Posts filed under Depression

Misery is a spiritual emergency

So lately I've been thinking a lot about spiritual emergencies.

Spiritual emergency: a brief introduction

The psychiatrist Stanislav Grof coined the term "spiritual emergency" to refer to periods of intense transformation that in our culture often get interpreted strictly as an illness and only treated through materialist means.

Nigredo alchemy spiritual emergence spiritual emergency

A spiritual emergency is a kind of sickness, but it's also a birth, a coming-into-being of the spiritual self - i.e., an "emergence" and a crisis that requires attention - i.e., an "emergency."

In his work, Grof used the term "spiritual emergency" to refer primarily to episodes of psychosis and disassociation that were actually involuntary or unconscious shamanic explorations. It's my personal experience that spiritual emergency also can include extremely intense misery (i.e., "depression") and unease (i.e., "anxiety").

Misery as spiritual emergency

Intense misery is probably a vastly more common symptom of spiritual emergence than the visionary shamanic episodes that interested Grof.

Intense misery relates to emergence because when it happens in the life of a magically-oriented person who's aiming for awakening, lucidity and illumination - well, that means that it's actually the alchemical phase known as "nigredo" or "blackening, decomposing."

Misery is what occurs when our natural self-centered quest for pleasure and status leads us into our own personal underworld.

For many people not gifted with awareness and knowledge this journey to the underworld leads directly to actual death and degradation.

Suicide is now the second leading cause of death in people aged 15 - 34 in America.

How misery becomes ultimately-liberating nigredo

Misery becomes transformed into ultimately-liberating alchemical nigredo when it's met with honesty, compassion and awareness. We learn to look at our self-centered grasping truthfully, and then to gradually transmute the selfish misery into altruism that uplifts and heals us and everyone around us.

If you're experiencing a state of spiritual emergency lately, please know that I'm always available to talk to on the phone.

Love, Carolyn

image: [Abode of Chaos on flickr]

Overcoming Severe Depression Series: Part 2 - Take a Heart Vow

Herein I talk about:

  • How the most healing positive thought when you're depressed isn't just optimistic - it's altruistic.
  • How to take a heart vow that will change your whole being and give meaning to your life.
  • The value of committing to the impossible.
  • Virtues can help you fulfill your heart vow - and virtue means power.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyPYndhHRtY&feature=youtu.be

Overcoming Severe Depression Series: Part 1 - Immediate Relief with EFT

Here's me showing you how to do EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), which rather rapidly and astoundingly lifted my severe depression, shame and trauma. httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgHGiRgdFCY&feature=youtu.be

Here's a link to way more info about EFT.

And here's the intro to the series.

Love, Carolyn

Overcoming Severe Depression Series: Intro - to end depression, end self-cherishing

Depression hurts. And there's a solution that's little-talked-about.

When I was lying in bed wanting to die this fall, I swore to the Universe that if I could find a way out of that darkness, I would do everything possible to help others get out of that suffering, too.

So here's the start of my attempts. A video series on Overcoming Severe Depression.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNN6QyQeLTY

Things I talk about:

  • my own story (briefly)
  • a primary cause of depression
  • a radical idea about depression
  • hope to change things and be happy

 

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What to Do When Life Sucks

This year, I endured my own personal apocalypse.  Personal apocalypses are highly embarrassing, especially when one has a blog titled "Awesome Your Life" and finds herself feeling radically, hellishly not-awesome.  In the fall I sunk to feeling lower than I've ever felt. The basic gist of it is this: I got involved in a relationship with a beautiful, amazing person. The relationship got very serious very fast.  And then I realized that though my partner was so dazzling in so many ways - he was also not compatible with me in some very deep, necessary ways.  We ended the relationship. Because of everything that had transpired between us, and the level of seriousness we had reached - I felt tremendous shame about it going sour and ending.

I felt too awful to write this blog.  For six weeks I felt too awful to do almost anything other than lay in bed, cry, call my mother, cry, pray, smoke cigarettes and cry.

For the first time in my existence, I seriously contemplated ending it all.  Highly disturbed by that chain of thought, I made a hard bargain with the universe: "Show me how to get out of this hell of shame and misery and I will devote my life to healing others from this kind of terrible pain."

And - well folks, don't you know - the universe held up its end of the bargain.  Less than three months after the whole ordeal I feel fine - ready to swim in the streams of life and awesomeness once more.   I'm glad to no longer be in the relationship, and to be no longer buried by misery.

So as part of staying true to my end of the deal, I offer these suggestions for climbing out of your own Hellish Black Hole of Hot Shame-Covered Death, if you happen to find yourself in one:

 1.  When Life Sucks, Seek Help 

When you've hit a rock bottom of hopelessness and despair, the idea of seeking help isn't all that inspiring.  It seems pointless.  You've fucked up (again!) and your crazy is irredeemable. No one can understand how much you're suffering.  No one can fix you.

