Depression Turned Out To Be My Best Friend Ever...
By Elzbieta Pettingill • August 17, 2014
If you suffer from depression, or know someone close to you who does, then you came to the right place. No, I’m not a psychologist, but if you are anything like me, chances are that your faith in psycho-therapy has diminished, if not disappeared completely. I’m here to share with you my own experience of dealing with chronic depression, how the hopelessness that comes with it had made me attempt suicide numerous times, what steps I took to overcome this so called “mental disorder,” and what impact all of this has had on my spiritual awakening. My experience has driven me to find a true peace of mind and the sense of true happiness that can only be found within ourselves.
Did you know that you can heal your depression entirely?
Better yet, did you know that you can accomplish that entirely for FREE? Yes, that’s right; with no cost whatsoever. From my experience, you don’t need health insurance to cover your medical bills, pay for the prescription drugs and for the visits to a psychiatrist. You don’t even need the money to put gas in the car to get there. Also, you don’t need the money to take you out of the unwanted and depressing circumstances, either. As a matter of fact, as strange as it sounds, the less you have, the better off you are. Materialistic things often serve as distractions, and can be misleading. They often prevent us from focusing on what matters the most, which is looking within ourselves for the answers.
Everything that you need – you already have. Yes, you do.
Let me explain.
Depression comes from within us. We know about it, quite a lot these days, but it’s not something we can really see, is it? We are only able to see the symptoms; the consequences of it. Depression is something we experience through our feelings. We cannot see our feelings; we can only see what impact they have on us. If it’s a good feeling, we might see a smile, if it’s a bad one, we might see tears. If feelings of being depressed come from within us, then why do we continue to search for an answer - for a cure - out there, outside of ourselves? Why don’t we look within ourselves instead?
Why does our society encourage this madness? Why are we being constantly brain-washed, by the media, by the pharmaceutical companies, by the chosen few whose last names are followed by letters like MD and PhD? These and other representatives of the Establishment, such as the church, the government, you name it, want us to believe that what we need is out there as opposed to inside of each of us.
The Business of Health Care
Isn’t this a conflict of interest? If in order to get well, we have to continue to pay those who are providing us with a “solution”, how soon do you suppose it would take for this solution to start being effective? Never….? The entire existence of the “solution providers” such as pharmaceutical companies, doctors, therapists, counselors, etc. depends on the demand -- our need of them. Would they really be willing to tell us that we already have everything that we need to get well?
What we truly need to heal - not just the depression, but ourselves, our lives, our relationships – is not easy, but it is simple. We need to practice forgiveness. True forgiveness, like depression, can be found only inside of us. Forgiving means expressing compassion and love, which is an absolute acceptance. We all know at some level that love heals. So we must know that we are able to heal ourselves by using this tool. Practicing forgiveness is free, and always available to us!
From my own personal experience, it is possible to attain such healing.
Being depressed is not a fun thing. It’s almost like living in a vegetative state. It’s painful, not just emotionally but even physically, to simply exist. Your decreased level of energy makes your mind dull and your body unwilling to perform necessary tasks. Nobody seems to understand you, no matter how hard they might try. The more people shy away from you, the more you tend to withdraw. You feel misunderstood, alone and hopeless…
I know how hard it is to live while being depressed all the time. Throughout my life, I have suffered from suicidal tendencies, and I’ve acted upon them several times. I was diagnosed with major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. I know that my grandmother suffered from major depression her whole life also.
As a child, I had no clue as to what was wrong with me. I thought it was like this for everyone... I thought everyone hated their lives and themselves with the same passion I did. It wasn’t until I reached my twenties that I learned what clinical depression is, what the chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters does to the brain, and all that. After being hospitalized for an intentional overdose on sleeping pills, I was subjected to countless in-patient and out-patient therapies. Doctors kept prescribing me drugs like Zoloft and Prozac, hoping that the medicine would keep me alive, at least until they would figure something that would be more effective. There was no permanent solution though. Psychotherapies turned out to be just as short-term effective as the prescribed drugs were. Crying my eyes out on some leather couch, in the company of some sympathetic certified therapists, might have been relieving, but only temporarily. I’d feel alleviated for a day or two, only to crash again even before the next appointment. The cognitive behavioral therapy seemed like the right answer for a while. Recognizing some maladaptive behaviors, choosing explicit goals, all that may have been useful but not helpful enough. I couldn’t help but to wonder why, of all those highly educated doctors I was seeing, not one of them ever looked me in the eyes and told me: “We can beat this thing. Depression is curable. You won’t have to live like this for ever.”
