Choosing to Depress
I am reading a book, that was donated to me by a beautiful student, called "the choice theory" by William Glasser that speaks about depression in a way that caught my attention.
First of all he talks about "depressing" as a verb, not a noun, coming out of his adamant belief from working with thousands of people over the years that depression is a choice we make.
He argues that choosing to "depress" is a mechanism we use for three specific (and often valid) reasons.
The first is that we choose to depress to deal with situations of pain, anger and frustration where choosing to depress prevents us from committing violent acts. We process those emotions by withdrawing and slowing down so that we do not have to be physically or otherwise abusive to what we may perceive as our source of pain.
The second reason we depress is to be able to ask for help without begging. We hope that people around us will recognise this call for help and therefore offer a helping hand, send us to a therapist, help us out with our problems, make us feel loved and accepted or a combination of them all.
The third reason we choose to depress is when we are scared to make a change. Let's say you're in love with someone that stopped loving you, you depress out of fear of letting them go. You depress when you are going through divorce because we are scared of the unknown, of making a change or of making big decisions that move us in that direction.
Depression is real, but the way we deal with it does not serve the person choosing to depress. Our culture promotes making the person dealing with depression as helpless as possible, injecting them with medication to make them even more helpless. While medication is sometimes necessary in some situations for a temporary period of time, most cases in which medication is prescribed as a remedy for depression is unnecessary. We live in a world where we are told that our brain chemistry changed and that is why we are experiencing depression. What we are often not told is that we are experiencing change in the chemistry of our brains because we are choosing to depress.
But Glasser argues that the opposite is true, he uses the example of a runner. If you ever stopped a runner and said "hey, do you know why you're running?", they will say something like "yes, because I want to remain fit/training for a marathon/it makes me feel better" etc. What no runner will ever say is "I'm running because I'm sweating". We sweat because of our body's reaction to running. In the same way, our brain chemistry changes because we choose to depress. If you had a completely mentally healthy person and asked them to focus on negative thoughts constantly for a period of time, it would be no great shock to see that their brain chemistry changed too.
This is faced with so much resistence from those who choose to depress because it completely removes them from seeing themselves as helpless victims of a "condition" outside of their control we call depression and puts them into complete power of making the choice to do something about it.
Trust me when I say there is no bigger relief than being told by a professional that what is happening to you is just that, happening "to you", that you have no control over it and that this magical pill they are giving you will make you all better. Empowerment is not something that any of us want when we are at our lowest and desperately looking for help.
Not all cases, but in many cases, medication is being prescribed for no reason. When we are going through grief, loss, dissatisfaction or other emotions that may overwhelm us, it is normal to feel sad, low and so on. Those are emotions that we are choosing to feel in order to process an event, a belief or a running story in our heads.
Can we entertain the idea that we made the choice to feel the way we do? Can we entertain the idea that we then have the power to choose to feel something else? Even momentarily? Can we at least accept the way we're feeling right now, even if it doesn't feel great, and know that if we don't let it wash over us, we will be able, with choice, and maybe with a little bit of help, to overcome it?
Weam is the founder of Namaste. She had started a very deep and intense spiritual journey at a young age having refused to continue to suffer with the common challenges of her generation: depression, anxiety and being lost. She insisted that there must be more to life than the constant rat race she was in