Joy and depression…
I don’t see it often mentioned in one sentence or even in one article, do you?
It’s seems to be a taboo in our modern society to speak of joy to a person suffering with depression.
Mention joy (or happiness, or positivity) as a way upwards and forwards, and you are doomed to be labelled rude, insensitive and “lucky” for not understanding depression even on a very basic level.
This “joy” idea may even cause some depressed people to explode with anger: “How dare you for interrupting my legitimate state of mind with this nonsense?! If I could experience joy, do you think I wouldn’t be doing it already?!”
We all get defensive over our beliefs. It’s totally human.
Being right seems to be more important than being happy, even in the situations where your life is at stake…
Very sad, but true…
It also seems that those who allow themselves to explore (rather than shut down) the possibility of a new way of thinking are the only people who can evolve and grow.
Those are the people who are prepared to do anything to overcome the debilitating grips of depression.
I sincerely hope you are one of them!
So, here I am, pushing you to explore the topic of “JOY”. And yes, I am fully aware how uncomfortable it might be for you…
What is joy?
Spontaneous, brief, internal, uplifting, expanding…
Those are the adjectives that pop into my mind thinking about joy. What about you?
I like Anne Wilson Shaef’s definition of joy:
“Joy is true aliveness unfettered by thought”.
In the depth of depression, we stop believing that life is for living!
We forget the obvious:
You are life! You are precious, wonderful, sacred life! Life runs in you! Life runs through you!
Experiencing joy is natural for everyone. It is a given.
I also belief that while you are experiencing a moment of joy, in that brief fraction of time, you (your mind-body-spirit-soul) are not depressed!
I believe that, in that very moment, you are feeling lighter and at peace in your heart and in your mind.
Joy, in my opinion, is a huge respite for a depressed brain. It has a massive anti-depressant effect!
However, during depression, it seems that something or some things get in the way and interfere with our perceptions of joy.
We feel like we no longer experiencing it. Nothing seems enjoyable anymore. Our ability to enjoy (in-Joy-ability) disappears.
Why do we naturally block out any joy while in a depressed state?
Maybe the answer can be found in the words of Jim Rohn: “The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keep out the joy.”
I personally have no solid ideas why we stop perceiving joy while depressed.
I believe it’s the wrong question to ask anyway!
I prefer this one: ‘What can we do in this solid state of depression to start recognising joy again?’
My personal answer to this question is:
When you keep looking at what’s wrong, you keep finding more and more to look at. Turn it around: ‘What is right in this very moment?’ Focus on that!
“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are” ~ Marianne Williamson
May I suggest the following practice for you to try?
Every day I would like you to ask yourself a question:
“What brought me joy today (even just for a millisecond!)?”
Write your thoughts down. Keep your notes in one place.
If you have a gratitude journal, you can record your answers and observations there.
By keeping it all recorded (registration) and doing it daily (repetition), you put your brain under pressure of noticing everything from a slightly different angle. Our brains like challenges and tasks to do!
So, what brought you joy today?
If the word “nothing” is the only answer you can come up with, write this answer down and do not despair. Now you have found another piece to insert into your depression recovery puzzle.
Training your brain to recognise a brief moment of joy is by far easier than working on a “what’s-the-hell-I-am-suppose-to-do-to-recover” project.
Demand your brain notices your brief moments of joy (your BMJs).
What is enjoyable right now? What has a huge potential to bring you joy? What is good?
Love, light and healing! x
P.S. What brought you joy today?
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