Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Are You Hiding Depression? Possibly Even from Yourself?

March 22nd, 2021 · hiding depression

Hiding depression? Is that a thing? Do people actually do that? The truth is that we certainly can do that, and sometimes, we can even hide our depression from ourselves.

PHOTO: Stock Photo Secrets

Depression can be a many-sided thing. It can appear in many different shapes and forms, some of which can even fool or surprise experts. As UK psychiatrist Rebecca Lawrence asserts “Is [the hidden depressive’s] depression as real, or as valid, because they manage to go to work, to smile, even to crack a joke? I think it is.”

This is a different perspective than the one that typical stereotypes of depression would suggest. Rather than the sad, emotionally flat and energy-less images we might have of depression, the person who is hiding depression might well appear to be as lively, energetic and socially engaged as anyone else, and yet such a person might be harbouring unseen depression.

What could be going on in the inner life of such a person, who “presents”, as they say, in a way that is so much at odds with what is really going on in their inner life? Dr. Lawrence offers us an important insight:

[D]oes that mean they suffer less when smiling? No: in fact, the strain of keeping up appearances, the weight of a misplaced sense of responsibility to others, can be one of the most onerous aspects of mental ill health.

Dr. Rebecca Lawrence, “When depression wears a smile”, The Guardian, 18 March, 2021

This offers us an important insight: if we’re hiding depression, we may well be doing it for the other people in our lives. This misplaced sense of duty or care has the potential to do us serious and undeserved harm.

Am I Hiding Depression?

For some people who are dealing with the reality of hidden depression, the answer to the question “Am I hiding depression?” will be obvious. These individuals know that they are hiding depression from co-workers or people that they love. This hiding is done to protect these people, to keep things in a good place in the work place, or for some other consciously chosen reason. Yet there are many other people who are either semi-conscious or completely unaware of their own depression.

How do I know whether I’m hiding depression? Well, there are several common characteristics exhibited by individuals who are struggling with depression that is hidden.

People with hidden depression can often be perfectionistic. They are often people who set a very high bar for themselves in many areas of life. They have a sense of constantly measuring themselves against expectations—and there’s an inner critic ready to lacerate them with intense shame if they fall short.

People with hidden depression can actually often be “rigidly positive”. They can feel a strong face of shame or failure if they are anything other than unfailingly positive and optimistic. It can often be that any attitude of kindness to oneself, or acknowledging any of the difficulty or pain in one’s life is prohibited by a rigid, shaming inner critic.

Facing or expressing painful emotions can often be difficult for some one who is hiding depression. Sadness, anger, disappointment and grief often are all “no go zones” for the individual with hidden depression.

People hiding depression can have a very high need to feel that a situation is under control, and can feel intense anxiety when it is not. There is a very strong drive to feel in control, which individuals may keep very well hidden. Such a person may tend to worry a lot, and avoid situations where they cannot be in control.

An individual with hidden depression can have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. This means that the individual certainly has no trouble taking responsibility for things—but can all too easily end up blaming themselves.

Being Honest with Others—and with Myself

When people are hiding depression, it can be a real challenge to be fully honest and vulnerable with other people. It can also be really difficult sometimes to be fundamentally honest with themselves about their actual mood state. Yet it can be fundamentally important to listen to what others are saying about how we seem to them. Even more basically, it may be important to listen to ourselves, on all kinds of levels.

This certainly means stopping and trying to gain an understanding of how we really feel about things. Taking a few minutes to check in with yourself on a daily basis may be essential, including noticing things like energy levels, whether appetite is normal, length and quality of sleep, and just basically asking yourself how you’re feeling about things—and giving yourself an honest answer. Some people find that journalling every day on what is happening in their lives and how they feel about it can be an invaluable tool.

Staying in touch with yourself, dialoging with yourself… This may all be new territory. Yet it may have a lot of life in it.

If I’m Hiding Depression, What Can I Do About It?

