Depression Is More Important Than Any Thing

Perhaps depression is the inability to see value in our pain.

Posted Jun 08, 2011

Depression is anger turned inward. Depression is a chemical imbalance. Depression is a mental illness. Depression is resistance to what is. Depression is physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, relationship, and career/financial pain. Depression is Beautiful.

If we dive deeply into any of these points of view we deepen our understanding. If we look at all of them we deepen it even more. None of the points of view are completely right or completely wrong; they are just different ways of looking at it. Every time we look at depression from a different point of view we understand it more.

The greatest tragedy is to decide that any one point of view is the only one and miss out on the others. That is what is called ignorance: lack of knowledge or understanding. We ignore something because we refuse to consider that there may be some knowledge or understanding in that point of view.

An interesting point of view that I struggled with for a long time is that I don't seem to get as much done when I am depressed. I think it is because we have been taught to value "things" more than understanding. I was not accomplishing "things" and thought that depression had no value. Only when I began to value understanding as much as "things" did I see that I actually accomplish a great deal when I am depressed. In that way depression became more important than any thing.

Let's say you want to accomplish a thing called a 20 foot trench and all you have is a shovel and you are not used to digging trenches. After the first few feet you will have sore hands, a sore back, and be pretty tired. You may find that within a few more feet you are so exhausted that you are disabled by it and cannot accomplish your task. If you do finish, you will be sore for days. You will be mentally fatigued, emotionally spent, and may even have relationship troubles because you cannot perform your relationship skills as well as usual. This all seems pretty normal because that is what happens when we create "things." We expend a great deal of energy accomplishing them and suffer pain from the exertion. We feel proud of our accomplishments and accept that the pain is the price we pay to have done them.

What if I set out to accomplish deep understanding? I would wrestle with an idea and spend a great amount of mental, emotional, and spiritual energy on it. Because my mind and body are connected, I would be draining energy from my body while causing tension and real physical pain. During my "work" I may not have the energy to address my relationship or career needs and they may suffer for it. I might even say that I am depressed; I would be feeling mentally and emotionally drained, physically weakened, spiritually troubled, etc. But, since I didn't accomplish a "thing" I would not see the value in having expended a great deal of energy and suffering pain from the exertion.

Since we don't see the value in the accomplishments associated with depression, we do not see the value in depression itself. We wish it would just go away as if understanding comes freely without the work. Perhaps depression is the price that we must pay to gain a certain kind of understanding.

Imagine two friends coming up to you and saying they wanted to share their accomplishments with you. The first one shows off his new car and says he took a second job to be able to buy it. You compliment him on what a fine car it is and he talks about the hardship he went through to get it. The second one relates how he gained understanding about himself and no longer acts in ways that are harmful to himself and others. The way he used to act was particularly bothersome to you and you compliment him on making the change. He relates to you much energy he spent working on it and the pain he describes sounds very much like depression.

Considering your long term friendship with both of them, which accomplishment do you value more? What if the friend was yourself?

Perhaps depression is the inability to see value in our pain.

About the Author

Tom Wootton founded Bipolar Advantage with the mission to help people with mental conditions shift their thinking and behavior so that they can lead extraordinary lives.

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