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This is one
of a series of articles comprising
Lesson-3 in the Break the
Cycle! self-improvement course. This lesson aims to educate readers to healthy
grieving basics so they can spot and complete unfinished mourning and evolve
pro-grief relationships and families.
brief YouTube video clip summarizes what you'll read below. The video
mentions eight lessons in this self-improvement Web site. I've simplified
that to seven.
Have you or someone you care for
been depressed recently? Depression is so common in American
kids and adults that treating it has become a major
industry. It often occurs in
survivors of early-childhood
abandonment, neglect, and abuse ("trauma")..
My clinical experience with hundreds of
therapy clients who felt "depressed" is that typical "well
educated" people - including mental health and medical professionals - don't
know much about the healing process of grief, and can't differentiate
between it and "depression."
One result is they waste money on "anti-depression" medication which
hinders grief and leaves losses unacknowledged and unmourned. This
ignorance contributes to the toxic [wounds + unawareness]
cycle that is
steadily weakening our society.
explores the important difference between "depression" and healthy
common symptoms of depression and normal grief,
four common causes of these symptoms; and...
Proposes options if (a) you're "depressed,"
and (b) if
you're concerned about a "depressed" person.
It's a catch-all term for a mind-body condition
ranging in intensity and impact from brief and minor ("a blue mood") to long-term
and major. The condition (vs. "illness") can
promote physical, psychological, and relationship problems.
Some clinical opinions propose that loss, grief, and/or depression may
have its roots in prebirth traumatization of a baby or its mother. For
more detail, read this after
you're done here.
Symptoms of depression typically include
some or all of these...
Low physical energy; "fatigue."
Apathy: marked disinterest in
pleasurable life activities, and/or an inability to feel normal
Notably sad, glum mood.
Unusual feelings of guilt, despair
(hopelessness and pessimism),
Difficulty concentrating: mind-racing,
Trouble sleeping or sleeping
Possible loss of appetite and related weight loss.
Recurring thoughts of death or
Crying episodes with or without a
Excessive or unusual irritability
If five or more of these symptoms are clearly
present every day for at least two weeks (in someone's opinion), the condition is psychiatrically
Some people label serious depression a "mental illness." I propose that
it's a normal human condition, not an "illness"!
of these symptoms can also occur during normal three-level
Depression can be
one episode or a recurring condition. Chronically depressed people experience these
symptom-clusters as normal life, so they may have little motivation to change
toward something they've never felt.
Depression is a problem for the sufferer, and
can cause significant anxiety (worry), guilt, and frustration in people who depend on or
care about the sufferer. Three possible problems are...
you’re significantly depressed,
another person you care about is, or...
you both are.
Each of these can stress
your wholistic health and other relationships, specially if you have
other concurrent problems. Let's look at the first two situations in
Options If YouFeel "Depressed"
“Depression” and the sadness phase of
normal grieving feel and look the same, emotionally and behaviorally. I suspect that
“depressed” adults and kids are really
losses. If so,
the cure is not pills, but acquiring
requisites so your grief can run its natural course.
Premise - feeling "depressed" can be a symptom of up to five
wounds and their
effects (Lesson 1);
brain-chemical imbalances. The first four may promote this.
To reduce your symptoms, try these options:
1) Give high priority to
Lessons 1 thru 3.
Lesson 1 will help you
identify if your dominant personality subselves are promoting personal
problems like incomplete grief.
For more perspective on this,
this after you finish here.
2) Test your knowledge of "good grief" basics with this
quiz. Ignoring this option
suggests toxic false-self dominance, which is the primary problem.
3) If you
have suicidal thoughts, see these
options, and consider professional help. Note that many
professional therapists, clergy, and counselors aren't trained to check for
incomplete grief. Option -
ask whomever you hire to scan Lesson 3 and "pass"
the "good grief" quiz. If they're not willing to,
on any past or recent changes in you or your lifestyle
- e.g. a disability or illness, job change, a geographic move, a shift in an
important role or relationship, a financial shift, births, deaths, divorces,
retirements, etc. Ask yourself "What
lost - specifically - because of this change? Use these
abstract and physical
loss inventories to help answer the question. Note that anticipatory
grief can start before an expected loss actually occurs.
Once you identify your losses (broken bonds), prioritize them. Starting with
the most impactful, use this level-and-phase concept to gauge where you are
in grieving each loss. If you suspect some important grieving is
incomplete, consider these
Option 5) Study Part 3 of lesson 1, and
work patiently at the parts-work
strategy for "Depression" with an open mind.
Be aware of the
terms your family
adults use in thinking and speaking. Depressed and
depression can be evoke anxiety in subselves who associate them with sick or ill,crazy,
nuts, weak, inferior, anxiety, bad, doctors, hospitals, therapy,
trouble, or other vague or specific discomforts.
