Friday, 26 June 2020

Acceptance

One of  depression's biggest fears is that you will learn to accept it. By accepting it you intrinsically weaken it. Acceptance is a way of embracing and transforming depression. It is not easy to do and in many ways it feels counter-intuitive. Why would you want to accept this malevolent intruder? Well the truth is that by accepting it you stop fighting with it. And by stopping fighting with it you diminish its power to hurt you. 

I should point out that acceptance is not the same thing as giving up or surrendering. It is not about capitulating to depression but about actively coming to terms with the enemy within. It is about learning to live with the malevolent intruder - about seeing through all of its tricks. In some cases it is even about being grateful for it. I know this might sound bizarre when you are engaged in a life and death struggle - but try it.



Some people believe that depression happens for a reason and that it comes to us in order to teach us a lesson about ourselves and life. It is true that depression can bring about change. However, as an agent for change it is certainly a peculiar one - as it simultaneously strips us of the normal tools that we need to bring about change  - such as energy and perseverance and resilience.

But depression does change people's lives. It certainly changed mine. It got me out of a job that I should have left years earlier. It didn't do it in a congenial or professional way; in fact, it very nearly killed me. But it did it. It made it literally impossible for me to continue. As a result I now have a new job that I enjoy. I have no more stressful meetings, virtually no staff development, no formal sit-down appraisals and no corporate bull-shit. Instead I have plants to move and water, deliveries to take in and palettes to forklift. I get up in the morning and go in and I work and I come home feeling tired - but tired in a good way. I listen to the birds singing in the trees while I'm there and I talk to customers about bamboo and hydrangeas and runner beans.

Many people ultimately find that depression brings something new into their lives (assuming they can get through the horrors.). Depression is a brutal teacher and forces us to re-evaluate our lives. In some cases this re-evaluation is literally a matter of life and death. If you don't change then you get sucked down into the black hole.  But after the darkness subsides - and it does subside - there can be new adaptations. Many people say that after depression they talk to everyone they meet - whereas before they kept themselves to themselves. For others it might mean more exercise or more time spent in nature or more connection with family and friends. Or more love.

For some the acceptance is that depression will always be there - but maybe in a quieter less adversarial kind of way. For others, acceptance can be the final stage before complete recovery.

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