Ask Parvati 25: Depression and Despair, Part 1

BY Parvati

I have been receiving wonderful feedback about this blog. Thank you for reading and for sharing your feedback. There is a comment section at the end of each entry where you are welcome to leave your remarks.
Thank you too for your continuing to send in your questions. Each week, I randomly pick a question to answer from the submissions, which must be in by Thursday. If you have a question you would like answered, send yours in to by Thursday each week.
I post the first part of my answer every Sunday and following portions each day throughout the week until my answer is complete. This week, we look at depression and despair.
Dear Parvati,
I have had a tough time with periods of depression and despair. I have tried medications but am not finding lasting relief. I wondered if you could talk a bit about how to overcome depression and despair.
When we are depressed, we feel sad and heavy. When we are despaired, we feel alone and disconnected. In darker emotional states, we can feel unable to deal with our lives, overwhelmed sometimes by even the smallest things, like going outside to collect the mail.
Out of habit and sometimes due to socialization, we try to push our feelings away. We don’t like them. We may feel that they betray our image of ourselves. We may feel too exposed and out of control. We may feel that we will not be loved if we show our true colours. We don’t want to talk about the painful stuff, the things that hurt. We don’t know how to get out of the heaviness, the feeling of burden, the feeling of no hope and being at a dead end.
No one wants to be depressed. No one enjoys feeling despair. Yet we all face depression and despair at one time or another in our lives.
Depression is not the same as despair. When we are despaired, we feel no hope. Despair is a state of consciousness, co-creating in the impossibilities. Depression is biochemical listlessness that causes difficulty activating. When we feel depressed, we may feel the possibility that things could change, yet we feel unable to find the zest to reactivate and reconnect with our vitality and engaged living. When we feel despair, we don’t feel possibility. When we are depressed, life can seem like a movie going on in front of us. We feel out of the picture, unsure how to reenter the fullness of life. When we feel despair, we don’t even believe in the picture and don’t care to reenter it.
For some, depression and despair are an ongoing struggle that colour every day of their lives. With the desire to find relief from the heaviness, people can turn to medical help, to exercise for endorphin release, to all encompassing projects that create singular focus or to entertainment and drugs for temporary distraction and numbness. But none of these will provide lasting solutions. We must go deeper.
Clinical depression is different than occasional depression that we can all feel from time to time. It is a mood disorder that interferes with the ability to conduct a healthy life. In clinical depression, there are biochemical factors, which are beyond the scope of this blog. Clinical depression is for your doctor to diagnose and requires medical attention.
However, whether you suffer from a medical condition or a passing case of the blues, we can explore the landscape of depression and despair with similar care and attention, on top of any additional support you may be receiving for your particular situation. Over the coming days, I would like to do that with you here.
(Continues tomorrow with Witnessing Despair)