If you’re concerned that you’re hiding depression, it can be a very good thing to speak about that concern with someone whom you really trust. Sometimes, it can be very valuable to talk to a relatable, knowledgeable and supportive counsellor or therapist, such as a Jungian depth psychotherapist. (NOTE: If you are in need of immediate support, please contact your local distress line. In my area, that is Distress Line Halton 905-849-4541) It can be of tremendous value to speak with someone who validates you, and who affirms that your feelings are important and worthy of respect.

Exploring those feelings and what your deepest, even unconscious, self has to show you about the threads of meaning and energy in your life can be vital. It can certainly help immensely in opening up what lies beyond hiding depression—moving on the journey towards wholeness.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

Certified Telemental Health Practitioner

© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

→ No Comments

Avoiding Burnout or Depression at Christmas, Part 2

December 16th, 2019 · depression, depression at Christmas

In my last post, we looked at Christmas burnout, and this post continues to explore that theme.

What is the root cause of all the Christmas burnout and depression at Christmas? Do we have any idea?

Well, a recent study by human resources firm ADP Canada looks at the “time off tax” that Canadians pay around holidays and vacations. It turns out that, in the present work environment, people often feel that they have to put in a pretty substantial number of hours of extra work before and after time off from work, to make up for “lost hours” devoted to themselves and family.

This is certainly not the only thing that makes holidays like Christmas very demanding — far from it. However, it surely is an indicator of one of the things that can make holidays like Christmas so stress-inducing. That is the strong feeling that many people have in our culture that “I am not doing enough.” or, simply, that “I just am not enough.”.

Often, people in our culture confront a specific sense of depression at Christmas. This may well be because they cannot rise to the challenge of making the holidays (and their own individual lives, and their family life) into the wonderful, magical festival of light, joy, peace and good feeling that they are told that this season ought to be. Anyone seeking to gain a sense of the kind of enormous expectations generated by this season need only look at some lines from the most popular Christmas songs:

  • “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”
  • “Simply having a wonderful Christmas time”
  • “Children laughing, people passing / Meeting smile after smile…”
  • “What a bright time, it’s the right time, to rock the night away…”
  • “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, it’s the best time of the year…”
  • “Voices singing, let’s be jolly / Deck the halls with boughs of holly…”

When we look at all the messaging around the holidays, it’s pretty hard to avoid the sense that “the Christmas spirit” or “that special Holiday feeling” is something that we’re supposed to whip up, or create. No wonder people feel pressured, or even burnt out or depressed!

A Season of Renewal

We may be very pressured trying to turn Christmas into something that meets the expectations of others, along with our own. Yet, perhaps we need to ask: is that the only way to look at the Holiday season? If so, it makes the Holidays seem pretty bleak!

What exactly is a holiday, anyway? In his book The Archetype of Renewal, Jungian analyst D. Stephenson Bond examines one of the most ancient holidays we know of in history. This holiday was a New Year’s festival that originated in ancient Sumer around 3500 B.C.E. It was known as the Akitu festival, a name which means “power making the world live again”.

This holiday had to do with “the death and re-birth of the King”, and what that meant for these ancient people was that the whole of life — the King, the society as a whole, the individual — went through a kind of death and re-birth. Everything in this society was renewed through this festival.

The people of ancient Sumer and Babylon did not sit around, worrying whether their preparations for Akitu were adequate, or whether they had done enough, or whether they were going to “have a good Akitu”. Their perspective was that the Akitu festival came, and it renewed them.

Does this perspective have anything to offer us?

Renewal: Are We OK with That?

What would it be like for us to view the Christmas and Holiday season as a season of renewal, rather than as a big sense of obligation that leaves us feeling inadequate or disappointed? We are so busy in the lead up to the holidays: gift-buying; planning travel and/or activities; decorating home and tree, and many other activities. Often, the “day of” Christmas is absolutely frenetic. Going to parents’ house, parents-in-law, brothers, sisters, the home of the ex to spend some time with the kids — the number of separate destinations in this time period is mind-boggling.

