Saturday, 17 August 2013

Fixing up

My nervous breakdown taught me four lessons that have helped me live alongside my depression, stammer and Parkinson's:

1. I have a deep reservoir of resilience and determination I know I can call upon. Going through severe depression teaches you to recognise such strength. Depression is not a sign of weakness but of strength!

2. I recognised there is space for me to live alongside the depression (and stammer and Parkinson's): I was still me as I travelled through my breakdown. I had depression, I was not depression. In this space I found I could be in the audience to my own thoughts; I could hear my negativity as the emptiness it is; it is a false narrowing of the world. In developing this awareness I gained distance from the raw emotion and I could live alongside my depression (and stammer and Parkinson's).

3. Being comfortable in the space you occupy is not blaming yourself for how you occupy the space; for example, you did not choose your gender, skin colour, susceptibility to depression (or stammering or Parkinson's) etc; these things are part of what Heidegger called our "thrownness". You were thrown into the world with these things but responsibility is an effect of this process not a cause. I have depression (and a stammer and Parkinson's) but I'm not to blame for their possession.

4. Heidegger's idea of thrownness includes the observation that in life there is always one more thing to do (a "not-yet"), which means we are never stuck. We have a fundamental freedom to think at least one more thought; to react to our thrownness and circumstances in our lives; this reaction is our responsibility and our choice. This is where we are located and where we heal ourselves.

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