Looking back, there was great intelligence in my 20+ years of depression. There was actually grace inherent in life bringing me to my knees. (Sometimes life brings you to your knees so you can finally be present to your own knees!). There was healing there, right at the very core of my loss of interest in going to work or seeing friends, my abandonment of all hope for the future, my total disillusionment in external, second-hand meaning, my nausea at all things ‘spiritual’.

Through my depression, life was stripping me of all my illusions, all distractions, everything that was not real, forcing me to stay so, so close to myself, making me remember what remains after everything external is stripped away.

Depression forced me to remember my own presence, essential and free, a miracle, bursting with life. My own presence, yes! – so simple, yet so overlooked, had always been here, closer than breathing, more undoubtable than doubt! My own simple presence – the presence of life itself – was the gift, the Source, what I had always longed for.The whole search had been inverted, since a ‘self’ can never find what it seeks as long as it seeks it. The false ‘self’ needed to fail in its search for presence to be revealed as the ground and essence of all things. The wave cannot find the ocean – it can only be it.

I AM HERE. I EXIST. I AM. NOW. And that is the greatest miracle of all.

Sometimes that’s where you have to begin, at the very beginning. You have to get back to the origin of life, the place prior to even the “I Am”, the raw Unnameable. Depression was the ultimate failure of the ‘me’, and its eventual surrender. It was a spiritual reboot, an awakening, for sure.

My longing to die had secretly been my longing to live, to break open my fragile heart to a sacred universe, to touch my own power.

I know this is not a common, or even popular view of depression: that it contains intelligence, and powerful medicine, so very needed in our weary world. So let’s begin a new conversation. Honouring the medical model of depression, but going infinitely deeper. Never turning away from life’s whispers.



DIVINE SUICIDE: Depressive Breakdown as a Call to Awakening


Do not run from sadness. It may contain medicine.

I often get excited when someone reports uncaused and inexplicable sadness, seemingly unrelated to their life circumstances. I see sadness, like all the other waves in the ocean of life, as an invitation, an invocation, a calling to open up to deeper truths about existence, to recognise our inherent vastness.

Life is bitter-sweet. However beautiful things are right now, they will pass. Everything is impermanent and groundless. You will die, at least in this incarnation. Everyone you love will pass on. Your success may turn to failure. What you have, you may lose. Your body will cease to function in the way it does now. Nothing is certain, everything is cast into doubt. The water of relative existence slips through our fingers so easily. Our joy is tinged with sadness. Our bliss is pierced with nostalgia. The yin and the yang of things won’t let you settle on an independent opposite. There is no home for the homeless here.

Contacting this deeper, bitter-sweet truth of existence, encountering the raw ground of being, unprotected and unprepared may initially present as melancholy and even despair, but that existential disturbance may contain unlimited riches.

At the point of despair, when the ground falls away from under our feet and our lives spin out of control (were they ever ‘in’ control?), we are often medicated, or we self-medicate, with pills or sex or alcohol or meditation. Science would like to reduce our existential human predicament to the dysfunction of brain chemicals, easily remedied with a few innocent pills prescribed by someone with a hard-won certificate. And perhaps those theories have validity – through certain lenses. But there are so many other lenses. Infinite lenses. There are myriad sides to this diamond of human experience, and it would be a shame to reduce ourselves to chemicals or neurons.

If Jesus had taken anti-depressants on the cross, he – and we – would have missed the point.

Perhaps our depression is not a sickness (though I will never argue with anyone who wants to defend that view) but a call to break out, to let go, to lose the old structures and stories we have been holding up about ourselves and the world and rest deeply in the truth of who we really are. Conventional wisdom would have you turn away from melancholy rather than face it. Well-meaning friends and family and self-help gurus may want to fix you, to get you ‘back to normal’, to make you more ‘positive’, whatever that means. What if the ‘normal’ no longer fits? What if you need to shed your half-shed skin, not climb back into it? What if sadness, and pain, and fear, and all of the waves in life’s ocean, just want to move in you, to finally express themselves creatively and not be pushed away?

What if you are not nearly as limited as you were led to believe you were? What if you are vast enough to hold and contain all of life’s energies, the ‘positive’ and the ‘negative’? What if you are beyond both, an ocean of consciousness, unified, boundless and free, in which even the deepest despair has a resting place?

What if your depression was simply you calling yourself back Home, in the only way you knew how?












All work/words that are not my own have been quoted and referenced with utmost respect for their authors.

©Tessa Ridley/Self Care is Sacred. All Rights Reserved. 2015-2017.

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1 Comment
  • Lisa Barone
    Posted at 16:29h, 23 April Reply

    Jeff this is so true. When depression hits, that is a definite red flag. Yes we really have to take a look into our hearts but change takes inner strength. Yes I believe becoming more spirtual is so important because people will drain you. Practicing Power Yoga gave me inner strength and awareness. Yoga means the “joining” of the mind, body and spirit. Spirituality is very important in this combination. “Let go, let God” When all these areas are connected, you develop an inner strength and a deep awareness of yourself. This practice helps you change as a person and brings you back to knowing who you really are without all the outer draining influences that de-press you down. Power yoga, or any type of yoga, is definitely a great way to recharge and maintain good mental health. Daily meditation and prayer is also extremely helpful. .But when You have no energy left because of depression, medicine and counseling has truly saved many people. Jeff I do like your insightful view on depression. Thank you for sharing.

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