What would it be like in the midst of this period to take even one day to:

  • grow;
  • authentically connect with people;
  • listen to your own inner voice; and,
  • reflect on what’s really important to you, what you really want at this point in your life journey?

If the fundamental (Jungians would say archetypal) essence of a holiday or festival is renewal, what would it mean in our time and place to open ourselves to renewal in the Christmas or Holiday season?

Beyond Depression at Christmas, to Renewal

The most profound kinds of renewal often stem from our own depths. Often both our barely acknowledged conscious selves, and the unconscious mind are full of the desire for renewal and the need to travel our own journey towards wholeness. The healing journey involved in the relationship at the heart of Jungian depth psychotherapy can be a path to renewal and a connection with our own very deepest values and perspectives.

On the cusp of the Holiday and Christmas season, 2019, may I take this opportunity to wish you authentic joy, true peace and lasting renewal as you travel the road to yourself.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

Certified Telemental Health Practitioner

© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

→ No Comments

Spirituality and Depression: The Surprising Relationship

June 24th, 2019 · depression, spirituality and depression

Spirituality and depression are not discussed together too often, but probably they should be!

spirituality and depression
Some might even see spirituality as potentially banishing depression, but the relationship between the two is not nearly that simple. We often tend to see spirituality in terms of light, and possibly joy, and we can easily slip into tending to view it as almost a kind of “cure” for depression. Yet the relationship between depression and spirituality is subtle and complex.

Spirituality May Not “Cure” Depression

There are diverse opinions about whether spirituality and religion can assist people in dealing with depression. Some studies suggest that there is a positive link, but some recent studies have been more cautious in their findings.

A common thing in our time is to find people who would describe themselves as “spiritual, but not religious”. There is a movement in our time away from formalized belief systems in favour of various types of more personal spiritual exploration, characterized by activities such as yoga, meditation and even pilgrimages like the Camino de Santiago. SUch exploration can be a very common part of the midlife transition.

Some studies done on those who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious” have found that there is a higher incidence of the symptoms of depression amongst those who would describe themselves as “spiritual”, but who don’t participate in formal religious institutions or activities, than in those who might describe themselves as more conventionally religious. “Spirituality” can sometimes tend to be a bit ungrounded, and a bit disconnected from the realities of living everyday life, in ways that may even actively contribute to a sense of loneliness and isolation.

How do we get to a spirituality that doesn’t contribute to depression, and that may even help us to overcome depression?

How Do I Deal with Spiritual Realities?

Jung saw spirit as a non-material aspect of human existence that can’t really be fully described or defined. Yet, he certainly didn’t feel that this elusive character means that spirit is unreal — far from it! Spiritual realities have their own sense of purpose connected to them, quite distinct from our human expectations. Jung sees the appearance of this dimension of human life as usually associated with strong feeling, as researchers like Profs. Neal Krause and Kenneth Pargament have emphasized in more recent times.

But there’s something important to recognize here. In some ways, Jung and others like him see spiritual reality as basically the opposite of the material reality that we live in every day. So, potentially, we could live our lives, eat sleep, work and do all the regular things that we do, and not really have any connection to spiritual reality. On the other hand, we could choose to live almost entirely in spiritual reality, with as little connection with the pragmatic realities of the world as possible.

However, Jung argued that neither of these paths would ultimately lead to a very meaningful life. From his perspective, in Andrew Samuels’ words, “spiritual goals must be embodied for fulfillment.”

So, how can we bring spiritual and material realities together, so that the relationship between spirituality and depression is a positive one?

Living Out Our Spirituality

One of the key requirements of a spirituality that is truly grounded in, and connected with, our own real lives is that the spirituality genuinely emerges from our lived experience. There is only one way that this can happen, and that is, if we examine our own lived experience, and really seek to understand who we are and what has happened to us in our lives in an honest and self-compassionate way. Only a spirituality in which all that we are can be welcomed in an open-hearted way can be a spirituality that helps us move away from depression, rather than miring us deeper in it.

