Depression is not a disease, but more chemical and emotional imbalance of the brain, normally affected by long-term stress, deep trauma or grief, for some it is difficult to diagnose the root cause. Here is a link to a good article written by Dr John Grohol on defining Depression for those of you that are insistent on calling it a ”disease”.
Furthermore, should it really be referred to as a ‘mental illness’ either? Through my research and personal experiences, depression is an understandable psychological reaction to the stress and violent deformities of the modern world.
I have tried a number of conventional and non-conventional methods to treat my own depression and I feel the most valuable activities are spending time in nature or in the company of animals, rather than people, writing and creating and being as honest with one’s self and others as possible.
Obviously, getting to the possible triggers and issues such as recovering from anger, trauma, grief are examples that are the root cause of the problem. Diseases like cancer or diabetes are not cured in this way by conventional means, depression does not discriminate, just as no one is immune to cancer or other illnesses, whether you are rich or poor, what ever your circumstances, you can suffer from severe depression at some point in your life.
People whom suffer from depression are usually highly aware and sensitive folk that are creatively gifted or perceptive in some way. As a result they are people that find it difficult to feel normal in a society that places value on things that are leading humanity and the environment to destruction. Sufferers of depression, find it difficult to connect with others on a personal level and mostly they are simply overwhelmed and disheartened by the amount of injustice, destruction, greed, cruelty and abuse that goes on in an increasingly hostile world.
A number of other environmental scientists such as Dr Stephan Harding, a deep ecologist, like myself, sees the value in needing to restore our lost connection with Earth and understand that we are all part of one greater consciousness. Deep Ecologists will tell you that there is something wrong with you if you are not profoundly saddened or depressed by the state of things at the moment. We are living in the sixth greatest mass extinction, we are killing off the last of the dolphins, whales, tigers, great apes, elephants, rhinos, insects, bees, amphibians, destroying the oceans, ripping apart the last of the Rainforests and indigenous people. We are seeing the largest scale ecocides and genocides. The amount of torture and abuse that our fellow creatures suffer at our own hands, is just overwhelming, let alone the killing, torturing, abusing and human trafficking of women, men and children en mass, worldwide, innocent victims of insane wars, exploitation and capitalism driven slavery.
It is important to understand the psychological impact of the current ensuing chaos worldwide as we now also have the internet and technologies that bring such information into our awareness. Some of the emotions we feel with depression are a collective conscious reaction to this daily violence and exploitation along with grieving our severed connection with mother earth and our lost ancient knowledge of whom we are and where we have come from. The ill-usion of separation has created a very ill world. Anyone that is not affected by this should be the ones that need to go into therapy and be diagnosed as mentally ill, not those of us that are acutely affected by what we are aware of what is unfolding around us.
We have been made to feel nothing more than commodities, who need to be obedient, our only value is as consumers and as obliging wage slaves, whose taxes go to destructive exploits, yet behind closed doors corruption unfolds at the deepest level in all governments around the world, with no transparency or monitoring, but the good consumers lack privacy on every level. Our human rights are being fast eroded and many of us cannot even imagine a different world. It is a challenge to imagine that we can rise above these lower vibrations. There are still ways we can become self empowered sovereign beings. There are ways we can create a more harmonious and sustainable world without predatory imperialism and its destructive force that has driven this rise in depression and suicide worldwide, even among those regarded as the most privileged. This is an obvious testimony among those of us that are empathic and compassionate beings, humanity needs to change. We must begin to learn our value as human beings, as part of a larger global community that is working towards change in consciousness in the midst of all this chaos. Global depression is at an all time high and the World Health Organization admits that over 1 million people commit suicide each year, that is only the confirmed statistics of the west, not taking into account third world statistics.
We can begin to reclaim our connection with earth in various ways through growing food communally, rebuilding and re-inventing new communities and a transparency in our relationships, in government institutions, in society. Teaching and establishing new value systems in societies and communities, with emphasis on the value and practice of unconditional love, kindness and acceptance, rather than status, idealised perfection and elitism, which are all forms of violence and repression on the human psyche.
