Depression is a Menace or a Message, Depending on Your Point of View

point of view

Depression is not the absence of happiness. It follows that finding happiness cannot resolve depression.

Depressed people are capable of experiencing happiness, but any happiness in their vicinity is drowned out by the pain and stagnation of depression. Pain is purposeful though, and we pay attention to pain because it is uncomfortable.

A Respectful Perspective

Physical pain let’s us know something is wrong. We may be hurt, or ill, but the message is clear. We need to take care of the problem or go to someone who can help. The pain is disturbing but serves to protect us. If we continue to ignore it our body, or part of it, eventually stops functioning and we are forced to be attentive, get treatment, and take care of ourselves.

What if depression serves the same function? It shows up when we ignore, consciously or not, emotional and cognitive problems, or if we stop expressing our thoughts and feelings. This means depression is a protective measure, not the result of a physical or functional weakness.

Like physical pain, depressive symptoms are unwelcome, but need to be respected. It tells us that mentally, and emotionally we are out of whack, and knowing this is so important we have the warning mechanism of depression to point it out.

Thinking of depression as an alarm that prevents us from hurting ourselves further gives us another benefit. It annihilates some of the stigma attached to this diagnosis. A warning that we are out of balance is not a weakness; it’s a strength.

Why We Stagnate

Something stagnates when it doesn’t flow or has no way of being refreshed. We usually refer to standing pools of water as being stagnant. Nothing flows in or out, and breeding mosquitoes love it.

Emotions are energy and designed to flow spontaneously. If they get blocked, the energy stagnates. That might explain why our feelings disengage from our physical self when we are in-the-dumps; maybe emotions cannot engage unless they flow. The question is then, when depressed, what is blocking the flow of emotions?

We have some understanding of how we curtail our emotions. Fear of not being loved and accepted, humiliation, disrespect, failures, and successes can all cause us to stop trusting, or to fear, certain emotions. When we stop trusting, and fear the consequences of our feelings, there isn’t much point in sharing them.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Whatever clogs up our emotional energetic flow, the stagnation that we experience can knock us off our tracks. Depression’s message may be,

“Something is wrong and it’s not wise to move on until it’s resolved.”

Or, more to the point,

“What are you saying ‘no’ to this time?” It may also say, “Don’t shoot the messenger.”

Looking at depression as a gift will not make the accompanying pain more bearable, although it may relieve the guilt we harbor about being lazy or weak. Like any group of symptoms, depression can be considered a mechanism for surviving and thriving.

Author's note:

The information in this article comes from professional counseling observations, personal experience of depression, and common sense.

The article’s opening sentence comes from a book the author read years ago, by Karla McLaren. Ms McLaren deserves credit for planting that thought in the writer's head.

love this viewpoint

From someone who has lived and cared for a person suffering from MDD (major depressive disorder), I appreciate this viewpoint. It's a misunderstood illness and its victims suffer so much. It reminds me a little of Dr. Conrad Baars work on true affirmation of the unaffirmed. He talks about the emotions being "motors" in a similar way. Check him out.


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