Editor’s Letter: How do I deal with Depression? I can’t.

Via on Feb 23, 2011

This is my weekly editor’s letter, an introduction to our Top 10 blogs of the week email newsletter—a great way to follow elephant without getting overwhelmed (as opposed to, say, twitter or Facebook, where we’re verrrrry active). ~ ed.

Arrogance perpetuates Depression.

Recently, I’ve been a bit down. I won’t go into particulars, for fear of depressing you.

What I often do when I’m depressed is to get outside, get some sun, walk my dog, exercise, see a good friend, talk, go out for drinks, ask a girl out, throw myself into work, throw myself into a pint (or two) of Ben & Jerry’s, throw myself into a bath (or two), sleep. If not for my mutt, Red, I probably wouldn’t leave the house.

All of the above have one thing in common: they’re ways that I’m trying to “deal” with depression, defeat, sadness. All of the above have another thing in common: while some of them are healthy, some not, all are arrogant, speedy, missing the point.

The only way I can deal with my sadness, and I’m not saying “we can deal…” or “you can deal…”, I’m saying “I”…is to face it head on, open up, and breathe in and out. It’s hard. I have to listen to it.

Our society is built around drugging depression. Entertaining ourselves out of depression. Getting away from it.

But the only way to get at the root of depression and pull it up is to listen to it. It’s telling me something: I’ve been off, I’ve been messing up again and again. As Einstein put it, famously, we can’t get out of a situation by thinking or doing the same things that got us into said situation.

Ultimately, I have to stop, and learn again to do nothing, to relax in the present moment, however depressing. Then, as night turns to day, the morning will naturally come.

Good morning sunshine,

Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis
editor-in-chief, host
elephantjournal.com, Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis

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24 Responses to “Editor’s Letter: How do I deal with Depression? I can’t.”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Waylon Lewis, Red Fox. Red Fox said: Editor’s Letter: How do I deal with Depression? I can’t. http://bit.ly/ht4NOv [...]

  2. TamingAuthor says:

    Perhaps in the same way that we look at our attachment to beautiful things and ask, do I cling by considering it to be mine, we also cling to the black energy deposit of depression as though "it is mine." Perhaps when we look closely we see that it is not ours. It does not belong to us. We do not need to cling to it, to hold it near. We can release it to make its own way. Perhaps go up the canyon a couple miles and release that black energy to float on down the creek on its own. Launch it and let it sail away, knowing it has the prideful design of a Titanic.

  3. Padma Kadag says:

    Our english is not very good at translating Buddhist thought or teaching. So if I may beso bold as to say, in the words of Shantideva, "act as if you are a piece of wood".

    48. Whenever there is attachment in my mind
    and whenever there is the desire to be angry,
    I should not do anything nor say anything, But remain like a piece of wood.

    49. Whenever I have distracted thoughts, the wish to verbally belittle others,
    Feelings of self-importance or self-satisfaction;
    When I have the intention to describe the faults of others,
    Pretension and the thought to deceive others;

    50. Whenever I am eager for praise
    Or have the desire to blame others;
    Whenever I have the wish to speak harshly and cause dispute;
    At (all) such times I should remain like a piece of wood.

    51. Whenever I desire material gain, honor or fame;
    Whenever I seek attendants or a circle of friends,
    And when in my mind I wish to be served;
    At (all) these times I should remain like a piece of wood.

  4. Padma Kadag says:

    52. Whenever I have the wish to decrease or to stop working for others
    And the desire to pursue my welfare alone…

    53. Whenever I have impatience, laziness, cowardice,
    Shamelessness or the desire to talk nonsense;
    If thoughts of partiality arise,
    At these times too I should remain like a piece of wood.

    - Shantideva, A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life

  5. Charlotte says:

    Thanks for posting this. When I'm going through a blue period, I like to remember one of the traditional phrases I learned for equanimity practice: "Joys and sorrows arise and pass according to natural law." It helps me to disidentify, and to remember that it's not helpful to add self-blame to the mix.

  6. Charlotte says:

    Also, I love that you used Eeyore to illustrate!