After years of this living nightmare, and two major brain seizures caused by yet another suicide attempt, I was ready to admit that whatever I was told I should be doing wasn’t really working.
For more than three decades, I was not able to make amendments with myself or my life. I could not make peace with the fact that my life was nothing but a big struggle. For a very long time, I didn’t even know that in order to heal, I had to forgive and truly accept not just myself and others; I had to completely accept my life for what it was, instead of continuing to try to change it at all cost. Nobody taught me that. I was taught the opposite in fact. I was taught that I had to do everything I could to improve myself and my life. I was taught that my life and I were broken and needed fixing. Even all the spiritual and self-help books I read could not prepare me to truly understand what forgiveness and acceptance is about. Those books have guided me and had shined some light on it, but only through putting forgiveness and acceptance into practice could I understand it for real.
Nobody told me that my depression wasn’t just a curse, some mental handicap. As it turned out, my depression was a true blessing - a true gift - but I had to make that discovery on my own.
The Seeds of Depression
Growing up with a father who suffered from alcoholism, I learned early what physical, mental and emotional abuse can do to a person. The only defense mechanism I knew then was anger, which quickly turned into hatred.
Throughout my life, hatred dominated my existence. I hated the feeling of being in a constant state of survival. I hated the poverty I grew up in, in Poland, and the limitations such extreme poverty opposed on me early on. I hated even more the fact that, even though later on, I was given the opportunity to travel the world as a fashion model, I still managed to experience scarcity. I still managed to remain depressed, even suicidal. I was still subjected to rejection that hurt like hell. My deep insecurities were still there, tormenting me on daily basis.
My life stopped making any sense to me when at the age of 14, roughly a year before ending up at an orphanage, I was asked by my mom to stop attending school. She had her own reason for this drastic request; my family was entangled in a legal battle with my uncle over the house 8 of my siblings and I grew up in. We were about to lose the only home we knew. My mother’s desperate act of making us not attend the school was a cry for help. It was her way of protesting against the injustice of the legal system that would eventually allow my uncle to evict us from the house that my parents built from scratch.
At such tender age, I started losing everything I cared about. First, I lost the ability to continue my education. I was a straight A’s student, and so to someone for whom learning and books meant the whole world, such adjustment could not be painless or easy. My love affair with learning was suddenly replaced with passionate hatred towards boredom, a sense of emptiness, and the fear of “never being able to amount to anything in life without proper education”.
In that period of time, I also lost my virginity; rather it was taken by force by a guy I was infatuated with. I did not even know then, that what took place was nothing but rape. I did not understand why screaming my lungs out, while trying to push the guy away, or even usage of clear words like “Get off of me! You’re hurting me!” weren’t efficient in stopping such a traumatic event. I prescribed the fault to myself, and to my stupidity.
Soon after, my uncle finally won the battle over the house. My younger siblings and I were sent to an orphanage. Losing our home - and our family - was the most painful and traumatic event in my life. I could not live with those circumstances without doing something about it. When I made the decision to run away from the orphanage, I didn’t know that this was just the beginning of my chronic need to escape from myself. My life continued to be one struggle after another.
I was finally ready to look within myself for all the answers when I reached my thirties.
No Going Back
I was living in Hawaii. It felt as if I had come literally to the end of the world, considering that my life’s journey began in Poland, moved through various countries of Europe, and then through different states in America. Always headed west, I was attempting to escape from myself and my emotional pain. But depression always remained present, refusing to part from me, no matter where I went. Apart from my two German shepherds, depression was the only truly faithful companion I had.
