… mood swings …

A strong spirit can be dampened, sometimes at birth, sometimes through a later trauma, but with care, it can also be nurtured and strengthened. And like an effective immune system, it helps us to adjust imbalances in mind and body. The link between spirit and the immune system tends to be ignored when resources go into fighting the seeming culprit, historically blamed for imbalances, the intruder. True listening and welcoming a dialogues with the enemy are rare.

Churt Sculptor Park

Churt Sculptor Park

A recent Health Survey reports that nearly half of England’s population is on prescription drugs. And today’s news highlight once more that super bugs are on the rise. Factors that dent the spirit are not taken into the equation. When one observes how some of the dehumanising complexities of our systems wear down the dignity of people, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that depression is a sane reaction when there seems to be no light ahead.

Medicine is often the only immediate way a severe depression can be eased. It should however concern everyone that depression is on the increase, a development which, in my view, genetic markers acknowledged, expresses the collective state of our society and, again in my view, how the most sensitive people carry the imbalances of the system for the rest of us.

I’m a rebel, and while severe depression evades me, I experience mood swings. Once in a while I’m struck by a state of futility – about hyped-up news selling fake realities, the lunacy of ignoring the gulf between the rich and poor in the world, the exploitation of planetary resources, the abuse of personal data, cold callings, small businesses and communities disappearing, and the shopping mania in supermarkets. Add to this a personal loss, or simply an accumulation of irritants, and you have potential triggers for depression.

When something feels wrong in my heart, I bolt. Yet integrity is costly when security, health, loyalties, disillusionment and emotional dependencies are involved, then ‘NO’ carries risks. Stories told in many counselling practices focus on pressure at work, incessant changes of procedures , bullying and subtle manipulation. Complaints backfire because managers are themselves under stress. There follow negative loops of thoughts, the inability to relax, lingering anxieties, and also bursts of anger. Underlying these stories is a sense of powerlessness that brings about psychological regression, which can be an opportunity to find a gentle ‘yes’ for oneself, were one able to bear the consequences. Young or old, alone or in relationship, there is often a sense of feeling trapped, despair, a flattening of vitality, joy and compassion for oneself and others.

P1060863 smallerDepression seems to mark our time and is in dire need of acknowledgement. Besides medication and therapies, an honest assessment is vital – of how simple human needs for creativity, and expectations for love and appreciation are frustrated. I’m lucky in that I sleep and dream well, and generally recover from my mood swings. Apart from smoking rollups and drinking wine to relax, in moderation, I also have a default mode, where the world turns not so much unreal, but surreal.

P1060866 smallerMy spirit of independence refuses to be intimidated by the collective idea of what is real. I find beauty in small things and unique moments that give me pleasure. For example, I see the shadow of socks on the washing line and candles waving to each other, or the cucumber salad dressing resembling a river delta, or ancient trees … that’s the drift …

I switch to patterns in other than economy sponsored realities. I dream up stuff.

Being curious, I’d like to know about your ways of dealing with mood swings, or depression, or anxieties instilled by the media. How do you manage the rapids of sensational information? Do you have secrets of becoming? Do you swim against the established order or do the unexpected? Do you have moments of pleasure? Do you have gifts of resilience to share?

‘All we see is a false capture of being: a time grid.’ Fazal Inayat-Khan.

Based on statistics, I predict that the sun will rise tomorrow.

http://aeon.co/magazine/health/is-preventive-medicine-its-own-health-risk/

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29 Comments

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29 responses to “… mood swings …

  1. Since you’ve asked…

    I’ve had one hell of a time dealing with the state of the culture—way back when I was nine, I thought there was too much traffic (1955)…

    However, my last novel and the one I’m working on are one answer to the impact of our sick, materialistic culture…

    The other answer is deep and persistent Prayer………

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  2. Viv

    I’m not sure I do cope.
    I go into a kind of awful pessimism where I see everything as futile, including all I have done so far with my life.
    What had once been a resource for me, writing, has ceased to be a refuge. Not sure I can explain.

