What is depression really? Is it a problem? Is it a sign there’s something wrong with us and our psychology?
Or is it something else?
In this episode, Alexandra reflects on her personal experience with depression and what she saw about the role it plays in our divine design.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and full transcript below.
- Beginning with the understanding of our innate wellness
- Alexandra’s personal experience of depression
- How depression can be like sailing the ocean
- Why resisting any experience, including depression, only increases our suffering
- Can depression be seen as a safety mechanism?
- What is caterpillar soup and how does it relate to depression?
- On how the drive to overeat and depression are related
Transcript of episode
Welcome back, Explorers, to another Q&A episode of Unbroken. I’m your host, Alexandra Amor.
Today the question is: what is depression?
It’s going to sound like initially that it doesn’t really have anything to do with resolving an unwanted habit. But the two really are tied together. And I’ll bring that together toward the end of the episode.
So the first thing I need to say is I’m not a doctor. This is not a prescription, this is not a diagnosis.
What I’m really going to do today is explore what depression looks like, to me based on my own personal experience. And I always, always, always want to encourage you, dear listener, to go to your own wisdom. It’s great to listen to, and to get information from, other people, of course. That’s how we learn. And then I always feel like the second step should be that we bring that home to ourselves, and see how it fits with us and see how it fits based on our own experience, and explore it with the aid of our own personal wisdom. And find out if what you’re hearing is true for you or not, it might be completely different. So I encourage that, as you’re listening to this episode.
The second thing I want to say before we jump in is just that I’m talking about depression, specifically not about sadness, or grief, which I experience as being very different from depression. So that’s just something to keep in mind.
We’re beginning with the premise, or understanding, that we are all being lived by a Universal Intelligence.
I need to begin there because that understanding is really important to the rest of what I’m going to explore. So the same way the planets are being spun and the grass is being grown and the flowers are being bloomed, that same universal intelligence or energy is flowing through all of us.
It’s innate, meaning you don’t have to create it, it’s not something you have to search for, or manage in any way. It’s just there within all of us. And that’s another important point that it’s within everyone, every single human, every single creature, I think, and living being on the planet is imbued with that Universal Intelligence.
We wouldn’t say that some trees are part of nature, and some aren’t. It just doesn’t work that way. So if you think you might be the exception to that rule, that is definitely not the case. So that’s the foundation for what we’re going to explore today.
And what that really looks like is that we are whole and well, always, that this wellness, that is the innate essence of who we are. So even when we’re ill, even when there’s illness within our bodies, we are still innately whole, no matter what’s going on with us physically.
So given that, very often, though, depression can feel like a problem. As though something has gone wrong with us as though, there’s sand in our gas tank, that there’s something that’s broken there that needs to be fixed, especially I think, when people struggle with depression chronically.
What if depression is also part of the innate Universal Intelligence that is living through all of us?
So that’s what we’re going to talk about today. I’m going to share a little bit of my personal experience now, and I’m going to do that because that’s going to shine a light on what I see to be true about depression. And of course, I feel like if I hadn’t experienced depression I wouldn’t be able to talk about this. I always feel like I need to experience something personally in order to reflect on it and see if there’s any fresh thinking there about it.
For example, I’ve never been a mother. I’ve never given birth. So I would never presume to speak very specifically about the experience of childbirth. But depression is something I can speak to, because I have experienced it. And I really reflected on what was happening as it was happening, because I was already learning about the three principles understanding.
I experienced my first really serious bout of depression in 2021.
I’ve never experienced depression before this. Of course, I’ve experienced sadness and grief like everybody else. But this was something different, I really felt like it came out of nowhere. First of all, I felt like my personality had been surgically removed. Like, it was just, it’s just the strangest feeling, I just didn’t care about anything.
My baseline of emotions was sort of it was normally at a seven, or eight. And it just dropped down to about a one or a two. I just wasn’t interested in anything, I didn’t care about anything. Like I say, it’s this really interesting feeling of just that my entire personality had been removed. I really just had to grind through every day, doing my best to make sure I did the things to kind of keep my life on the rails. But it certainly was very effortful while that was going on. And really just not a whole lot of fun.
What I likened it to at the time was – I’m not a sailor, but I know I’ve read books where sailors talk about how you can get into a situation when you’re sailing across a large body of water, like the Pacific Ocean, that’s called the doldrums. It’s also called being be calmed.
