|Recipe for An Anti-Depressant Cocktail
© 1997 Michele Toomey, PhD
Unfortunately, depression has become a chronic state for many and a feared state for others. Consequently, the legitimacy of feeling depressed has been eroded, and trying not to be depressed has been acclaimed. To be depressed, in and of itself, is not necessarily something to fear nor is it automatically the onset of depression as a chronic state. In fact, being depressed is only one of our legitimate emotions, and, as such, depression has its own role in the integrity of our inner world, but, like any other emotion, it should not define or control us. It should be only one of our reactions and responses, and then, in its appropriate timing, be resolved within us and yield to our next response.
Our inner world is complex and always in motion as it moves back and forth between our paradoxical needs and desires and capacities. Living with paradox, with contradiction, and learning how to reconcile it is a very complicated and exciting challenge. No one need or desire, thought or feeling should dominate us. We have the capacity to experience and move through a wide range of thoughts and feelings. The depth of their intensity, the length of time they last and the form they take are all meant to flow from the integrity of our own needs and boundaries.
Depression is not an exception, but it is exceptionally difficult in one particular aspect, it strikes at the heart of our sense of well-being and it challenges our connection to hope. Done from the wrong angle with the wrong orientation, this challenge and subsequent confrontation can lead to a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness. Left unaddressed, this wrong orientation to helplessness and hopelessness can strike a deadly blow to our ability to touch our desire to live. Depression, therefore, as with any strong emotion that gets stuck in the wrong orientation, has a dangerous potential.
To give you a way to understand the right (liberating) and wrong (violating), orientation to depression, I have contrasted them in the following way: (I would suggest that you read the lists by repeating the title and one phrase from the violating side and then repeat the title and contrasting phrase from the liberating side. This will help to give you the feeling of the essential differences in the two orientations.)
|Violating and Oppressive Depression
|Turns us against ourselves
||Frees us to express ourselves
|Twists the strength of the depressed feelings into an enemy force.
||Accepts the intensity of the depressed feelings as an indication of the intensity of what we are actually feeling.
||Triggers the integrity and honesty needed to deal with depressed feelings.
|Takes control of us.
|Gives us a feeling of victimhood and powerlessness.
||Gives us a feeling of freedom to experience the truth of our emotions even if they are difficult.
|Becomes a chronic state.
||Is a passing state.
|Unseats our sense of well-being.
||Is contained within our sense of well-being.
|Leads to immobility and passivity.
||Leads to yielding to the timing and movement that fits the depressed feelings.
|Prompts us to act helpless and hopeless until we believe we are, thus deceiving ourselves.
||Prompts us to act in accordance with how we feel until the integrity of the depression and our relationship to it frees us to move through it.
|Uses anger to blame both ourselves and others for our depression.
||Uses anger to help free up movement both within ourselves and without.
|Leads us to hate as well as fear the depressed feelings and therefore to fear and hate ourselves for having them
||Leads us to a place of courage and self-confidence that frees us to experience the difficult and painful depressed feelings without fear or anger at our- selves but rather able to have caring and empathy for our- selves for feeling depressed.
|Leads to chronic violation and oppression of ourselves by ourselves and violation of ourselves by others.
||Leads to liberation of ourselves and intimacy with ourselves.
This recipe for an anti-depressant cocktail is designed to show us how to be depressed without becoming oppressed. To understand how to be true to depressed feelings without becoming imprisoned by them is to significantly affect our capacity to live a liberated, full and hopeful and hope- filled life. This recipe needs to be studied very intently, made very carefully, internalized very completely, and lived out of very deliberately. It is a very powerful potion. Drink it attentively.
(When possible, to be made as soon as you are aware that you're beginning to feel depressed.)
