“…I realized that in depression, nothing matters. And in sadness, everything matters.” Gloria Steinem
There’s so many people in the world today who are ‘depressed’ and walking around with a big sign around their neck saying ‘Keep Away From Me I Have Depression.’ One of my clients told me recently that her doctor had told her that she has a ‘touch of depression.’ – A TOUCH OF DEPRESSION!, how the hell does that work?
If you know me at all you’ll know labels are one of my pet hates, although they can’t be avoided in life, medical and condition labels are the worst. Think of these labels:
I am an alcoholic
I have depression
I am Bipolar
We’re not any of these things. We are human beings experiencing life and we have to take responsibility for whatever life throws at us, it’s what makes us grow, it’s what makes us unique, it’s what makes us ‘US’. When we label ourselves there’s no way out of it, we’re sticking something on us that may last a lifetime, purely because we tell ourselves over and over and over again ‘I have depression.’ If you tell yourself something often enough your mind, brain, body and soul start to co-operate to keep you in that state of being.
Sharon, my wife, works with abused women and one of the main reasons that abused women stay with their partners is because they don’t believe they have the ability to do anything as their partners have chipped away at their confidence over the years. These women have been disempowered becasue they have heard their partners saying so often ‘you’re useless’ ‘You’re no good at…’ ‘you can’t do that.’ ‘you’re weak.’ This is the kind of thing that’s happening to us when we are labelling ourselves, only we’re doing it to ourselves.
Depression, sadness and nominalization
The rise of depression in the western world astounds me, we have never lived in such affluent times yet 10% of the western world have been labelled as having depression – why?
Well, one good thing that it shows is that money doesn’t make us happy. But, are we really depressed or feeling a prolonged period of sadness?
I’ve been treated for depression in the past, about 20 years ago, and was given Prozac by my doctor. When I realised that I was making my situation worse by telling myself I was depressed day in and day out, I threw the Prozac down the toilet.
What I was really feeling was sadness. sadness for a life I did not have, sadness for a life I really wanted, sadness for my wife who I had not yet met, sadness for the job that would make me happy – I was sad. I was feeling despair for the things I didn’t have in my life, and when I realised I was feeling something, I realised I wasn’t depressed, when I realised I wasn’t depressed then I started asking questions – What can I do to make me feel happy?
When we label ourselves such as ‘I have depression’ our brain has nowhere to go with that statement, therefore it takes it as fact, there’s no future. This is called nominalization.
Nominalization is when we take a verb or adjective and turn it into a static noun. A state likedepression becomes an enormous and sometimes insurmountable, overwhelming state of being, for example, whereas being depressed to most people is more likely to imply a state that has a beginning, and more importantly an end. A block is something much more insurmountable than something that is merely blocking your progress.
What sounds more longer lasting:
I have depression
I am feeling depressed just now
You are a feeling being
When you are feeling something you are alive on the inside, when you don’t feel anything at all about anything, then that’s when you know something is organically or clinically wrong. The labels that are placed upon us, particularly negative labels, hold us back when we begin to identify with them and internalize them as something concrete.
What labels are you identifying with that may be holding you back?