The sailboat will just get into this place where there’s absolutely no wind. And, of course, the Pacific Ocean is so huge, I’m thinking of a specific book I read years ago, that you can’t turn on your engine, because you’ll just run out of gas before you get to wherever you’re going, Hawaii or whatever. You really just have to ride it out.
And so the boat is just essentially sitting there on the water, and not moving at all except for the little bit of drift that the current is providing. And you’re really at the mercy of the wind and the weather at that point. The sailors I gather, just have to ride it out and let it happen. And then eventually, it will change of course, like everything does.
So this first bout of depression that I experienced lasted, I want to say, and I didn’t track it exactly, but I want to say for about three or four months. And one of the things that was really challenging about it was it was hard to not fight it or resist it.
There was a lot of chatter in my head about how much I disliked what was happening. And, some days, that was easy to fall into listening to that and really paying attention to it and believing it, really kind of being attached to that thinking. And other days, it was a little easier not to do that. Although I will say that, throughout the whole thing. I really just didn’t enjoy the experience. I mean, it’s like having the flu, nobody likes it.
We tend to resist it a little bit and are we’re glad when it’s over. So that’s what it was like for me when I experienced that bout of depression.
And then what happened was a ways into it several weeks into it, maybe six or so weeks in. I remember it vividly, I was just walking across the living room floor. And I had an insight and I realized, “Oh, I’m burned out. That’s why this depression is here in this moment.”
There’s a really good metaphor that Michael Neill uses about depression in this way. He talks about how when you’re using a hairdryer, if the hairdryer gets too hot, it shuts off. You can be there, it can be plugged in, you can be drying your hair, and wind is going and everything, and then it’ll just stop. And the reason for that is it’s a safety mechanism.
It’s the hairdryer has become overheated. And so it’s turning itself off so that it won’t, so that it won’t burst into flames. So when I had that insight about being burned out, I realized, okay, this is the, this is the hairdryer that’s turned off, this is a safety mechanism.
And one of the reasons now looking back that I can see that I was really burned out, was that I’d been working two jobs for about 10 or 12 years at that point. And really, really working hard. My mind was really revved up all the time. The reason I was working two jobs was that the job that I earned an income from was a home based business. And then I was also writing books on the side and I was also hosting a podcast for other mystery authors.
And then I had tried to start adding a little bit of three principles teaching on top of all of that stuff. I hadn’t had a holiday in goodness knows how long or a break. Sometimes I would take a few days off at Christmas, but that was all. So I was really burned out, really, really burned out.
My reflex or default position is always to work harder if things aren’t working well. If things feel like I need to move them in a direction, then I just need to double down and work really, really hard. And what my body, I realized now, was saying to me was, that’s not the answer. That’s not the direction that you want to be going in.
The innate intelligence that is within me got that message through to me via depression.
And then after that, later that year, and I think into 2022, I had to shorter bouts of depression. Same experience; I felt like my personality had been removed. And, I really struggled to get through every day. And they were, probably two or three weeks, each separated by six weeks or something or two months.
During those two bouts, I didn’t have any insights about it the way that I did with the first experience. And that was a little confusing to me. But I’m sharing this because it was another good example of still the intelligence of life, that Universal Intelligence that flows through us being in play within me.
What I came to understand about those two bouts of depression came later. It came after they had occurred. Late in 2022, I was able to look back and see that I was going through a really big transition period.
There’s that metaphor about change, and how change can be like going from the caterpillar to the butterfly. And when a caterpillar goes into its cocoon, it doesn’t just sort of reform as a butterfly. What happens is it literally melts down into just a gooey substance, like a real goo. And then from the goo, the butterfly is formed. Sometimes people refer to this as Caterpillar soup, which I just love.
So looking back, what I realized was afterwards, that’s what was happening. I was caterpillar soup, and was going through a big change a big transition. I wasn’t even consciously aware of what that change would be. But it did show up later.
And so, again, I just want to point to the fact that those two bouts of depression, they weren’t a mistake. They weren’t something that was broken about me at all. They were intelligence at play.
And again, I didn’t like them. In fact, I really really didn’t like them. They were very unpleasant and I did at times feel like there must be something wrong. There must be something broken about me. But there were also moments when I was able to just relax into it. Again, just like having the flu.
The suffering that we create within ourselves, usually most of it tends to happen, because we’re resisting what’s happening. And so I tried to do that as little as possible. I tried to resist what was going on and not beat myself up about it. Or get really down on myself. Those kinds of things just tried to, to be with what was happening without being really hard on myself.
