A change in conciousness written by: padhia
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Maybe I am a fool to think I could change the way we perceive depression and treat it. But my whole life has been a testament to this very clear fact: PILLS ARE NOT THE ANSWER.

I want to inspire a change in consciousness in our society. We have come a long way in the last few decades to where we now acknowledge depression and anxiety disorders as legitimate illnesses, which replaced the old mind set of “stop feeling sorry for yourself”. But this is not enough. We have only climbed to the first rung in consciousness about this epidemic. We need to realize that this is something we can solve within ourselves, but it involves a commitment beyond taking a pill every morning. It is not something that randomly strikes us at various points in life, which we fall mercy to, and the only hope and course of action is medication. If anything, antidepressants should be a last resort, or a supplement in the case of trauma, where currently it is our first and only resort.

For many years, I was baffled by the mystery of depression. Why was I cursed with a brain that was dysfunctional? Why did I have to suffer endlessly no matter how hard I tried? Those thoughts overwhelmed and depressed the shit out of me. Doctors had no answer and the only solution they offered was in pill form. Now, a few years after detoxing from all of the meds, I have a completely different perspective: depression makes total sense. It not some mysterious mental disorder that strikes and we have no control over. We need to each figure out personally what our depression is about, and then we can free ourselves from it.

It takes commitment, which admittedly is difficult when you are not feeling well. Many days I made no progress at all and there was nothing I could do except stay pointed in the right direction. But I remained committed to figuring out if freeing myself from depression was possible, and that firm commitment is what has helped lead me through many stages of healing. If I could’ve taken a pill that made my symptoms go away, I still would not have had a full life because the reasons that caused me to be so depressed and dysfunctional manifested in many ways- many patterns of thought and behavior. Addressing these issues at the root has not only rid me of depression but also allowed my life to open up and become a journey rather than a painful existence of repeating patterns and dealing with the consequences.

When I was feeling my worst, I would listen to public radio at night. I would listen to people from Afghanistan and Iraq, refugees, Holocaust survivors, people from such unbelievably dire circumstances, tell their stories. I believed I was helping myself by learning about all of this, comparing it to myself, and rather harshly berating myself for having the audacity to be depressed or anxious. These were people who had earned the right to feel as badly. I had no right. Again, I ignored a little voice deep within that said something about this seems wrong. This is a prime example of how we are all conditioned to think since early childhood. We are not taught to acknowledge our feelings, our pain, or how things have affected and shaped us, we are taught to judge and be ashamed. We need to acknowledge our personal pain, free of judgment so that we can use it as part of our journey. We can only grow from that which we acknowledge in ourselves.

Each one of us is unique. We have unique sensitivities. We need to spend time getting to know and understand this about ourselves. Maybe you were not “abused” as child, but that does not mean that things that happen didn’t affect you, or that you have any less of a “right” to feel pain over these things than a more perceptually severe case. We have all been shaped by the environments we grew up in, and we carry with us into adulthood a lifetime of learned behavior. Realizing that depression is a LEARNED response system that is created early in life is so important. Somewhere along the line, you learned to shut down emotionally in response to things that on some level you that you do not know how to deal with. Sorting these things out, and learning new skills in handling things, becoming aware of all of this-is a major step in healing. We need to be proactive in learning new ways of dealing with our thoughts and feelings. We need to acknowledge and feel old pain that has built up, so that we can let it go. What we fail to realize is that when we acknowledge these feelings free from judgment or comparison, when we begin to explore and feel them, they do not consume us. That is how we begin the healing process. When we connect a feeling to the circumstance, anger, grief, etc, that is when we can let go of it.

Think about it from another perspective. If a person you loved came to you and shared something that was very upsetting to them, would you tell them that whatever has affected them is trivial and they need to get over it and go on medication if they can’t? How unkind. How inhuman. Yet we do it to ourselves without even realizing it. We need to treat ourselves at least as kindly as we would treat a friend. I struggled with this. When I have something on my mind, it is like an instinct to get into that old mind set. I make a conscious effort to “step outside of myself”. Think of this person struggling as a friend I care about. What would I do for them? Would I listen, validate their pain, and allow them to grieve? Yes.

There are a lot of reasons we fight this. We believe that if we allow ourselves to feel sorry for ourselves, we think that will become our permanent mind set. We do not realize or believe that once we acknowledge our feelings, and we allow ourselves to feel them, they are diffused. They are only with us as long as we keep them hidden in dark chambers within ourselves. Shedding light on them and spending some time with them does not mean we will turn into weak, self- pitying people. Quite the opposite is true. We become free, lighter and more powerful to explore our destiny.

