The Sweet Wound.

 The greatest obstacle to healing depression is to see it as the enemy. We talk about fighting, combating, struggling with depression. Even ‘having depression’ suggests it intrusively came to you from somewhere else.
In the early days of my training I went to see an analyst and was reeling off my woes and complaints about life.
”At least I’m not depressed,”I said.
‘No,’ he replied, ‘you haven’t got there yet.’
I was shocked.
Depression could be a goal.
The fact is there are lots of things in life to be depressed about. And if we then try and combat it rather than enquiring into its purpose, it entrenches itself.
”What we resist, persists.” CG Jung
Depression is a sign that I has stopped talking with Me. The path between their houses has overgrown. The feeling of social isolation that comes with depression is mirrored on the inside as self estrangement.
Much depression has to do with the issue of authenticity, with whether we are being who we are. If a gap begins to grow between who we really are and who we wish we were then depression will fill that gap.
If we pretend to be what we are not for others in the fruitless and misguided quest to be loved by them, then depression will call our attention to the dissonance between what is actually going on and the new improved version of ourselves we’re trying to sell.
Depression hits particular kinds of people.
Did you notice the aggressive metaphor I just used?
…that I typed, myself, without noticing it until it was sat licking its paws on the screen in front of me.
We’re conditioned to have this combative relationship with depression. Centuries of being great white hunters.
Depression mostly unfolds in particular kinds of people. It’s the underbelly of perfectionism, people pleasing and ‘positive thinking’.
The perfectionists are at war with their shadows, their inadequacies and unevolved aspects.
The people pleasers are at war with their own destinies, so readily derailed by other’s baggage and expectation.
The positive thinkers are at war with anything that isn’t rosy and bright.
Whether its with yourself, your path, or life’s mourning and pain, the insistance on things being other than they are gives rise to depression.
”Our suffering is as much created by our struggling against the circumstances at hand as the circumstances themselves.” M Israel.
If we are living someone else’s life, or someone else’s vision of who we ‘ought’ to be, then depression will ensue. And if we are not living up to our potential on account of its cost to us, it will be all the worse.
”There is a great deal of pain in life and perhaps the only pain that can be avoided is the pain that comes from trying to avoid pain.”  RD Laing
Its big. The US spends an incredible $350 billion a year on medication and therapy for depression. This amount is currently increasing at a rate of 20%.
The figures are scary and again its tempting to whip out you sword forgetting that depression has a purpose and failing to notice that it is pointing at something we subscribe to that doesn’t actually feed us or represent us.
Something has to give.
and not this or that but the paradigm itself.
We have a collectively narcissistic vision of ourselves as highly evolved when in fact we are really the creature that has only one of its senses working and thinks itself so grand in the absense of all the others.
This is the characteristic response, the strategy, of the unmothered child, and indeed we’ve had no Queen of Heaven for quite a few millenia now. When Mother is lost the child does not grow, or in only one of its aspects.
The rest of it shuts down and regresses.
So here we are, trashing our play pens.
We fail to grasp the proverbial reality that as we selfishly destroy nature “our outer world”, consequently we destroy “our inner world”, and ourselves as a species. The psychological consequence of this disconnection from nature amputates our soul connection with Mother Earth.
And its a question of more than mere deprivation.
A seven year old proudly announces to mother that he’s made money! Mother asks how and the child explains with great delight that he got it out of mother’s purse but then swopped it for the same amount he’d persuaded his mate Billy to take from his mother’s purse…. so it wasn’t stealing….’
And this is the logic of the economic market in the Western paradigm culminating in banks printing their own money and lending what they don’t have . We call it free enterprise but actually its a way of becoming magic in the absense of magic, the magic of belonging and feeling held by the Universe. A strategy that involves a hiest.
We deal with what feels like abandonment by attributing ourselves with  whatever specialness it takes to gain some additional illicit toe hold on the world. Our deep hungering then justifies whatever follows next, generally an envious attack on the worth and value of others..
This envy creates depression. Its part of the fallout of being so pious and better than everyone else. In order to really buy the shining version of ourselves we have to attribute others with the very fragments of  self most needed to be whole.
We cannot take command of our great battlements without corresponding feelings of having been robbed.

The paradigm itself creates depression.

The monotheistic notion that life always has to be cheerful (could) be instructed by melancholy. We could learn from its qualities and follow its lead, becoming more patient in its presence, lowering our excited expectations, taking a watchful attitude as this soul deals with its fate..” T Moore

The loss of the Principle of Relatedness in our culture means both a loss of the internal cohesion of I and Me and of the bond between ourselves and the external world. This is generally experienced as disconnection, lack of trust and not belonging that then reinforces internal divisions and the feeling of alienation.
The thing is that the creative life also has its gloomy vales.

”Creative people who can’t help but explore other mental territories are at greater risk, just as someone who climbs a mountain is more at risk than someone who just walks along a village lane.” RD Laing

So sometimes it can feel like a choice between the aggravation of refusing to be what we are or the further aggravation of  grasping life’s nettle. It doesn’t seem fair and its not.

