A college professor once told me that depression is the worst disease a person can get. It is totally debilitating. It is so bad, it often makes death seem far more appealing than life.But depression, if navigated successfully, changes everything
On the other side of depression, things are less emotionally crippling. You do manage to get back to some semblance of normality. But you will never view the world in quite the same way again – and that is a thing to be grateful for.
Generally, after depression, a person will have a heightened sense of the futility of chasing external fulfillment. It’s actually more than that. They have learned, through experience (the best way to learn) that chasing external happiness is not only pointless, but comes with a very heavy price.
In depression, the underlying emotion we feel is that of hopelessness. Without a sense of purpose, we lose any sense of positive expectation. If we feel that nothing is worthwhile or that our efforts are inevitably futile, we lose hope. We may even come to contemplate taking our own life.
When a marriage breaks down, when we realize the career we’ve been chasing won’t materialize, when we lose a loved one, when we realize that love will never happen for us, that’s when we lose hope. Despair sets in. But, you know what? Depression is a good sign. Why? Because it shows that you’re full of feeling! Even when suicidal, the extent to which you hate yourself and want to die reflects another vision you must have that has led to your disappointment.
Surrounded by an insane world, you crave a loving experience. The very fact that you feel its absence so much, shows the degree to which you value love. In general, not having feelings at all is a far more worrying sign (incidentally this is another reason to avoid psychiatry drugs that numb out feeling).
Invariably, the depressed person is intensely passionate, with an enormous capacity for love and living life. However, because of a series of bad experiences, bad decisions, or lack of guidance, they come to experience the darkness of depression.
And that’s OK. In fact, it is such a great moment in a person’s life. Here, they begin to question, simply because they have no other option. If nothing has worked, serious fundamental questions need to be asked.
The worst thing we can do is cower away from dark thoughts, even suicidal thoughts. Welcome them, because under rationale analysis, they always evaporate. There is nothing to fear in these thoughts. Simply by looking at them, fear is reduced, and change begins to take place.
On the other side of depression, there lies a new way of life. The post-depression world view is very different to the depressed world view, and even the pre-depression world view. You learn about what’s important in life. It’s a form of baptism through fire. It has been said that, eventually, everyone gets to the point where they wonder if there is another way to live. A way different to a life full of attachments, suffering, and heartbreak. When this point is viewed as inevitable, it can be accepted more easily. We judge it as less of a catastrophe and more of a healthy stage of maturation. If you haven’t reached this point, that’s ok to! Don’t feel a sense of dreaded inevitability. That’s hardly the point of this article.
But if you have, remember that many have been where you currently are. And many have looked back with a sense of gratitude for the experience. It gives them a deeper sense of self, of who they really are. Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel. Embrace it. Care for it. Heal it. In the end, compassion and healing is at the root of all positive change.