The magazine article below about depression was published in the first edition of Lustre Conscious Living Magazine in March this year.
A dear friend of mine was recently blindsided by a string of life changing, heart wrenching events that devastated her to the point of her believing that life would be far better off without her in it. Sitting with her during dark moments when these thoughts and feelings were circulating around her brain was awful, scary and heart-breaking for me, realising the depths to which she was being driven.
What can I say that offers comfort? What wisdom can I contribute when what she is dealing with is so far out of my realm of experience? I sat there holding her hand, feeling helpless but not wanting to leave her side. All the while, I wanted to elevate us up out of that torturous space to somewhere light and fluffy. The moment really brought home to me how important it is to support our stressed and depressed loved ones during traumatic times like these. I also learnt that the manner in which we offer that support impacts their healing process significantly.
So often when going through episodes of grief, anxiety, stress or depression we are judged by others who admonish us for feeling how we are feeling.“Snap out of it!” “Get yourself together!” “Don’t talk like that!” For those of us on the receiving end of these words, we are pushed further down, feeling we are not understood even by those closest to us. We hate ourselves for putting our loved ones through our pain. We don’t want to bring them down with us. For those of us who are empaths, we feel the pain of those close to us and it sometimes amplifies and muddles our own agony.
I continued to sit with my friend, allowing her to talk without filter, allowing her to just say how she felt. Listening and holding her hand, both of us allowing the tears to flow.Eventually this particular wave of emotion and dark thinking ebbed.We sat and talked of blessings and love and growth. My friend shared with me about what helps her in her moment of darkness, what gets her through the intensity and past the negative mindset.
This amazing person is one of the most positive, caring souls I have ever encountered, who oozes strength and capability. A self-sufficient, generous person who just handles whatever is dealt to her (albeit, sometimes in a rather forthright manner which is challenging to some). There had always been a mentality within her family to “bunker down” and not reach out to an outsider during times of distress.Dealing with problems and pain within the family was the norm. But what happens in a time when you are solely on your own without the love and comfort of your family around you?
During an anxious or depressive episode, respect plays such a crucial role.When you are in the midst of anxiety or depression, you are so hell-bent on beating yourself up over the smallest of details. Your inner dialogue tells you that you are no good and not worth the energy. When people try to fix you rather than understand you, it compounds your perception that you are broken. Having someone force their company upon you and to tell you what you need can often be counterproductive. To show someone respect, to give them choices and permission to just be with love and acceptance is crucial to them not feeling isolated.
We both knew that whilst there was a feeling of calm, another wave of emotion and darkness would follow after a time, particularly first thing in the morning and late in the evening when the head gets free reign to chatter. We both knew the way to quieten the head was trying to achieve a meditative frame of mind. But how can you quieten the head in such a stressed body, particularly when there is so much to work through and contemplate?
A combination of aromatherapy and massage was the first step. The essential oils of Lavender and Bulgarian Rose were the only two oils required during the initial treatment (no need for complicated blends). Gentle yet firm soothing, rhythmical strokes, gently rocking the body into a light slumber. Bars were also effective (not the type you drink at – I am referring to the Access Consciousness tool). Whilst I could tell in this relaxed state, my friend had levitated off to another place, the Access Bars were used to help with the letting go process. I felt that my friend’s courage to let go and to be taken away emotionally and mentally to a deep space was the crucial healing factor. With assistance, her body was doing this all by itself – listening to its own wisdom and facilitating its own healing process!
The following day I received a phone call to let me know that the tiger was back in the tank. A new mindset had been born. The night time mind chatter was kept at bay the previous night and the sleep was restful and rejuvenating.
We know the waves of emotion, the memories and the dark thoughts will revisit at intervals. However, with mindfulness and self-care there is confidence the feelings will not be as tidally intense as they have been.
Sitting, listening and just being has been vital in finding a strategy towards calm and peace for my friend. For me, there has been no need to “do” or try and fire her up to “act”. The massage and aromatherapy has been a source of comfort that has further allowed my friend to relax into that being state which for her has been a turning point and a solution to handling the intense emotions.
To sit with someone in their emotional turmoil is often a really difficult thing to do and not everyone is in a space to offer that support. If you find it difficult to be with your loved one whilst they are in the depths of their anxiety and depression, there are still ways you can help. You do not have to go through this alone.You need to firstly take care of you to ensure that you relax and don’t relinquish what you enjoy. Seek support from professionals if you need to. Your local GP can refer you to a DHB Psychologist if required (and they are pretty awesome – I have personally utilised this service before).Be honest with what you are feeling and don’t isolate yourself.
Anne McCormack is a New Zealand-based Photographer, and Spiritual Healing Facilitator and author of Lovitude: Trying To Calm The Monkey Mind and the award-winning book, Peacock Dreaming: The Wisdom Of Flowers (recently awarded the B.R.A.G.Medallion).
Peacock Dreaming: The Wisdom Flowers is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and selected bookstores.
Some helpful links included below:
McCormack, A, Lovitude:Trying To Calm The Monkey Mind (available from www.peacockdreaming.co.nz)
Be sure to check out other incredible articles from this first edition of Lustre Conscious Living Magazine – I am so blessed and humbled to have been included amongst some amazing people.