand, and lessen, the affects of anger?? Do we need to protect ourselves better?? Do we need to make better choices about the people we are with?? Have we made mistakes in the past, and without knowing a way to correct them, more anger is piled on top?? Is our soul letting us know something is unacceptable?? I strongly believe in anti-depressants, but not as a mask to avoid self excavation.

My client is a wonderful human being that I have known for years. She did not deserve abuse at the hands of another. None of us do. And it will take a while to heal, going through all the stages, including possibly depression. But I often wonder if we don't unconsciously bring on these situations that create a framework for the toughest of life's lessons. I have every confidence that she will survive the mistreatment, that she will be less naïve, make wiser life choices, find her own balance, and begin to appreciate the silver lining of severe loss.

We stretch and go for a short walk along the beach. We talk of solutions, sunsets, and salad recipes. We throw rocks off the pier and dig our feet into the sand. When we return she gives me a long heartfelt thank you hug, picks up her purse to leave then stops before a large painting hanging over the fireplace.

"You're right," she says, "I never noticed how much black and navy are in your paintings. I always thought they were just full of bright colors."

"It's the dark colors that make the bright colors stand out," I reply.

Still puffy-eyed, she winks and smiles. She is going to be okay.

Comments 32 comments

Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 5 years ago Author

Thank you so much dear kindred soul!

In our society we are conditioned that feeling happy all the time is the norm! As you have expressed so eloquently above, it is not!

Life may be a bowl of cherries but it contains pits, stems, leaves, some more ripe than others, some sweeter than others, decay ~ and in the end a dirty bowl that needs to be washed! (My poor attempt at Erma Bombeck humor!)

I, too follow the Dalai Lama and find that "contentment within the full acceptance of groundlessness" is a much more authentic, affective place to be!

I have become your Fan! I am delighted to meet such an enlightened person as MellyMoo here on HubPages!

Blessings to you and yours always, Earth Angel!


MellyMoo profile image

MellyMoo 5 years ago from Australia

Another wonderful hub by you Earth Angel. I too am a sufferer of depression for many years and I know that as awful as it is, there is also benefit to depression. Being a single mum of 4 children and having been through some very tough situations in my life, it would not be realistic or right to feel happy all the time and I do not any longer believe that anyone should feel happy all the time. I even found myself thinking this recently when reading about the Dalai Lama! I so believe in affirmations, visualisation, focusing on the positive, etc but I also believe in expressing anger, frustration, exhaustion etc. If we suppress these emotions, we will get sick.


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 5 years ago Author

Blessing and thank you for your comment aslanlight!

I met someone a long time ago that insisted they were never depressed a day in their life! I believed him; he lacked any real depth or awareness!

Thanks again for your support, Earth Angel!


aslanlight profile image

aslanlight 5 years ago from England

Yes, all very true. Life is a tapestry and if it was made of only bright colours it would, strangely, be dull!

Great hub.


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 5 years ago Author

Dearest Om,

Thank you so much for your delightful feedback!

A friend of mine, a retired Minister, has said for years, "You don't get 1st grade exams in kindergarden!"

It took me years to understand what he meant!

As life gets fuller and richer and we mature and become more "aware/awakened" our lessons seem to get more difficult!

His theory is that Spirit is giving us "tougher exams" because we have advanced!

Sounds good to me!

Thanks again for stopping by! I am one of your biggest fans!

Blessings always, EarthAngel!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

Earth Angel, I enjoyed reading this very much. I agree going through a tough time can help us learn many things about oursleves and make us stronger. Rated this awesome. :)


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 5 years ago Author

Blessings to you Izettl!

Thank you for your loving and insightful comment! Your perspective is especially important right now ~~ as Mother Earth unleashes pent up energy and new beginnings emerge there will be much cause for collective depression! Those who see new beginnings are most needed right now! Thank you!

Blessings always, EarthAngel!


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

I agree. I get your point with this. I think back to my most lifechanging moments and all were right after a depressing feel-sorry-for-myself period. There is renewal in down moments, but of course true lasting depression, ongoing for 3 months or longer is truly a funk that might need some other resources.

Great hub!


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 6 years ago Author

Thank you for your comment Burning Bush!!

I'm not sure I quite understand what you meant but your comment seems sincere!!

If there is any way I can be of service, please let me know!!??

Blessings to you and yours always, Earth Angel!!


burning bush profile image

burning bush 6 years ago

For me, a momentary feeling of "happy" is quickly followed by intense concern and fear but there is contentment in accepting one's condition as status quo. I do like seeing things from a different perspective so I appreciate your very interesting article. I will be following... and watching:) Thanks, enjoyed (momentarily).


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 7 years ago Author

Hello Graeme!!

Thank you for stopping by, and the nice compliments!! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it!! I hope it helped!!

The above was written entirely by me and is part of a book that will be released soon! It is copyrighted material!! If you are doing something on the Internet, it will trigger "duplicate content red flags!!"

You can always quote copyrighted material as long as you credit the author, put the words inside quotatiom marks, and do not use someone else's words for commercial gain!! Thank you for asking!!

Author: Sapphire Grace

Publisher: Earth Angel Publishing

Published: 11.03.07

I would love to read your paper in its entirety!! Please email me a copy when it is finished!!

In the meantime, Blessings always, Earth Angel!!


Graeme 7 years ago

Hi was wondering wether i could use this blog as some a source for a research project for my highschool english.

If I can could you tell me what date this was published?