One very effective way of understanding and developing compassion for our own unique lives is through depth psychotherapy. Engaging in therapy or analysis with a therapist who is attuned and sensitive to spiritual values can be a powerful way of integrating one’s journey to wholeness, and one’s particular spiritual path.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

Certified Telemental Health Practitioner

© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

→ No Comments

Retirement and Depression: Breaking the Linkage

May 6th, 2019 · retirement and depression

Can we break the all-too-common link between retirement and depression, as the retirement stage of life keeps lengthening?

retirement and depression
Many of us know at least one person who is wrestling with depression in retirement. When that individual is a close friend or a relative or a parent, we become very aware of the challenges involved in the major life transition that we call retirement. When that person is ourselves, the issue takes on even more importance.
I want to emphasize here that, in our time, the linkage between retirement and depression can begin quite some time before retirement actually starts.

P – Retirement and Depression: What’s the Root Connection?

C.G. Jung once said something important about retirement. He said it quite a number of years ago, but it’s even more relevant today than when he first said it:

It’s good to retire — but not into nothing.

~ C.G. Jung

“Retiring into nothing” is very much related to the linkage between retirement and depression. In the sense in which Jung meant it, “nothing” here refers to a meaningless life. The person who is “going into retirement” needs to feel that they’re not entering a vacuum where all the meaning and value that they’ve found in their previous work life has been sucked out, leaving them with nothing. No one who intentionally enters retirement does so with the idea that they’re signing up for a drab, meaningless existence. Yet many experience something not far from that.

Perhaps surprisingly, this discussion of “good retirement” and the topic of our last blog post, on “signs of burnout” both involve the same thing: the need to find meaningful, substantial involvement in life.

Let’s suppose that you enjoy your job, at least to some extent, and find that it provides some sense of meaning or purpose in your life. Then you cannot expect to find a valuable retirement, unless you’re getting these same needs for involvement and meaning or purpose — perhaps “making a contribution” — in your post-retirement life. Similarly, if your work life has fallen short in providing a sense of enjoyment or meaning or contribution, it’s going to be essential to find these things on the retirement life journey.

My clinical experience in a suburban depth psychotherapy practice suggests that finding these things in retirement is a substantial problem for many people. As a result, in too many cases, there is a connection between retirement and depression.

A – Retirement: Fantasy & Reality

As a culture, we have a lot of collective fantasies swirling around the subject of retirement.

retirement and depression

In the post-war era, there was an understanding that people were “working toward” retirement at age 65. You were considered to have done exceptionally well if you were able to retire before that age (“Freedom 55”!). There was an emphasis on “escaping” from work. There was a sense that, when you retired, you would be entering a wonderful time that was essentially carefree, when you could do whatever you wanted to do with your time.

However, studies suggest that the likelihood that someone will suffer from clinical depression actually goes up substantially after retiring. The illusion that retirement is automatically some sort of Magical Mystery Tour has worn pretty thin. What is clear now, according to the leading experts is:

“The most successful retirees plan out their post-working lives.”

~ Prof. Ronald E. Reggio, Claremont McKenna College

Whether prior to, or during, retirement we need to reflect very carefully on our needs. This will lead us into important questions about our key values. You may be a person who puts a primary emphasis on creative forms of leisure, or a person who has a longing to create something on an on-going basis, or a person who fundamentally needs to be doing some kind of work.

How will you live out who you actually are? Failing to address this, and failing to think creatively about this stage of your life is a way of increasing the odds that depression could be your companion in retirement.

In large part that’s because work, whether we realize it or not, provides many of the ingredients that fuel happiness, including social connections, a steady routine and a sense of purpose. 

Retirement and Real Life

Living our complete life journey in a way that we find valuable and meaningful is key to avoiding the combination of retirement and depression, or getting out of it if we are already in it. There is great value in thinking creatively about where we are in our life journey.

