During the month of May we’re encouraged to honor and bring forth awareness of mental health challenges and available recovery resources across our communities. That said, in most health care settings, we tend to explore mental health challenges through the lens of pathology. We focus on what’s wrong with a person and try to match their presenting conditions with evidence-based treatments. There’s nothing wrong with this approach but what if we take a positive approach. What if we teach that mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, present a remarkable opportunity to understand ourselves, and simply make different choices? The following paragraphs are an excerpt from session five in the BreakThrough! course for mental and metabolic recovery.
What is Our Depression Trying to Teach Us about Ourselves?
A holistic way to view and reflect upon depression is through the lens of our soul or psyche, the term coined by Ancient Greek philosophers. There’s no question that lifestyle treatments and interventions are helpful to get us on a better path. But, if we’re going to learn to pay attention to our inner voice or psyche, we have to ask: what is our depression trying to teach us about ourselves? What is it deep within that we aren’t heeding, nurturing, or caring for in our lives? Have we tried to suppress long-held dreams, hopes, and vision only to feel empty, restless, and discontent? Are we ignoring (or denying) this internal conflict, hoping that somehow with time or “acceptance” it’ll go away? Are we robbing our soul of contentment by insisting on self-incrimination? Are we continuing to scrutinize and evaluate our past and present, burdened with unreasonable guilt, shame, or blame? Do we find ourselves saying things like “you should’ve seen me before!”
Are we comparing our lives, when we can simply be living our lives?
Depression and Anxiety Can Help Us Reach Our Potential
In any epic tale, spanning Greek mythology to the present day, we find characters who, as part of their life journey, descended into some version of hell to later emerge wiser and typically grateful. Our soul or psyche isn’t a representation of one chapter of our lives; it assimilates and reflects all our life experience. Our soul knows the best and worst of who we can be and sees a blended perfection, nonetheless. Our soul remembers our dreams and nudges us to explore our creativity, gifts, strengths, desires, and potential. If we listen through our heart, it’s likely our soul would gently (and humorously) encourage us to take ourselves less seriously and just go for a walk.
Every day we can do something that enriches our existence and sense of well being. With awareness, we can let our senses nurture our soul with little effort or cost. Sometimes we might take a moment to look at distant snow-capped mountains; or down to the resilient dandelion growing from a lifeless stretch of concrete. When we look upon the majesty of nature, many times we don’t recognize that we’re connected to its beauty; that its beauty and reflection lies within us. When we nurture nature by being conscious of it, we’re connecting to its majesty and nature connects to us in return. We’re never alone when we nurture nature within and outside of ourselves. When adventures or creative endeavors aren’t beckoning, the soul loves to find its nest and rest. This nest will reflect our preferences, but we can make it feel more inviting (and pleasing) with the simple addition of flowers, a candle, music, soft pillows, art and things of that nature. Teasing our soul free from the emotional chains of depression happens when we know what we want to do for ourselves and take the first step forward. Simply put; to meet our needs and experience contentment, we have to know what we want. We want to live in the NOW and let emotions from the past slip away.
Course Review Questions
Resilience: To explore your psyche, reflect on the following questions.
What is your depression trying to teach you about yourself and your choices?
What is it deep within that you aren’t heeding, nurturing, or caring for in your life?
Have you tried to suppress long-held dreams, hopes, and vision only to feel empty, restless, and discontent now?
Are you ignoring (or denying) this internal conflict, hoping that somehow with time or “acceptance” it’ll go away?
Are you robbing your soul of contentment by insisting on self-incrimination?
Are you continuing to scrutinize and evaluate your past and present, burdened with unreasonable guilt, shame or blame?
Do you find yourself saying things like “you should’ve seen me before…”
Do you needlessly apologize for things about yourself that you actually like?
Are you comparing your life when you could simply be living your life?
At team BreakThrough! we develop and deliver fully customizable courses and resources to help practitioners meet the challenge of providing integrated care. BreakThrough! is your comprehensive resource you can use to leverage sustainable change for your patients. We provide on-site and virtual tools that support the doctor-patient relationship through recovery from the emotional and mental health conditions that contribute to the development of metabolic lifestyle disorders.
Heather Hamilton PhD
360 899 6267