Depression is the literal depression of self. It happens while you are busy not meeting your own needs and, even unconsciously, are grieving for them. Depression is often born from the deep conviction that I don’t matter. Maybe it’s because you have been living for others, for your old traumas, or for that epic career you have tried so hard for. Maybe you can’t live for you because you are buried under the stuff of your life.
For me, it became clear that my lifelong pattern of being overly sensitive to the needs and wants of others had seriously caught up to me. “Your dad was like that too,” Barry said. What if they’d talked? I wondered again. But even more importantly, What if we all talked? Because it’s not too late for us. The problem is that all the doing good we do for ourselves—the yoga, the meditation, the self- care, and maybe even the medication—might not be enough on its own. There is no amount of doing that will excuse us from the requirement of the deepest, toughest, and truest self-care we seek: being attentive to our own lives and needs.
Depression is a side effect of being buried under our lives and, because of that, cut off from ourselves. It is the wave that comes, either by ripple or crash, when we ignore our own needs for too long, often because it’s too painful, and in favor of the demands and expectations we’ve created for ourselves. Sometimes, even when nothing terrible is happening, life comes just too fast and furiously to catch up to. Maybe you don’t know who you are anymore, and maybe you never did. But depression is the call to let yourself rise.
If we want to close the gap of empty space within ourselves, something has to give. While it may be impossible to live a life 100 percent dedicated to what we desire, there is something more we can be doing. In addition to eliminating the noise (the trauma, the fears, and the old patterns) that blocks us from getting as close as possible to our desires, we must make an unwavering commit- ment to our own lives. It was this combination that helped me circle back to myself, with so many of my clients and students fol- lowing right behind. The work of becoming our truest selves allows us to reach the kind of real-deal happiness that’s not only attain- able, but sustainable.
The medicine is not in finding the cure, it’s in the attention to why you need the medicine in the first place. It is in learning how to stay in touch with ourselves; and how, when we lose touch, to renavigate, reposition, re-angle, and reconnect.