What Is Depression? And What is Anxiety?
And what causes them? Volumes could and have been written about this and a detailed elucidation is beyond the scope of this brief introductory article. It is clear that depression is a state of powerlessness, hopelessness and desperation, a state in which one often feels dread at facing another day and generally feels unable to cope with life with any degree of composure or harmony. Depression and anxiety are a state of isolation, separation and disconnection from oneself, others and life in general. A person who is depressed will wish to withdraw from interaction and participation with life as much as possible, repressing an expression of their feelings and turning their anger inwards upon themselves, then finding ways to numb themselves and their feelings further – for depression is a state in which we are tortured by our own thoughts and the desperate feelings they fuel.
A fundamental characteristic of depression or anxiety is the internal struggle with the truth of the way things are, the what is. We do not want things to be the way they are, for we have an idea, a belief that they should be different, the way we want them to be. There is a lack of acceptance, and self-acceptance. This causes a mental, emotional and energetic paralysis and so we continue going round and round within the small, self-absorbed and self-enclosed loop of fearing change, yet also creating that which we fear most. Without the opening to acceptance, we cannot change, only continue with our exhausting struggles.
Most of us have and will experience depression and anxiety during our lifetime, and often at many times and for extended periods. It is a matter of degree, whether it is severe paralysing clinical depression on one end of the scale or a mild slump at the other end, but they all spring from the same root.
There are many causes of depression, and many ways to begin to reduce its grip upon our lives. That which we take into ourselves clearly creates what we are and how we feel, and this is certainly true of what we eat. The modern diet is extremely poor, nutritionally and energetically, and will consequently make us feel equally poor when this is what we assimilate. Many studies have shown that simple changes to a person’s diet, like removing all wheat products can have a radical impact in reducing or even totally clearing depression.
Without regular exercise we become energetically stagnant – like a body of water, which is what we are – especially given our predominantly sedentary lifestyle. So exercise is essential in keeping our energy flowing harmoniously, but also to nurture feelings of power and contentment in ourselves.
We are never taught how to speak to ourselves and others, how to effectively use the tool of our minds in communication and in choosing what we place our focus and attention on. We use words, whether thoughts or spoken gestures, as a means of reinforcing our limiting beliefs and ideas about ourselves and the world – for example, once a child has been told he is useless enough times by his parents he will believe it – and then continues to repeat it, as a mantra, to himself well into adulthood. This can then begin to feed looming states of depression and anxiety. To change he must begin to change the way he talks to himself. It is also a question of changing the way he uses the laser like quality of his mind to focus on one thing or another. You can focus on what is good and glorious about yourself and life, and how to achieve what your heart desires, or you can focus on your monolithic beliefs about how you are useless, good for nothing and that you will never get anywhere in life because your life, society or whatever has messed you up – you are a victim. To choose to place your attention on that which is uplifting and expansive is a step into adulthood, responsibility and self autonomy – in other words growing up. Depression is always a state ruled over by childishness, victimisation, powerlessness and a lack of responsibility.
We may fall into depression following trauma, abuse, loss and bereavement, but ultimately, depression and anxiety are caused by the pain of becoming separated, isolated and disconnected from the whole of life. No one truly wishes to be alone, isolated and separate, but we are drawn further into our own deceptions whereby we believe we must protect ourselves, withdraw from others or whatever the story is, and the worse we start feeling the more we withdraw into ourselves. This creates an unnatural state in which we close off to receiving all the abundance life has to offer – instead all we receive is a recycled version of our own tired self-absorption. Then to avoid the pain of existing in this state we must find ways to numb the pain which only further cocoons ourselves into the depression. Depression denies a life of purpose, joy and empowerment. And what underlies depression and the isolation is always fear. Fear causes this contraction and closing to the life that could be for us, where our hearts and souls dream to soar like a bird through the skies.
Most of us are not taught as children how to live life to its fullest, how to express ourselves without limits and how to see the possibility, joy and interconnectedness in everything. So we often slip into states such as depression or anxiety. But we all reach a point at which we cannot go on living like that, and it is then that we must begin to find a way to learn how to live differently.
To overcome depression and anxiety we must reach out to others, and do the thing we have been resisting and fearing – then we open ourselves to receiving compassion from others. None of us can do everything ourselves – this belief in self-sufficiency is one of the biggest isolating myths. We need others and when we show ourselves to others, and open to truth, we allow a connection with life and joy so that then depression and anxiety can begin to fade away. Obviously this is an on-going process and change is made step by step.
When we are depressed or suffer with long term anxiety, we can become very disembodied. This means we spend most of our time thinking, in our heads, rather than inhabiting our bodies. In fact, most people live like this to some degree, whether depressed or not. This causes many problems, but one common to depression is the stagnation that creeps in, reinforcing the feelings of depression and which can then cause other problems. So all massage and bodywork helps to harmonise the flow of energies within us – quite simply helping us to feel better and relieving the depression or anxiety.
Whilst in a state of depression or anxiety, we need someone who can guide, uplift and empower us to find our own way out of it – not to prop up and support which can disempower and keep us in depression and the fears that underpin it. My approach to treating depression and anxiety uses bodywork, energy healing and spiritual counselling as a process of unwinding and deconstructing all the personality defences and limiting stories we have created and promoted over the years. A state of depression, anxiety and limitation can then, and so often does, become a gateway into transformation.
Energy healing and bodywork are all complementary forms of treatment that require no adjustment to your life in any way and are fine to receive alongside any other treatment or medicine you may already be receiving. All forms of holistic healing are really and simply just a way to a better, happier and more fulfilled life. Now who wouldn’t want that?
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