Here’s a list of six fundamental things that we can do for ourselves in or near retirement:

  • 1) Staying active and in good shape, as good health is essential for good retirement.
  • 2) Keep social: deepen your existing bonds and make new ones.
  • 3) It can often help to keep some sort of routine or plan for the day, as structure often helps to get more out of the day.
  • 4) Carefully consider doing some form of meaningful “work”, in some sense of the word. Often part-time workers often stay in a better place mentally than those who quit cold turkey.
  • 5) Consider doing something that involves “giving back”, or volunteering — contributing can increase mental well-being.
  • 6) Think about some form of learning or classes, as a way of exploring new things and staying mentally alert.

In addition to all of the above, retirement is one of the major life transitions that leads an individual to ask deep level questions about her or his own identity and life story and about what is ultimately meaningful in his or her life. It can be an excellent time to embark on working with a Jungian depth psychotherapist, to help find orientation on the life journey.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

Certified Telemental Health Practitioner

© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

→ No Comments

Mandela, Hope & Lasting Help for Depression

December 9th, 2013 · depression, help for depression

Lasting help for depression is closely tied to hope, and symbols of hope are among our greatest treasures.

help for depression

This week saw the passing of Nelson Mandela, who was an incredible symbol of hope for much of the human race.  The unbelievable intensity of the gratitude to Mandela as a figure of reconciliation is a living testament of the power and vital necessity of hope for the human psyche.

Real Hope Is Not A Pep Talk

The world is full of voices telling us that positive thinking  can create life-changing results such as increased wealth, health, and happiness. Such messages abound.  But are they really sustaining?

Nelsen Mandela spent 27 years in prison on Robben Island and elsewhere.  Viktor Frankl, the famous existential psychiatrist endured the Dachau camp while virtually all of his family were murdered at Auschwitz.  Can we possibly think that mere positive thinking and the “law of attraction” allowed such individuals to endure?  Here is something much deeper in the person than mere positive thinking, or indeed, than thinking at all.

The Tune Without the Words

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
-Emily Dickenson

Dickenson’s words point us toward the true nature of hope, as that which “perches in the soul”, beyond the reach of reasoning, beyond the reach of language.  But if we are to experience help for depression from hope of this deep type, which comes from our depths — we have to know our own soul.


In Jung’s words, hope is one of

…[those] highest achievements of human endeavour… [which] are neither to be taught nor learned, neither given nor taken, neither withheld nor earned, since they come through experience….  Experiences cannot be made.  They happen — yet fortunately… we can draw closer to them….  

The way to experience… is anything but a clever trick: it is rather a venture which requires us to commit ourselves with our whole being.

Jung urges us to find hope by drawing closer to, and accepting our fundamental experiences, and, with them, our own nature and identity.

help for depression

Often the roots of depression can be found in our inability to accept our own experience, and our true selves.  Whether in childhood, or later life, the individual may internalize the message that his or her experience is unimportant, and that, in fact, he or she is really not important.  Such experience can lead to the death of hope.

Conversely genuine self acceptance is linked to the individual fostering basic trust in his or her life, to hope, and to our awareness of the existence of possibility.  As the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard put it:

If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible.  

Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating… as possibility!

 Hope and Lasting Help for Depression

help for depression

From a Jungian perspective, individual depth psychotherapy assists in the recovery of the natural and instinctive self, which is the natural source of our most basic sense of hope.   The journey of individual therapy toward this hope can be fundamental in bringing lasting help for depression.

PHOTOS: Attribution Share Alike  Some rights reserved by Celestine Chua ; VinothChandar
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

→ No Comments

Key Factors in Lasting Help for Depression: #1 – Depth

October 27th, 2013 · depression, help for depression

“Where can I find lasting help for depression?”  This is a question on the minds of many.

help for depression

It is a matter of great importance for those who are active in their seeking to obtain help for depression.  Individuals don’t want to receive help that will make a difference just in the short term.  They are seeking help for depression that is going to make a fundamental change through the course of their lives.

Lasting Benefit

Studies of groups are certainly not the last word in the search for individual healing and wholeness.  Neither can any one study’s results be seen as definitive. Nonetheless, a recent study by Prof. Dorothea Huber of the Technische Universität München and her colleagues on the benefits of help for depression is quite striking.  That study showed that the benefits from psychodynamic psychotherapy persisted and were experienced 3 or more years out from the time of the therapy.

