A disengaged heart : reflections on depression

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I awoke this morning thinking about depression, engagement and the feeling of being so empty and disconnected inside that suicide becomes a very real possibility and how these later feelings relate so much to being left alone on an emotional level with no understanding, support or empathy from ones we love.  In this situation many do decide to end their lives and it seems the ability to re-engage and make some movement towards connection and life is a huge part of recovery from depression.

In depression it is so hard to engage and to get our bodies moving, everything feels so heavy almost as though it is crushing our entire spirit, in my own case this corresponds with a difficulty being able to breathe or get my heart out from under a dead weight and is a reminder of how it felt when loved one’s left leaving behind an empty space inside and there was little place of recognition, connection or comfort or when I was left all alone after traumatic events such as my accident, painful endings in relationships and terminations of pregnancy.  And I guess these kinds of memories can always be there on the darker days and be retriggered taking me back for a while to the old depression.

I listened to a video on Avoidant Personality yesterday and I did relate to a lot of it.  Avoidance may not only come out of low self esteem though but can be a response to loss and things going wrong or ‘bad’ in our lives, it can correspond to abuse, to meeting with lack of empathy or misunderstanding.  There are times we need to retreat and have no alternative but to retreat if sources of support, understanding, comfort are missing or if the ones we turn to are hostile towards us.   But in the avoidance space if there is not much else to connect to and we are challenged in our inner life it we can meet a very deep and painful emptiness and suicidal depression and if our heart is disengaged that is the deepest pain of all.

I have noticed in past months since my depression seems to have lifted more in response to being able to feel hidden feelings from childhood that I have struggled with over years, there is an energy of seeking within me that is hoping to move towards some form of engagement with others.  I have gone from total isolation to tentative steps of reaching out but trust and fear issues can still dog me inside and this I guess is part of my avoidant side.  I am fearful that if I do engage again something may go wrong, I may meet another brick wall, I may be hurt again.  And after I listened to the video yesterday and I saw how at a critical time of forward movement in my life, my avoidance due to fear killed off an important new start that I was trying to make.  I was enrolled in the psychological astrology course in London and just before having to present my first tutorial I had a dream in which the walls came in on me and I could not move.  It was a lot like being trapped in the birth canal.

I don’t want to go over all the details again but I ended up back home in Australia and made another attempt to get back and then allowed that attempt to be sabotaged too by someone in the fellowship who dissuaded me from a forward move.   I have always justified the avoidance but lately I am not so sure that that justification didn’t come out of defences.  It really troubled me after listening to the video yesterday.

Its just possible that I may be beating myself up a little.  I will talk it all through with my therapist today.  I am aware of what Carl Jung said somewhere that often we go through a regression of some kind for the purposes of making a forward move.  The astrology course meant I opened the lid up on the Pandora’s box of my psyche and past life and that led to my therapy and emotional recovery work which is now 16 years further along and I have learned a lot.  I just feel frustrated at the moment as I have not had a full chance to really express much of this in the world, apart from what I share and write about on my blog.

In my therapy, Katina keeps encouraging me to see that psychological work takes time.  It involves digging down into the bedrock of myself in order to explore my roots and deepen my understanding of humanity.   I was thinking about this when I heard a discussion on the topics of immanence and transcendence yesterday between the author of a book The Crying Place and radio interviewer Michael Cathcart yesterday  What was being discussed concerned the need to engage with emotions and grief rather than seeking away to rise above them and leave them behind, how there is a truth and deep soulful beauty in that, but it is often a beauty born of pain, the pain of accepting the conditions of a human existence in which we are subject to forces of change that we cannot always just ‘rise above’.

I have heard discussed elsewhere by someone the idea that we grow down rather than rise above on the spiritual path that often leads through a dark night of the soul.  We learn how to bear what we have been through and carry the full weight of it, rather than try to cast off the burden and shackles, and along the way of bearing the burden it lightens somewhat which is what I experience on the easier days when past pain has been fully met, perhaps because it has been integrated.  However there will still be the days when the heavy weight is back upon us, the days we struggle with the hurtful things others have done, with the poor choices we may feel we have made.  We may have to go over it over and over again until we make peace with it and last week I was reminded of another Carl Jung quote which says ‘there is no evolution only circumnavigation of the Self’.  Buddhists may argue against this saying that the self is an illusion but I don’t know if I fully agree as I do believe there is an essence deep within us that is fully us, its just that holding onto certain ideas of ‘Self’ can be problematic when they interfere with a deeper connection with life, being and others.

Anyway ….. I know life becomes sweeter when my heart is engaged, when the heavy weight of the past lifts and a road opens up that leads me outwards to connect, leading me back in time to reconnect with myself.  Broken connections hurt the heart and make it ache as our hearts live and long to connect if they have not been too hurt by a past that leads us to feel that for a time we need to shut the door on a heart that is hurting and hunker down in a safe space where we can rest for a time, free from painful onslaughts from the outside world.   But this approach can become a wound in itself if we stay to long in the cosy place fearful of ever being hurt or wounded again.

 

 

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