One of the things I learned from my depression this summer is that it is nothing to be ashamed of. I also learned that no amount of thinking will make it go away. I can set it aside for a while and ignore its effect on me now and again. Yet this happens mostly by my accepting that it is a part of my life right now and by my living with it rather than trying to change it. If I try to change it, I expend considerable energy trying to be something that I am not. That energy might well be better used elsewhere. Like being who I am.
At the same time, by trying to change it, I am not being honest with myself or with others about how I am actually feeling. This is where the truth question comes in. If I am trying to change myself by pretending that I feel some way other than I actually feel, what is the truth? If I tell others that I am happy (when I am not) the truth to them is that I am happy—they know no different. But just by saying this, does it change the truth to me?
Now, there is plenty of evidence that we can change the way we feel by thinking differently. But is that necessary? Can we also change the way we feel by thinking honestly? By fully accepting my depression, and by being open with others about it, I find it not all that difficult to live with. No, I have not grown to love it, but it sits alongside me, and only has a middlin' effect on my ability to live my life in a reasonably normal manner.
My kind of depression is, of course, a physical malady more than a state of mind. But stress and anxiety of any kind are expressed through our body in one way or another. Just as ignoring the signs of a cold coming on will sure lead to a full blown cold, ignoring stress by trying to talk or think our way out of it, without taking action to change those things that are triggering it, certainly increases the possibility that we will deepen our malaise.
Ramana Maharshi, one of the great Hindu sages said: “Your duty is to be; and not to be this or that.” What this means to me is that we are not put on this earth to just be happy, or in love with life, or just be depressed and embittered by our lot. We are also not put here to always be up and positive, or always down and disheartened.
Rather, we are put here to be whole; to be truthful with ourselves (and others) about who we are and to love ourselves in spite of how we might rather be.