I just learned that someone I only sort of know, but greatly admire and respect, is experiencing depression.
I’m not sure it’s right for me to reach out personally at the moment. We aren’t close and I didn’t hear this news firsthand. But there a lot of things I’d like to tell her, if I could.
I don’t know that she’d hear them. That’s the thing about being full of internal cloud cover…the clouds get in the way and we don’t always hear what people are attempting to say.
She’s hearing her own cloudy thinking louder and clearer than anything else at the moment. And double-whammy: she doesn’t realize that she’s only hearing her own cloudy thinking. That’s what her depression is, and that’s probably the first thing I’d tell her.
She’s hearing her own thinking, and that thinking is depressed. It’s biased. She and her life is not as they appear to her.
Her thinking is depressed but she is not. Depression is a feeling and feelings come and go, wax and wane, and inherently mean nothing about the person experiencing them.
Depression is depressed thinking and although one can feel completely lost in it, they are closer to health and peace of mind than they know.
Sometimes just knowing that you aren’t seeing things clearly—but that you can see clearly again at any moment (when the cloud cover shifts)—is enough. I remember feeling hugely disappointed a couple years ago about an opportunity that fell through. I was in a funk for a while until, at some point, it occurred to me that my funk was actually showing me that I wasn’t seeing clearly.
Life wasn’t in a funk, reality wasn’t in a funk. I was. Because I was only seeing things in my funk-colored way.
That’s the beauty in funks, depression, anxiety, etc. They are attention-grabbing for a reason. They are our wisdom in disguise, pointing us back toward our own thinking to show us how we’re innocently using it against ourselves.
Depression alerts us to the fact that we’re using our power of thought in a way that’s hurting us. We need that reminder so that we can come to doubt the sad stories in our heads; we can disengage with them and eventually see them as the fleeting, biased thoughts they are. When we stop adding fuel to the fire the fire dies down, and our health begins to shine through again.
I’d probably talk with her about her own depressed feelings and how they might wax and wane throughout a typical day. I remember the story I heard from one of my mentors about his client who was depressed.
His client insisted that she “had” depression and that it “had” her. He asked her if there were any times she wasn’t feeling depressed and she said “Oh sure…when I first wake up in the morning I feel fine for a few seconds. Until I remember that I’m depressed, of course.”
Just because we can’t seem to find our way out doesn’t mean there is no way out.
And I’d definitely want to tell her that she’s not alone and that she’s not doing anything wrong. She’s doing the best she can—we all are, always, given how we see things in the moment.
And that nature is on her side. All of the energy in life is on her side, nudging her back toward her health and well-being in millions of ways she doesn’t even notice.
So that’s what I think I might say to her, if I did talk to my sort-of-friend who is feeling depressed.
Of course, I don’t really know what I’d say until I showed up. It might feel most helpful to just sit in silence, or talk about the weather, or tell her a story about something silly one of my kids did. Sometimes that’s exactly what feels best.
But these are some of my best guesses as to what I might say, so I wanted to say them to you as well. Just in case you or someone you know could stand to hear them.