Question from a reader:
I am a little confused about something. I am an alcoholic/addict in recovery for 2 years now. I am doing the twelve step program. I have been working to my very best to deal with all my old stuff and letting go and allowing healing.
I come from a family of alcoholics and addicts and DEPRESSION. I have been suffering from this most of my life (now I know where it comes from!). I have always trusted God to help me heal. When I came into recovery, I stopped my anti-depressants (mood-altering stuff). I feel that I need to work through all this on a clean truth level. But it has been VERY very hard for me and even with my recovery I eventually ended up after the two years in a fetus position on my bed not able to deal with the depression any longer and the suffering that goes with it. I weighed 42kg with pains all over my body – sick and wounded.
I have been prescribed ant-depressants again after I decided that I cannot accept that I have to carry on suffering like this-life has just been hard enough for me. BUT I DO NOT WANT TO USE THE PILLS!!! I just feel that maybe I am addicted to this suffering and pain and I just want to stop it.
Please give me some suggestions on your thoughts.
Thank you so much also for the inspirational info from you always.
Before I say anything on this topic, here is a little legal disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor so you should not listen to anything I have to say 🙂
Now let’s down to business:
If you want to understand why and how people get depressed and what to do about it, you have to understand exactly what depression is and how people get there. Depression is NOT an illness that is caused by a viral attack or something, it is an advanced stage of a spiraling journey that you only reach after crossing a few other stations first. The key to dealing with depression naturally and in a holistic way is ensuring that you don’t begin the journey, of if you already started, don’t cross the stations, or if you have reached “depression city” already, to get on the train and start going back to where you started. Alien speak? Don’t get depressed (pun intended), I’ll make everything clear soon.
Depression is an emotion. What is an emotion? Emotions are our body’s way of storing pain and pleasure in our mind. Reptiles and birds (as far as we understand) do not feel emotions. Why not? Because the part of the brain that feels emotion only developed in the mammals. They (reptiles and other lower level animals on the evolutionary scale) respond to the world by instinctive reactions to physical pain and pleasure. We humans on the other hand have developed an emotional brain that feels not only physical sensations but happiness, sadness, anger, fear, loneliness etc in our minds. These are called emotions.
Why did we evolve to feel emotions? Because they are our bodies guiding mechanism to help us take the right steps in the right direction. Got that? This is very very important: emotions are our body’s way of motivating us to take the right steps in the right direction towards a healthy happy life. Remember that as we move forward.
Now there are 3 levels of emotions we feel:
Primary emotions: Happiness, anger, sadness, loniless, fear, guilt etc.
Secondary emotion: Frustration
Tertiary emotion: Depression
Now here is how we are designed:
Our primary emotions are all messages that guide us in a specific way to carry out some specific actions. I’ll give you one example: anger is the message to seek fairness. That’s it! It’s very simple message that is biologically hardwired into us so we can seek equity.
People say anger is bad. I say anger is neither good nor bad. It’s simply a message. A message to seek fairness. At any given circumstance, the only reason a person will feel anger is when he or she perceives unfairness being done to either himself or someone he cares about or something he cares about. (Of course there are other pent up convoluted forms of anger that has nothing to do with the present moment but coming from somewhere in the past, but essentially it is still a call for fairness).
(If you want to learn all about emotions and how to interpret each of them and use them in your life to live a healthy, wealthy and prosperous life, I suggest you get my book Redefine Your Reality where I cover this topic in much more detail.)
The key point to understand here is that anger is an emotion and emotions are messages. Messages designed to help you take some specific action in specific circumstances.
Here is another one: loneliness. Loneliness is a specific message that motivates you to seek quality human company. Getting a goldfish does not work in solving the situation.
So what happens if you keep ignoring the message that your body is sending to you for a prolonged period of time? You enter the secondary level of emotion: Frustration.
What is the meaning of frustration? “What you are doing is NOT working, please change your ways.”
If you manage to ignore frustration for a significant period of time, you enter the final stage of depression. What is the message of depression? In this stage your body is saying to you… “I can’t do this anymore! I need a break, I need it NOW!” In this stage, the body stops trying, it goes into a state of rest, gives up on everything and simply sleeps.
Let’s take a look at an example:
Imagine Bob. Bob just got divorced from his wife who was everything in his life. She was his best friend, his conversation partner, his wife, his buddy.. everything. After the separation, Bob naturally began to feel loneliness. What did Bob do? Well, just like all sensible individuals, he went to the local pub and tried to drown his sorrow with alcohol (this wasn’t sorrow by the way; it was a message, a message called loneliness that had a very specific solution). This sort of behavior is called “distraction”. You can easily substitute alcohol with food, or work, or even making money.
