Emotional repression and the body's emergency brake
Today, it seems that everyone is "depressed. A friend would mention more often than not, "I'm so depressed..."
And just like more and more kids are being treated for having a serious attention deficiency disorder many "depressed" people find themselves popping "Happy Pills" to keep them going... it doesn't make it right. It is in times like these, where it has become more and more important to turn our antennas inward and access what is going on within us. Are we really getting sicker as a generation? And are future generations really this dependent on the pharmaceutical industry to keep going?
Are you depressed?
Are you depressed in the clinical sense or "just" really really sad because something truly hurtful happend? Before we start talking about depression and why it is okay to be depressed, let's first check out the definition:
"Depression is more than just a passing blue mood, a "bad day," or temporary sadness. The most common symptom is a low mood that can sometimes appear as irritability. Often the person with depression is not able to enjoy activities that he or she normally enjoys. With major depression, there is a profound sadness or a sense of despair. The symptoms of major depression are defined as lasting at least two weeks, but usually they go on much longer... Many people with depression also have anxiety. They may worry more than average about their physical health. They may have excessive conflict in their relationships or function poorly at work. Sexual functioning may be a problem. People with depression are also at more risk for abusing alcohol or other substances."
- Harvard Health Publishing
It is clear, that depression is not a one-size-fits-all illness and as such can take many forms, is experienced in various ways and should be treated differently from person to person.
Hormone changes, major/stressful life events and medical conditions can, for example, impact the brain part that controls the mood so much, that the communication between nerve cells and nerve circuits are impacted and the ability to regulate mood affected. Treatments that have been found effective include: talk therapy, medications, exercise and light therapy.
When you find yourself struggling with daily activities for a long extent of time and often catch yourself thinking non-stop along the lines "I am the only one in this situation; I am the odd one out; I am horrible; there is no hope for me", then chances are, you are clinically depressed and should actively seek help to climb out of that hole. Sometimes, medicine can be a good temporary help to get those brain connections back on track.
I personally always advocate for alternative healing methods and know the body has the ability to heal itself. In this article, I am referring to a situational depression. Especially, if you have been struggling from clinical depressions for a long time, I warmly recommend you to seek the support of your health advisor.
More often than not, we are told "don't be so dramatic" or "don't be so emotional!" or "you have no reason to be angry". So when we grow up, we rather learn to invalidate our feelings than how to deal with them. We tuck them away, embarrassed to have felt the way we did and ashamed for having reacted impulsively. Few parents guide their children through their emotions, mostly because they never learned how themselves. It is your turn to break that cycle!
It is your turn to break that cycle!
Yes, we are not our emotions. We shouldn't let thoughts and emotions dominate us. HOWEVER, it is extremely important that we learn to become aware of them. To learn how to observe them without judgement, to embrace them and to let them go. It is also important, with these emotions, to become aware of our deep needs. And to fulfill them. As adults, we have the responsibility and the ability of meeting them one way or another. Unmet needs will lead to "negative" emotions.
Sometimes, it is wise to temporarily suppress our emotions. If we just had a fight with our partner, it would be unwise to break down crying at the next work meeting. That's what differs us from children. We, as adults, have the ability to press pause and choose to "embrace our emotion" in a better and more private time.
When you start hiding these emotions not only from others but from yourself, then you are hard-core repressing them. Which is a whole new level. Distraction can be good, momentarily, but avoiding them long-term is like running away from something faster than you. It will come back and hit you harder later. Suppressing and repressing our needs and emotions on the long-term is never a good decision. So it's important to meet and deal with them in time.
A forced retreat
So you tried. You ran and ran and ran from the pain of hurt or unmet needs. Delved into work, engaged in humanitarian projects, went out, traveled, tried out new things, enjoyed life, claimed maximum performance and with time actually believed things were good. You did it!! And before you know it: BAM! The same thing happens again and/or your body pulls the emergency breaks on your fast paced lifestyle. "Too - much - pressure. STOP! If you don't, I will. Tired of pretending. DE-PRESS-ion.