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  3. I have, in the past suffered depression due to health problems and stress but now, like you i try to find beauty and truth in the tiny things of life, It makes me sad to watch the young people that I know wasting time being stressed and unhappy but I have also begun to acknowledge that I can only live my own life though I may offer as much support as possible to others. I have learned that it is possible to “choose” to be happy even at times when happiness seems illogical. It is a hard world that we live in and the saddest thing I think is that it doesn’t always need to be if only we can step back and breathe.

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    • The sense of another’s deep depression tears on us and threatens to pull us into a void, which is why we want to fix it. But like you say, we can only live our lives. The experience of depression is real and persistent, and a process we feel but have as yet little understanding of. I think bearing witness is important.

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  4. Like most machines, people need to get an oil change and grease on occasions, so keeping up the challenges and stepping beyond ‘normality’ for a while can be refreshing.
    Having had strong people about me for most of my life, there appears to be always a way to get through a situation. I may have mentioned before that, sometimes taking a pretend flight in a small plane and looking down at the world from upon high, gives one a sense of perspective.
    I view such things as Uluru, a massive rock in the middle of Australia, and realise that regardless of how I react to events, the rock doesn’t care and it will be here for millions of years after I have gone. It is a survivor.
    Then there is always the chance to ‘Just turn the page’. It has been said that life is an opera and I couldn’t agree more. It could be up to us to choose the part we wish to play. The audience, the characters, the script writer, the ticket-seller; all options that can be chosen because we have the inner power over everything.
    Ashen, I believe that crappy situations present themselves to us every day. Depending on our state of mind,we will deal with the situations in the best way we know how. But sometimes it is a simple, practical thing like ‘Turning the page’ and not standing and fighting, that can free us from un-necessary conflict and despair.
    I understand that depression is a completely different set of elements that go to make up a terrible scenario that is blighting our societies and harming individuals, but in a day-to-day sense of staying on top of things and enjoying life, which is in reach of most of us, simple methods of maintaining mind health are available and quite easily adopted.
    Thankyou for presenting this topic Ashen, it is sensitive and sometimes mis-understood. Your wisdom is something that we all can benefit from.B

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    • I like your metaphors, Bill. I like Uluru, Australia’s inspiring landmark. What can you pitch against a rock risen from the bottom of the sea that’s 600 million years old against the lifespan of legged and winged creatures? Faster movement may be a bargain made with eternity for gaining insight into the nature of every particle and naming it. Gosh, where did this come from?
      Turning a page 🙂
      There is a great tale by Michael Ende … The Neverending Story, where a boy must rebuild a land with his stories and wishes from a grain of sand.

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  5. zoeannelynch

    I have what is called severe depressive disorder and am permenantly medicated to supposedly to prevent myself tipping right over edge. As far a I am aware nothing precipitates it. I wake up like it or sometimes it creep up on me slowly during the course of a day sucking all the will to live out of me. How do I counter it? Mostly by distracting myself. Making huge attempts to fill my head with thoughts that crowd out the demons. I try to do things that make me feel good about me, usually by looking outside myself to someone or something in greater need. I can spend hours thinking about how to improve things or them, and thus leave no space for self absorption, self loathing and my tendency to self destruct. It’s hard work and I frequently just fall asleep from the sheer effort, but this is better than the alternatives. Sometimes in days, other times in weeks, it passes and the light returns. CBT, Meditation, distraction and making a real effort to think beyond myself and how I feel all help me cope.

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    • The beautiful things you make and share (I catch your posts on FB) delight, inspire and radiate joy. It’s amazing to me how you crowd out the jealous monsters with creativity and transform darkness into sparkling passion. The conflict of forces within is often behind what creates all the wonderful works we so admire in artists, outshining the process.