Psychodynamic therapy, also known as depth psychotherapy, refers to those forms of therapy that concern themselves with the unconscious mind of the individual and its processes–what’s going on deep in the mind of the individual.  And that’s part of the reason why, for many individuals, the benefits from psychodynamic therapy persist.

A Shift at a Fundamental Level

In forms of depth psychotherapy like Jungian therapy, there is an emphasis in focusing on what is going on in the individual at quite a deep level.  In this kind of approach, a great deal rests on what may be going on at the deepest levels of the individual, which are often in the unconscious mind.

In the Jungian approach in particular, the individual, and the unique characteristics of his or her life are given particular significance.  In the following video, I read a passage from Jungian analyst June Singer that expresses this with great clarity:



Depression and the Unconscious Self

For the depth psychotherapist, help for depression is inextricably bound up with a person’s unique individuality and the reality of the unconscious mind.  From this perspective, depression is fundamentally related to the ways in which an individual’s vitality and spontaneity become locked inside them, as a result of the various wounds that are experienced in life, and also as a result of dilemmas in the present that may appear as insoluble to  the  person from a conscious perspective.  As James Hollis states,

Depression can feel like a well with no bottom, but from a Jungian perspective

intrapsychic depression is a well with a bottom,

although we may have to dive very deeply to find it.

help for depression

Diving Deep

From a Jungian perspective, lasting help for depression is to be found in the inward journey, and in bringing into contact with consciousness those energies within us which, for whatever reason, have become walled off.  Individual psychotherapy from a depth perspective can often be a powerful factor in the recovery of the natural and instinctive self, and in opening up an understanding of the meaning of my depression.  This type of change can be a fundamental element in lasting help for depression.


PHOTOS: Attribution Share Alike  Some rights reserved by Sarz.K ; mrbill78636  
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

→ No Comments

3 Big Surprises about Help for Depression in Summer

July 6th, 2013 · depression, help for depression

It might seem very strange to focus on help for depression in summer, when summer itself is supposed to help lift depression.

help for depression

But here’s the thing: for many people–it doesn’t.

In our culture, we hold up the icon of summer as a time of playful hedonism, typified by this classic song by Mungo Jerry:

[hs_form id=”17″]

1. Summer Doesn’t Actually Make Everything O.K.

But for some who struggle with depression, the high summer can actually make things worse.  Season affective disorder, known as SAD, is common knowledge nowadays.  Canadians tend to associate it with the cold and short days of winter.  However, as the Mayo Clinic notes, and as research from India shows, SAD can be associated with oppressive summer heat.

That school is out can also contribute to depression for parental figures who find themselves at home with kids for whole days, day after day.  Also, teachers and college professors can find themselves subject to depression when, after a busy, demanding year, they suddenly find themselves at home with large expanses of time.

2.  The Symbol of the Burning Sun

For depth psychotherapy, another aspect of summer depression involves the symbolism of the summer sun at its most intense.  When the summer sun is at its most direct, and sweltering, it can make everything seem stark, bleak and lifeless.

The ancients used to refer to the experience of the sun in this bleak, piercing way as the “sol niger” — Latin for the “black sun”.  Below is an example of how they might typically have portrayed or symbolized it.

help for depression

Sometimes, for modern people, too, the hot sweltering high summer sun can symbolize or highlight experiences of bleakness, starkness or joylessness in our lives.

Could it be that the intensity of the sweltering sun symbolizes or highlights aspects of our lives that we might experience as bleak? Could it reveal our over-thinking, over-driveness, workaholism, excessive win-at-all costs intensity; or obsessiveness?

help for depression


3.  Other Summer Stressors

There are other stressors not directly related to the weather that can find us out in summer.

Summer can be a time of particular financial stress.  Activities such as vacations can take a great deal of money.  We can easily find ourselves in financial crunches related to summer plans — and sometimes, when we stop and ask ourselves, “Do I even really want to be doing this stuff?”,  a surprising answer may come back: “No!  I actually don’t!”

