the art of being

Depression

By Deborah Chandler, Ph.D.
Posted 3/20/21

Depression is often cited as both the cause and experience of sadness, loss of hope, and self-blame.  For people suffering from depression, there is a core doubt about one’s essential …

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the art of being

Depression

Posted

Depression is often cited as both the cause and experience of sadness, loss of hope, and self-blame.  For people suffering from depression, there is a core doubt about one’s essential worth.  This loss of self-worth originates during the first few years of life when the infant/toddler experiences overwhelming abandonment.  With intense abandonment, the child’s immature inner resources cannot compensate for the profound loss of safety and nurturing.  The infant/toddler assumes this is a failure on their part--a failure to gain attention, a failure of being worthy enough.  The child lapses into the belief that I am inadequate and shameful.

With this early history, depression gains a stronghold on the personality.  The healing from this loss of inner confidence crisscrosses many paths.  These paths include psychotherapy, addiction and recovery, divorce and reunion.  Any of these paths could reveal a life story.  It could be my story.

I came from a devoted, yet emotionally hollow family.  The immaturity of my parents made it difficult for them to empathically engage with the persistent needs of an infant.  I grew to become strong but also hollow like my parents.  I lacked that fire for connection.  Instead, I held back with shame and fears of rejection.

I’ve learned two things from my path.  First, depression may be a habit.  From my early life, I had learned a default position of expecting disappointment and planning for loss.  Before an event, I eagerly prepared myself for the darkness that might ensue.  In my early adulthood, I realized that my responses were habitual.  I preemptively defended against loss and shame.  I never considered joy, love, and trust as part of my life.

Once I recognized this habit, I began checking my thoughts, stopping my negative planning.  This brought me to my second realization about depression.   When I open myself to new and wondrous possibilities, I hurdle into a wilderness.  

This is the wilderness of living beyond my expectations.  This is the chasm of the unknown.  I think there is no greater challenge and no greater gift than to exceed my own expectations.  When the ceiling is lifted and the expanse delivers upon me the unexpected, I cringe.  Ah yes.  I cringe.  But then I begin to assess; I melt.  I allow the new to carry me beyond my limitations.  I have yet to be disappointed.  When I give up my resistance, I am buoyantly carried into the realm of the new.  The wilderness is teeming with new options, new love, expanded light.  I live beyond my wildest imaginings.   Within depression are hidden the seeds of possibilities.

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