Except, what if they can? How do you know for sure? What proves it except that voice that says you're beyond help? That voice is itself part of the problem.  Don't give in to it.

Therapists. Counselors. Astrologers. Medication. Friends. Twelve-step groups. Call them, go to them, take them as prescribed. Relentlessly. Refuse to give up on yourself.

2. When Life Sucks Tremendously, Make a Bodhisattva Vow

Maybe life is too painful for you.  You know who else it's too painful for? A fuck ton of other people. Almost all sentient beings are overwhelmed by pain at some point.

The lucky ones who avoid abuse or poverty or heartbreak still grow old, grow sick, and die.  Life is suffering, the Buddha observed thousands of years ago. And you've just come up against that fact.

So your pain gives you something deeply in common with everything else that's alive.  Even if you're experiencing what feels like a uniquely humiliating and awful kind of pain - there's probably at least one other person on the planet right now who's experiencing the same awfulness.

Think about that one other person.  You know exactly how she feels.  You know the agony.  Wouldn't you like to take that agony away and free her? Wouldn't you like to give your fellow creature happiness and sanity?

If your answer is "yes" then you're at the threshold of one of the kindest and most healing thoughts you can put forth.  Promise to yourself, "I will get past this pain, I will get happy and free again, and I will do everything in my power to give happiness and freedom to others who suffer from similar pain."

You may not feel an immediate in-rush of strength upon making this commitment.  But the more you concentrate on it, the more will you channel into it, the more quickly you'll be guided to your recovery.  The universe supports and helps those who are willing to help others in magic, rapid and mysterious ways.

After you commit to being a force for healing, it's very likely that you'll be synchronistically guided to exactly the form of help that you need to get well.  In my case, an important part of that help turned out to be something weird and woo-woo called Emotional Freedom Technique.

3.  When Life Sucks Preposterously Much, Try EFT

EFT involves tapping on various accupressure points on your face and body while saying affirmations about your problem.  The affirmations are set up like this: "Even though [insert problem], I love and accept myself completely."

It totally doesn't seem like it should have any power to do anything.  But - astoundingly - it does.

In one session of EFT I felt the giant miserable knot of pain that had kept me contorted for weeks simply unwind and fade away.  The sick, oppressive cloud of shame that had been completely distorting my perception just dissolved.  I could think about what had happened with me and my former partner - and not feel upset.  I felt like talking to people and laughing again.

This. Was. Stunning.

It was as if the tapping had completely healed a broken circuit in my brain.  Apparently the theory goes that tapping does exactly that - it releases neurochemicals into your bloodstream that reprogram your emotional reaction to your problem as you're thinking about it. Far out.

Go ahead and check out this free EFT tutorial.  You're welcome.

In Conclusion

I'll probably have more to say soon about climbing out of the deep dark stinking well of horrid unbelievable pain - but in the meantime - have you had a personal apocalypse in 2012? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments section.

Posted on December 30, 2012 and filed under Depression.

Dissipating the foul miasma of vast self-rejection

The objective correlative of suck The foul miasma of vast self-rejection is, of course, not a literal miasma but rather a mode of consciousness.  The miasma is the objective correlative of a sucky, hopeless view of the world.

J. Alfred Prufrock experiences the miasma as a "yellow fog" in T.S. Eliot's love song of self-doubt:

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains, Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys, Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, And seeing that it was a soft October night Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

My miasma doesn't behave much like a house cat, though.  It behaves more like a wild wolf of slobbering terror.

Bad trips - always available!

When I'm in the miasma, my lovely life looks like a disaster resembling the scary drunken circus in Pinnochio.  It's not actually a disaster.  It's concretely just fine.  But our minds do create our reality in the sense that if I'm feeling misery and fear I will see misery and cause for fear every where. That's part of the difficulty of having a really strong genius.  The genius is always creative; it creates worlds. When the miasma is on me,  I'll see only the very worst in myself, in people, and in the world, and it'll be magnified 10,000 times.  It's very literally like a bad trip.

The thing most people don't realize is that you never need to take psychoactive drugs to have a bad trip. Or a good trip!  Our brains produce psychoactive chemicals all the time in response to our beliefs and interpretive decisions about the world.  I have some traumatic beliefs in me, and when those get triggered, the bad trip comes on.

Half the key to getting out of a bad miasmic trip is just to realize, this is a bad trip.  This is in my mind.  I can see this in a different way and all the yuck can disappear.  And by "disappear" I mean become no longer a problem in my consciousness.   All of reality can exist in its realness without me having to wage a special internal battle against any part of it.

I only feel like the yuck in other people and in the world is a problem for me to battle when I'm beset by the yuck myself.  The yuck (pain, aggression, delusion) has no intrinsic power.  It can be healed.  And I can't heal it when I'm obsessed with seeing it everywhere because I'm identified with it in myself.

