Being in a severe depression is one of the most excruciatingly psychically (and even physically) painful experiences any one can ever experience. That’s when the bottom falls out from under you, the rug is yanked out from under your feet and in either case, there is a black, terrifying bottomless abyss into which you fall. At first you claw and scratch to get out, but then as the days go by, you give up. You sit down, you stay put. All hope is gone, you have no energy to fight, your inner voice has maliciously turned against you. It tells you you are worthless, garbage, not worth saving. You don’t want to listen but you have no choice, you have no energy left to fight this. You have no hope of getting better. And anyway, are you sick or is the the way you always were? Useless, hopeless, ugly, stupid, wrong, just plain wrong. Well this kind of depression, a severe depression definitely needs medication. But might someone in this kind of severe depression, or someone in a less severe depression be helped by another technique? My very good friend once told me of their experience with depression and how they cope with it in a very compassionate and positive way, which is to treat yourself like you are your good friend. So, you wake up, you feel so awful that you don’t feel like getting out of bed. Now you are treating yourself as your own good friend, so you say “Hmm, don’t feel like getting out of bed? That’s ok, just rest if you need to.” Then you check in with yourself and ask :How about now? You feelin’ any better?” Then later “Feel like takin’ a shower? No? That’s ok, maybe later.” And you go on like this, treating yourself as you would a good friend. With compassion, love, caring. No name calling, derision, hate. Remember depression is an illness, you are not doing this to yourself, you are suffering from an illness. What if you broke your arm and started calling yourself names and saying hateful things to yourself? You wouldn’t, you’d go to the emergency room, get a cast and NURSE your arm back to health. This takes me to the second thing I wanted to say, my fellow blogger Gentle Kindness just posted a post (http://gentlementalannie.com/2015/02/13/personal-care-and-depression-be-your-own-nurse/) about depression, in this post she describes depression to a tee and then offers the suggestion that when you are in a depression, you should be your own compassionate nurse! Another brilliant idea. Who wouldn’t benefit from a good friend and a compassionate nurse? Lately, I have been feeling the choking, ugly, bony fingers of depression around my throat. Tasks have once again become more difficult to do. There is dread in my heart and tears that spill easily from my eyes, and my heart feels like it’s breaking for things that would not normally phase me. yes, depression, unfortunately, definitely depression.Well, I am going to try an experiment. Instead of saying what I normally do to myself when I’m feeling depressed “You useless, sick, sad excuse for oxygen consumption.” I am going to treat myself with compassion and love, as a sick person deserves. Well it’s already working to lift my mood a little, it’s infinitely better to hear “It’s ok honey, you are sick, take it easy. You’ll feel better, you always do!” than the above dialogue. Be kind, be compassionate, use loving words and have hope and be resilient. You are hope and resilience. Hugs and positive thoughts for all those suffering from depression or other maladies of the mind or body.
I don’t know if there actually 1000 posts but there are a whole lot of them. In the picture, the top right most is mine! Again very gratifying to see it amongst all the other voices who spoke for compassion.
The Buddha taught that to realize enlightenment, one must develop two attributes. And these two attributes are wisdom and compassion. Compassion is a big deal in Buddhist philosophy. I wrote about it in my last post. But what is it? According to Buddhist philosophy, it is “Active sympathy” or “Willingness to bear the pain of others.” The Cambridge Dictionary definition is “a strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for other people’s suffering or bad luck and a desire to help.”
If when we see people, we can stop seeing them as others and feel compassion for them, wouldn’t that make the world a better place in which to live?
If instead of berating ourselves, and constantly criticizing ourselves, what if we turned the eyes of compassion on ourselves? Wouldn’t we suffer less? And if we suffer less, then don’t we make other living beings suffer less as well?
There has been so much violence in this world, so much killing and mayhem. Is it not time for compassion, towards ourselves and others?
What if we make a pledge to ourselves to let compassion rule? To see ourselves with the gentle eyes of loving compassion. To see others with the gentle eyes of loving compassion. To see all living beings with the gentle eyes of loving compassion.
No these are not just words, these are powerful ideas, that when put into practice, can have a powerful effect on the world in which we live. An effect for the great betterment of the world.
Anger is a major issue in mood disorders. When you are manic, anger is never far away. Depression and anger often go hand in hand. Addiction disorders can have anger issues. Drugs and alcohol can actually decrease your ability to handle anger. Anxiety can lead to anger. Borderline personality disorder comes with a lot of anger. And of course, the grand daddy of all angry disorders, Intermittent Explosive Disorder or IED (ha!) is all about anger.
Not only mental illnesses and disorders carry anger with them as a symptom, but life can be full of anger. Adolescents have a hard time managing their anger, there are moments in life when perfectly calm, sane people become incredibly anger.
So what does one do to handle anger? Does one try to squash it? Does one lock oneself in their room and punch a pillow? No this does not work, in fact it may make your anger stronger. Do you try to outrun it? Self medicate it away?
No. Thich Naht Hahn’s (Thay’s) advise on how to handle anger is amazing. He says the only antidote for violence, for anger is compassion. There is no other way. But how to generate the energy of compassion? The way you cultivate compassion is to recognize suffering in the person with whom you are angry. It is the suffering in this person which causes him to use words or actions which make you angry and make you suffer. Thay says the anger in him waters the anger in you. Thay says the violence in him waters the violence in you. So to breathe in and out mindfully, and to look at the other person is a victim of his own violence, his own suffering, his own misunderstanding is very important. This is the teaching of Buddha, look at suffering and understand suffering. When you can understand your own suffering, you can understand the suffering of the other person. Understanding suffering always brings compassion. Try to understand the cause of anger and suffering, the understanding always brings the energy of transformation. Also with the energy of mindfulness and attention to your anger and to the situation will also turn your anger into compassion. If you tenderly embrace the energy of anger with the energy of mindfulness, then you suffer less.
Transform anger into compassion, by looking at the suffering of the person with whom you are angry. Once you can look at the other’s suffering, your anger will vanish. Look upon yourself with compassion. Even hold your anger gently, embrace it as if it was your own child. What amazing concepts. So understanding suffering will turn the leaden anger into golden compassion. Viola alchemy!
Hope this little post and especially the accompanying video of Thich Nhat Hahn will help everyone who needs help in dealing with anger. And that is all of us at one time or another.
The video is below and it is amazing!