See Depression For What It Is – Part 2

19 Apr

Life constriction means that you aren’t succeeding in making your life what you would like it to be; your life isn’t producing the sense of vitality, purpose, and meaning that you hoped it would. (The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Depression. Strosahl, K.D. & Robinson, P.J. (15))

If you ask a person why they are experiencing depression, sadness, anxiety, etc., you are bound to get many different answers. They can range from, ‘my life just sucks’ to ‘I lost my job, my house and my livelihood.’ Depression triggers vary widely from individual to individual for the very reason that depression is an INDVIDUAL disease. No two people will experience depression the same way, for the same reasons or in the same situations. There is no doubt that depression is a very unique and differentiated experience. However, I believe that you can boil the reason for depression down to a very simple explanation: you’re not living the life you want to live.

You’re depressed because you lost your job? Well, obviously you’re not living the way you want. You value success in your work and you enjoy the responsibility of helping others in your job. That has been taken away from you; and now, all those things that you value so strongly have also been taken from you. Perhaps you’ve just broken up with a significant other. You value companionship, love and compassion. And now, all those things that you value in your intimate relationships have been taken from you. Life constriction is what, in essence, triggers depression. Your life isn’t the way you thought it would be or the way you want it; the purpose and meaning you want or had in your life has been (if only briefly) squashed.

I think it is important to understand exactly what triggers depression. Each person has to figure this out on your own as no two people have the same triggers. It is sometimes easier to sit down and think about what might be happening in your life that is causing life constriction or a loss of a sense of vitality. Was it an argument with a friend? Frustration at work? Uncertainty about your next steps in life? Sometimes understanding what is triggering your depression and actually separating out those triggers can help you back on the road to recovery. You have taken an abstract feeling, thought or emotion and given a name, idea or a place to it. It is now effectively something you can physicalize. You can now understand WHY you are feeling anxious, why your chest feels tight, why you feel a ten-pound weight on your shoulder.

One very important thing to remember is that we can’t run away from these triggers. They are there, and it is okay to acknowledge them. Yes, it might hurt, it might cause you anxiety, fear, sadness, etc., but by ignoring what those triggers might be, you are allowing your depression to consume you. Take a stand against your depression and prove to yourself that you are capable of handling whatever negative thoughts or experiences that you may be facing. If you are able to do this, you will finally feel in charge of your own life and you will be able to renew the sense of purpose and vitality you want to have in your life.

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