Your body pulls the emergency breaks on your lifestyle: DE-PRESS-ion. Take off the pressure.
You are forced to retreat, listless and powerless. Moody, sad, hopeless, unmotivated. With no greater wish than to close the door, draw the curtains, crawl under your bed sheets and disappear from the world. Sound familiar? The death of a loved one, something horrible you witnessed, a break-up, a horrible fight, a loss. Many things that happen to us can cause us to retreat.
Take off the pressure. The most important thing to keep telling yourself: it's okay. Empty your mind of expectations, of routines, of obligations, of how things should be, what people would think and all the things you should do. Anything that puts pressure on you - put it on hold or have someone else take care of them. It is the most crucial time to be kind to yourself! If possible, get a medical certificate to take some weeks off work.
It is the most crucial time to be kind to yourself! Take the time to recharge.
Rest. Retreat from the world. And recharge.
Acknowledge what is
Be your best friend
Relax and recharge with meditation
Good food and fresh air
Once you feel a bit stronger, take the retreat-time to analyze what is going on. Do you often feel drained? What in life is draining you? What activity? Thought? Belief? Emotion? Dream interpretation, for example, can also help. Is there a recurring dream? Practice mindfulness and ask for support. Know, that it doesn't always have to be a painful emotion that is causing you to retreat. Often, it is also the long-term suppression of a need or a desire. Pretending something you are not. Going over your limits too often for too long.
There will come a moment, maybe a couple of days later, where you will start having minor curiosities of the outside world. Don't ignore them. Don't stay in this hole forever. Take your mind's invitation and socialize. Call family or perhaps meet a very good friend. You will catch yourself laughing or smiling at one point. There will be a micro-moment where you forget your sadness. Become aware of it. And do more of the things that make you smile.
Emotion in motion
Everything is energy. And energy ist constantly flowing and changing form. Don't ever forget this.
Emotions are also a form of energy. Thoughts are too. And these are energies that WANT to move. There may have been times in your life that you didn’t have the support or knowledge to let them move and you felt completely overwhelmed by them, so you had no choice but to suppress them. Now the body is giving you a wake-up call that is hard to ignore.
Accept that invitation. Really, take your time. You will see in many of my articles, that in order to let something go, it is often helpful to first embrace it. Running will get you nowhere. So, like water washes off the dirt on your body. You need to let emotions wash over you to let them go.
Let the emotions wash over you and then let them go.
Facing your demons is a simple concept. But that doesn't make it easy. The biggest fear of
letting in an emotion is that it will overwhelm and hurt you in a never ending cycle. Just like the creepy music of a scary movie warns the viewer of an impending horror scene, the same way our mind will be telling us "Don't go there! It's painful! It's scary! You don't need it. You can't handle it." But you are NOT in a horror movie. You are home and you are safe.
The 6th Chakra
The third-eye chakra is located between the brows on our forehead. It is the point where the three nadis (energy channels of the body) - ida, pingala and sushumna - come together and flow as one stream to the crown chakra. Purple is its characteristic color and this chakra is known to be the command center of consciousness, perception and discrimination. Emotional signs of an unbalanced sixth chakra often include resentment, depression, dogmatic thinking, anxiety and paranoia.
Mindfulness and meditation are powerful tools to uncover the roots of any imbalance.
Compassion and forgiveness, in this case, are especially essential to successfully clear the 6th chakra. Mindfulness and meditation are powerful tools to uncover the roots of any imbalance. A short search on the web can also reveal wonderful ways to support you in unblocking this chakra using color therapy, aromatic oils, crystals, acupuncture, repeating specific mantras and belief-statements, certain yoga poses and sound frequencies. Theres is no one-size-fits-all solution. It is up to you to experiment and try them until you find the one that works best for you.