Tips On Healing Depression
Kendra had been depressed on and off for the last three years before consulting with me. “I’ve tried various medications and they help somewhat, but I still feel depressed. I’ve tried psychotherapy and it also helps a little but not enough for me to feel happiness or peace inside. I hate feeling this way and I just don’t know what to do.”
The first thing that I did with Kendra was to help her create a personal source of spiritual guidance. I asked her to make up a being who was very loving, wise and powerful – a man, woman or animal to whom she could turn to, in her imagination, for help and guidance. Kendra made up an older Indian medicine woman whom she called Elder One.
Next I asked Kendra where in her body she felt the feeling of depression. “In my heart and stomach. My heart and stomach often feel so heavy and sad.”
“Kendra, imagine that your feeling self, the part that is presently depressed, is a child within. How old is this child?” She told me she thought the child was around six.
“Now, imagine that you are sitting in a beautiful place in nature with Elder One. Imagine that Elder One is surrounding you with love so that you feel safe. Now imagine that little six-year old depressed Kendra is also with you. Ask her how she feels about you as her inner parent, her inner mom and dad. Ask her how you are treating her that is causing her to feel depressed. Ask her out loud.”
“Okay. Little Kendra, how you you feel about me as a parent? How am I treating you that is causing you to feel so depressed?”
“Now go inside and imagine that you are little Kendra and that you are talking to you as the adult, the inner parent. What do you as little Kendra want to say to adult Kendra? How does adult Kendra treat you? What is adult Kendra doing that causes you to feel so bad?”
Little Kendra: “I barely exist for you. You really don’t care about how I feel. You never stand up for me with other people. You decide on things without ever asking me how I feel about it – like having dinner with Kathy tonight. I don’t want to have dinner with Kathy. All she does is talk about herself and I just end up feeling drained. But you don’t care about how I feel. You don’t want to say no or tell Kathy the truth because she might feel hurt or angry, but what about me? You never speak up for me with Harold (her husband) either. I just feel like I don’t exist in this marriage, just like with Mom. You treat me just like Mom treated me – like what I want and feel doesn’t matter. Other people are always more important than me. Of course I’m depressed! How else would you expect me to feel?”
Kendra started to cry at this point, and little Kendra continued. “I’m so mad at you! When are you going to care about me!”
“So,” I said, “You are a caretaker with your husband and friends. You take care of them but neglect yourself. You allow them to control you without standing up for yourself. Can you see how this would lead to depression?”
Kendra was quite stunned by this information. She had believed that her depression was caused by outside events rather than by how she was treating herself. She thought it was due to a chemical imbalance and to her husband’s controlling behavior. She may have indeed had a chemical imbalance that resulted from the stress of not taking care of herself, but the imbalance was likely the result rather than the cause of her stress and resulting depression. Her husband was indeed controlling but it was her response to him and others that was the cause of her depression, rather than her husband’s or friends’ behavior.
Kendra began to see that until she had the courage to take loving care of herself, she would continue to be depressed. Through practice, she learned to open to Elder One for guidance about loving behavior toward herself. As she began to take loving action for herself – for her Inner Child – her depression gradually diminished until she was able to get off the medication. Now, when she feels the depression coming up, she knows that there is some way she is not taking care of herself. She speaks with little Kendra to find out what it is and with Elder One to discover the loving action. When she has the courage to take the loving action, her depression goes away. Kendra has learned a powerful, spiritually-based method for healing her depression.