Sunday, July 5

Depression: You are not alone.

After my fourth major episode with depressive disorder, my doctor declared me a "life-long" sufferer. According to medical studies, people who seek treatment for depression more than three times, never fully recover. It's like a terminal disease, which, he assured me "doesn't mean it will kill you, but statistically speaking," he said, "you'll probably take it to your grave."

As a tantrika, I understand this condition is not eternal, it is merely a temporary karmic pattern. And though, there are many subtle and complex variables binding me to it, I believe liberation is possible in this lifetime. I took the doctor's sentence as a challenge. Having done my time with the pharmaceuticals, I am determined to "go natural" even if it is "against medical advice."

Dedicated spiritual practice has helped my soul experience itself as much greater than the debilitating illusion. I recognize depression as the ego's last stand. It comes on as a desperate attempt to attach to some identity or circumstance. Yet I have great compassion for people in depression because it's hard to generate enough energy to meditate when you can't even get yourself out of bed. I would never have been able to do it alone, and am still grateful to my friends, lovers, spiritual teachers and my community.

Even though there is no "cure" for depression, I have been practicing a wide variety of treatments and I consider myself living proof of that it can be overcome, and life can even become...ecstatic!

One of the many ways I medicated myself was with mantras and affirmations. For Example: "I am not alone." In fact, I found myself in the company of extraordinary people who, like me, had also suffered the big bad blues. Here is a list of famous people that also wrestled with depression.
  • Abraham Lincoln
    16th president of the United States, was first overcome by melancholia, today known as depression, in his mid 20s. During that time, his friends had to take away sharp tools from him in order to protect Lincoln from injuring himself. He was again afflicted with depression in the early 1840s. During that time he was under the daily treatment of a doctor for a long period. He struggled with it for the remainder of his life (in addition to anxiety attacks).
  • Billy Joel
    Joel admitted himself into a hospital for treatment after attempting to end his life by drinking furniture polish.
  • Buzz Aldrin
    Astronaut (along with Neil Armstrong) who walked on the moon in 1969. Aldrin’s depression began shortly after going to the moon and eventually was hospitalized. He recovered with the help of psychotherapy and depression medicines. Aldrin describes his depressive experience in his book, “Return to Earth.”
  • Drew Barrymore
    Barrymore's history includes a suicide attempt and being hospitalized.
  • Drew Carey
    In an interview with Access Hollywood's Nancy O'Dell, comedian and host of The Price Is Right Drew Carey revealed a darker side of himself. “I was depressed for a long time,” said Carey. So depressed that at the age of 18 and again in his 20's he attempted to take his own life by overdosing on pills.
  • Ellen DeGeneres
    DeGeneres went through depression for about a year shortly after the cancellation of her show “Ellen” and publicly coming out in 1997.
  • Emma Thompson
    Suffered from depression, brought on by her attempts to conceive via in vitro fertilization.
  • Greg Louganis
    Multiple Olympics medal winner first experienced depression when he was 12 and attempted suicide twice.
  • Georgia O'Keeffe
    After her husband’s affair, O'Keeffe was hospitalized for a short period of time.
  • Princess Diana
    Suffered from post-partum depression (after her first son was born) and also experienced depression from her transition to Princess of Wales and marital problems.
  • Sting (Gordon Sumner)
    While writing his memoir, “Broken Music,” Sting fell into a depression that lasted for two years.
  • Sheryl Crow
    Crow discussed having chronic depression since she was a child. In the late 1980s, Crow had a period of depression after touring with Michael Jackson.
  • Trent Reznor
    American musician from the band Nine Inch Nails who says he suffered from depression in the late 90's. In a 1999 interview for Rolling Stone magazine, he said that "It just took me time to sit down and change my head and my life around. I had to slap myself in the face: 'If you want to kill yourself, do it, save everybody the fucking hassle. Or get your shit together.'"
  • Tennessee Williams
    American playwright who was reported to have a fear of becoming insane like his sister and went into a decade-long depression after the death of his lover.
  • Others Famous Depressives include:
Elton John Brooke ShieldsJim Carrey, J. K. Rowling, Olivia Newton-John, Ozzy Osbourne, Kurt Cobain, Rodney Dangerfield, Roseanne Barr, Rosie O’Donnell, William FaulknerWoody Allen, Alan Alda, Joan Rivers, John Cleese, Dick Cavett, Marilyn Monroe. Alanis Morissette, John Denver, Cole Porter, Beethoven, Irving Berlin. Lord Byron, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway. Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Jackson Pollock. Kitty Dukakis Tipper Gore Calvin Coolidge Menachem Begin Barbara Bush, Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill.
So if you, or anyone you know is suffering depression...you are in good company.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

thanks for this...love, jamie

sagrada said...

Affirmation: I relinquish the known, which is the prison of my past conditioning. I embrace the unknown, which is the field of infinite possibilities...

