the healthiness of depression

Posted on May 13, 2006



Living with open hands by definition requires that we let go. As we grow and mature in life, the one major task at hand is to let go.

Let go of the old and accept the new.

Let go of the familiar and welcome the strange.

Let go of self-centeredness and become other-centered.

Let go of certainty and embrace mystery.

Let go of narcissism and learn to love.

Let go of independence and become inter-dependent.

Let go of thinking I’m OK and get help when I need it.

The problem is:

We must go about the business of letting go all day long

. . . and then start again the next day before getting out of bed!

“The feeling associated with giving up something loved–or at least something that is a part of ourselves and familiar–is depression. Since mentally healthy human beings must grow, and since giving up or loss of the old self is an integral part of the process of mental and spiritual growth, depression is a normal and basically healthy phenomenon. It becomes abnormal or unhealthy only when something interferes with the giving-up process, with the result that the depression is prolonged and cannot be resolved by completion of the (giving up) process.” (M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled, pp. 69-70)

This sure helps me come to grips with the cycles of depression I’ve felt throughout life.

I always come out of them wiser.

But while I’m in it,

I’m just fighting the process,

one step forward, two steps back;

painfully peeling back my fingers one by one.

Then finally letting go and returning to living with open hands.

“If I loose my grip, will I take flight?”

(Bruce Cockburn, lyrics in Strange Waters, click here to listen)