I'm right now in the process of climbing out of the miasma.

For me, this is a process of truth-telling.  Queer Jesus said, "you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."

Not just any kind of truth works to dissipate the miasma, though.  To do that job I need uncut, high-grade, extremely potent truth.

Here's some:

We're all fundamentally good and that no one deserves to feel guilty or fearful at anytime, ever.

Even if you've committed  violent crimes - the wisdom to make amends for those crimes can only come to a consciousness that accepts its past confusion, recognizes its own inherent goodness, makes itself open to grace and becomes capable of loving action.  Self-hatred and self-rejection don't facilitate that process.  They make truth-telling too painful - which means we can't bear to acknowledge that we've been wrong and so we stay in denial and stay deluded and stay likely to commit more harm.

That's why Queer Jesus was so into telling everyone that they've been forgiven and they can forgive others.  Because non-forgiveness doesn't help. 

There actually is no cause for fear or suffering.  Those things are causeless illusions that only perpetuate themselves.

A way to stop the spread of contagious miasmic miserableness is to decide to remember and embody the truth of my profound innocence and everyone else's.  This means I can forgive.  I can make the decision to see myself and everyone else gently, with eyes of love.

I find it helps me to renew my inner commitment and decision that I can be joyful and free all the time, no matter what's going on in my life.  No matter if I have bills I don't know how to pay or people angry with me or if I've lost something I felt attached to.  It just doesn't matter, as Bill Murray likes to say.  I've decided that I'm worthy of happiness of the spirit all the time, without condition, and so are you, O Lovelight.

The minute I think there could ever be any real reason not to be joyful and at peace is the minute I become vulnerable to the miasma.  It's like opening a window in Venice when tuberculosis is in the air. Because even if nothing is "wrong" at this moment  - what if something could go wrong? And then I'd be unhappy! Better start being unhappy right now, in anticipation of my possible future unhappiness!

Best, actually, to decide that unhappiness is totally unnecessary.

I can acknowledge loss, address problems, correct my mistakes - all without having to feel heavy and guilty and awful.

So if you're feeling the miasma right now - start waving your hands around and jumping up and down to get it off of you.  It's just a bad trip.  It's not real.  You're perfect and you always will be.  You deserve to be cuddled up into a big blanket and given nice hot tea.  You're not a failure, you're not awful.  You're a magnificently strange human creature who makes the world better just by breathing.

What is Depression?

Reitdiep RainbowCreative Commons License photo credit: The Wolf  

 

Depression-- hopelessness, dread-- waking up in the morning and feeling like there's no point to being awake-- what is that, really? Is it just a chemical imbalance in the brain?

Yes and no.

The brain (like the rest of our bodies) is a physical manifestation of our soul.  This means that chemical imbalances in the brain reflect spiritual suffering. No treatment for depression is really complete unless it addresses both the spiritual and physical dimensions of the affliction.

Depression is a symptom of suffering genius. Our genius suffers when she feels trapped, unacknowledged and unable to express herself fully in the world. This happens all too often in our present society-- which, for all it's celebration of commodified individuality is actually quite opposed to genuine expressions of soul-- like love and ecstasy.  (If you're curious about this hostility, try having an ecstatic transport in a grocery store and see how people respond.)

Yet no matter how harsh the external conditions, this feeling of being trapped is always an illusion.  We're always free to express our genius, even if we sense the consequence of that expression would be something scary-- like losing our jobs or losing a friend.  Just acknowledging the fact that we are choosing to restrain ourselves because we don't like the potential consequences to being who we really are can allow us to regain a sense of our basic freedom and begin to lift the burden of depression.

At the same time, we also need to overcome the fears that would keep us in our limiting position.  We may need to honor the fact that when we embrace our true selves, we lose some safety and security, some approval and predictability.  We may need to deliberately give up the comfort that we've known in order to embrace the radically unknown world of our possibility.

When I'm struggling with a limiting belief or situation, my friends like to remind me that I'll change "when the pain becomes great enough." This is true.  I will.  Yet some people don't change when the pain becomes great enough-- or rather, they change in far too dramatic a fashion.  They kill themselves.

I've endured depression many times and I've felt tempted to make that all-too-radical change from life into death.  What I've discovered each time depression gripped me is that it's always true: "I" do have to die.  But the "I" that needs to die is never the real me, my physical body and my actual spirit. The "I" which needs to die is the little ego who wants and demands that life go a certain way and is incredibly pissed that it won't. This "I" despairs.  This "I" judges me with intense cruelty and harshness.  I've found that depression is the invitation which asks this "I" to die.

So if you're feeling depressed today-- let me ask you-- what demand are you holding on to that isn't getting met?  And what would happen if you just let that demand die-- if you just let go of it?  Who would you be without that demand?