I have a theory about depression.
I must preface by saying that I am not a doctor or psychologist, but I have experienced depression and this theory originates from my experiences and discussions with other people experiencing depression.
According to BeyondBlue, one in six people will experience depression at some point in their lives. Linked to depression are both self-harm behaviours and suicide. I have had suicidal thoughts and I made it through it. I'm still here and I am so grateful.
Please contact Lifeline if you are feeling suicidal 131 114 (in Australia) or the equivalent in your country.
I was first diagnosed with depression, post-partum my third child, but I definitely had a lot of signs before that into my
teens and early 20s. It was recommended that I take anti-depressants, but it never felt right to me, I don’t even take paracetamol when I have a headache, so I’m not likely to have more serious medications! I did go through a lot of counselling but art therapy and journalling worked the best for me.
Anyway, back to the theory. My theory goes like this: we all live our lives following what society says – our parents and families, schools, peers and so on and that’s how we are socialised into the world. That is not to apportion any blame of parents, after all, we parents are doing the very best that we can in the world. But within that life that we live, our identity is built by external forces, starting with gender roles, expectations of behaviour learned from modelling by our parents, television and our peers and increasingly YouTube. Even our name to some extent defines who we are before we ourselves even have a chance to figure it out.
When we are driven by external forces we lose ourselves. We are not quite sure who we are. We are not quite sure who we were born as and who we were destined to be and we spend the rest of our lives remembering who we are. That’s where depression comes in. It is a place of not knowing exactly who you are in a world where you don’t feel like you have a say or have any power to change the trajectory of your life. It is a place where you feel like your life is out of your hands and you are playing a role.
It is a dark and dismal place and like all great self journeys, you have to reach rock bottom in order to find your way out. Within the darkness, we face our greatest fears, our shadow selves, negative self-talk and rid ourselves of all of those things we thought we were in order to emerge as our creative selves. If we don’t do that deep work to shed who the world told us we were, we will never be able to be our authentic wonderful selves.
For me, depression felt like my true self was trapped inside my heart and I wasn’t quite sure how to find my way out, or back or to open that door. But it presented for me as a blocking of my heart chakra with bars and chains and boxes, no-
one could get in but more importantly, nothing could get out.
If I look back on my life, when I was depressed, I had no control, no creativity and felt like life was happening to me. I didn’t feel like I had taken charge of my life.
I do now. I feel completely empowered, creative and in the “drivers’ seat” so to speak. I haven’t had a bout of depression for a long time. I have moments of sadness triggered by hormones, bad food choices or adolescent daughters, but other than that I finally feel like I am being authentically who I was born to be.
It’s strange how at 41 I feel like I have stripped back the layers of who I thought I was based on who the world told me I was and I can finally be the authentic, beautiful me that I was born to be and I AM AMAZING!
Depression, for me, was a reaction to a world where I felt disempowered and out of control of my destiny. As a mum, I have come to the realisation that despite having similar life experiences and exactly the same genes, my daughters are completely different from each other and that no matter what I do, they will be who they will be. My job is not to stifle their creativity or their authentic selves, but to create space where they can be themselves and nurture the things that bring them joy. It is a difficult thing to not put my own values and judgements on them and to find the balance to help them to contribute to the world, but not to tell them how to live their lives. It’s a hard balance. And I am not perfect. I make mistakes.
Depression is not a life sentence. It is a reflection of hiding your true self behind a mask of what is expected. Since I started to let those masks fall away I have been the happiest I have ever been. I am more creative, expressive, expansive and my heart is filled with joy every day when I wake up and am grateful for my life.
Life is amazing. You are amazing. Let yourself shine.
©Alyssa Curtayne 2015
*Please seek the advice of a professional if you are having suicidal thoughts. This blog is written from my experience only, if it works for you, excellent! If not, see a doctor.