There’s a tide of collective sentiment that a certain way of spending the summer is what we really need to do if we want life to be fulfilling.  We may even end up saying  “I’m Supposed to be Having Fun, dammit!  What’s wrong with me?”

But it may well be that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me, and that, at the deepest level, I just want to live life in accord with my own nature.

Acceptance of the true self is a key part of the journey towards wholeness, and of genuine help for depression through meaningful individual therapy.

PHOTOS: AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved © 2006-2013 Pink Sherbet Photography ;  dreamattack ;  magnetbox VIDEO: © “In the Summertime” 1970 Mungo Jerry 
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)


Five Ways Help for Depression Involves “the Real Me”

June 10th, 2013 · depression, help for depression

If I’m going to get help for depression that really makes a difference, I’m going to need to come to terms with the real me.

help for depression

Self understanding and self acceptance are often key elements in lasting, long-term help for depression.

1.  Personal Experience of Depression

Depression is an extremely varied and complex thing.  It manifests very differently in different people.

It’s essential for an individual to understand how depression has appeared in his or her unique life.

Truly effective long term help for depression begins with awareness of how this condition is rooted in the unique circumstances of the individual.

[hs_form id=”17″]

2.  Depression Has an Unconscious Aspect

Very often, there’s more than meets the eye in an individual’s depression.  Likely, we don’t know everything about how our depression affects us and where it comes from.  To uncover that often entails genuine exploration both of how it came to be in our lives, and also of the present situations where we feel “stuck” in the middle of insoluble dilemmas of which we are often only at best partially conscious.

help for depression


3.  Depression is Individual “Life Pressed Down”

James Hollis takes us back to the literal meaning of the word depression:

Think of what the word means literally, to de-press, to press down.  What is “pressed down”?  Life’s energy, life’s intentionality, life’s teleology is pressed down, thwarted, denied, violated… [S]omething in us colludes with it. Life is warring against life….

For “life’s energy, life’s intentionality, life’s teleology” to be pressed down or thwarted means for me in some fundamental sense to not be allowing who I really am to emerge.  I need to explore the unique situations and things in my individual story where that is occurring.  What in me is keeping me back?

4.  Depression, Anxiety, Self-Awareness

Part of the help for depression that I may need is to become aware of the ways  which my depression may be related to my anxiety.

EXAMPLE:  “Lisa” is depressed, because her life dream to be an artist is slipping away.  However, to realize that dream would mean dealing with the anxiety created by disappointing her family, who point proudly to her career as an actuary.  She finds herself “stuck” between the anxiety and the depression.  Perhaps the only way forward for Lisa is to accept that she will never win the approval from her family that she has always sought, and to move into what she wants for her life.

5.  Hand in Hand with the Real Me

Help for depression that makes a real difference involves individual therapy that keeps bringing me back to myself, to my own story, and to my own unique being.  As Hollis again says, “It takes great courage to value depression, to respect it… to go down into the depression and find our soul’s greatest treasure.”

help for depression

Often, our own fundamental nature lies at the bottom of depression.  Only when we are prepared, like Orpheus, to venture to the bottom of that underworld, can we find our sense of real aliveness.

PHOTOS: Attribution Some rights reserved lisadragon ; dno1967b ; silicon640c
© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)



3 Reasons to Seek More that Just “Help for Depression”

May 26th, 2013 · depression, help for depression

It’s essential for someone to seek help for depression but a person experiencing situational depression may well need more than treatment of depression symptoms.

help for depression

Here are 3 key reasons why this is true.

1. Human Beings are Not Modular

help for depression

In today’s world, we’re all too ready to use the metaphor of a computer to understand the human mind.  But it’s essential when considering depression to realize the ways in which the human individual is definitely not like a computer.

If something goes wrong with a computer — say, for instance, that the computer’s memory or hard drive fails — it’s a relatively easy matter to take out the particular component that has failed and replace it .

