I’ve got a friend who always says “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I’m pretty sure that is a quote she picked up from somewhere else (it sounds so zen…or maybe field of dreams?), but nevertheless, it is a sentiment that I feel like I’m living this past year.

And not even just student and teacher as two people…it also seems like when I am ready for a message, the message appears. That sounds very mysterious, but I think it is pretty simple – when I’m ready to hear it, I actually hear/see the things that others have been saying all along.

For instance, this past year of therapy I’ve come so far in getting a handle on my depression, on my life, on me. I still have a ways to travel on this path, and that is frustrating sometimes, but overall I’m in such a better place now it is amazing. Sometimes overwhelming! And in the past month or so I have felt like I’m struggling.

Not struggling with depression, but struggling with some of the old patterns associated with a lifetime of depression. Not wanting to do things, apathy, a bone-deep weariness that is more emotional than physical. I kept thinking these past couple weeks that I’m just tired of fighting…tired of fighting myself.

I finally looked at a book that I’d gotten a couple months ago, on my therapists recommendation. It is called “The Mindful Way Through Depression” and it is about meditation, and comes with a guided meditation CD. The first paragraph:

Depression hurts. It’s the “black dog” of the night that robs you of joy, the unquiet mind that keeps you awake. It’s a noonday demon that only you can see, the darkness visible only to you.

And I about fell out of my chair. How did they get in my mind? Okay, I never have trouble sleeping…at least, I am almost always too sleep deprived to have trouble sleeping, and I’ve been resisting my own efforts to get to bed earlier, which is disconcerting. It makes me wonder…what do I think will happen if I’m not tired? Somewhere inside I guess I am worried that I won’t fall asleep easily…that I’ll think, and think, and think. Even if the falling asleep part doesn’t apply, the rest of it is eerily accurate.

So the book starts off running. And then on the very next page:

We wrote this book to help you understand how this happens and what you can do about it, by sharing recent scientific discoveries that have given us a radically new understanding of what feeds depression or chronic unhappiness:

  • At the very earliest stages in which mood starts to spiral downward, it is not the mood that does the damage, but how we react to it.
  • Our habitual efforts to extract ourselves, far from freeing us, actually help keep us locked in the pain we’re trying to escape.

In other words, nothing we do when we start to go down helps because trying to get rid of depression in the usual problem solving way, trying to “fix” what’s “wrong” with us, just digs us deeper.

Yikes.

I imagine this can be misinterpreted – we do, after all, need to do something to help ourselves. I think of it as reprogramming (I am a software developer, after all), it can also be thought of as retraining ourselves. We have these old patterns that we have walked so often we have grooves dug deep, and it is easy to slip right back into those old worn patterns.

That is not the “fixing” that they’re talking about here. They’re talking about that fight we have with ourselves. The “shoulds”, which I consciously try to eradicate from my thoughts and speech, the judgements, the expectations we put on ourselves and then beat ourselves up for not meeting.

I have another book on my to-read pile that ties right in – “Radical Acceptance”. I need to get through both of them. I believe that meditation will be a big help. I have a hard time sitting still to do it, but I think the guided CD will help there also.

No wonder I’ve been feeling tired from fighting myself, and watching the apathy seep back into my life no matter how hard I fought.

baby geese at ps

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