I’ve been wanting to write about dealing with depression this week, but I sort of feel like I’ve hit a wall.
I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because there’s already so much that’s been written about it.
Maybe I’m worried that I have nothing original to say about dealing with depression.
As soon as I had that thought, I remembered that the act of writing, even here on the blog, is a creative and vulnerable process for me.
So I started browsing back through some other things I’ve written, and found these notes from a workshop I took years ago on the psychology of creativity:
- We must make way for something original to come, rather than trying to consciously create something original.
- It’s important to get our egos out of it, otherwise we’ll vacillate between comforting ourselves with perfection (I’ve created the best thing ever) to wounding ourselves with harmful judgments (I’ve created the worst thing ever).
- No one is as vicious as our own inner judge.
I love this reminder, both parts of it.
It calms me to remember that I don’t have to force my writing, I can just step back and let it come.
And I particularly like the part about how mean your inner judge can be. It reminds me that the vicious inner judge can take up so much space when you’re dealing with depression. No matter how you’re feeling—sad, down, low, confused, angry, unhappy, blue—chances are that judge is sitting somewhere close by.
Not only does the judge color your views about yourself and your worth, but it also urges you to look at the world around you through a dark lens of negativity and scarcity.
These days, even if you aren’t feeling depressed, you might find it hard not to look at the world through a dark lens.
Maybe that’s the real reason I’m having trouble writing about depression. Because collectively, our internal resources are stretched pretty thin right now. Hope and optimism seem to be in short supply.
And I believe it’s easier to deal with the negativity that depression can bring when the world around you feels more hopeful.
I also believe it’s easier to cultivate optimism when the world around you feels more optimistic.
So maybe the question I’m really pondering is this: How do you find your way back to hope and optimism, particularly during times like these?
I’ve mused on this question many times throughout the years. And I always come back to the same thought.
You begin the journey back to hope and optimism by practicing empathy and love.
The simplest definition of empathy is stepping into another’s shoes, by imagining or inhabiting their experience and world view. And certainly, if we all practiced empathy right now it would be a salve to ourselves and our world.
But if you’re dealing with depression, even if it’s just a few symptoms, then I think there’s another form of empathy that’s even more important right now: self-empathy.
In other words, stepping into your own shoes and gracing yourself with love and acceptance.
Showering that love and acceptance on yourself, no matter what. No matter if you think you’re not worth it or don’t deserve it.
It will probably be hard. But it’s how you begin the road back to hope and optimism.
The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely. -Carl Jung
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