Three Principles Living

Judith A. Sedgeman, EdD

The Depression Fairy is Imaginary

The Depression Fairy is Imaginary

depression fairyDespite the protests of several of my clients recently, I must insist  there is no Depression Fairy who randomly visits us and sprinkles dreadful thoughts in our minds. Oh, I know she seems very real, and powerful, and quick to alight out of nowhere. But she is imaginary, as are her close friends, like the Anxiety Fairy and the Anger Fairy.

As much as that might be good news, for many people who have struggled with Depression for decades, it is initially distressing news.  What’s wrong, then, if there’s no invisible outside force causing depression?  For people who are depressed, believing they just can’t help it  because it “happens” to them and they have to do the best they can to forge on anyway  becomes a kind of familiar comfort. They look at cheerful, energetic people as either lucky or out of touch with “real” life. They become resigned to existence in the gray spectrum: colorless, unemotional, exhausting in its grim monotony. They feel helpless and hopeless.

I had a client tell me recently that she hardly gotten out of bed at all for three months. She just couldn’t. I asked if there was ever even once in that time when she did, when she got up and got dressed and did something anyway. There was. Her cat got very sick and she rallied to take the cat to the vet. I asked her what she thought it was that  gave her the energy to move then. She said, “I love that cat. I couldn’t bear to see her suffer. I had to stop thinking about myself and take care of her.”

That is a profound statement about the source, and the relief, for depression. Over the years, so many people have told me similar stories. They had never stopped to reflect on the significance of their brief interludes of sufficient energy to do something. Yet in every case, their little surges of energy started with a compelling thought that interrupted a relentless torrent of self-concern and turned their mind elsewhere. They reconnected with life beyond their self-absorption, even if briefly. I do not use “self-absorption” judgmentally. It is the very definition of depression: a focus on one’s own internal stresses, fears, terrors, insecurities to the exclusion of all else.

Whether they realize it or not, they can turn their own thinking elsewhere, and often they do. Without understanding of the power to do that, though, it doesn’t register as meaningful. It just seems to them that every once in a while they manage to feel a little stronger, a little better, a little more engaged in something. But, as one of my clients put it, “I know it won’t last.”

That thought alone — “It won’t last” — triggers the downward spiral back to depression. But it’s nothing more than a habitual thought. The power to slip down into the cave again does not belong to those words, but to the life we give them. We always get to be right because our thinking comes to life via our consciousness and creates a temporary reality, no matter what it is. Just knowing that — knowing for sure that we are the thinkers creating from within our own minds the reality we see — is the antidote to depression. We don’t have to “clean up” our thinking or replace bleak thoughts with bright ones, or do anything at all with the thoughts we’ve already formed. As soon as we have the realization that the power of thought does not reside in the content of what we bring to mind, but in ourselves, who continually make it up from nothing, we let upsetting thoughts pass and keep on allowing new thoughts to come to mind. Understanding how thought works naturally results in letting go of thoughts that aren’t helpful and are taking us down. No one wants to feel bad; without seeing that the feeling is a byproduct of the thoughts we are innocently creating, though, it doesn’t seem like we have a choice.  We come out of the shadows of our own thinking as soon as we own our power to think.

As a colleague of mine often says, “The power of a thought lasts as long as you think it, and not a moment longer.” There’s no Depression Fairy sprinkling us with her yucky fairy dust. We chart our own course via the thinking we do; we can change direction at any time. We made up the Depression Fairy, too. Isn’t the human imagination amazing?

“Hate, jealousy, insecurity. phobias and feelings of depression are all compounds of negative thoughts.

All feelings derive and become alive, whether negative or positive, from the power of Thought. …

Even if you disagree with what I say, it’s your thought.”

                                                                                                           Sydney Banks, The Missing Link, pp. 24-25

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