The Curious Journey out of Depression
It is a wonderful, if slightly cool, early morning in August and I have just understood more about my journey out of depression.
I am taking time over a cup of coffee to reflect on what I have learned from Kat Tansey’s book Choosing to Be. I am surprised at the understanding of my own struggle with depression it has given me. I would never have picked up Choosing to Be as I would have expected it to be a fluffy and feminine self-help book due to the subtitle Lesson in Living from a Feline Zen Master. The cat and Buddhist basis would have normally turned me off but I was encouraged to read it, thanks Sue. There is a full review at Choosing to Be.
Progress on my Journey out of Depression so Far
Kat Tansey and Poohbear, her cat and Maine Coon Zen Master, have caused me to review my journey so far. I am certainly feeling much better and able to do much more since I too started using self-taught mediation as means of controlling the worst feelings of depression.
Irrational Anger and Irritability
However there have been new problems in the past few weeks. I have occasionally been quick to unjustified and irrational anger and periods of irritability. I have wondered whether that was actually signs of improvement in my mental health. Finding that Kat Tansey went through a similar phase as she escaped her depression is a major comfort. Depression numbs the senses so angerand irritability requires more energy which comes with recovery. Fortunately such bouts are short and Alison is remarkably understanding.
Most therapies have common threads and as I outlined in Depression as an Exercise in Problem Solving, curiosity is an important part of the learning and understanding process. As someone who is naturally curious I have tried to step outside my own condition and to view it from the outside. In my more rational moments I can see the unhelpful thinking that feeds the depression. Acknowledging my condition was the essential first step in my recovery, it allowed me to accept it as real so I can then to examine and understand its causes.
Why Meditation Gets More Difficult
Like Kat Tansey I am using meditation as a key part of my therapy but unlike her I am self-taught and it is a private exercise. It seems we both found and were surprised by our meditation getting more difficult as our condition improved. Again it is a comfort to appreciate that I am not alone and what I am experiencing is quite normal. More importantly it is encouraging to know that it is probably a sign of improvement.
As one’s meditation practice improves along with improved mood thoughts and feelings that have been bottled up start to intrude and get in the way of getting into a properly relaxed meditative state. The answer it seems is back to curiosity to accept them and understand how the hurts, and our own attitudes, that resulted have contributed to our condition. By acknowledging them and accepting the past is what it is and cannot be changed then we can start to “Be” in the now with new attitudes and understanding.
A Little More Light on the Path to Recovery
I still have a good way to go but I can see the path a little more clearly thanks to Kat Tansey and Poohbear. I still have battles to fight, even pain to endure, but I am Choosing to Be and accepting the world, and myself,as we. I am going to spend more time with Kat Tansey and Poohbear, and of course their example of Buddha Nature, Catzenbear.