By Suzy Singh
Suzy Singh offers an account of a young girl’s struggle with and journey through depression thanks to empathetic counseling
Her petite form deceptively hid the turbulent storm she was carrying within. “I feel so angry,” she muttered, trying hard to disguise her anguish. “It’s like there is a bottomless hole inside me and I’m sinking into it real fast. No matter how much I struggle, I can’t resist its pull.” Her eyes brimmed with tears that were threatening to overflow. “I’ve just been so depressed this whole week. The sinking feeling in my chest is always there, the panic is unbearable, the utter and complete hopelessness about life is so dark and yes, the worthlessness and frustration, it all makes me so aggressive,” she broke down. “And then… I just end up hating everyone for making me feel this way.”
Hers was not merely a battle with the mind; the body was protesting too. She had never before experienced such severe attacks of acidity. The migraines had become persistent, and the tiring struggle with constipation every morning made her dread the rising sun. Her only escape was to hide from the world by burying herself in bed, but life wouldn’t allow that either. She still had to drag her body to work, do chores around the house, and tolerate unpalatable people all day. Besides, sleep had become an unfaithful friend.
Her frustration, we discovered, was emanating from her fixed perception about how people should be and behave. “They can’t treat me like this,” was her constant refrain. Together we examined her need to control people. “Deciding how others should or shouldn’t be, presupposes that you know better than they do,” I counseled. “Besides, it also invalidates their free will. It’s like wanting to direct their lives, isn’t it?”
Silence punctuated our discussion as the import of my words shifted her perception.
“Well, I do behave like that sometimes. Do you think I’m trying to play God?” She was beginning to see that this wasn’t about others but about herself. “But, this is how I make sense of the world. I need to put people into boxes so that there can be some semblance of order. If I don’t do that, there will be chaos. By defining how people should behave, I create order in my life,” she defended her case. This was a telling revelation.
“The world we live in,” I explained, “is governed by its own dharma or operating laws. The first law states that the universe is constantly in a state of chaos. Everything is forever changing, moving, shifting. By wanting to order the world, you are opposing this universal law. The false belief that you can organize and control life by creating fixed rules about how things must be is perhaps the underlying cause of your migraines. What would happen if you were to let go of these dogmas, this need to structure your world?”
“I will lose complete control,” she exclaimed, aghast. “I am scared of chaos. I’d much rather stay in my own box than venture out. It feels so unsafe out there.”
It became apparent to me that some childhood trauma had caused her to shut down her boundaries, making them impervious to people. The world clearly didn’t seem like a safe place for her. I had to think of some other way of helping her break out of the box.
“When a seed begins to sprout,” I continued, “the plant grows deep roots into the soil seeking nourishment, but simultaneously it also grows towards the sun. Similarly, we humans need to connect both with our own selves by going within, but also with other people by collaborating, sharing, and engaging with them. By creating these high walls around yourself you have cut off an essential source of psychological nourishment that can greatly nourish you if you choose to engage with and accept people just as they are. This is important for your own growth,” I insisted.
“I don’t want to grow, I’d much rather shrivel up and die,” she announced with disturbing certainty. The death wish was a common unconscious urge in depressed people. I had to carefully carve out her despair by using empathy and logic.
“Help me understand why it feels so hard to let go of that box?” I asked in the gentlest, most loving way.
She looked at me with fearful eyes and mumbled, “If I get out of the box, others will hurt me and I will die.”
This then was her great dilemma; if she stayed in the box, she would starve herself of emotional and psychological fodder, but if she stepped out of her carefully created boundaries, she was certain of being wounded. I could see why she had chosen to stay locked up.
“What’s the point of this life,” she broke down and cried, “it’s all so futile.” Her cheeks turned a deep shade of red. I placed my hand over hers as tiny rivulets flooded her cheeks. This was not an easy question. I too had introspected upon it for many days before the answer had unfolded. Perhaps if I gave her the gift of my insight, her anguish might not be so unbearable.
“For a long time, I too wondered about the futility of all human efforts,” I said, holding her limp fingers between my hands, “and it often made me feel sad and hopeless. But recently I came upon a story that cleared my confusion. It spoke of an interesting ceremony performed by monks as a way of contemplating the truth about life. During this ceremony, they spent several days painstakingly creating the most intricate and beautiful designs or mandalas in the sand and then swiftly destroyed them upon completion. If one focussed solely upon the futility of their hard work, it could break your heart. But on introspecting upon its deeper meaning, a powerful lesson unfolded. I realized that the purpose of all human endeavors was simply to participate in the creation and dissolution of things, without attachment or self-importance. This was the second law of the universe, that creation and dissolution are inevitable and cyclical processes. And that the only way to live, was to embrace these cycles without attachment or resistance.
That insight simplified so many things for me. It taught me not to be possessive about people and relationships or even my creativity and efforts. As a result, I was no longer driven by the compulsions of perfection. As long as I did things well, I could let them be, without obsessing about making them better. I no longer sought meaning in everything. It was okay to let things be. Patience became a better friend when I understood that everything would eventually come to pass, both the good and the not so good. So if people hurt me, I could choose to forgive them and let my resentments dissolve. If I made mistakes, I could apologize and be free again.
When negative feelings arose in me, I acknowledged them without resistance. Humbly receiving the gifts of self-knowing they brought me, I bid them farewell soon enough. If anything stayed with me too long, I knew my dance with life would stop. So I became careful about not letting these destructive emotions get stuck in me. When happiness arrived, I enjoyed it and let it pass. When frustration visited, I listened carefully to the many interesting things it told me about myself and let it pass. And this is how I continue to practice now, allowing the many emotions and situations that come up, to flow through me, letting them all pass, so I can keep dancing on.
