As some of you may know I have been diagnosed for awhile now with schizoaffective disorder. It is a brain disorder which combines symptoms of schizophrenia with symptoms of bipolar disorder. Often I can go from feeling on top of the world to the darkest, coldest hole of depression. I take 6 different medications that help a great deal but often I still have episodes despite them.
Well, yesterday was one of those days of being in that scary hole of depression and so I have been doing some research into how Buddhism helps us deal with depression. Here's some of what I have found.
The prevailing way to deal with depression in Buddhism seems to be meditating on compassion and and loving-kindness towards our depression. It is very easy for me to have compassion and loving-kindness toward others but often I forget to have compassion and love toward myself. This is probably one of the reasons that my physiological depression becomes worse with a lack of self-love and compassion.
So this morning I sat with my depression and just showed it love and compassion. I talked to it and told it that I understood it was warning me to "stop and listen." I told it that I loved it and thanked it for being so concerned about me and my life but that it could now go. I understood the lesson it was trying to teach me. I no longer needed it to fertilize the seeds of happiness that would soon grown and blossom out of the depression.
This worked very well as I could literally feel the heavy sorrow leave my shoulders and slowly drift and lift away like a dense fog. This is does not always work but it does indeed help us relax for a time and be at peace. Now, I do not for one minute want to convey that I am an expert on mood disorders or that meditation alone will "cure" depression. However, it is a powerful tool to add to our arsenal in dealing with such emotions.
I think some depression is very much brought upon ourselves for being somewhat selfish and egocentric. That is hard for me to swallow sometimes but I feel it to often to be true. Although most of my depression seems to come from my chemical imbalance I know that I make it worse by feeling selfish pitty for myself. As if somehow I am the only one who struggles with depression or that no one could really understand how much pain I was suffering. The truth is, however, that we have all been there at one time or another. Maybe not in the extremes of a chemical imbalance but enough to relate to it. In moments like these I often remind myself that others have it much worse then I do and I am then able to turn the depression into compassion for others who are suffering worse.
If you are going through depression right now in reading this post know that I have often been right where you are right now and that through meditation and sometimes medical treatment it can be very transformative.
You are not alone in your depression even though you feel like it. I am there with you in the dark sitting beside you with my arms around you. Lean on me and others until you can sit with it and see meditation as a light in the darkness, an island in a rough ocean.
-Peace to all beings-
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Posted by They call him James Ure at 10:49 AM