“I feel like nothing matters.” “Life seems flat and empty.” “I’ve run out of energy and am tired all the time.” “I miss my old, happier, more optimistic self.” “I’ve lost interest in things.” “I’m just going through the motions.” “I am losing hope that things will improve.”
Depression is not sadness; it is a loss of connection with the powerhouse of core emotion. Depression is an experience of having lost touch with yourself. When you’re depressed, nothing matters because you don’t matter. You’ve disconnected from the truth of your emotions, from the information and energy that flows through you like a river. As a result you are paralyzed and stuck, and you lose hope that things can be different.
How did you get here? It probably took awhile. Something happened that mattered, and you felt something, but somehow it wasn’t allowed to matter. Your feelings seemed unwanted, and even threatening. Whatever you felt wasn’t safe or welcomed, and so you shut it down. Perhaps the suppression started long ago, before you can even recall. Or perhaps you began to suppress your truth more recently. But one way or another your brain learned how to take your healthy anger or sadness or love or pride or joy and turn it into numbness. A mechanism took hold in your mind and shamed you for feeling, criticized you for caring, and called you names for being vulnerable. That mechanism droned on and on with attacking messages until the vulnerable truth of you inside just went into hiding. That mechanism tried to protect you from rejection by rejecting the vulnerable truth of what you feel.
You are vulnerable. You have limits to control over outcomes that matter to you. That is simply a fact. You long for things and cannot guarantee them. You cannot make the world, or others, or yourself be exactly as you would wish. There are wrongs and losses and uncertainties and delays and ups and downs. Emotion moves you, whether you want it to or not. All of that stirs unrest. Unrest is sympathetic nervous system arousal that agitates you, and if you do not tune in and soothe your body, you will have to remove yourself from the discomfort. You escape from the pain and vulnerability of emotion, but get lost in the hollow emptiness of depression.
You need to feel safe to feel. You need to identify and block the attacking messages and soothe unrest in your body in order to feel the truth of emotion. Your aliveness is in that flowing river.
You need to come home to your body and grow your ability to tolerate the felt sense of vulnerability to get free of the suffocating numbness of depression. When you reconnect with the energizing flow of emotion, even if it is painful or difficult, you reclaim your aliveness. You matter.