A reference to all
Many of us think that being depressed implies constant state of being sad. However, depression is not solely about sadness. It is far more insidious. I think of depression as “noisy-silence.” One might be in a state of silence but that state might be marked by chaos. That is to say, depression is not merely the absence of happiness or the presence of sadness. Depression is synonymous with words such as flatness, evenness, and indifference. It is when one is unable to engage with reality like the way they are used to.
Depression is physical. The physical experience of depression leaves one with marked slowness and exhaustion to the point of impairment. The complaint “not being able to get out of bed in morning” is a physical and mental manifestation of depression. It speaks volumes to how debilitating it can be.
The mental experience of depression leaves one with a wave of fog that impairs cognitive capacities such as concentration and comprehension. Reading or following instructions might be impossible to execute without repetition.
The emotional element of depression is clearly experienced. Apathy or the absence of emotion or lack of the variability of emotions might be a marker of experiencing depression. Sadness might be clearly expressed but it might be hard to comprehend indifference when voiced.
Experiencing depression has social consequences. A person who lives with depression might not not be viewed as socially attractive to others. The uniqueness of the experience of depression leaves a person alone. Loneliness exacerbates depression. Intervention must be wholistic and results are not instantaneous. Therefor, a Mental Health Professional must be aware and sensitive to the current needs presented. Management might vary between comforting and challenging. This variation might help a client from moving through and out of stagnation.
If anxiety was a sound, it would be loud and screeching! Anxiety has a dominating quality; it surpasses any available emotion to be the most present of emotions. It is baffling how anxiety can be expressed internally and externally.
Internally, it might be a feeling of being disjointed or an inability to access other emotions. Of course, it is not limited to the absence of calmness. However, irritability, can be the loudest of our internal experience of anxiety.
Externally, anxiety is felt within the body. The body is accurate in registering the presence of emotions; a clenched jaw, an achy neck, or an unintentional fist are few examples of the presence of being anxious in our body.
There is an after-effect of anxiety. It might be delayed but expressed in our inability to sleep or being distracted while trying to concentrate.
Intervention of anxiety must consider the emotional, cognitive, and physical aspects. Clients may find comfort in the process of understanding the link between these elements.
It is that moment when we get submerged under and in between layers of morass. This moment when our being is threatened on a fundamental level is exactly a moment of trauma. Trauma might be present when expressing, witnessing, or being with someone who was exposed to physical or emotional threat.
In a traumatic experience, an individual may experience absolute or partial absence of control. This state of being under threat activates something primal within us; It is the moment when we lose control presenting a state of Fight, Flee, or Freeze. What happens after that moment is what is clinically named Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
An individual with PTSD suffer an ill sense of being. The incongruity of knowing that one have passed the threat but is still stuck in it somehow is painful to endure. The aftermath of experiencing a trauma results in both psychological and physical malaise. It renders us with expressions that might not match daily challenges, namely, avoidance, hyper-vigilance and flashbacks.
Intervention can be described as realignment of emotional, psychological and physical symptoms. It starts with reinstalling a feeling that was lost — safety. It is important to remember that what is offered in therapy and its outcome is all a Process rather than an event. Therapists do not take pain away; instead, they facilitate a state of catharsis.
The most intimate of emotional experiences. Grief invites contradiction; it is extremely individual-specific but also universal. When we grieve a loss, we feel exotic to everyone around us. This sense of being foreign is not mitigated by the fact that everyone have experienced grief somehow.
We might be aware of how the grieving process starts, but we never know the anatomy of its structure because it affects each person differently. To grieve is Not by itself a Disorder, but it is the suffering of chaos and disorder.
Unfortunately, an individual grieving might be lead to being depressed or anxious, but diagnosis must be diligently wholistic. There is a level of grief in all of us.
Intervention in cases where there is grief involves exploring meaning and creating rituals of connection. We might not want to forget, but rather remember those who co-created our reality with their love and closeness. A connection is never lost.
Like a stone in a river, reality shapes us continuously. As with everything in nature, we go through changes every single day. These changes occur on a micro and a macro level. A person might be able to witness these changes and developments occurring. At some point, we become able to say “I have changed.” The process of changing is ever dynamic.
Occasionally, we feel a dreaded sense of stopping. This sense is never described with the concept of clarity, but rather murkiness. We might have been experiencing this sense of stopping because we lack exposure or witnessing from others, or because we might have not been challenged, or because we might be too comfortable where we are.
Stagnation, or absence of motion can be a source of boredom and disinterest. Stagnation is never synonymous with stability; the former, occurs at a superficial level. The latter, occurs deeply. We are able to change and challenge ourselves when we are deeply rooted and stable from within. In contrast, we tend to fall in stagnation when we feel afraid of what might occur if we branch out.
