Our Life Movies / Some Notes On Depression 我们的电影生活/忧郁症的笔迹

I love watching movies. Often, movies depict stories and adventures in made-believe worlds originated from our imagination. Most movies are inspired by real life, then imagination creates fiction for the end result, the final show. However, I often find that life really is stranger than fiction. In fact, our lives are all independent movies in their own right. Every ‘Life Movie’ contains all the essential ingredients for an entertaining movie – drama, action, passion, excitement, romance, adventures, suspense, thrills and also ordinary mundane elements that is part of our everyday lives.

Recently I was transported back to one of my darker moments years ago by a scene in Burlesque. The main character, played perfectly by Christina Aguilera just left her small town to fulfill her dream in the big city. After checking into her hotel room, she carefully hid her hard-earned cash in a zip-lock bag and hid it under the toilet cover. She prayed for good luck and hopes she will find a good job, or better yet, a good opportunity that will lead her to her dreams. One day after returning from a long, hard day of work, to her dismay and horror, she found her room has been broken into. Worse still, all her preciously earned money has been stolen from under the toilet cover. She was crushed and broke down pitifully. I sat on my seat and cried with her.

I could feel her anguish, sorrow, fear and desperation in my heart, crushing away painfully bit by bit. Her tears were the same kind of tears I had shed many times before. I could almost taste the bitterness in my throat as I cried along with her. The world can be so cruel sometimes. It is not fair, is it? The poor, poor dear ….

Being alone in a foreign place is no easy task indeed. Trying to survive in a city, especially in a big city is especially challenging. The most challenging situation would be to survive in a foreign country independently on your own, which means without anyone or a legitimate company to support your financial, legal and other relevant matters. It could be perfectly fine and even fun if your financial situation allows you to take care of most matters easily. However, when you are destitute in a foreign land, it could mean absolute horror. Endless concern will rush to your mind: how am I to pay the rent? Do I have enough for water, let alone food? If I need medical help, how will I pay for it? What if there is an emergency? What am I supposed to do now?? And the list goes on.

The worrying feeds the anxiety building inside you, and eventually it morphs into depression. Depression is one of the most destructive and dangerous disease. Compared to an average “feeling a bit down” and moody feeling, Depression can and will actually poison our soul with darkness and negativity. When feeling depressed, our aura is engulfed in total darkness, our overall energy becomes extremely heavy and negative. Wherever we go, we will seem to be constantly shrouded in a grave, dangerous cloud that is about to break into a fierce thunderstorm any moment.

A normal person would naturally be appalled, repel and become frightened at this defensive, sometimes even hostile energy. And who could blame them? Like attracts like, as they say. Light attracts light, darkness attracts darkness. Light is open, kind, welcoming and forgiving; darkness is closed, sinister, shunning and unforgiving.

When one is seriously depressed, even their voice sounds extremely heavy and gloomy. The grave tone in their voice trembles gently with such dullness and poignancy it’s enough to make one wince and cry. It is almost as if a tone of bricks have been strapped onto their shoulders, and they feel that there is no other choice but to keep struggling ahead with this heavy load. I can relate to all these sensations as I have experiences various spells of Depression over the years.

Depression deceits us by shielding everything with a dark, negative veil; often we can’t see beyond this and we just accept this horrible fate. We become a victim and unconsciously fall into the trap of misery. After some time, it becomes a natural state as the body, mind and spirit adapts itself to this (low) way of living. Although we don’t like feeling down all the time, nevertheless the familiarity somehow pulls us right back into the darkness again and again. Rather than face the fear of the unknown, or avoid any difficult challenges, it is often wrongly perceived as a ‘safer’ option to continue delving into further Depression. It requires much time, energy, presence, effort, humility and patience in getting yourself out of the deep well of darkness. The process to help oneself out is no doubt challenging and time-consuming. Thus, a vicious cycle is born.

Naturally, escaping from reality by indulging in another activity or literally running away from the problem is also often considered a solution, albeit a temporary one. It doesn’t matter where we go and what we do, for as long as our internal landscape is in chaos, our demons and skeletons in the closet will continue to follow us to the depths of our soul. The fact is, there is no escape. The only solution is to conquer our problems and challenges, here and now, once and for all, step by step, one breath at a time. The root of the problem is inside us that is intimately personal and requires care, love, understanding, compassion and persistence. Turning ourselves away instantly kills the opportunity to even begin understanding the situation, let alone begin the healing work. What a shame it is!