It will help if you do not identify with the feelings that you are experiencing as being you. Observe them, without judgment, knowing they are not you. Your higher self knows nothing but peace, joy and contentment...

¿michael?

tantricamaya said...

I have had clinical depression for over thirty years Kamala. If it weren't for Prozac and Klonopin, I would not have been able to support myself and enjoy life. It is dangerous to not receive treatment for such a devastating illness. I got over the stigma and stayed on my meds for good years ago. My brother wasn't so fortunate, and took his own life,leaving three beautiful children.
Recurrent depression is very similar to cancer in that it can stay in remission for years, but must be monitored by a psychiatrist. There is always the possibility for it to gain momentum and enter an acute phase. That's why I have to be vigilante about taking care of myself.
Blessings
Tantrica Maya

tantricamaya said...

One more thing:

Depression is a physical disease. It is a disease of the brain just like diabetes is a disease of the pancreas.

sagrada said...

In saying that depression is a physical disease, one needs to ignore that the duality of physical/non-physical world is in the process of dissolving, even in scientific circles. Its all just energy, the only thing that is different about the physical is the energy particles have a characteristic known as "double spin" (according to Hawkings "A Brief History of Time).

I myself was on Zyprexa for maybe a year and a half, having been diagnosed with depression. It is an anti-psychotic that changes brain chemistry. Recently, I have been listening to two different scientific books, "The Biology of Belief" and "Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain". In both books, it demonstrates that brain chemistry can be changed just by changing your thoughts and ultimately the brain, even in adults, has the capacity to "rewire" and "remap" itself and change what kind of receptors its cells have. These things have been coming out in the scientific conferences that the Dalai Lama has been holding...

The Tao Te Ching encourages "do not limit your view of yourself". I believe one of the number one reasons that depression is hard to overcome is because we say it is difficult to overcome. The way that drugs work is that they block the experience of lower attractor energy fields, not remove them. The person then experiences the higher attractor fields, but since you are "cheating" and not learning to live in that higher consciousness by means we all possess, you go with the drug. So lower attractor fields, ie shame, guilt, fear, anger are still there when one comes down off the drug. According to "Power vs Force; the Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior" by Dr. David R. Hawkins, that is the mechanism of addiction. I believe that by changing the way you think, you can actually remove these lower energy attractor fields, which will cause you to experience the higher states which have exponentially greater power, the power to change reality for the better...

tantricamaya said...

I appreciate all of the information and new scientific findings on curing depression. However, not everyone, in fact, most people, do not have access to such esoteric practitioners and must function day to day or face homelessness, as has been the case with one of my other brothers. Let's be realistic. This IS a terminal illness and there is much suffering to be relieved by seeking traditional Western protocols. Reducing the stigma of mental illness, through education, has been my mission ever since I was judged and discriminated against as being a weak individual. I think that you need to consider the statistics of mental illness, and the lack of health care for it, in this country. Coupled with the stigma, it is no wonder that many go without treatment and self-destruct, often taken innocent victims with them. Homicide is a symptom of depression. I have found Western science to be very adequate in dealing with acute illness, such as the feeling of ending ones' life. I recall my first of several stays in a psychiatric ward of a hospital as being both shocking (for being labeled crazy by some who knew I was there), and relief (for being at a place where I no longer had to pretend to be well).
I am blessed with great treatment which I continue to do very well with. My tantric lifestyle contributes to my wellness, but it is my medication that keeps me alive.
Namaste

sagrada said...

The increase of such illnesses that needs to be understood, just as the increases in lawlessness. In the case of lawlessness, we see that the more laws and regulations legislated to oppose the lawlessness and the more force that is used to enforce the laws, the greater the lawlessness becomes. Lao Tsu told us that would happen. In the case of depression, the more identification of behaviors as being depressive, the more and more prevalent is the illness. The labeling is the primary problem. Just because a certain view of the problem doesn't have the advantage of media coverage and its less than altruistic value $ystem, doesn't make it esoteric. America needs to shed its dependence on "group think". The fear that one will be out on the street homeless is just that, fear, a negative attractor pattern that opens one up to control by others and draws the very situation that it is seeking to avoid. There is less than no value to fear. It will not cause you to be safer, contrary to the American understanding...

As I am an example, you don't need the psychotropic drugs. You have the freedom to take them if you so choose, but you don't need them. If I understood what I know now and was transported to the bedside of George Washington, I would say, "you don't need the leeches or be bled, you are free to use them if you so choose, but you don't need the leeches or be bled". I'm sure that there would be people in that time that would say that I was crazy and maybe even dangerous to counsel against accepted medical practice, but from mercy comes courage...

Things are coming together right now, in the area of quantum physics and its understandings or perhaps lack of understanding of how we as observers effect reality. There were ancients who lived their lives with the understandings that "modern" science is just now starting to make allowances for. First thing is for us to stop calling people crazy or mentally ill, stop labeling them. If you need to say anything about them, just say they are a mystery to you...