Can Depression Be Our Ally, Not Our Enemy?

Changing How We Think About Depression

There are countless aspects of our personality; combinations of behaviours thoughts and feelings that make up who we are. Manifesting as different states, we change according to the current situation, our past experiences and our future expectations.

They make up and express who we are. However experiencing prolonged hurt, despair, stress, anxiety etc. can dominate our life and the landscape around us. We can feel engulfed, exhausted and trapped by both the causes of and the impact of resulting depression.

Often the language of depression is adversarial ie I’m going to beat this  depression, I’m fighting the depression, depression is a battle, I will not let depression defeat me. Depression is seen as the enemy. We rally our self with the intention and resolve needed at that time to take on and tackle our depression.

Unfortunately there is not one single approach to relieving a depressive mood that works for everyone. Otherwise everyone would practise and follow that one method.

Walking through a sea of fog, it can feel there is no way out. When in this position a different approach might be required. One that looks inwards.

Depression as the Ally

Instead of relating to your depressed mood as the enemy it is possible that depression could turn out to be your ally. If we can extend compassion to our self and our suffering then we can then better recognise that the hurt is a part of us, much like an overwhelmed child.

Instead of fighting that aspect of our self, we might try attending to and cooperating with it. Looking to find the meaning of the pain and in doing so find our way out.

Our depression might just be an internal signal trying desperately to get our attention to stop what is causing us harm. Focusing on the meaning of the alarm rather than the alarm its self and our reaction to the alarm, might help us understand its message.

This can be done by questioning your depression as to why the alarm is sounding, what it means and what best needs to be done about it.


Questioning Your Depression

These are questions that we can address to our low state as an element of our personality that is crying out to be heard. We can ask the questions silently or out aloud. My experience is that asking out aloud can have a better response as the question is formed and vocalised.

If might also help to address your questioning to an externalised representation of your depression. This could be an imagined form, an object such as cushion, a toy, a cardboard box, a piece of paper with a face drawn on it, anything at hand that you feel comfortable with. You might also want to consider using something that if you wanted to,could throw away at a later stage.

Our queries might include questions such as:

How are you trying to help me,

What is surrounding me and trapping me,

What are you trying to protect me from,

Why am I hurting so much

What do I do to feel better

Ask the questions allowing yourself to be open to the internal response. The answer comes as a mixture of internal dialogue, instinct and feeling. By being curious you can gain greater insight into the message and work with your depression to find its meaning.

It can help in keeping notes of what comes up for you. From this we can see themes or go back to the same question later for further elaboration. Often one question can lead onto to another. Often the answers can be surprising in what they uncover and how they can help you.

Other self help articles about Depression:

working with depression, counselling and depression

The Observing Self, creating space for our OK self

What is Depression and Why is It Happing, helping to explain what Depression is.

For more information on depression visit the national charity MIND.