My “rational” mind was very good at justifying the need for the unstoppable migration to continue:
“I just haven’t yet found the right place to live. I just haven’t met the right people, the right guy. I just haven’t made the right kind of money. But once I do, I’ll be happy.”
I was convinced that I had to continue this quest until I had attained everything that I had ever wanted. THEN I’ll be happy. THEN I’ll be the kind of person I’ve always wanted to be. THEN I’ll live the kind of life I’ve always wanted to live. THEN I won’t be depressed anymore. If I try harder, if I go farther, if, if, if, if….. Millions of “ifs”, of effort, but none of the desired results.
The Hawaiian Islands, so distant from the rest of the world, was a good place for a wake-up call. Completely surrounded by oceans, I could not escape from my final destination this time. There was no going back and if I continued to head west, eventually I’d find myself back where I came from. And then what?
I wondered if I would start circling the world all over again in a desperate search for happiness. This idea could not have been as thrilling as it may have seemed when I started my journey at the age of 15.
After the initial shock brought on by the realization that even living in paradise did not guarantee happiness, I was done. I wasn’t “just” depressed this time; I was emotionally, spiritually and mentally paralyzed. At that point, a totally different kind of giving up overwhelmed in me. I was now ready to let go of the attachment of the physical world, without having to die first. I was about to renounce the search for happiness in the outside world. I had no idea what exactly, and how long it would take to find such true happiness from within, but what choice did I have but to find out?
On a physical level, I only seemed to be able to perform tasks absolutely necessary for survival. There seemed to be no point in continuing to live, but unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be any point in dying either. I knew that ending my life would not necessarily mean ending my suffering. My numerous suicide attempts that took place just few years earlier, eventually made me believe, that the answers could not possibly be found in the world of the dead either. There had to be some other way to cure my depression and to find a true peace of mind. Leaving the physical body through self-inflicted harm, could not possibly be the method to end the suffering.
I didn’t necessarily believe that completing suicide would have a negative impact on my Soul. (I refrain from using a word committing suicide on purpose; committing -- often means committing a crime. Any attempt to understand the phenomena of suicide will not benefit from attaching such stigma to it.) Even though I was raised as a Roman Catholic, I did not believe in the existence of eternal Hell, bursting with flames. To me, the life I was living was a hell. What I may have been afraid of was Reincarnation -- the idea of coming back, just to start all over again from where I left off. I was afraid I would cause immense suffering to my family if I took my own life; and, I was afraid of the awful Karma resulting from this suffering. I felt like I was trapped. Stuck on Planet Earth, destined to live endless human dramas…
See The Illusion, Embrace the Gift
Since my teenage years, for more than a decade I had indulged myself in reading all kinds of self-help books and writings about spirituality. It became obvious that all these books, even though written by different people, in different times, and in different ways, all talked about the same essential truth:
“We are all One. We are inter-connected. Separation is an illusion. What we do to others is what we do to ourselves, and vice versa.”
One part of this newly found truth was the most mind-blowing:
“The world we live in is an illusion. The real world resides within us.”
I could not wrap my mind around it for a very, very long time. Nevertheless, instinctively I knew it to be true. Yet, at this point, as much as I agreed with all of it, I wasn’t living it. It was nothing but a theory, or an intellectual understanding. I had not reached the point where I could start implementing those teachings into daily practice.
In order for that to happen, I first had to find myself in a state of being sick and tired of being utterly miserable. Only the seemingly endless suffering, despair, depression and hopelessness could prepare me for the change I was longing for. Without it, I would not have had the courage necessary to undertake such a huge task.