Strange as it may sound, some people actually enjoy being depressed, albeit in a subconscious manner. Perhaps it is another way of getting attention, getting their needs and desires fulfilled. Perhaps being depressed brings them much more love, attention and power than when they are not depressed. Kindness, empathy, sympathy and the desire to help are among the admirable qualities of human nature. Alas, so are the qualities of being selfish, greedy, egoistical and unreasonable. There are individuals who use their disease as a tool to manipulate others into meeting their demands. It is fine if reasonable requests are made, but the danger comes when the ‘patient’ actually turns into a power-hungry monster that uses his or her disease to control and manipulate others.

When the depressed patients see that others respond kindly to their requests due to their sickness, naturally they feel a false sense of power and their ego inflates. They feel much more empowered than when they were healthy (without the sickness), so there is no reason whatsoever to get well. For them, to get well is to give up this new found power, which doesn’t make any sense at all. Why give up something that brings one power and makes one happy? Thus, the desire to remain powerful becomes the driving force, and they choose to continue to be ill: to continue to ‘wallow’ in Depression, when in fact they are actually enjoying the privileges of being ill happily.

For some unconscious individuals, (having) an illness or disease also means having an identity. Without their illness or disease to relate to, they feel their existence is incomplete or not real enough. It is like how a workaholic overly-relates to his/her job so much that if they stop working, they feel completely lost and helpless. This is actually the mischievous work of the ever greedy, never satisfied of the false self – the Ego. To have an illness or disease is to be unique and demands extra attention, therefore having the excuse to distinguish oneself from others, creating even more separation and isolation on the whole.

Dramatic? Hard to believe? Yes, indeed. Plus it is very much in the real life too.

From my own experience, one of the ways to get out of Depression is to just surrender to it. Surrendering does not mean we give up. It doesn’t mean we are literally giving in to situation, and it is definitely not indulging in self-pity. We do not surrender as a suffering, helpless victim.

Instead, we surrender with a completely open heart, humble and accepting the present situation. In other words, surrendering to the present moment for what it is. Rather than spending more time and energy in fighting against whatever you are experiencing, be it anguish, fear, desperation, loneliness, pain, grief and so on, it is wiser and more constructive to reserve this energy for self-preservation, for healing ourselves. Going against something always drains us physically, mentally and emotionally. When we are depressed, using the already low energy reserve in us to fight against something externally can only be unwise and more stressful.

When we surrender to what is, the stress immediately dissipates. A sense of peace and clarity naturally occurs inside us as the space previously occupied by stress, negativity and darkness is swept away. Within this new, bright space arising inside us, the tendency to keep holding onto disempowering, destructive and repetitive negative thought begins to fade away. With a bit of awareness, kindness and patience, the ability to heal and recover is only a few breaths away.

True, conscious surrender is actually profoundly EMPOWERING. It is a potent, enlightening energy that can deeply heal and awaken our real self that is corrupted and manipulated by the Ego, the false self.

For healing to occur, we must allow and give ourselves the opportunity to do so in the first place. The only way to do this is to be willing to drop the Ego and decide that we want to be free from this darkness. It helps if we also believe we can be free, that we deserve to be happy and abundant too. Any positive thoughts or feelings will undoubtedly help change our inner vibration from negative, low ones to positive, high ones. Living in high vibration has proven not only to strengthen every aspect of our being physically, mentally and emotionally, as well as to affect the quality of our surroundings too.

Another way out of Depression is to simply ASK for help. Sometimes we forget that we are mere human beings that depend on one another for our survival. As much as we would like to be independent, capable and self-sufficient, sometimes we do need some help from others. As someone wise and dear said to me many times before, “No man is an island”. Asking for help does not mean we are incompetent or useless. In fact, it takes grace and humility to ask for help. Most people are ready to open their hearts and help if they understand the situation and know what they can offer. It is up to us if we are able to be kind to ourselves and allow ourselves to receive help when we need to. In other words, this is another way of being responsible for ourselves. Having said that, continuously being depressed and infecting others with our negativity can only be a huge disservice to humanity! Therefore if we are unable to help ourselves, we seek and kindly receive from others.

I pray that you, dear reader, will not have to endure and experience any Depression, but in the event that you do, please know that you are not alone. Remember to just be as calm as possible, sit with any feelings that may arise inside you like an old friend and be kind to it. Allow it to be here, have an open communication with it, focus on getting through it, and all will be fine at the end of the day. The process might be painful, but remember it too shall pass. In the meantime, pray, meditate, cry, eat chocolate, whatever that helps you get through. Tomorrow the sun will still rise, there is always a fresh start ahead. Never give up on yourself. Ever.

Apr 16th, 2011 Phuket, Thailand


all words and images remain the copyright of Shantih Shala

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