I’ve been really struggling with my latest episode of depression. I’ve been feeling isolated, hopeless, frustrated and apathetic.
But after sleeping way too much for the past four days and calling in sick today, I suddenly felt the need to read one of my many self-help books. So I stopped a movie about twenty minutes in and started to reread The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness.
I say reread, because I bought this book about three or four years ago on the advice of my last psychiatrist. I have a bad habit of buying self-help books and only reading bits and pieces. I tried to read through this book when I bought it, but I think I was too deep in the depths of depression at the time to absorb it. I did practice some of the meditations in the CD that comes with the book, but that was it. A couple of years later I did a mindfulness-based stress reduction course that is based on many of the same teachings and experts. I took much more readily to the practice when learned this way. My later trainings in yoga helped to solidify these teachings.
But here I am, once again falling into depression and not using any of these helpful practices.
But tonight I was inspired to pick up the book again. I flipped through to see where I had left off and then decided to just start again at the beginning. I’m glad that I did.
Upon reading the introduction, it seems to me that perhaps the place I’m in right now is conducive to taking more from the book.
Already there are a lot of statements that really struck me:
…it is actually okay to stop trying to solve the problem of feeling bad. In fact it is wise because our habitual ways of solving problems almost invariably wind up making things worse. (3)
Depression, once treated, often returns–and becomes more and more likely to recur the more often it is experienced. (4)
…every time a person gets depressed, the connections in the brain between mood, thoughts, the body and behavior get stronger, making it easier for depression to be triggered again. (4)
…break the cycle of depression, in which we tend to go over and over what went wrong or how things are not the way we want them to be. (5)
We get lost in comparisons of where we are versus where we want to be, soon living almost entirely in our heads. (5)
…endless cycles of mental strategizing that increase your risk of getting depressed. (6)
… The mind, body, and emotions work together to compound and sustain depression. (6)
…we are all prey to habit-driven patterns–of thinking, feeling, and doing–that curtail the joy inherent in living and our sense of possibilities. (6-7)
…there is an unsuspected power in inhabiting the moment you’re living in right now with full awareness. (7)
We invite you to let go of the tendency we all have to try to force things to be a certain way and instead work with allowing them to be as they actually already are in each moment. (8)
I think this is a great time to reread this book, because already I’m showing so many of these tendencies and I definitely want to break the habits. It’s time to rediscover the mindfulness approach.