Focusing Tip #622: What’s alive in depression

Focusing Tip #622: What’s alive in depression
August 29, 2018 Ann Weiser Cornell
What's alive in depression?

Focusing Tip #622 – What’s alive in depression…

“Depression” can feel like we’re up against something that seems impossible… but is it really? Read on…

Michelle writes:

I’m curious what you would say about depression from a Focusing perspective. I’ve heard many different definitions of depression, the most common being “anger turned inward.” I’m wondering if depression might be the state of being identified with something in us that is sad.

Dear Michelle:

Great question! Right away we can notice something about the word “depression.” It’s an abstract noun… so it’s pretty far away from being a description of a presently felt experience.

If a person feels they are struggling with depression, my first invitation is: “You might notice how that feels in your body… right now.”

Or as my friend Helene Brenner would say, “I’d like to get a picture, could you walk me through what that is like for you…?”

When you listen to what people are actually experiencing, it turns out that “depression” is a label that covers a variety of different ways of being.

But it’s definitely not mere sadness, or anger, or any other emotion. In fact, it often feels more like an absence of emotion, like numbness, or “like there is a blanket over my feelings.”

At the heart of depression is something felt to be “impossible.” Like: “I can’t express myself safely,” or “I can’t live my true life.” A wall has been hit… and something in you knows that life is not OK like this.

Rather than being a static condition, I believe that what is called “depression” is a dynamic relationship between parts of us trying to keep us safe and parts of us trying to hold onto an inner truth.

When you notice how it feels — now — in your body, you can also notice the little ups and downs, the little steps and openings. You can form a relationship with what’s alive in “depression.” There is hope. Change is possible.


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