  7. Joe Sparks says:

    Defeats are fine. Not a chance to heal from them is not. We will have more defeats, and we can learn from them and gain things from them if we keep facing and feeling those feelings. We cannot avoid all defeats, but they are really not the problem. The problem is that we have not been able to recover from them and now we feel like we cannot recover from them. We feel like we cannot get back a fullness of life and that we have to do the best we can with what we have left. It's not true. We get everything back that we're willing to work for.

    • Joe Sparks says:

      Hearing someone laugh when we laugh, helps. Every little supportive sound helps us think a little further, because it contradicts the feeling that this is a lonely, hopeless battle. You will win this. Everyone has these feelings. We will win this, without doubt. There is no other possibility.We all got that badly hurt. But that's all that happened, and once we get it out where we see it and begin putting our minds on it, and once we start healing the feelings, it cannot get more powerful. And we can. Win.

  8. Thanks for sharing Waylon! Your insight into the situation is so keen that there is really nothing I can say other than I hear you and I see your brave willingness to let the feelings be what they are, cradled by your awareness.

    I've written a little bit about my experience of depression also. It is here: http://determinedtoheal.org/2010/10/25/depression

    • elephantjournal says:

      Well, maybe I'm a better writer than walking my talk in daily lifeI'm not sure how well I'm doing, and in this case, it's because I've got some learning to do, so I don't particularly feel sorry for myself or think I deserve to feel better, particularly.

      Anyways–thank you for your kind words and advice. ~ Waylon

  9. Katherine says:

    The only way I know how to deal with it is to relax and try to release my attachment to "being otherwise".

    Expectations are the root cause of unhappiness, so I attempt to release the expectation that my life should be different than it is. Being okay with not knowing the answers, speaking my own truth anyway, and living with my integrity the only way I know how to do it. These are the things that get me through. It's all very hard work, and sometimes that gets me down. When that happens, I take a break and allow myself the space to fall apart if I want to.

  10. Padma Kadag says:

    Starting over…a new life is at hand…how wonderful! Opportunity abounds and you can apply your own terms…there is nothing left to lose…and you decide now on what there is to gain…How wonderful.

  11. Jeannine Walston says:

    Many blessings to you Way and may you feel what you need to feel, be what you need to be, think what you need to think, and embrace any dark to find the light. Being with what is and moving through what needs attention involves strong medicine. Honoring the authentic self cultivates courage for everyone.

    Do you dance? For me, dancing helps to unravel some of my patterns connected to the tapestry of "my emotions" that aren't really consistent with who I am. Dancing a movement practice called the 5Rhythms is transformative for me. If you are interested, you can read about it at http://embodiworks.org/cancertreatments/bodyminds… and http://www.gabrielleroth.com/.

  12. jj says:

    I don’t understand your feeling that you don’t deserve to feel better. Acknowledging, being present with, and owning your feelings lead you to greater understanding and growth – but I don’t think staying there is going to do you any good. The beauty of humanity is that we are capable of being hopeful and optimistic, that a better day is around the corner. I’m pulling for you, Waylon.

  13. Hey Waylon, if he were back in Boulder, you could ask Dr Joel. His advice: open a tin of King Oscar sardines. If you like, we'll write a short piece telling you why.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Please! If you like, email it to write at elephantjournal.com we'll be proud to publish it up. ~ Waylon

  14. Monica says:

    I agree with you 100% that Listening is key. I’ve been living with Depression my whole life. I’ve found that when I focus on others, it helps a great deal. In Improv and in several schools of Acting, the #1 Rule is to focus on your partner. You’re supposed to take the focus off of yourself, and place it on the other person. I found that’s true for Depression as well. When I volunteer, or just sit and actively listen to a friend without offering advice or comments, I feel less depressed, and more engaged and alive. Listening works.

  15. kmh says:

    if you're into yoga . . . I have found working towards handstands and back extensions / backbends a great long-term strategy to decrease symptoms of depression – was suggested by one of my teachers and really true for me

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  19. elephantjournal says:

    Maybe that's why I'm depressed: I always have dirty dishes—and I have no excuse, I'm right-handed.

    Though I've been getting 50% better lately, so hopefully I'll cheer up 50%, too.

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