“But then, what is the meaning of life?” she protested.
I laughed, “Life, my dear one, is simply meaningless. There is no meaning out there in the world; it’s we people who attach meanings to things and situations. When we make a cruel interpretation about an experience, we suffer. If we make that interpretation positive, life doesn’t seem so bleak anymore. Our ability to think and the reason is best employed in determining whether our thoughts, beliefs, and actions are in alignment with universal laws. This is the only responsible way to face our fears. It isn’t you, but your meaning-making mind that keeps you stuck in that box. If you learn to dance with life, letting all things flow through you, nothing will appear to be permanently good or bad, because everything will simply pass. It will come, and it will go. And there will be no more painful experiences or terrible interpretations left to hoard. ”
“So all I need to do is let things pass?” she repeated after me, astonished at the simplicity of it all. “Yes,” I murmured, “the truth is always simple. It’s just we who make things more complex than they really are.” A faint smile touched her lips as her mind awakened to this possibility, “I see what you mean… I think I get it.” As I waited patiently for her to integrate this insight, she went from looking relieved, calm, and relaxed to being agitated once again. “Oh, my God,” she exclaimed, hitting her fist forcefully against her thigh, “I’ve been such a pain collector all my life. Can you believe I have wasted 32 years doing everything wrong? God, I’m just so angry with myself now.” She bent over and buried her head between her knees.
“There’s another universal law I haven’t spoken of yet,” I continued, “and that’s the one you are opposing now.” She looked up, almost begging me to stop. Her unkempt hair and liquid eyes made me want to gather her in my arms. “As within, so without is the third law of the universe.” According to this law, your inner feelings and thoughts create your outer reality and experiences. If you are angry inside, you will attract situations in life that will continue to make you angry with the world at large.
“So how am I opposing this law, I’m simply feeling angry with myself, not with others. Is that a problem too?”
This was an innocent but inaccurate logic that drove so many depressed people to sabotage themselves.
“You have simply reversed the direction of your anger, but you haven’t let it go. When we started our conversation you were angry with others, and now you are angry with yourself. As long as this anger remains stuck in you, it shall continue to hurt both you and your environment.”
“I guess you are right,” she said in a stoic voice, “I feel like I’m dragging this huge box around and it really weighs me down. It is just so heavy. I can’t focus on anything else because it takes everything I have, just to cart this around. I guess it contains all my anger and other terrible things that I think and believes about me and the world. Perhaps I can’t get rid of it without first examining its contents to see if there’s something I might want to keep. But I’m scared to open it.”
“If it feels heavy, you should just let it all go. Why would you want to keep anything that’s in that box?”
“Well, that box is my identity and you are asking me to let it all go. This is making me feel like a very poor person right now. You are taking away all I have.”
It is strange how we cling to things we believe are ours, pain, and suffering included.
“That box is your burden,” I reasoned, “It isn’t serving you. All it brings you is unhappiness. When thoughts and feelings contradict universal laws it results in depression. If I were you, I would just let that whole darn box go. Can you do that?” She thought for a brief moment, and then with a mischievous glint in her eyes, nodded in approval. “Okay, let’s do it…right now. Can you help me?
“Only if you are sure you want to. The fourth law of the universe states that we cannot violate the free will of another soul. Unless you truly want it, I cannot help you to release your anger and heal your depression.” A peaceful silence followed as I watched our spoken and unspoken dialogues dissolve her subconscious resistance. “I want to dance like you, so go ahead, you have my permission,” she sat up erect in her seat, ready to commence her healing process. I scanned her energy field and together we released the numerous trapped emotions and limiting beliefs that were causing her anger, her self-imposed isolation, and her depression.
Then, instructing her to close her eyes, I asked her to imagine that she was dropping her pain box into the deepest ocean in the world. “Make sure you see it being transmuted into pure love energy before it sinks to the ocean bed. You do not want to pollute the cosmic environment with your negative thoughts.”
Her face seemed to change form as she followed those instructions, becoming softer and more tranquil as she practiced letting go. “Will this really work?” she quizzed me, her eyelids still droopy from the peaceful feeling that seemed to have overcome her. “This practice engages the fifth and sixth laws of our universe. When we direct our thoughts to a particular outcome, choosing it without any subconscious resistance, we enable our imagination to design a reality. Co-creation through imagination is the fifth law. The sixth law states that energy can never be destroyed but it can certainly be alchemized. It can change form. So go ahead and practice again. See if you still feel angry and depressed.”
She closed her eyes and becoming mindful of the laws of the universe, imagined letting go of her pain box. “It seems to have gone,” she announced, laughing gleefully as she opened her eyes. “I feel so much lighter already.” Then giving me a high five, she stood up and hugged me tightly. “I think I’m ready to get a life…high time, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” I said. “Time to start dancing now. But be aware that you have a tendency to collect pain, so guard against it with all your might. Else you are likely to create another pain box soon enough. Remember to let all things flow through you each day.”
“I promise to practice this…every single day.” And swinging her bag enthusiastically over her shoulder, she marched purposefully towards a sunlit life. The faint smell of jasmine filled the room as she left.
About the author: Suzy Singh is a transpersonal therapist, karma coach, and energy healer with extensive clinical experience in multidisciplinary approaches to vibrational and spiritual healing. Her practice is based out of Delhi.
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