Another factor in the quality of your mental state is the ability to train and control your mind. You are responsible for your mental space and tending to its well being should be integrated in every day. It is a way of living, not a compartmentalized thing to work on once in a while. For me this was impossible on medication, and especially during my detox but it is something that we need to place greater emphasis on in society. Children are taught so many things, yet seldom do they learn how powerful their minds are and that they can create peace in their lives with the ability to settle their thoughts and find quiet space. Our minds are full of cars zipping all over the place with no drivers, elephants stampeding though the jungle. Visualization, relaxation and breathing techniques are often scoffed at, yet are so powerful. Meditation, which used to be a word that came with some very kooky stigmas, is slowly evolving to a more mainstream practice (I never wanted to know anything about it, after all, popping a pill is easier). After detoxing from my meds, I became aware more so than ever of how much I was suffering at the hand of my own mind and its repetitive, unhealthy, uncontrollable, negative thoughts. I began going to a meditation class one night a week and even though I was a beginner, I was able to settle my mind mentally a little bit, and the effects would last for several days. This was literally my first glimpse of mental peace. Mindfulness is a great meditative non-religious practice, where one learns to observe the moment and the things going on around you and inside you. By living truly in the moment, we can have no anxiety or depression. The past is where depression lives and the future is where anxiety lives, and when our mind is leaning in either direction that creates discomfort. In recent years, I have learned to take great care of the garden in my mind. I take a few minutes each day to clear it out, set positive intentions, reflect on my life as a whole and just feel grateful for the peace I have found. We have to take an active responsibility for our mind and its thoughts, and begin to see how this is the root of everything that happens in our lives. Popping a pill, no matter how pretty the ad campaign, can never do this for us.

We also need to acknowledge the connection between mind and body. I mean this in two ways: your body and what you put into your body. We need to realize that foods, vitamins, water, everything we ingest plays a role in affecting our moods, our hormone levels which affect moods, our energy level, and our cellular regeneration, especially in the brain. Eating an alkalizing diet and avoiding foods that trigger or aggravate depression & anxiety is more powerful in lifting the symptoms that most people can imagine. Just because you are not “allergic” to a food does not mean you do not have a sensitivity to it. Sensitivities are harder to detect and can cause anxiety, depression, mood swings, etc. We also need to realize how much power moving & exercising has over brain chemistry. (There is great explanation of this in Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves by Sharon Begley). Exercising greatly improves the levels of Seratonin in your brain. And when our bodies are stiff, a certain percentage of our daily energy is used to prevent muscles from extending past their limits to avoid injury. Stretching (yoga) not only allows energy to move more freely through our body, it also strengthens the body’s relaxation response and creates a peaceful sense of mindfulness that lasts throughout the day. There are many supplements that are known to help with depression and anxiety, for example Sam-e, B-complex, Omega 3′s, vitamin D3. Your brain is fueled and regenerated by what you put in your body. The nutrients you ingest are the building blocks for new brain cells. Hormones which affect moods and feelings are controlled by what you put into your body. There is far more of a connection between what you ingest and what goes on in your brain than we are educated about in the mainstream news.

Prescribing drugs to people who suffer from depression without therapy should be illegal. It is so dangerous. The right type of therapy is what will ultimately help you to heal from depression and anxiety. If you suffer from major depression and/ or anxiety, I can not overstate how important it is to seek the help of a professional who is trained in some form of psychoanalysis. You are wasting your time and money if you are seeing a doctor who deals with the spills after they happen, instead of getting to the root of why they are happening in the first place. I do not believe that even the most self-aware people can do this on their own. We are only capable of seeing things through our own eyes, and processing them through our personal life experiences. You need outside help from a trained professional. It is amazing the connections that they can help you make and the conclusions and resolution you can experience when you have the right person helping you. Your entire life will change, as you become freer and lighter. I was hoping to get off antidepressants and be magically better. I was so disheartened to find out this was not the case. I did feel a lot better in a million ways, but life was still very difficult. Looking back, I could never ever have made the progress that I have made without the right kind of help.

The Balto Bunny Project is about changing the general consciousness about antidepressants and depression- popping a pill is not the solution and is in fact extremely dangerous. It is totally unacceptable and negligent how the medical profession handles the diagnosis of depression. We need to into the driver’s seat of our own lives and take responsibility for healing ourselves, creating mental well-being, learning productive life skills, and live a life that is as it was meant to be, full of hope and magic.

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  1. Christopher
    5/1/2013

    High is not happy.
    Alone need not be lonely.
    You said it yourself.
    Depression is a gift.
    It is your minds way of telling you something great wants to come out, and you are afraid of it.
    Fear is normal.
    Fear as a lifestyle is not.

    Your insights are amazing.
    I am glad the public has you now.