In therapy, we might experience stagnation. It is when we are unable to move from where we are therapeutically. It is highly dependent on what is presented in the dynamics of therapy, as well as what a client is practicing after the end of the session. Therapy creates ripples in the pool of our being, we need to witness and monitor ourselves as we respond to therapy and communicate the changes occurring at our surface and our depth.
Occasionally -more often than casually desired- we get more busy than what we can handle; meetings, a lunch date, that deadline to survive, or that conversation we must have. It is a feeling of being hyper-focused and productive. We might feel that our life is eventful and varied in wavelengths. Cognitively, one might feel as if they are browsing from one thing to another without stopping. Emotionally, on the other hand, one may feel as if they were estranged from their own self. As if one is deflated and empty.
We strive to remediate that sense of emptiness. Therefore, we engage in different hobbies or activities that might aid in filling up that void. To sit with our own emptiness may become what we dread to entertain. It is when we are unable to be our own good company.
For many, sitting with oneself might be considered a form of practicing boredom. It is unfortunate to witness that lack of amusement towards our own mental, physical and emotional bodies. When was the last time one sat to contemplate on our physicality or part of it? When was the last time one had tea with a sense of gratitude to those who picked up each tea leaf? When was the last time we sent an ethereal Thank You note to each body part for handling us without a complain? Practically, for most these practices may seem bizarre.
For most, the word compassion signifies the presence of someone separate from our being. However, the practice of compassion can be applied to each part of ourself. Think about it as a way of getting closer and more aligned with our own being. We spend a lifetime trying to make peace with ourselves. A truce may not be enough but rather a sense of befriending to our own self is needed.
Generally, the notion of loneliness is met with a level of rejection. One may have been rejecting loneliness due to our perception of what it would be like to be alone. One may think of being alone as a form of punishment and estrangement. However, being alone is not synonymous with being ostracized. There is a spectrum in loneliness. We might be physically alone but emotionally connected. In contrast, we might be present with people around us and feel ostracized.
Human beings are social creatures. Therefore, we perfected a way to include and exclude others from our lives. We became adept in the practice of explicit and implicit snark and -possibly- mockery. We gage how we fit and how others fit within our social emotional parameters.
We learn from an early age how to gage the effect of those around us. This ability becomes what we might refer to as “gut-feeling.” We reject those who might seem like harmful to us. First impressions become the tools of which we base our judgment. We start forming a mini-questionnaire that is applied automatically to assess those we who we come across. We start having strong opinions and oppositions of certain criteria. We start feeling differentiated and form a bubble around us.
Expectations may lead to resentment. This is an invitation to stretch our thoughts and ideas about what is expected from others. It is also an invitation to meditate on loneliness and how we we might lock ourselves in a lonely place by building our own walls of rejection. Maybe if we had fewer expectations we might experience people differently. Maybe if we became skilled at monitoring how we build these walls we become more able to peak through our imaginary fences
Many of us grow learning about a part within us that enjoys consumption. There is a power in the process of purchasing items and having to carry these items from a store somewhere to our own place. This ritual of walking out of a store while carrying a beautifully wrapped body of items is completed by the climax of unwrapping. There is a sense of completion when an item - that once was seen in-store - is now sitting solely on one’s own shelf. There is an implicit look of pride that we address ourselves with when we see our store-bought prize the next day. A voice that congratulates us on our ability to own items — to consume things.
The ritual of consumption becomes a self-soothing behavior. Slowly we start getting used to carrying scented paper bags that are filled with items that we craved to meet our sense of fulfillment. The allure of finding that tactfully hidden item starts to faint. These layers of paper holding the item become a representation and - possibly- a symbol of burden.
Items that we crave are not the enemy. In fact, it might be a representation to what we stand for or what we want to represent. Essentially, we want to appeal to our own being. We want to be accepted by ourselves while looking at our collection of items that we consume. We hope for a better us in every purchase.
This is not an invitation for massive consumption, this is an invitation to spark curiosity about what we are constantly looking for. We need courage to want to see ourselves without being in the shadow of the items surrounding us. We might want to ask ourselves, what are we hiding from? What do we want to burry with each process of unwrapping?
We are constantly receiving inputs from external environment. Light, sounds, and smells are all data that we absorb while occupying space. Elevators are one of these spaces we are meant to occupy for a brief period of time to move from one level to the next.
Elevators happened to be designed to enhance our comfort from one floor to the next. However, elevators seem to always be deemed as uncomfortable places that we -mostly- seem to handle well. One of the features of elevators is the presence continuous music that suppose to comfort us somehow. Elevator music or back ground music seems to be repetitive and longer lasting in duration. Which seems to be persevering in its failed attempt to comfort us while being crammed in a metal box moving vertically with strangers. Elevators are still considered uncomfortable spaces for many.