Without the pain suffocating me from within, I could not win the battle over my resistance to change. Such resistance is there supposedly to assure our survival. To preserve ourselves, we resist any kind of change that comes our way. It’s a natural order of things, and hating it wouldn’t do any good. It is what it is. What’s more important is that we are not left without proper tools to handle such adversity; emotional pain that comes with depression is one of the most effective tools, or at least it was for me. I began to understand that depression, which I hated with all my heart for stealing my life away, was also one of my biggest blessings. I started to understand that my depression wasn’t the real problem; depression was just a symptom of it. There was no point of treating the symptom and expecting the real cause to dissolve on its own. Instead of traveling the globe, I had to travel within myself this time. I had to dig deep inside, discover my feelings, examine my thoughts, face the unknown, and embrace the darkness of it. I had to do all this without the anesthesia offered by the busyness of the world.
It felt as if I was pressed against the wall by depression, boredom and undesirable circumstances all at once. The process of self-examination was excruciating but it was effective. I began to see depression as a gift that was pushing me hard towards the permanent solution. It was driving me towards spiritual awakening. In viewing my depression in such way I began to slowly make peace with it.
My depression was making my life a living hell for a reason; it was speaking out for my Soul that was craving for a big transformation. Depression was there not to crucify me, not to make a mockery out of me -- it was simply doing everything it had to in order for me to awaken. My Soul was the one that needed the treatment. It needed for me to feel re-connected, unified, and in perfect alignment with love, as opposed to fear, like it had been until now. It needed from me to be freed from human conditionings such as judgment. It needed me to heal from a disease called superiority. My Soul needed from my ego/mind to yield to my heart/feelings. Depression was simply a tool, used by my Soul, to let me know that something wasn’t right and to make me pay close attention to it.
With this new understanding, even though being depressed still hurt, I could not hate it anymore. In the same way, if my stomach would give me aches, I could not hate it for letting me know that whatever I ate was spoiled and to stay away from it. I could only feel grateful towards my stomach for being so faithful to me, and for its wonderful way of protecting my body. And now, I was grateful towards my depression for protecting my Spirit with such diligence.
Choosing the Inner World
I still wasn’t sure exactly what would take to heal my Soul, or how long it would take, but it was a start. I knew that depression wasn’t going to let go of me until I made some huge changes from within. I knew it was going to hold me hostage, until I had no strength left to resist it.
At that point I was finally ready and willing to start living my life in an entirely different way. I had already lost faith in my ability to achieve what I desired. Now I had no choice but to admit to myself that the sole reason I haven’t been able to find what I was looking for wasn’t because I was depressed, incapable, unlucky, cursed or hated by God, but simply because I was looking for it in the wrong places. I was looking for it out there, in the external world, where it didn’t exist. I was finally ready to admit to myself that as crazy as it sounded, everything that I’ve ever wanted and needed, everything that I’ve ever dreamed of was inside of me and inside of me only.
It was time for me to start shifting my consciousness. It was time for me to decide whether I wanted to continue to live in ignorance, whether I wanted to remain on the path of unawareness that inevitably led to pain and suffering, or whether I wanted to choose to abolish the illusion and free myself from it once and for all instead. I chose to free myself.
I made the decision it was time to put into practice everything that I’ve learned from my favorite books of all, written by Neale Donald Walsch: “Conversations with God” and “Communion with God”. It was time for me to experience on a daily basis the spiritual discoveries he talks about, instead of understanding it on an intellectual level only. This was the time for me to actually start experiencing that sense of union with everything and everyone, about which Walsch speaks.
Following the author’s revelations, I consciously made a decision, which I then re-took every day and every moment; that the world outside of me, including my physical body, is not real but instead a manifestation of my mind. I chose to believe that the only real thing, the only real world, the only real love, the only real happiness, the only real me, the only reality was inside of me.
At the beginning I had more than one dilemma with this new thinking. It was one thing to believe in all those things, but a totally different thing to actually live it, and to live it on a daily basis, not just from time to time when it was convenient. My intellectual mind was fighting it like crazy. The resistance set in and it wasn’t going to let go of me without a fight.
