10 May What if fighting against depression only perpetuates our suffering?
I’ve received a heartfelt letter today. Btw, I love hearing from people who stumble on my blogs and feel drawn to write and share their life experiences with me.
This person, a young man in his late 20, shares with me his experience of depression and how inescapably dark some of his days feel. He talks about how it has been going on for some time and that despite all the effort and support nothing is shifting for him. He tells me how tired and exhausted he feels and that he is putting all his effort – a little energy he still has – to FIGHT IT… every single day…
His words resonated with me deeply. I remember this overwhelming, frightening and seemingly inescapable dark place. I can very easily recall all my efforts to shake it off. I know how exhausting and futile this was.
At the same time, I want to say this … what if there was nothing to FIGHT in the first place? What is there was nothing to shake off? What if the idea that we need to FIGHT IT – be it depression, anxiety, or any feeling we don’t like – is based on misunderstanding and only perpetuates our suffering?
What if the real breakthrough comes not from struggling against it, not from putting huge effort to get rid of it … but from allowing those feelings be and understanding where they come from in the first place? Because, from my personal and professional experience, realisation about where our feelings come from helps us be sure that there is nothing to be frightened of. There is nothing to fight and nothing to shake off.
We can then see IT for what it really is… a shadow. I am saying this knowing first-hand how frightening, despairing and hopeless living with the shadow can be … unless we are able to see it with fresh eyes.
The slightest insight into workings of our mind can be so helpful and even life changing. It can open our minds and hearts, lift our suffering and uncover us … recover us … It can give us a glimpse into a possibility … living with more ease, more wellbeing and freedom. It is there for all of us. Not just a few.
This poem come to my mind when I was reading his email in the morning. I’m sharing it with my deepest respect for anyone’s journey with mental health and wellbeing:
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frighten us is, in the deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet
Of course, I emailed back and I really hope to hear back from this young man. I wish we can talk more. I really hope he says yes to my invitation.
And if you are feeling low, anxious, stress, burned-out – reach out. My invitation is there for you too. You are not alone. And sometimes even one conversation is enough.