This month I have been suggesting ways to improve your mood by taking care of your mind, body, and spirit. This week we are going to tackle the topic of spirit. When we speak of the spirit or soul we usually conjure up religious connotations. But I wish to expand this definition for this post to mean your core self. What are those elements beyond your biology, chemistry, and wiring which make you…you? And how do you care for this part of self which hungers for something beyond the physical realm?
I am going to go outside the scope of antidepressants and cognitive restructuring and explore the depths of what it means to experience what I call “soul deprivation” and how we can heal from this. The following doesn’t come from any book but is borne from my own personal experiences and philosophy.
Soul deprivation can result from:
• Being deprived of not only physical essentials but of warmth, love, and emotional care.
• Not being allowed to be who we truly are but molded into someone else’s expectations of who we should be.
• Being told that we are responsible for things that we had no control over such as someone’s mood, mental health, or addictions.
• Being labeled as ugly, dumb, bad, or worthless.
• Not being accepted for our strengths or weaknesses. Being punished for attempts to show our true selves.
• Emotional, verbal, sexual and physical abuse.
• The loss of our childhood, innocence, and a sense of trust in ourselves and others.
I am sure that this list could go on and on. Feel free to add to it. Beyond the depression drugs and therapy and all the treatments, for many of us these are the core issues that we bring to life each and every day. It becomes more than a simple matter of unlearning maladaptive responses. This is about our emotional spirit and how we can heal from such deprivation.
Here are some stories, insights and personal philosophies which have helped me to feed my soul:
- I oftentimes envision that I am holding two seeds in my hands. In one hand I hold the seed of growth. In the other, I am holding the seed of self destruction. Which one will I plant? Which one will I nurture? As I go about my day I think about the choices I make. Which choices are good for my mental health and which will erode my sense of worth?
- There will always be dysfunctional people, abusive people, or people who do not give us what we need. But how much power do we give to these people who don’t treat us right? As an adult you can change this dynamic by giving attention to those people who do show care, love, respect, and support. Feed your soul by spending quality time with supportive and positive people. Nurture healthy and emotionally sustaining relationships. Minimize or cut out all together those relationships which are unhealthy and only serve to deepen our wounds.
- There are times when I get so upset because I think the world is unfair. But then I realize that the world IS inherently unfair. The world does not operate or function to make me happy. Other people on the planet are not here to serve my happiness. It is up to me to seek my own happiness. I can sit and stew in the unfairness in the world or I can be an active agent in creating joy.
- Visiting beautiful or peaceful places always nourishes my spirit. You don’t need to go far. It can be your backyard or a quiet corner of a room. When I was a little girl my mother and I were living in the inner city and there were no parks or playgrounds nearby. So we had picnics in the nearby cemetery. To me it was a place of beauty…a respite away from the chaos and stress of the city.
- I remember a day when I was at the lowest depths of my depression. I had just been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was feeling weak, tired, and unwell. My son who has autism was having lots of problems sleeping and so I could not sleep as well. He was also having lots of behavioral problems and having daily meltdowns. I was exhausted physically and emotionally. I sat on my couch and didn’t even have the energy to cry. I wondered how I could keep going with all of these challenges at once. I stared at the living room wall. And my eyes followed a light beam which traveled down the wall from the slats in the window blinds. And as my eyes tracked the movement of light I felt a sense of peace. The almost imperceptible movement of light across the wall reminded me that the light can come in. There will always be light. On that day the light was my symbol for hope.
- I fully believe that there is a purpose and meaning to our life. I also believe we all have gifts to share with the world. It is not about what we get or don’t get from the world, it is about what we give. You can help people by sharing your story and reaching out to someone else in need. In this way you can transcend the pain and give meaning to your experience.
- There is sustenance in connecting with other people. No matter what your history or background I assure you that someone else has gone through what you have or are going through. You can’t do this alone. You need support. I hope that you can get some of that support here on My Depression Connection.
Now it is your turn! In what ways do you nourish or feed your spirit? How have you attempted inner healing from soul deprivation? Talk to us. We are listening!
Published On: April 26, 2010