So that’s one thing that’s important to remember that our suffering is so often caused by our resistance to whatever’s going on.
And then the second thing that I really reflected on about these three periods of depression, is it everything is temporary.
Everything always is temporary, nothing lasts forever.
And when we’re in the middle of something like that, it can really feel like it’s going to last forever. I did have days and moments where I just thought, oh, no, this is the rest of my life. This is awful. And, of course, that wasn’t true. Of course, everything shifts and moves.
And I’m sure when the caterpillar is caterpillar soup, it could reflect and say, Oh, no, this is it. What if I never turn into a butterfly? What if I’m just Caterpillar soup forever?
I just tried to remember that everything is temporary, everything is always moving, and shifting and changing, even if it doesn’t feel like it. And that was true, definitely, for those periods of depression.
So as I said, at the beginning, this, this is not a diagnosis about depression at all. And I’m not saying that everybody’s experience of depression is going to be the same. If you’re dealing with it your experience is going to be unique. But what I really encourage is a couple of things.
If you can be gentle with yourself and hold the experience lightly, that will certainly ease your suffering of it.
And then in that gentle way, look for the intelligence that might be within that depression. I think that insight, or fresh thinking that you might have about depression, if you’re experiencing it comes about more easily when we’re not caught up in resisting what’s happening.
I’ve got an episode actually coming up next week, a q&a episode, about being in the present moment. That is the place where wisdom and creativity and fresh thinking do come into play in our lives. So if you experienced depression, and have some quite heavy thinking about it maybe there’s just an opportunity here for you to explore:
What if there was something different going on than you being broken or unwell? What if that depression was a perfect part of your divine design?
And even if we don’t like what’s happening, it can still be a perfect part of our design. So I’m thinking of when we break an arm or a bone, and it has to be set. There’s a while, weeks very often, where we can’t use that arm the same way we normally do and we need to be gentle with it and tender with it and keep it still.
And that stillness is necessary, even though we don’t like having that experience. What’s going on underneath that is that the intelligence of our bodies are knitting the bones together. So there’s the part that we can play, which is keeping the limb still and being tender with it. And then there’s the part that is the intelligence of our body and our being plays, which is healing the bone. So I hope that’s not too sloppy a metaphor.
So that’s about everything that I wanted to discuss today. If you have any questions about depression, if it’s something that you experience yourself, I’d love to hear that and answer that question on a future episode. This is something that I’m interested in, because it happened to me quite recently. And also, because I was just able to see it from a completely different perspective than I ever had before.
You can always submit your questions at alexandraamor.com/question. And I’ll be really help happy to answer.
And then, oh, I said that I was going to tie this back into unwanted habits, didn’t I?
Okay, so the way that this is tied into resolving unwanted habits, is that we can see, or what I see is that cravings, that drive to overeat, is similar to depression in that they are something that we don’t like, they are something that we tend to fight. Culturally, societally, nobody has taught us that they are actually a part of the wisdom of our design.
I see this in so much of what it means to be human, that we’re always just trying to overpower and control and manage and eliminate the things about ourselves that we don’t like, when really what those things you’re trying to do is communicate with us. So the perfect example is the first bout of depression that I talked about that was trying to get me to slow down.
If I had been unwilling to listen to that message, I might have continued doubling down on the work I was doing and just burning myself out even further and then being a service to absolutely nobody. Least of all myself.
So quieting down, and being able to see that wisdom was really helpful for me. This exact same thing applies to the drive to overeat, when we experience cravings and that compulsive feeling of wanting to overeat, what we try to do is manage that feeling and control it and eliminate it, instead of looking at the intelligence that that it’s actually reflecting the fact that it’s trying to wake us up to the fact that we have misunderstood our true nature that were caught up in a lot of busy thinking, and have I always want to say forgotten, but we may not even have ever known that we are filled with this innate intelligence that we are well and whole.
At our core, we are made of peace, and well-being and creativity and love and all those things. And those cravings, that drive to overeat is simply trying to remind us of that.
So these two things are really similar in that they’re trying to wake us up. That’s what they’re doing. They’re not a problem in and of themselves. They’re not a sign that we are broken at all. And that’s a great note to end on, because the podcast is called Unbroken.
I hope that’s been helpful for you. And again, if you have any questions, please let me know. alexandraamor.com/question.
Thanks again for being here and I will talk to you next week. Bye!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai