There is much speculation about what causes depression. Some say it is a mental illness we are born with, others attribute it to a chemical imbalance, or call it hereditary. I believe there are some people who are predisposed to depression, but what the large majority of what we call depression these days is caused by not taking care of ourselves–and I don’t mean that as a judgement. It’s just that perhaps we never learned how to properly tend to our own well-being.
Depression May Indicate Feeling Out Of Synch
Many of us spend our early lives feeling like an odd guest in our own families. We may have different values or beliefs, or simply not understand the family culture in which we were raised. If we are too young to understand that, we may blame ourselves for not fitting in. This can easily cause depressive tendencies.
Struggling to carve out the independence required of a young adult while still craving the nurturing that got cut off so abruptly, you might have internalized a feeling of not belonging. It can be startling to see how this residue can color so much of your experience. The despair of not feeling connected to those around us can turn into depression that may take a lifetime to learn to cope with it.
Depression + Ego’s Game
Yoga was the first thing that actually seemed to help me work with my own depression years ago. Yoga practice showed me that the darkness I experienced was just an expression of feelings. I gradually saw that they did not really exist as anything other than sensations.
The feelings were ego’s messengers, and I learned that it is ok to kill the messenger. Necessary even. Feelings are not the problem; it is the acts they drive us to that cause the difficulty. Embarrassment, shame, self-consciousness…these are simply ego and its entourage. The practice is to see through the game. You have to stop believing your depressed story. It is a senseless cycle, but to see it is to begin the path. I love this video because it show how to take back your power from the dreaded beast called depression.
This Video Describes In No Nonsense Terms What Causes Depression.
Mental Health + The Medical Model
The medical model approach is not always the answer to working with mental health. Often the best remedies are simple tools to work with awareness of how we are treating ourselves.
Yoga and meditation practice gave me a practical tool–a daily discipline to show up for–and this changed everything. If you suffer from depression or other mental health issues, know that islands of clarity are available at any moment, simply by noticing them. All you need to do is be present and drop the storyline. Learn to stay with the sensations and move the energy through the body. I’m not saying this is easy, but with practice it is possible. Then you are free to create another, healthier story. It can also help to seek out a therapist.