Graeme 7 years ago

Hi was wondering wether i could use this blog as some a source for a research project for my highschool english.

If I can could you tell me what date this was published?


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 7 years ago Author

Dearest Anamika S,

Thank you for sharing! I, too am a "depression-eater" with chocolate as my favorite vice!! Some people lose weight when they are depressed!! Me, I get as big as a house!!

Thank you for sharing!

Blessings always, Earth Angel!!


Anamika S profile image

Anamika S 7 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

I have been depressed long back and put on 15 kgs of weight eating all that I should not have kept away from otherwise.


Nayberry profile image

Nayberry 8 years ago from nayphat@yahoo.com

I lve this hub. I suffer frim depression, and it is good to see that I can look at it from another point of view.


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago Author

Hi siNNer!! Thank you for your thoughtful comments!! Yes, "reframing" things from "bad" to "good" or at least "neutral" makes a huge difference in how we approach things!! Glad you liked Care of the Soul as much as I did!! Blessings always, Earth Angel!!


siNNer profile image

siNNer 8 years ago from NEW YORK CITY

Kudoz...likening depression to an indepth examination rather than a self-loathing death sentence......empowering isn't it? I, too, have taken a different view on Narcissim as a result of Care of the Soul. The work hasn't been effortless, but it's been more rewarding than lotto....some might disagree :-)

inner calm

siNNer


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago Author

Thank you for your heartfelt comment Devin!! I too, am visited by the dark cloud and work diligently to keep my spirits even and natural!! After I read, Care of the Soul, by Thomas Moore I never looked at depression again in the same light!! Blessings on your travels!! Glad you are here at HubPages!! Earth Angel!!


Devin Aldine profile image

Devin Aldine 8 years ago

This was a very good article. I agree wholeheartedly. I suffer from depression, but as much as it is horrible, it has also made me a completely different person. It might be good, it might not, but I know I'm a lot stronger than I would be if I hadn't gone through all that I have, including depression. Thanks for writing this.


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago Author

Thank you Dottie for sharing!! One of the BEST things I have ever read about the positive aspects of depression is a chapter from Care of the Soul by Tomas Moore!! I agree, sitting, being still, not resisting and allowing the Saturnian feelings to unfold is often the healthiest and quickest way for the gray cloud to slip away!! Thank you for sharing!! Blessings to you and yours!! Earth Angel!!


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

My family line has had it's share of depression. I too can feel this depression entering but I have learned not to answer to it but to sit quietly and observe. That way it can begin to disolve itself. This is what helps me and I know that I am ok.


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago Author

Thank you Kenneth for your compliments and comment!! You are right, "happy all the time" is an unhealthy expectation!! Thanks again!! Blessings, Earth Angel!!


Kenneth Kender profile image

Kenneth Kender 8 years ago

We believe in "happy all the time."

We do. If we don't, we have to face a reality that scares the sh*t out of us.

Earth Angel, thank you for a great and well written story.


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 9 years ago Author

Thank you dranjesh!! I will check out your Hub!! I appreciate your comments!! And you dropping by!! Please keep writing!! And commenting!! Blessings, Earth Angel!!


Shana Dubow profile image

Shana Dubow 9 years ago from Warner Robins

Wonderful description, Angel! I used to say a lot that without pain in our lives we would not truly appreciate the blessings. I love the way it was put in one of Mark Twain's short stories (A TRUE STORY Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It): A freed slave woman working as a servant impressed her employer so much with her cheery disposition that he asked, "Aunt Rachel, how is it that you've lived sixty years and never had any trouble?" She told him a story of how her children were all taken from her, her efforts to find them during the Civil War and her reunion with the youngest when he was a full-grown young man. She said, "Oh, no Misto C---, I hain't had no trouble. An' no JOY!"

God's love and blessings

Shana


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 9 years ago Author

Great perspective James!! Yes, we are so conditioned to believe that there is little benefit to depression!! For me, there is A LOT of creativity hidden in the shadows!! Thanks for the comment!! You know I am your BIGGEST fan!! Blessings on your day!! Earth Angel!!


jamestedmondson profile image

jamestedmondson 9 years ago from San Francisco

I think depression's only benefit is when it feels better than your current emotion. Like moving from suicidal to depressed is positive, but moving from bored to depressed is a huge step backward.

But then again, I don't feel more enlightened when I come out of a depressed phase. I just feel like I don't want to do it again!


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 9 years ago Author

Thanks for the comment Isabella!! Blessings on your day!! Earth Angel!!


Isabella Snow profile image

Isabella Snow 9 years ago

Very interesting POV!


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 9 years ago Author

Thanks Angela!! After wrestling with darkness myself off and on all my life, I can confidently say giving up the fight by changing my perspective was one of the BEST steps I ever took!! Thanks again for the words of support!! Good to be with you!! Blessings, Earth Angel!!


Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 9 years ago from Around the USA

Very well written, I enjoyed this. It certainly gives another perspective on depression.

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    Notes from BENEFITS of DEPRESSION

    (1) I am a Life Skills Coach, not a therapist. I concentrate on the tools necessary to move forward. Most often this includes dealing with past unresolved issues. For these, my clients work with licensed professionals in the appropriate fields.

    (2) Not everyone chooses all the steps, or in that order, but that is not the point.

    (3) I believe "happy" comes in moments; "contentment" is an overall sense of joy and well being.

    (4) Debilitating depression (not addressed in this writing) needs immediate medical/psychological attention.

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