Friday, June 7, 2013

Depression Resuscitation Kit

I have a friend whose circumstances are, to all outward appearances, not very encouraging. Understandably, he's fallen into a deep depression. I just sent him the following. You may want to save it to read if you're ever severely depressed (or to forward to friends):

I've known severe depression. But there's one thing I've come to notice, which you may have noticed, too: Depression is what happens when you think about it; when you obsessively tell yourself sad stories about what's happening.

In terms of reality - what's actually happening at any given moment - there's only one thing to say: "Here I am!" Just like always, right here with your eyes blinking and shining, taking it all in. That "here I am" feeling has existed for as long as you can remember. It's never varied. Everything else changes around that.

Sometimes events spur you to tell yourself happy stories, and sometimes they spur you to tell yourself sad ones. But there you are, either way. Same you. Same aliveness. Same "here I am", regardless of the story.

Nothing really changes but the stories you tell yourself about what's happening. But the stories aren't you. You, at your heart, are constant. You're awareness, softly humming. Feel the hum! It's been there for your entire life; the same hum as when you were five years old. That's what's real. The stories are arbitrary. They're a caprice. Any life circumstance can be interpreted a thousand different ways, as you know. Go ahead and choose whichever interpretation you'd like; that's your prerogative. Sad's fine! Just don't forget you're the storyteller, not the story.

Further reading:
A Unique Perspective on Depression
A Surprisingly Uplifting Examination of Suicide
The Evolution of a Perspective
Framing as Hilarious or as Catastrophe
Previous writings on depression

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