      Makes the think how pearls come to be … The mollusk creates a pearl sac to seal off the irritation. Pearls are commonly viewed by scientists as a by-product of an adaptive immune system-like function.

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  6. My husband is a medical specialist and just the other day he was saying about how a high percentage of his patients are on various kinds of drugs for varying reasons.

    Depression … debilitating … I’ve observed how absolutely awful this can be as I have a family member who would seem to ‘have it all’ – No light at the end of the tunnel. No connection, no soul connection, nothing. Distressing for those to witness who have family and friends in this dark space. And to let them know that you are there for them …

    I can get very low at times – time to take my pulse and just sit in it. Luckily, it is not extreme, and I don’t take drugs to pull me out of it. I reckon it is important to sit in it and get burned a bit … my experience of being low can last a few days even longer but I do know from experience that it will lift, though it doesn’t seem like it when I’m in it ..

    Thank you for this post – there is joy to be found if your heart is open to receive and see –

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    • Hi Susan. The trouble with taking numurous medications seems to be that each could be prescribed by a specialist with nobody in charge of the overview, or the knowledge of how these concoctions act on each other. It’s what I hear but can’t verify, and it sounds scary, since as time goes on every side effect is treated with another drug.
      Re: depression, to sit on, resign oneself to the feelings, or the lack of feelings – what adds insult to injury are the judgements handed out, based on the collective fear and suspicion of things that have no logical explanation. As I see it, it is a collective problem to explore and respond to, given the increase of the phenomenon.
      When being in the darkness, it must help if people close by, or friends, can bear with it, normalise the experience, accept it. That takes an open heart …

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  7. This is a wonderful piece, Ashen, and what you say cannot be told enough. Perhaps something else that contributes to depression and mental illness is the lack of continuity in modern Western life. Things stop and start without regularity or logic. I heard a line in a trailer for the film ‘Mr Turner’, the other day, where a women says to the painter, “The universe is chaotic, and you make us see it.” It made me angry. The point is, the way I see it, the universe is NOT chaotic. All one has to do is observe nature, the seasons, the perfect motion of the planets. It’s the kind of line that sounds profound when really it indulges in its own ignorance. In our society, however, we have made our everyday lives chaotic. We have the illusion of control – but the wrong kind of control. We strive to control the wind, as opposed to learning to adjust our sails to it. And we are surrounded by constant noise! How is one to keep mental peace and balance when we have no security or any kind in human society and have, sadly, veered to far away from nature that we have lost track of the continuity and beautiful logic there? We need to regain the required stillness, to have our feet firmly on the ground, so that we can have a perspective on what surrounds us.

    Personally, although I do not suffer from depression, in moments of stress-related reactions, I find speaking or writing down affirmations helpful for focusing my mind,

    Sorry, I’m fumbling here. I hope what I’m trying to convey is clear.

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    • You’re not fumbling, Kate. I relate to the lack of continuity in modern Western life, the fragmentation of traditional structures. It distresses everyon seeing so many people falling through the net of ever new policies trying to control the chaos, so many people floundering, I ask myself what it means, what is emerging, what does it point to, what must happen? In other words I want to know the purpose behind the turmoil, where everything is tossed about on waves. It’s possible to sense the stillness at the bottom of the ocean. It can give one faith that the storm will pass and a new kind consciousness will help us to adjust our sails to the wind.
      I too find solace in writing, finding words for experience, giving names to things. I get excited by the surreal shimmering through the so-called real. I’m learning to play with the irrational.

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  8. As always you have a gift for pulling out from others the universally meaningful, by the clarity of your own confessions and opinions. I am rather with Viv at the moment, in feeling the questionable nature of a life longer, I suspect, than most of your commentators!

    Until recently, no matter what awful things have happened (and there have been a fair few!) I never seriously doubted that my life had purpose and would make a contribution. It took pretty well all the energy I had but I never regretted that. Now, close to the end, it seems almost pointless, probably deluded, and exhausted. The use of words was my dominant gift and I saw that as a responsibility, to use them wisely and in service to a kind of joy.