"I'm working to accept some major
losses now" can feel better to someone's subselves than "I am (or you
are) really depressed."
7) If subselves feel
guilty that your "depression" symptoms are burdening other
people "too much," confirm
your right to feel how you feel.
Read and apply
this article on managing excessive
guilts, and use these wise
guidelines. "Feeling better" is
responsibility. Other people are responsible for managing their own comfort!
Becomeaware of whose advice you follow
about assessing and treating "depression." e.g.
family elders, mentors, hero/ines, health professionals, and media authorities.
It's likely they don't know what you're reading here. Finally...
if you're considering anti-depressant medication. "Mood control"
chemicals may relieve your symptoms, but not what's causing them.
If these options don't relieve your symptoms, consider hiring a qualified
therapist or licensed grief counselor
professional evaluation. "Qualified" means...
wholistic (mind + body + spirit + emotions) view of health; plus…
openness to the
premises in this Web site, specially about personality subselves
and incomplete grief; plus…
believing that grieving is appropriate for
significant life losses, not just someone's death; plus...
training in, and experience at, promoting healthy
three-level grieving; including this
up-to-date medical training on the
organic causes of "depression," and
Learn about yourself by meditating on
these statements. T = true, F = false, and ? =
"I'm not sure," or "It
depends on (what?)":
I accept thatgrieving is needed for
all kinds of life losses (broken bonds), not just death.
(T F ?)
believe grief is a healthy human
response which can be slowed or blocked.
(T F ?)
My childhood adults consistently encouraged and modeled (a) feeling
and (b) expressing healthy grieving values, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
(T F ?)
now (a) feeling and (b) expressing _sadness and _ anger privately
and publicly; and (c) I’m
comfortable enough being around others who feel and express shock, sadness, and anger. (T F ?)
can clearly describe (a) my personal and
(b) my family’s
grief policy -i.e. our sets of shoulds,
oughts, musts, and values
about feeling and expressing grief. (T F ?)
I now live in a pro-grief home and family - i.e. one which consistently
encourages everyone to mourn well. Note the difference between intentionally
among your family members, and passively tolerating theirmourning.
(T F ?)
am now able to (a)
identify and (b) grieve my
or if not, (c) I'm taking effective steps to
improve this. (T
(a) clearly tell the
difference between “depression” and incomplete grief now, and (b) I can name at
grief. (T F ?)
adults in our family would answer "True" to the statement above. (T F ?)
I accept that using anti-depression
(mood control) medication may hinder healthy mourning. (T F
Now I feel a mix of
calm, centered, energized, light, focused,
up, grounded, relaxed, alert, aware, alive, serene,
purposeful, confident, and clear, somy
true Self is probably
other subselves (personality). (T F ?)
did you just learn?
we’ve explored options if you are significantly depressed. Let’s now
Options If Someone Else Seems Depressed...
With your Self
guiding you, notice how you feel about (a) the depressed
person, and (b) being around her or him. Then consider these
use your feelings as pointers to identify
what you need, relative to this person. If you need to "make them
feel better," try to
discern why their "depression" is affecting you.
get clear on what you can
and what you can't.
ask the person what s/he needs - in general,
and from you.
avoid saying "You'll feel better soon." You
have no way of knowing that. See these
avoid saying "I know just how you feel."
Because you have a different personality and history, you probably
if the person wants solitude, respect that;
beware offering help that isn't
That can feel insulting.
if s/he is open to feedback,
the person to explore whether they're mourning past and/or recent losses. Common
responses are "Uh... I don't think so," or "I'm not sure -
I've never thought about that." If they ask why you ask, propose that the
sadness phase of normal grief feels like depression - and
their symptoms will lift as their grief runs it's natural course.
Refer them to Lesson 3 in this Website.
offer an overview of
If s/he seems open to that idea, add the concepts of true Self and false self. Discuss the possibility that a
false self may be causing her/his depressive feelings and/or grief.
If appropriate, suggest that s/he study
Lesson 1 to explore this
possibility. If you're working on Lesson 1, describe your
avoid urging the person to get
anti-depressant medication - unless you and s/he are sure their condition
is organic and not normal grief.
If the person
is a relative, the "depression"
(and/or incomplete grief) is a
problem, not a personal one. Discuss
this and related articles with other family members,
including older kids. Also talk factually about how the person's "depression" symptoms are affecting you all, and
what each member needs. Option:
a communal activity!
This article encourages you to assess
"depression" is really normal grief, for the symptoms are very similar.
Unfinished grief is a primary
personal and family
. It usually causes a web of secondary problems in your home
and relationships. The article offers practical options if
another person feel