For days I would contemplate finding a way to convince my mind of this new truth. I’d tell myself in a calm but steady manner:
“Just because something seems crazy doesn’t mean it’s not true. Think of the times when people were absolutely convinced that the earth was flat and that it was the sun that travelled around this planet we live on, and not vice versa. Sure the illusion of it still remains to this day, it still looks to us as if the golden ball circles the azure sky, and yet we know that it is Earth making the round trip. Why couldn’t this be true when it comes to our perception of reality? Everything may appear to us (using our five-sense perceptions) as if it exists outside of us - but it is just a reflection, illusion, sort of like a rainbow, of what’s deep inside of us.”
Slowly but surely my mind started to process this new conception of reality. However, the old habits of living in the old world were so strong that the inner conflicts were inevitable. Through countless mistakes, I had to teach myself that in order to remain faithful to this new truth, I had to let go completely of the idea that the outside world really existed; meaning, I could not continue to live as if I believed that the world outside of me was just as real as the world inside of me. I had to choose. You could say that I could not worship two gods at the same time. It was either one world, one reality or the other. There was no room for both. Treating the world outside of me as real was equivalent to denying that the real world inside of me existed.
My Heart Is My Compass
By then I’ve accepted the fact that however undesirable my life might have been, it was me who has created it, even though in a non-conscious, unaware way. Now it was up to me to un-create what I have created, and to re-create what I wanted it to be. This time I was going to do it consciously. The awareness kept increasing as I kept insisting on seeing and accepting the reality for what it was. I didn’t yet know everything that I needed to know. I couldn’t see into the future, or even make sense of everything that was happening at the present moment. My heart, using my feelings as its language, became my compass. This time my mind had no choice, but to follow it. Whenever my mind would start to attempt to protest, I’d tell myself:
“You had a good run for three decades now. You took me this far, and I’m thankful to you for that. This though, is as far as you can go. You cannot take me any farther and you know that. You’ve been in charge of me and my life for this long, now it’s time to pass this leadership to my heart. Where I’m headed -- only heart knows how to get there.”
My conscious shifting of awareness had successfully begun.
Step 1: Decide that the only real world, the only real you, is inside of you. Remember that the world outside of you is just an Illusion, even if that makes no sense at first. Remain faithful to this new truth.
Step 2: Make peace with the external world, including yourself.
As I continued with step number 1, instinctively I was led by my heart to focus on accepting my external world - the external reality - for what it was. For the first time in my life, I had the necessary courage and wisdom to look closely at myself and see who I became, without distorting it, without minimizing the unwanted characteristics, and without judging. My new understanding - that the person I had become and the life I had created for myself was not who I really was - was making this process easier and possible.
But it didn’t mean that I suddenly became depression free. As a matter of fact, my depression seemed to even deepen. The more I observed my external self and my life, (notice I wrote observed, not analyzed – which leads to judgment/opinion), the more I started to feel peaceful. I was surprised to learn that it is perfectly possible to feel totally depressed, deeply sad, and yet peaceful at the same time. This sense of peace was giving me the kind of confidence, the kind of sense of security that cannot be found in the external world we live in. No amount of money, power, prestige, or even of the conditional love and admiration we might receive from others, could ever create such deep sense of stability. I began to understand that this was coming from within me. This served me as a proof that, even though still undiscovered, the world within me was indeed real, and it had a lot to offer - more than I could even imagine!
The amazing part was that this new sense of feeling safe could not be taken away. Not by the circumstances, not by the act of others, not even by my own depression. Nothing and no one in this world could steal, sabotage, or affect in any way this new feeling. Fear simply had no access to it. As long as I remained non-judgmental of myself and my life, this sense of peace continued to stay with me.
This doesn’t mean that it was always super easy to do so. It required effort and perseverance to constantly remind myself of what I was doing. Every day brought new challenges that needed to be faced and dealt with. I told myself that every single circumstance, every single person that was in my life at this moment, was there for a reason; they were there to bring me a message. The message would always contain a lesson that needed to be learned.