- 3 ounces of integrity
- 1 long, long meditative stare at your fundamental relationship with your sense of well-being
- As many depressed feelings as you are aware of with the intensity you have felt and now feel at this moment
- 5 firm yet tender embraces of these depressed feelings
- 1 long, deep sigh of yielding to them
- A strong grasp of courage
- 2 dashes of confidence in your ability to respect your depression and your boundaries
- 1 cup of hope in yourself from an honest base
- Several long searches through your memory for what's going on for you, where your depressed feelings are coming from, and what they are trying to tell you
- 2 shakes of creative imaginings about the search
- 3 ounces of intent listening to yourself and your depression
- 1 tablespoon of informed understanding of the legitimacy of your depressed feelings
- An acute awareness of your own need to be connected to a sense of well-being even when depressed
- A deep desire to be true to your depressed feelings and to your timing for moving through them
- A loud shout of acknowledgement of your power and ability to deal fairly with your depression
- A strong burst of rejection of victimhood with its deceptive sense of being a powerless injured party
- 1 tight squeeze of honesty
- 1 final warm embrace of hope in yourself that is informed by trust in your own integrity
- Pour 3 ounces of integrity into a tall cocktail shaker, take one long, long meditative stare at your sense of well-being, then slowly add your depressed feelings with their current intensity and amount. Shake lightly so that the integrity can mix thoroughly with the depressed feelings and permeate them with honesty. It is this integrity, this honesty, that will keep you safe as you claim and work through your depression.
- When you are ready, shake vigorously until the mixture begins to change from a dark brown to a distinctly lighter hue. While it is changing, blend in the 5 firm, warm embraces of the depressed feelings with a long, deep sigh of yielding to them. Add the strong grasp of courage and 2 dashes of confidence in your ability to respect the boundaries of your depressed feelings without fearing them. Stir in the cup of hope with an honest base. When the mixture becomes effervescent, stop stirring and let it bubble and fizz.
- In a separate shaker, pour the several long searches for what's going on for you, where your depressed feelings are coming from and what they are trying to tell you, add the 2 shakes of creative imaginings about the search and the 3 ounces of intent listening to yourself and your depression. Shake steadily for as long as necessary, then pour into the original shaker, which should still be bubbling. Stir together in a strong, rhythmic manner until the mixture has a motion of its own, then sprinkle in the tablespoon of informed understanding of the legitimacy of your depressed feelings.
- Add the acute awareness of your need to be connected to your sense of well-being even when you are depressed, along with your deep desire to be true to your depressed feelings and to your timing for moving through them. Shout in an acknowledgement of your power and ability to deal fairly with your depression. Combine it with a strong burst of rejection of victimhood with its deceptive sense of powerless injured party. Add 1 tight squeeze of honesty along with 1 final warm embrace of hope in yourself that is informed by trust in your own integrity.
- Shake vigorously again for one last time and then remain standing as you pour the cocktail into a tall glass. Begin drinking immediately, taking deep, long gulps. Be attentive to every gulp and allow the tingling sensation of the cocktail to alert your system to its capacity to feel energy and to rejuvenate your spirit. Do not stop drinking until the whole glass is gone.
- When the one glass of cocktail has been drunk, go for a brisk walk and allow the potion to travel throughout your entire being, making little wake-up calls all along the way. The integrity of the energy it generates will allow you to begin to clear out the deception of hopelessness and helplessness and misdirected anger that has or may have begun to creep into your depression.
- Reflect on the recipe and its complex ingredients as you walk and connect with the intuitive feelings that are surfacing. When you are clear where you are with the integrity of your depressed feelings, yield to the truth of it and act accordingly. The relief of being depressed and still being connected to your sense of well-being will provide you with a sense of safety with yourself and with your feelings. You will be liberated and able to experience feeling depressed without being oppressed, a truly invaluable capacity and a life-giving process.
- If you discover that you are ready and perhaps overdue to let go of your depression, then return to the shaker of anti-depressant cocktail and pour another glass and repeat the above procedure until you can feel the relief of being depressed while still being connected to your sense of well-being. Then and only then are you safe with yourself and your feelings. Movement will then occur on its own.