I was talking to a friend of mine about my book. He brought up the title: “A Deep Well Perspective for Healing in Depression” and asked whether I purposely meant to use the preposition “in” in the title as opposed to “from” . He sensed it was intentional, but did ask nonetheless.
I told him that it was in fact intentional. I explained that I believe a person can heal in this disorder. And I also believe that a person may successfully heal from this disorder and perhaps never experience another depressive episode ever again. But regarding the latter, I cannot relate or speak to it. I can only speak to my own experience in depression – and my book is a reflection of that: my own unique and personal experience.
I explained that I still experience depressive symptoms from time to time – summoned by the mechanical reproduction of the same limiting beliefs and hurtful thoughts that, in the worst of my disorder, anchored me in my Deep Well of Depression. I say “mechanical” because my disorder – my depression – is a consequence of a slowly eroding mental state that in my case, evolved since childhood.
This means that for almost four decades, waves of depressive symptoms consistently crashed against my mental rock, so to speak, eroding it slowly until that rock over time took shape of what I now recognize is major depression. And what caused the waves? A tsunami of (consistently) painful thoughts and damaging beliefs.
This process of conscious recognition (or in other words, being self-aware about my disorder and how it evolved) serves as a healing mechanism in itself. I believe this because I now understand why I was sick.
For example, I am aware that I have an emotional disability called angrophobia (which incidentally, is a word I only recently discovered to describe what my psychiatrist deduced in therapy – that I am terrified of my anger, brought on by early childhood events). This means that it is difficult for me to express my anger or frustration in any other way than inward, and toward myself – which is what I had conditioned myself to do for a very long time. So this is my natural response when I get angry.
But for me to interrupt this programming, I must consciously force myself to express my anger or frustration in a different way, like outward and away from myself – by communicating it so I can get it out of my system. I have to tell myself to do this in order to prevent my anger from stewing in me, unresolved – that is, preventing any possibility for reconciliation about the issue that I am angry about.
So after all this time, yes, I still have this thing called angrophobia. And yes, my natural response to conflict is to absorb and bury it and walk away. But I am aware of this. And I know it is not healthy. So in the advent of conflict, I must consciously guide myself to process it in what I am conditioned to believe is a non-natural way, which requires that I not walk away, but instead, voice my anger.
Have I healed from angrophobia? No, I still experience it. But given that I am self-aware of this particular emotional disability, I recognize that it is not a healthy way to process conflict. I can consciously exercise my freedom of choice and force myself to respond differently, in a more healthy way that allows me to not only get my anger out of my system, but opens the door for reconciliation. Therefore, this thing called angrophobia no longer controls me as it used to because through self-awareness, I now control it.
Similarly, with respect to the mechanical reproduction of depressive symptoms that I feel from time to time, I understand why I feel them. I am aware of my disorder and how it evolved and its impact on my mental state over time. So when symptoms do present themselves, I recognize them for what they truly are – a consequence of decades of mental conditioning that at one time, was out of my control. I respect them and their inherent dangers, but I no longer fear them. Instead, I recognize that today, I am the one in control and it is I who owns the freedom to choose my response in any circumstance.
This is my interpretation of what it means to heal in depression.