So while stuck in an abusive relationship, I began to view my abuser as a spiritual teacher. His verbal and emotional abuse reflected my own inner verbal and emotional abuse I directed towards myself. His inability to appreciate me was mirroring my own inability to appreciate and cherish myself. Through him I could finally see how little I thought of myself, and how much I doubted myself. His criticism towards me ignited in me an urge to be protective of my own self. It forced me to re-examine my own beliefs, my own thoughts of who I thought I was. It took such extreme circumstance – which lasted almost two years - for me to be able to truly see how awful I had been to myself; how hard I was on myself, how little self-respect I had, and how unwilling I was to give myself any credit for what I have done, especially considering what I had been through. I realized how internally beaten up I was, not just by the outside world, but especially by my own self. Extremely unhappy and miserable, I still felt gratitude towards my difficult circumstances, and towards my oppressor. I wished I didn’t have to experience it, but I knew I was where I needed to be.
With time, I started to understand that through my full acceptance, slowly but surely, I was beginning to love myself unconditionally. It was a slow and even painful process; nevertheless, it was in motion…
While most of the time lying on the couch, often with my eyes closed, I’d tell myself in a gentle way, as if I spoke to a child:
“You did what you did with your life because you’ve created it in an unconscious, unaware way. In a way, you really had no choice. It’s as if you were building your life with your eyes closed, ‘cause that’s what you were really doing. You had no knowledge. Your understanding was very limited. Your reactions to things could not have been any different, just as any other person who has been living in an Illusion could not react any differently. You could not have acted in a different way. You could not possibly be a different person, than you had become, without knowing what you’re starting to understand now. Now that you have this knowledge, you are starting to consciously re-create your new self, and your new life. Your old life and your old you, were part of this process, so don’t hate it. Without having the darkness, we could not have the possibility of experiencing the light. Without hating, we could not know what love feels like. Without failing, we could not know what success is about. You may feel like a looser right now, your life may seem like a failure to you, but that’s just it – it seems – you haven’t seen the whole picture yet. What until now felt like a total failure, has been leading you to this very moment, hasn’t it? Failure is part of success. You could even say that failure is just a pre-mature, not quite ready success.”
As difficult as it might have been, I actually had some fun with this new mental exercise. I loved seeing the amusement on my then-boyfriend’s face when I responded to his less than flattering remarks:
“So I smell bad, so what? Who cares? I don’t give a damn if I smell good or bad. I don’t mind myself.”
Or I’d say to him:
“So what if you think I’m a lazy person? I love being lazy. It’s fun to lie around and do nothing, nothing wrong with that. You should try it sometimes.”
The thing is; I wasn’t just saying all those things to shut him up. I actually believed in what I was saying. Through my hard work towards self-acceptance, which was still in progress, I was learning that feeling ashamed or guilty did not serve me at all. Embarrassment and guilt are just a few different ways people use to manipulate each other to gain control. If we are not ashamed of whatever it is that we are made fun or criticized of, such control of our mind cannot take place. I also understood that this had to be a genuine belief, and not the pretend kind. The worst thing that we can do is to pretend that something doesn’t bother us, when in fact it does. When we pretend, we lie not just to others, but we lie to ourselves as well. Only when we remain truthful with ourselves and others, no matter how difficult and painful that might be, is when we can truly free ourselves.
Prior to letting my boyfriend know that it didn’t bother me that he thought I was lazy, I had to come to terms with my own self when it came to viewing myself in such way. I had to accept my laziness; I had to be completely OK with it. It didn’t really matter whether it was true or not, whether I was in fact lazy or not, what mattered most was that even if I was so, I could live with it. I could be lazy and not ashamed of it. I could be stupid, without feeling the embarrassment of it, and so on and on…
I would say to myself: “It is what it is. I am what I am.”
The sense of power that those words and those kinds of inner practices were giving me was similar to that sense of peace and stability that was coming from within me. This new power also could not be intimidated or compromised in any way. Unlike the external power, that comes with the attachments such as how much money, how much influence etc. one might have, this internal power could not be subjected to any external circumstances that could lead to the removal of those attachments, or therefore weakening of such power. This inner power was the only real power. And now, amazingly, I was starting to experience it myself, as opposed to just reading about it in some books.
