Thursday, October 16, 2008
15 % of the population of developed countries suffers severe depression. (WHO)
Everyone will at some time in their life be affected by depression, their own or someone else’s. (Australian government statistics)
15 % of depressed people will commit suicide. (National Quality Health Care Report)
One in three American children suffers from depression. (National Mental Health Organization)
26 % of Americans ages 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. (National Institute of Mental Health)
Depression and anxiety disorders are common all over the world. And aren’t diagnosable mental disorders just the tip off the iceberg? How many people out there are just feeling low, miserable, unhappy or anxious without being actually sick? And how many people hide their sadness or worries behind a mask of optimism and happiness? And how many people suppress their misery with alcohol, cigarettes, pills, excessive work, excessive exercise, TV, computer games or weird hobbies and weird religion? If you feel miserable you are for sure not alone.
So, what can we do, we who can't afford another therapist or a new life coach? Should we get ourselves one more self help book on positive thinking and the importance of loving ourselves? Should we simply pull ourselves together, pick ourselves up, get a better outlook on life and let the sunshine in?
Spontaneous, sudden, deep and lasting spiritual awakening is possible, for some people, (Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie for example). However, many people, like me, have experienced partial and quite deep spiritual awakenings but we have slipped back down in the ditch again, and again. For us, and for all the depressed and lonely people who have never experienced any spiritual breakthroughs, spiritual books and teachings about the blessings with enlightenment and cosmic love are not very helpful. Tell a depressed person to be more positive, more loving, or that he need to live in the now instead of brooding on the past and worry about the future and see what is happening. A depressed person can’t think positive and he can’t live in the now. This is the very problem. How do we get out of the misery? What can we do? This is the question.
I have found Russ Harris book `The Happiness Trap´ very helpful. And also, of course, Jon Kabat-Zinns books. Eckhart Tolles books are wonderful but not when you’re stuck in the mud. And you have to have had some previous spiritual experiences to understand him, I think. If you’re feeling low the spiritual teachers can make you feel even lower because you feel that spirituality is only for the chosen few. This is the problem with the spiritual teachings. They are not helpful for us down and outs. And this is difficult to understand for those who have never experienced depression.