Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Quote of the day: DEPRESSION

November 3, 2012


Depression is a great mystery. I’ve talked with a number of experts, and they all say that there’s much we don’t know about it. People will often say, “I just can’t understand why so-and-so committed suicide,” but I think perhaps I do: depression is utterly exhausting, and he or she needed the rest. What I don’t understand is why some people survive depression and thrive on the other side of that darkness. That’s the real mystery.

Paradoxically, to survive depression you have to give yourself over to it. You have to embrace the darkness, or enter into the darkness, or let yourself become the darkness, and try not to judge yourself for it. You also have to try as much as possible to honor whatever small signs of progress might come as you work your way through that darkness, or as it works its way through you.

The second and third times I was depressed, I kept a journal. At the start of each day I’d write the date, and under it I’d list two or three tiny signs of progress, like “Got up at 10:00 this morning,” instead of 10:30. Or “Took a ten-minute bike ride today,” instead of staying in my room all day. That journal, which I kept for several months, helped me see that I was making progress – but not by the standards I too often use to measure progress now, when I might want to write a bestseller or give a speech that brings people to their feet. In depression you have to follow William Stafford’s advice: asked how he managed to write a poem every day, he said, “Easy. I lowered my standards.” [Laughs]

— Parker J. Palmer, interviewed in The Sun

Quote of the day: DEPRESSION

April 8, 2010


The phrase “dark night of the soul”…was originally used by St. John of the Cross, a Carmelite monk who wrote in the sixteenth century…By John’s definition the dark night of the soul is not something that happens to spiritual beginners. He is fairly indulgent of novices, allowing for a spiritual honeymoon period in which you have glimpsed a goal – such as enlightenment or “union with God” in the Carmelite context – and you have focused your life more or less on the pursuit of it. There is a feeling that you’re improving and that, with enough hard work, you will achieve your goal. But then the dark night comes along and changes that.

John breaks down the dark night into two parts: the “dark night of the senses” and the “dark night of the spirit.” The dark night of the senses hits at the point where you have milked your initial enthusiasm for all it’s worth, and you’re starting to realize that reaching your goal is going to take a lot more work than you suspected. You’re going to have to renounce habitual ways of thinking and doing. The dark night of the senses is about living with the dryness of that, living without the traditional pleasures. Again, John of the Cross is assuming a level of austerity that’s daunting to any contemporary reader; it might even sound morbid and anti-life. But if you’ve ever wrestled with the issues of distraction, then you know what he’s talking about: how do you get your mind to stop running after meaningless desires and come home to what actually serves our ultimate happiness?

Tim Farrington, interviewed in The Sun

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