How ironic; I was learning about my inner power – my actual power - while being stuck in an abusive relationship. In the midst’s of living a life being controlled by another person, I started to control my own destiny... While being put down, I was discovering my true value… While being constantly questioned, I was learning not only how to trust myself, but to avoid doubting myself altogether.
Forgiving The Outer World
Almost two years later, I was somewhat satisfied with my transformation from within, but still remained completely dissatisfied with the external world. My life did not change a bit. I was still deeply depressed, still dependent, still unable to fulfill my dreams, and still stuck in an unhealthy relationship. One day a thought crossed my mind:
“What if the only reason I’ve been stuck in this unwanted situation for so long is because I’ve failed to truly forgive? What if through forgiving my boyfriend, I’ll be forgiving my father for treating me the way he did? The similarities between those two men are undeniable. Is this a Universe’s way of giving me an opportunity to forgive my father and to let go of the pain and hurt that he had caused me?”
Turned out, I was right. I needed to re-live the hell of being abused, just like I did in my childhood, so I could experience the healing power of forgiveness. Amazingly, within just two months of practicing this forgiveness, I was free. I was no longer stuck in an abusive relationship, and I no longer had to re-live that part of my childhood. My external world started to look less unbearable.
After that, I had no doubt that the healing power of forgiveness and acceptance - in other words, unconditional love - is the best medicine any depressed person can ask for. The only thing was; I still needed a lot of that medicine… I still had plenty of deeply suppressed emotional wounds that were in need of healing. The good part was that life, in its mysterious ways, kept providing me over and over again with those same familiar scenarios that resembled those from my early childhood, until I was ready to forgive.
With each completion of such forgiveness, not only I was getting less and less depressed, my external life was becoming less depressing as well. It felt as if someone lit a candle at the end of the dark, long tunnel I was in.
Step 3: Forgive and accept everything and everyone, including yourself.
Step 4: Practice forgiveness and acceptance on a daily basis.
I will say that to me, those two steps were the most crucial in treating and healing my severe depression. They were the most difficult to follow, the most challenging, but at the same time, they proved to be the most effective. The forgiveness had to be genuine in order for it to work and it had to come with full acceptance. The pain, the sorrow, and all the unwanted emotions had to be re-lived while going through the process of forgiving. There were no short-cuts. There were no anesthetics that would take the pain away. In fact, the depression and the emotional pain that comes with it were deepening each time I was going through it. Depression was taking me all the way to my painful past, which had to be forgiven in order for it to let go of me. I had to constantly remind myself that all this was temporary. The permanent disappearance of my old issues, followed by each completion of forgiveness, was encouraging and inspiring. The new, more and more frequent feeling of living in the present moment was more than just refreshing.
Two of the primary emotions that always indicated my need of forgiveness were anger and frustration. I learned to embrace those feelings instead of acting out on it or doing the opposite by suppressing it. I learned to watch them closely without forming any judgment. I learned to forgive them for existing, for disturbing my peace, and for contributing big time to my depression. The anger was just a messenger -- always letting me know to pay close attention, so I could find out what particular circumstances, which particular people, including myself, had to be forgiven. The more I was doing this, the more clear it became to me, that I rapped myself with such anger, which over the period of time turned into bitterness so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain. Obviously, the pain always remained there; it just seemed more bearable since it was numbed and suppressed. In the old days, anger just kept distracting me from it. It was clear to me that such untreated pain was a perfect recipe for ongoing depression.
Little bit about me:
Now residing in Honolulu, Hawaii, Polish-born Elzbieta Pettingill is a former fashion model, author and survivor of depression. She suffered abuse and rape in her childhood, and was subsequently diagnosed with a depression that followed her from childhood through to adulthood. Let down by the medical and psychological establishments, and realizing that only she could change her mind, Elzbieta overcame her depression in her 30’s through a process of conscious spiritual awakening, a story that forms the basis of her book: “Life Realized” – available now on Amazon.com
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