Many years ago I described my child with depressionperiods of demotivation as depression.  Then I had the realization that these periods were connected to the arising and resolution of childhood trauma that I had repressed.  It was not that I was “depressed” it was more that my focus was turned inward to process events that I had not been capable of processing as a child.

The dictionary defines depression as the state of feeling sad.  This is the way the word is commonly used. However, it is possible to be clinically depressed and not be sad.  This was one of the reasons I stopped using the word to describe my demotivation.  I actually could be “depressed” and be happy.  The greatest sadness I felt was the result of resisting the slowed down state my body and being required.  It is a great disappointment to wake up one morning and no longer feel like doing any of the things that just the day before were exciting.

I remember, twenty years ago, calling a wise woman on just such a morning.  She said, “Well, you know the first thing to do when you are depressed…”

I answered, “No, I do not.  Tell me.”  And waited for her to give me the secret to happiness that I had been looking for.

She simply replied, “Be depressed.”

I was shocked by the simplicity and inherent truth of her statement.

Still today (in 2015) I continue to struggle to “be depressed”.   I often try to ignore it and do my day.  I tell myself that it will pass.  When I steam-roll ahead I find that my addictive cravings start up and become stronger and stronger.

There is a balance I have to find each time.  I have learned that completely vegging out makes me more depressed or at least doesn’t relieve my depression.  And while maintaining my basic internal arts practice when I am depressed can be extremely hard, it boosts my sense of well-being.  I may be depressed, but being able to take care of myself fortifies me.

An alternate definition for depression is “a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way”.  The diagnostic criteria for Major Depressive Disorder (DSM-IV) is:

  • Depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities for more than two weeks.
  • Mood represents a change from the person’s baseline.
  • Impaired function: social, occupational, educational.
  • Specific symptoms, at least 5 of these 9, present nearly every day:

1. Depressed mood or irritable most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful).
2. Decreased interest or pleasure in most activities, most of each day.
3. Significant weight change (5%) or change in appetite.
4. Change in sleep: Insomnia or hypersomnia.
5. Change in activity: Psychomotor agitation or retardation.
6. Fatigue or loss of energy.
7. Guilt/worthlessness: Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
8. Concentration: diminished ability to think or concentrate, or more indecisiveness.
9. Thoughts of death or suicide, or has suicide plan.

If the symptoms are a result of or can be explained by another psychiatric disorder, the abuse of substances, another medical condition, or bereavement then care must be taken in determining if the “depression” can be classified as its own illness.

It would seem to me that the “qualifications” would eliminate all proper diagnoses of depression.  Processing trauma is considered another psychiatric disorder and bereavement, the state of grief over a loss, would pretty much sum up many people’s experience of life in this reality.  We can grieve the loss of a friends, pets, family, as well as, peace, dreams, opportunities.  Of course, such sadness is “okay” or “normal” as long as it is limited in duration.  But, what is it when one is barraged by a continuous stream of disappointments?

I guess the question should be, “Does labeling yourself as depressed create more freedom or less freedom for you?”  “If you are “depressed” do you have more possibilities or less?”  I have found that the term depression is like a bottomless pit.  I have more possibilities when I avoid labels and identify what is true in any one moment.  Some of the best questions to ask are:

  • What is right about this that I am not getting?
  • Is there something that I am denying or pretending not to know?
  • How does this state serve me?
  • How can I take advantage of this?
  • What can I choose that will create a completely different reality?
  • What else is possible?®
  • What is beyond this?
  • If I wasn’t doing this what could I be doing?


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Diagnostic criteria:

The plastic brain

I woke up yesterday considering a series of photos I saw on Facebook the day before.  They were shots of the brain from “normal” people compared to people with diagnoses of ADHD, bipolar, depression and PTSD.  Those pictures got me wondering about what my brain looked like – a mosaic of all four, perhaps.

How plastic, or malleable,  is the brain?  How often does a normal person have a scan that looks like bipolar or depression?  The brains of people having their Bars run change dramatically. What else changes brains?  And how are brain changes reflected in the body?

There is a tendency to think that the biochemistry of the brain is what creates the disease.  This is old school thought, based on Newtonian physics.  In that old model we treat mental illness with drugs.  This is standard procedure in allopathic medicine,  the treatment of symptoms in a complex disease without addressing the underlying cause.

What is the underlying cause?  Well, we know that everything we see and experience is created by our minds (not brain).  So all apparently physical illness is mental in origin.  Sure we can address the issues with physical substances, since such material always works within the constructs of the mind, but causes are always a result of the movement of the mind.

I could easily qualify for at least two or three serious mental illnesses, yet I consider myself free of any major disease.  I consider these “diseases” (addiction, dissociation, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and depression) merely predictable manifestations of living a spirit driven path and having a goal of enlightenment.  Indeed, I don’t know anyone that is free of what might be labeled dysfunctional habits or mental processes.

Still, I would not consider these manifestations permanent.  Nor would I consider them caused solely by biology.  Anything that has a beginning has an end.  All created things change.  This is true by definition.  How plastic is the brain?