It’s Depression Awareness Week (26 April to 3 May 2014) and the point of it is that people who aren’t aware of depression become aware of it and better understand it. Given that the vast majority people have either suffered from it themselves or will have a close friend or family member who has, I’m not convinced that there’s many people who won’t already be aware of it but… the wonderful thing about weeks like this is that they prompt people to talk, not just of issues, but of hope and help.
First, let’s check that we are aware of depression
Here’s the dictionary definition:
Depression: severe, typically prolonged, feelings of despondency and dejection.
No surprises there, right?
What might surprise you is that the ‘feelings’ in that definition come from the same source as every other emotional feeling we are capable of having: from the happiest feeling to the most despondent feeling. In every case, feelings come from the same place – not circumstances, not past events, not other people – just our own thoughts.
A BBC survey on mental health showed the more that people thought about past events, the more they were likely to suffer from mental health issues, such as depression. Peter Kinderman, who led the study and is a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Liverpool said:
“The study found traumatic life events, such as abuse or childhood bullying, were the biggest cause of anxiety and depression when dwelled upon… …But these didn’t merely ’cause’ depression and anxiety. The most important way in which these things led to depression and anxiety was by leading a person to ruminate and blame themselves for the problem.”
We have no real choice about the thoughts that come into our minds – we all have funny thoughts, depressed thoughts, scary thought and joyful thoughts – and we will all feel those thoughts. We’ll feel funny, depressed, scared or joyful for as long as we hang onto the thought which created the feeling.
The sixty four thousand Dollar question…
In pretty much every first coaching session I have with a client, we’ll get to the point of the client understanding that their feelings only come from their thoughts and then ask…
How the flipping heck do I stop thinking myself from thinking a thought then?!
And it’s a very good question. At this point, clients will be waiting expectantly for a brilliant technique that will kill all known yukky thoughts. I don’t have one… but the fabulous news is that we dont need one.
It’s just a thought
We’ll stop thinking a thought by realising it’s just a thought – and no more important, real or true than any other thought – and then noticing it drift away. As old thought flows through our minds, new fresh thought is always there to flow in. I know that sounds, rather paradoxically, both far too simple and far too difficult but I’ve seen people transform from decades of depression to a happy life purely from understanding this, as is shown beautifully in This flower has bloomed, the story of a lovely lady who recovered from almost an entire lifetime of depression.
Usually the easiest way to get an understanding of the principles is through a one-to-one conversation with a good Three Principles coach, teacher or facilitator (and I’m always very happy to recommend someone if I’m not the right girl for you) but there’s also lots of brilliant 3Ps books and movies which can be a good way to start exploring, the Finding out more page lists lots of these resources.
Maybe reading this will be the start of someone else’s story of recovering from depression. Maybe it’ll be their time to bloom. Maybe you could share this if you think it might give someone hope and help.