I personally draw a lot of strength from the work of Jeff Foster (www.lifewithoutacentre.com) and Matt Licata, Jeff Foster has an interesting explanation of depression being a sign of needing Deep Rest from it all. Being someone in need of deep rest myself after working for ten years in environmental conservation,I can vouch for this. However, current society would rather say there is something wrong with people like us, than admit that society itself is malfunctioning, not serving humanity but serving an elite few and there it is corrupt to the core. It is modern society that needs to be treated for mental illness, especially the psychopaths and paedophiles holding power in government, religious institutions and monarchy.
Accepting our humanity is key in healing, accepting it is okay to feel broken, deep sadness and the spectrum of emotions that bring us the gifts of questions and answers in the form of truth. It is time for humanity to question it’s actions upon earth and ourselves. It is time to be totally honest and say ‘fuck it’, I need to allow myself to fall apart into the dark hollow and just allow these emotions to flow through, to be free to feel what comes through, it’s not normal to keep marching on while a war on nature and human consciousness is ensuing. Moreover, while the pressures from others and from society which is dictating how people should conform in an unnatural way of living and not make their own choices or question anything governments dictate, while free speech is eroded.
The subtle levels of violence of what society calls normality is disturbing enough and so is what is expected of people, to conform in such an environment. It is enough to drive someone with depression, to suicide, aside from economic depression and financial struggle, family commitments and conformity pressures, because they see it as the only means of relief and peace out of a mad world that currently denies most people their humanity and governments and corporations are destroying the planet.
I have known and loved many great friends and *more recently my husband to suicide and I understand how it feels to be that despaired. If you have ever suffered the great misfortune of losing a loved one such as a spouse, brother, sister, or worse a child to suicide, you have to keep going, but its the worst form of grief you ever suffer, you are deprived of a normal grieving process and get stuck in the self blame and pain stages of grief and do not move on in ways other grief allows to unfold. In the first few years of grief it is the hardest thing just to get up and do normal daily things, to breath, or put one foot in front of the other, to get dressed, to feed one’s self, these simple tasks will be the hardest thing you have ever done, you not only lose the one you loved but you lose yourself, who you were with them and friends who don’t know how to react disappear and often family members too, since suicide is shrouded in so much social stigma, which is why we need to talk more about suicide and depression, especially with the global statistics.
I am fortunate enough to be constantly reminded of the love surrounding me and so I try to pull through best I can even at the worst times, so as to stay here for those that love me and it’s not easy to do at times, its the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I remind myself to choose life because those I have lost didn’t and they have no idea that when they choose to end their own lives that way, they only hand their pain to those that are left behind grieving for them, the pain doesn’t disappear, they leave a legacy of pain behind with friends and loved ones.
When you feel suicidal depression, break the stigma, talk and seek out supportive people. Being as honest with one’s self and others as possible is important, though some have no idea how they feel, but there are more support groups emerging and more awareness to help depressed people, ask for help, don’t suffer in silence.
We are not robots, we are not machines. Being in nature, being creative, painting, writing, singing, making things, developing projects that contribute to a better and more harmonious world, playing music, getting involved in a community project, doing something that aids deep relaxation, meditation or trance, banging a drum, screaming and shouting in private or on a mountain or in a wood, try and express yourself even if you have no idea what will come out. All can help bring us more into our centre and truer inner voice. When we are stuck in the past, practice mindfulness to bring oneself to the moment and one day, you will again reconnect with little broken shards of joy that comes from just being. Reach out as much as possible to friends and family, without feeling humiliated or the stigma that is carried with the label ‘depression’ in some cultures and the negative phrases that go with it, mental illness, mental disease. Krishnamurti was right “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
Inner work is really important for all of us, not just those of us suffering from depression, but those of us suffering from denial or disillusion.
by Carlita Shaw
*updated in 2019.
Further useful links
Dr Stephan Harding
Dr John Grohol
My Ecological Blog