Copyright (c) 2008 Mary Ann Copson
Depression is awful ? in whatever form you may experience it. You would think that something that feels so bad would propel you to do anything to get rid of it. You know- like a noxious substance that we accidentally eat and then get violent spasms to vomit.
You?d think that if you are feeling depressed you would be hightailing it to engage in some of the known effective strategies for getting rid of depression. You might visit your doctor for an anti-depressant or your local therapist for cognitive behavioral therapy. You?d start exercising. You?d be getting out in the sunlight more. You?d change your diet. You?d learn to meditate and develop a mindful approach to life. You?d take some nutritional supplements like 5HTP or St. John?s Wort.
But when you are depressed most of the time you find yourself avoiding any and all of those things.
The insidious thing about depression (and for that matter most mood imbalances) is this ? depression has inherent in itself a hidden pull to stay depressed. When you are depressed, there is a part of the depression that feels good because it is familiar- as illogical as that may sound. In some subtle way, there is a tendency to keep yourself feeling depressed.
Rationally you?d want to stop being depressed because it feels so bad. But anything that will help you move out of depression also comes with this heavy internal response ?It?s just too hard? or some similar variation such as:
I can?t do that.
I tried that and it didn?t work.
I don?t see how that would work.
I can?t remember to do that.
I?m too busy, tired, overwhelmed, etc to do that.
That doesn?t seem like something that would work ? something that would be fun or something I want to do, etc.
However you spin it, depression (and other mood imbalances, too) becomes a closed system that locks you within the system. Insidious, crazy, and perverse.
Here is a little bit of the physiology about that:
The thing about mood imbalances is that the biochemistry in your brain always seeks its current baseline – which means that it is designed to stay the way it is. Your brain chemistry always seeks its neurotransmitter baseline and this baseline is kept in place by certain enzymatic processes in the body. It can take 6 months or more of consistent, regular input to change those biochemical enzymatic processes and thus your neurotransmitter baseline.
Your brain chemistry drives you to think and do things that will keep your brain chemistry just the way it is. Your current brain chemistry is driving you to avoid thinking or doing things that would shift your biochemistry and provide a physiological opportunity to shift your moods.
In order to find your way out of depression and other mood imbalances you have to reach deeply inside yourself and pull out a life spark of yourself ? a piece of your inner spirit or your life essence -and take the first step away from imbalance. And every day you have to reach inside of yourself again and find that life spark again and take the next step toward balance again ? and again, and again.
As each step fans that life spark, it also gradually and over time changes your physiology and shifts your neurotransmitter baseline.
Changing your physiology is important because it loosens the grip of that perverse biochemical tendency to keep things the way they are. Changing your physiology opens up a whole new world of thoughts, emotions, actions, and perceptions that weren?t readily available at the old biochemical baseline.
Hand in hand life spark and physiology work together and nurture each other toward a new level of balance.
“Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.” — Leonardo Da Vinci