The thing with distraction is that as long as you are distracting yourself, you are able to blot out the negative emotion you were feeling (that’s why we choose specific “distractors” that work for us) and feel happy. Unfortunately when the distracting behavior is completed, you wake up and usually feel twice the amount of negative emotion that you were originally feeling. This is the body’s way of pushing you towards a healthier lifestyle.
What does Bob do? Well, he goes out every evening and drinks even more, since he is feeling double lonely these days. As this continues Bob ends up in a rut! He feels lonely, drinks, wakes up to feel even more lonely, drinks more.
After a while, as part of our natural design, the body triggers the secondary emotion of FRUSTRATION. What’s the message again? “What you are doing is not working, do something else.” It’s a call for creativity. Typically when we are in this level, everything feels like its not working. We are somewhat irritated all the time.
So now Bob is lonely AND frustrated. What does he do? Well, he drinks more; because that’s the only way he knows how to feel better.
Now as Bob is stuck in this rut of feeling lonely-frustrated then drinking more and more to feel better, his body chemistry is going completely haywire. Also as you can imagine, if he has a job or business, how that is suffering by this time, which will compound on his feelings of anger, frustration etc. So not only now he is going to feel natural frustration and loneliness, he is also feeling other chemical induced lethargy and general lack of happiness.
If he continues this for a while, Bob will finally have abused his body so much that he will begin to feel the tertiary level of emotion: DEPRESSION. So what is the message of depression again? It is “I need a break, I need it NOW!” The general feeling associated with depression is “nothing in the world is worth it; all I want to do is sleep.”
By this time, the body has stopped trying to motivate you any further to take action in the right direction. All it wants is to stop the abuse that you’ve been inflicting upon yourself.
At this point, we usually decide to visit the divine beings in white coats amongst our midst called… doctors. They tell us we need to go on Prozac or something similar which are known as SSRI’s (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). What are these? Well, in layman’s terms, they are designed to stop you from feeling depression by allowing more serotonin (the happy drug) in your brain. In Shafin speak: these are drugs that mess up your natural bodily intelligence by chemically interfering with your brain.
What happens now? Well, Bob, who is already depressed and pretty much an alcoholic, recovers a bit with the SSRI, at which stage the body takes him back to frustration mode because it gets confused into thinking that things have become better naturally. This makes Bob start drinking again because that is the only way he knows how to handle this situation. This brings him down to becoming depressed again… and after a while he is finally left with one of the two choices:
a. Become clinically depressed, where depression spreads to all over his life and is no longer localized into the original problem of loneliness anymore (which means even if he were to get himself a great partner right now or surround himself with many great friends, it still wouldn’t work). Or,
b. He becomes totally dependant on drugs, where he basically becomes incapable of feeling natural emotions anymore and therefore severely limited in life. (Of course life goes on, but as you can imagine, this person begins to walk on thin ice where every other occasion becomes a potential reason for breakdown.)
So what is the solution? The solution is realizing:
a. Dealing with depression is not going to be easy. You should not expect it to be. Be prepared to get ask for help from everyone around you. And when they try to help you, LET THEM. Don’t chase them away by being ashamed or feeling guilty.
b. To deal with depression you will first need to allow your body to heal from all chemical poisoning that has been done on it. This may take a while. And sometimes the temptation to give in will be overwhelming. You will need help here. Make plans for getting as much professional help as you can afford. Suggestions are: go for a meditation retreat, check into a rehab, go for a prolonged mind body healing retreat etc. If those are not an option: alert your friends and family your plan of action and ask them to help you as much as possible to stay on track.
c. Dealing with depression is not a final solution; it is simply a symptom that needs to be addressed before you can go to the root cause of the problem. Go see a psychologist, the type that do not prescribe pills but work with you on your overall life situation.
d. Dealing with depression becomes EXTREMELY difficult if you are constantly eating junk food, drinking all kinds of chemically altered drinks like coke and pepsi etc, not taking care of your physical body by exercising, and one of the worst of all… if you are glued to the TV watching all kinds of bad news or action movies. Go on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Fast at least once a week. Meditate. Drink plenty of raw vegetables and vege smoothies. Exercise regularly. Run if you can. Get plenty of fresh air. Register for a yoga class if possible. Surround yourself with all kinds of motivational and positive sources of entertainment and educational materials. Do not touch even a drop of alcohol or similar mind altering substances. Oh, I almost forgot my favorite… no cigarettes.
Finally here is the good news: let me assure you, dealing with depression is EASY if you are ready to face the very uncomfortable truth that you are hiding from and refusing to take action about. That is how you got here. In the beginning there was a simple situation that required your action. Life was calling you to do something about that situation. Your body needed you to take some specific action. You may remember it, you may not. But if you keep taking the steps outlined above, very soon you’ll have enough clarity to realize what it is that you need to do.
I wish you all the strength and clarity on your journey of awakening!
Lots of love,
Shafin de Zane, CHT, MH, MNLP
Hypnotherapist, Author, Spiritual Coach