    The very thing that gives others faith, the indestructability of the individual, is often for me the greatest misery. I often want to really believe in oblivion as an option. This is not depression in its common manifestation, I do not need assistance to keep writing or working, but there is a kind of hollow at the centre of it.

    My coping method has been to create in detail an imaginative refuge, a shack on a shore, a cove of sand, and a boat ready. I visit it often. It is totally mine, my creation and entitlement and nothing intrudes- the closest to the oblivion I seek.

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    • I love your imaginative refuge, Philippa … a shack on a shore, a cove of sand, and a boat ready … If I remember right, it evokes the place where you met the woman who occasioned your wonderful peotic story ‘A shadow in Yucatan.’

      There is one thing I totally grok – don’t ask me for evidence, I have none. I just know nothing is ever lost. Your words … … oblivion as an option … there is a kind of hollow at the centre of it … I think, points to a puprose that may underlie the depression of our age. This hollow is a hallowed, sacred. And it suddenly reminds me of a book I read long ago, The Farthest Shore,’ by Ursula LeGuin.

      And I realise that the third story in my series of CoM, where time has come to a near-standstill, is my greatest challenge, in that it’s about the theme of accepting conflict, and death, our greatest fear, being a part of life that contains the secret of beoming.

      The dialogue of this wonderful Blog community here helps me to find a way out of my confusion …

      Thanks for the re-blogging ☼

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  9. Reblogged this on philipparees and commented:
    It is a true gift to share something against the tide of the prevailing ‘pretend certainties’. This post grapples head on with giving the lie to the marching tramp of success boots, the racing to the finish line, and instead offers a cloth on which to lay offerings of doubt, of distress, and near-despair. The comfort comes from sharing the common meal.

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  10. A very thoughtful post. I do not know how depression is defined by medicine; still would like to share some thoughts. In my country where there is dire poverty, social injustice, child labour, absence of respect towards women by the average man, it would seem extremely selfish for an individual who is not bearing the brunt of any of these, to complain of being unhappy or depressed.

    Why then the unhappiness and the severe mood swings? Are only hormones at fault? I only know that sometimes I feel in the depths of a hopelessness- sometimes even like a rage, directed mostly at self and at those around me, a total absence of self worth and see only what has gone wrong or what was not done right. It is worse in winter, when I just cannot shake these feelings off.

    Perhaps we have moved far away from nature- imprisoned in our workplaces and also moved away from nurturing relationships when once we all had time for each other. True happiness has become elusive, despite material well being.

    I am sorry, but I have no real answers, Ashen. Just this great longing in the soul.

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    • Hi Sylvia, the definiton of depression changes all the time. Here some information from the latest Diagnostic manual: http://depression.about.com/od/diagnostictools/f/The-Dsm-5-And-The-Diagnosis-Of-Depression.htm
      This tome is a little nightmare and mainly helps professionals to agree on labels.
      My own view is that our situations and experiences affect the brain and the other way round. It’s not enough to look at the brain only and think it can all be sorted by changing the nerve synapses with drugs.

      Other factors are the environment and personal psychology – the analysis ob both is vital for a greater understanding of human needs.
      Your last paragraph is spot on in that respect.

      The term ‘selfish’ used in your country is sadly how social systems that struggle to survive as a whole deal with indivduals who can’t pull their weight. In the west this also still happens, though the individual having become a consumer gets more attention, and more research happens.

      So the issue is a double-edged sword. Seems that most knowledge is gained through having to deal with the crisis any progress brings along.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I do suffer from depression and had been on medication. I still have times where the darkness is looming and threatens to take over. I exercise every day and now have taken up meditation. It’s been a difficult path but one I am dealing with on a daily basis.
    Thanks for sharing such an informative post.

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