But humans are not modular!  When a human suffers from a situational depression, help for depression does not consist in removing a defective “module” and replacing it with a non-depressed element.  Similarly, an exclusive and laser-like focus on the symptoms of depression is not likely to take in the whole picture of what is going on with the individual.

Depression is connected in many important ways to the whole of the self.

2. Sometimes Depression Has to be Entered Into

To understand what is happening in the life of someone who is subject to situational depression, it’s often essential to actually listen to the depression–to genuinely understand where it’s coming from, what it means, and to clarify the feelings that underly it.

Metaphorically, we may speak of depression as representing a damming up of psychic energy, as Andrew Samuels tells us, which, when it is released, may take on a positive and life-giving direction.

3. “The Empty Stillness That Precedes Creative Work”

Depression can often be connected to a kind of regression and regeneration.  We have a tendency to think of regression as a bad thing, but sometimes the individual’s energy goes into the unconscious, because something profound is changing for the individual — if only he or she can become aware of it.

There are moments in human life when a new page is turned.  New interests and tendencies appear, which have hitherto received no attention, or there is a sudden change of personality.  During the incubation period of such a change, we can often observe a loss of conscious energy….  This lowering of energy can be seen most clearly… in the empty stillness that precedes creative work.

C.G. Jung, CW 16, para. 373

EXAMPLE: An IT consultant goes into a severe depression, and realizes that he simply can’t consult anymore.  He goes through a prolonged period of listlessness and introspection, after which he gives up the IT field and starts a business related to the fine arts, and divides his spare time evenly between socializing with his friends and writing.  His life is oriented in a whole new direction, but he could never have found it without confronting the feelings and longings at the heart of his depression.

True help for depression takes account of the symptoms, but looks at the meaning of the depression for the whole person.

PHOTO: Attribution Some rights reserved  rightee ; Foxtongue
© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)


→ No Comments

What Helps Depression During Major Life Transitions? #3

July 10th, 2012 · depression, life transitions, major life transitions, what helps depression

What helps depression, in terms of concrete practical steps you can take, when you’re “stuck in the desert” during major life transitions?

what helps depression

Here are 5 concrete observations about what helps depression of the kind into which major life transitions can often bring us.

1.  The Best Way Out is Through

This may sound completely counterintuitive, but it’s essential to acknowledge the existence of depression, and to face it head on.  Very often, people try to avoid the reality of their depression, or to talk themselves out of it.  However, the only way to truly be able to come to terms with depression is to look straight into it, and to acknowledge, “Yes.  I really am depressed.”

2.  Work Concretely with the Depression

This extends point #1.  Rather than just passively enduring depression, it’s essential to actively enter into it, to dialogue with it, and to try and understand what is going on with it.  Journaling about what is going on, and about what one is feeling and thinking can be useful.  So can the active use of techniques like painting; working with clay, and even creating pictures with collage.  All of these techniques can yield important insight and awareness, although working with a good properly trained therapist to understand what is coming up or appearing in this work is essential.

3.  Don’t Fall Into the Trap of “Self Help Alone”

This point is related to point #2.  Many people adopt a “Lone Ranger” strategy, and rather than seeking out a good therapist, try to cope with the desert of depression during major life transitions using only self-help books.  This strategy has an awful success rate.  Recognizing that you’re human, and reaching out to someone who has the skills and compassion you need often makes all the difference in the world.

4.  Believe That the Depression Has Something to Give You

I know that this idea might seem bizarre, even scandalous.  However, it’s true: there’s something valuable at the heart of the depression.  If you can find it, it will help you on the journey to becoming more yourself.

5.  “If You’re Going Through Hell — Keep Going!” ~Winston Churchill

Churchill’s famous quote has a great deal to do with the realities of psychotherapy for depression.  If we can face the particular crisis and challenge created by major life transitions, and try to open each one up and engage creatively with it, it will not last forever.

Wishing all of us the strength and support to “keep going”,

PHOTO:  Attribution    Some rights reserved by szeke


→ No Comments