”a warring peace, a sweet wound, a mild evil.” R Owen.

If the feelings of being depressed can be honoured as a form of longing then so can the feelings of riding your push bike down Middenmarsh hill with a mouthful of blackberries and chocolate.

based on an extract from my new book, ‘Abundant Delicious’,…ot-off-the-press/



Call it something else!

Part of the problem with the multi-billion dollar ‘think-positive’ franchise is that people are left with the sense that meaning can’t be found in anything else.

‘Positive thinking’ touts itself as awareness raising and life affirming but its ungarnished sentimentality can leave folk feeling guilty about feeling guilty and angry about being angry.

The New Age is mostly the Old Age with its prejudices re-arranged. We no longer call it sin, but still get to feel bad about feeling bad.

The implicit doctrine of ‘positivity’ is that if you can’t manage it you’ve failed, and even advocates inauthenticity to attain the goal. Fake it to make it!

Apparently there can be no soulful value to be found in regret, depression, anxiety or mourning over loss.

“How many times do we lose an occasion for soul work by leaping ahead to final solutions without pausing to savor the undertones? We are a radically bottom-line society, eager to act and to end tension, and thus we lose opportunities to know ourselves for our motives and our secrets.” T. Moore.

There is no time to linger and sift through the ashes, its all about moving on and letting go; fleeing, in fact, from life that would sully us with its dirt.

A lot of ‘positive thought’ is newspeak for lack of compassion. Folk are simply giving their refusal to value the leaf mould of life fancy clothes to wear.

Turn that frown upside down!

What’s disturbing is that the philosophy of ‘positive thought’ seems so maternal and affirming but actually much of it is extremely macho and intolerant.

Pain is a weakness, regret is a waste of time, anxiety a worthless affliction and much of the advice of New Age ‘therapists’ little more than a set of judgements about how others ought to live.

And its oh so popular because it gives the bright, cheery narcissistic streak in us all endless permission to lay into the weak or vulnerable inner child that can’t live up to such fine ideals.

“Usually, the main problem with life’s conundrums is that we don’t bring to them enough imagination” T Moore.

Inner conflict then becomes entrenched. We get to be shamed rather than enriched by the shadow, plagued rather than humanised by our imperfections.

”One is a great deal less anxious if one feels perfectly free to be anxious.” Alan Watts.

Whilst it is true that we cannot worry away our problems this is not to say that worry itself is without value. It could be an expression of love or involvement or participation and riding roughshod over it as something ‘negative’ is to fail entirely to find its meaning or value.

There are things in life to be depressed about. Its just inhuman to say otherwise. Becoming depressed can be really important. It aquaints us with the saturnine quality of life, the reality of the ‘old, outmoded dispensation’, and needs to be entered into..

”when we are completly exhausted by the weight of our own identity”. J Foster

Depression is there for a reason. Its not just some blow of fate. Our task is to find its meaning, what threshold of life it presides over, to find its context and be able to say, ‘of course, you feel like that’. Then it will pass. I’ve seen depression lift at the mere consideration that it might have some value…

I came across this piece of spiritual fascism today,

”Any feeling of insufficiency, unworthiness or unloveability is created by thoughts. We don’t experience these feelings when we don’t have the thoughts that create them.” Noah Elkriel.

What nonsense. If people are treated like shit they will feel like shit. The thought ”I feel like shit”, comes after the fact. The mind does not create lousy parents, a nuclear threat, or economic depression.

These are realities that our feeling lives must be touched by if our humanity is to remain viable and if we are to care enough to do anything about it. Trying to block out reality by changing your syntax is like abolishing elephants by refusing to acknowledge them.

”What we resist, persists”. CG Jung

The whole ideology of ‘positive thought’ has some big hitters in support..

”Once the correct ideas characteristic of advancement are grasped by the masses, these ideas turn into a material force that changes the world.” Mao tse Tung.

Thing is, his ‘great leap forward’, cost more lives than those murdered by Stalin and Hitler put together, and puts a little perspective on how positive thought can wind up crushing those its supposed to serve.

Our culture is run through with, ‘je ne regrette rien’. We aspire to live without regret, forgetting that this wish is really a narcissistic desire to remain ever the same, never to grow or to gain the perspective of greater wisdom. It is also to forget that Edith Piaf dedicated her song to the benevolent embrace of the French Foreign Legion and that she herself struggled with lifelong addiction.

Nietzsche too, with his ‘Remourseless Life’, was famed for his intolerance, his contempt for the feminine and the ease with which his philosophy was used by the Nazis.

The fact is that we need to fail, to mourn and to regret.

“It is in the nature of things to be drawn to the very experiences that will spoil our innocence, transform our lives, and give us necessary complexity and depth.” T Moore

Our task is to tend life’s situations, not to ‘improve’ them. For if we fall foul of the fantasy that whatever doesn’t suit us can simply be pushed away or turned on its head then it will materialise into precisely those things we originally wished to avoid.