Our sense of space is very sensitive to our relationships to others. When we are forced to occupy a space -such an elevator- our senses signal to us that others might be in a compromising physical proximity to be considered comfortable.
We might be more attuned to what we fear more than what we might be aware of. Distractions may not help us effectively to withstand the discomfort, however, we choose to wait until we reach the desired destination.
The blessing of having a cool glass of water in a hot summer day might be matched by no other. The physical sensation of thirst is hard to endure; one may only feel their best when one is well hydrated.
What is that feeling that we seek when we drink that clear, tasteless, and odourless liquid? Aside from hydration; what does water replenish within us? How do we know that we had enough?
It might be hard to answer these questions without resorting to metaphor. Water is simple and fluid. The simplicity of water may contrast with the complexity and rigidity that we may experience within the layers of our life.
Every time we sip on water we get that sense of resolution; that the most basic of our needs are met and is now complete. It reminds us that our worries may be reduced and might answered in the most basic of forms.
The channels connecting us to reality are numerous. The ears are one of these channels; sound detection and balance within space are functions of the ears. Anatomically the ear is divided into the following: the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. These sections of the ear communicate with intricate mechanisms to serve as bases of sound detection. Vibrations of sound are carried through these mechanisms until they reach the brain to be synthesized and further data is extracted.
The nautilus-shaped structure comprising the bases of the inner ear is named The Cochlea. It is intricately divided into sections to function in detection of specific frequencies of sound. What starts outside of us as a change in air pressure causing us to hear sounds ignites a -micro level- motion within us.
To hear sounds is a function of the ear. To listen is a function of the brain. To believe is a function of orchestrated by the soul and the mind. Somehow, it all starts with a change in pressure outside of us causing a change in pressure within us. What starts from the outside is composed and synthesized with in us. This is where our perception and reality clash; perception may not necessarily be reality.
The world around us manages to communicate with us in many ways through many channels. Our role in detecting, understanding, and believing the codes deciphered is complex and requires momentary diligence.
There is a rhythm in nature that works in a cyclical fashion. This rhythm starts with a the high and a gradual movement towards the low before it goes back again to where it all started. Nature works in a ways to ensure perpetual abundance. Exposure to extremes might be one of these ways.
Forsythia is a shrub that celebrates exposure to extremes in its own way. The plant is able to withstand harsh winter days before it celebrates spring. During winter season, sharp-angular stems hold themselves silently to cope with the roaring wind-chills. An observer may find it hard to believe how this plant is actually being alive and well. However, silence of plants proceeds its vociferous celebration.
The once bare stems are now showing green-colored budding growth that is holding a magnificent bright yellow flowers. As buddings turn to blooms ushering the beginning of spring we witness a metaphor — celebration. The being that was once silent is now loud in color. The being that was once bare is now heavily jeweled in yellow-colored petals. The being that was once still is now -clearly- vivid from within.
We go through seasons of change. The seasons keeps us in silence sometimes and occasionally, we rebel in celebration. Resilience is the key here. Nature shows resilience in practicing silence and knowing when to voice a level of expression.
Since birth, we undergo many rituals of preparing and witnessing. In some rituals, we are the center of attention. In others, we are the tool carrying a ritual. Rituals, frame our life to keep life’s sense of order. For many, starting the day with a cup of tea is an essential practice ushering the presence of a new day. Others, conclude their day with some tea as a closure.
We sometimes ache for deliberate slowness. We might want to install diligence and gentle deliberation to our day. The way we prepare and consume food and drink might be an indicator to how we hope to live our life. For example, how we crave foods of comforting qualities might indicate how we crave to sweeten our reality with the careful touch of one another. Another example, might be how we crave the taste of ice-cool sour hibiscus infusion; as if to say “our day needs some change in pace.” We do not only eat or drink foods. In fact, we would love to absorb certain qualities of the foods and drinks we consume.
Tea bags are a sign of our fast-paced life —they became a necessity; pouring boiled water over the tea bag an expecting to have strong brewed tea. Then, adding some sugar or honey depending on how -fast- we need to be embraced by its sweet warmth.
Loose tea became a symptom of luxury of both time and energy to prepare. For someone to prepare a pot of loose tea; it means using more tea-ware, as well, as applying more patience in the process. Waiting for the leaves to unfurl and the flavours to infuse and intensify.
Preparing tea might be one of the things we need to re-learn. It can be one of those practices that teach us to reclaim our ability to practice “Intention.” We might want to learn to wait and control our urge for instant gratification.