There are wounds that never show on our bodies that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds. Depression and heartbreak are two such wounds. I know, from experience.
About a decade ago, in quick succession, Angel and I dealt with several significant, back-to-back losses and life changes, including: losing Angel’s brother, Todd, to suicide, losing our mutual best friend, Josh, to cardiac arrest, and losing our home in the downturn of the economy. The pain inflicted by each of these experiences was absolutely brutal, and enduring them one after another broke our hearts and knocked us both into a moderate state of depression. There was a long stretch of time when we shut out the world, shut out each other, and avoided our loved ones who were grieving alongside us.
Luckily, with the right support, and the gradual restoration of our inner resolve, we pushed forward, stronger and with a greater respect for life. And while there were many intricate steps to our recovery process that I’m leaving out here, the outcome of our journey ultimately led us to the work we do today, over a decade later. Through our course and coaching we have spent the better part of the past ten years leveraging our lessons learned to guide amazing human beings through the process of coping with significant bouts of depression and heartbreak (and other forms of adversity). The work has been anything but easy, but it’s also been incredibly rewarding and life-changing—it has undoubtedly been the most significant silver lining of the painful losses and life changes we were forced to endure.
This morning Angel and I were interviewed on a national radio station about our brand new book, Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs. Near the end of the interview the radio talk show host asked the most sweeping question imaginable:
What have you learned over the past 10 years from coaching people through depression and heartbreak?
We answered the question as best as we could, and tried to give decent insights with the time allotted. But we were off-air a minute or two later. So, the truth is we barely had enough time to graze the surface of such a complex and personal topic. But over the past few hours Angel and I have actually enjoyed thinking more deeply about it. In fact, we spent the entirety of our lunch break today having a very open and candid conversation about what we have learned from both our own depression and heartbreak, and the lessons that emerged afterwards from coaching others through these painful states of mind. I took some notes while we chatted, and I’d like to share them with you.
While Angel and I are certain there’s no “one size fits all” kind of advice for depression and heartbreak, there are some very important general principles that apply to most people who are presently suffering. The reminders below, then, aren’t universal clarifications, but simple guidelines that will hopefully give you a general starting point for supporting yourself or someone you love through the process of coping with depression and/or heartbreak.
1. Depression is not a state of mind you consciously or logically choose.
Being depressed is kind of like being lost deep in the woods. When you’re lost deep in those woods, it might take you some time just to realize that you’re lost. For a while, it’s easy to convince yourself that you’ve just wandered off the path—that you’ll find your way back any moment now. Then night falls, again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and although it’s agonizing to admit, you begin to realize that you’ve disoriented yourself so far off the beaten path, so deep into the thick of the woods, that you can’t even tell which direction the sun rises or sets from anymore. You’re not choosing to be where you are, but you can’t see a way out. That’s how depression felt to me when I was struggling through it a decade ago.
Depression is one of the most helpless and tiring emotional experiences a person can live through. Sometimes it’s feeling totally disoriented, sometimes it’s feeling completely hopeless, and sometimes it’s feeling absolutely nothing at all. There are times when depression can leave you feeling dead inside, incapable of moving and doing the things you used to enjoy. No one chooses to be depressed, and no one can turn it off or on in an instant whenever they feel like it. It’s a state of mind that must be coped with and healed one tiny step at a time over the long-term.
2. Depression is not simply a deeper state of heartbreak or sadness, and it’s often misunderstood.
Heartbreak can be a trigger for depression, but depression is something altogether different. Depression isn’t rational or emotional—it isn’t a straightforward response to a tough situation. Depression just IS, like December’s weather in Seattle. It lingers, and it’s hard to wrap your mind around if you haven’t experienced it.
Some people may imply that they know what it’s like to be depressed simply because they have gone through a divorce, lost a job, or lost a loved one. While these tough life situations can lead to depression, they don’t create depression by default. In most cases these experiences carry with them strong emotional feelings (a key side effect of heartbreak). Depression, on the other hand, is often flat, hollow, and insufferable—literally sapping a person of emotion, hope and reason.
You don’t feel like YOU. You don’t even feel human. You’re disheartened and paranoid and humorless and lifeless and desperate and demanding, and no reassurance is ever enough. You’re frightened, and you’re frightening, and you’re “not at all like yourself but will be better soon,” but you know you won’t.
Here’s a chilling quote from Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace that brings this point home:
“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom ‘Its’ invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise.
Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
3. Being loved when you are depressed feels like a massive burden.
“I don’t want to see anyone. I lie in the bedroom with the curtains drawn and nothingness washing over me like a sluggish wave. Whatever is happening to me is my own fault. I have done something wrong, something so huge I can’t even see it, something that’s drowning me. I am inadequate and stupid, without worth. I might as well be dead.”
That quote from Margaret Atwood’s novel, Cat’s Eye, reminds me of the desperate loneliness and isolation one feels when depressed. But even though depression makes you feel hopelessly alone, that’s often exactly what depression motivates you to seek—more isolation. People suffering from depression typically get anxious with feeling like they’re a burden on their loved ones. This causes them to isolate themselves and push away the very people they need.
So, if someone you love becomes distant through their depression, just do your best to remind them as often as possible that you’re still nearby, but don’t force them to socialize or talk about their feelings if they don’t want to. Be patient. Ease into it. Introduce plenty of small opportunities to create informal one-on-one time when you can break them out of their routine, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Reach out to them at random intervals. Just be a present, living reminder that they are not alone.
4. Depression and heartbreak can both exhaust the human spirit.
Relentless exhaustion is a common side effect of both depression and severe heartbreak. Just getting out of bed in the morning can be an overwhelming and excruciating experience. Also, someone suffering from these states of mind may feel OK one moment and then completely depleted the next, even if they’re eating right and getting plenty of sleep. This can result in them canceling plans, departing get-togethers early, or saying no far more often than usual. These choices aren’t personal attacks on friends and family—it has nothing to do with anyone else. These are just some of the prevalent side effects of working through severe mental anguish.
Again, if you love someone who is presently suffering, remind yourself that a human being can only give to others what they themselves have. Remind yourself that depression, and to a lesser degree, heartbreak, can take almost everything away. All your actions and words should come from a place of love, but that doesn’t mean your depressed or heartbroken loved one will always be loving in return, and that’s OK. When you do not take things personally, you liberate yourself—you open yourself to loving someone who truly needs you, freely, and without letting needless expectations get in the way of the immeasurable amounts of love you are capable of giving.
5. When you’re depressed or heartbroken, the classic clichés never help.
“Time heals wounds.”
“It’s not that big of a deal.”
“You just need some fresh air.”
“It’s time to move on”
It’s super easy for people to say “positive” things like that with the best of intentions, but when you’re suffering from depression or severe heartbreak these kinds of clichéd phrases often come across the wrong way—thoughtless, empty, and essentially worthless.
In most cases clichés like these don’t address reality and only agitate the anxiety within, making a depressed or heartbroken person wish they were alone. It’s like trying to strap a two-inch Band-Aid on a foot-long, gaping wound.
So, if given the chance, what can you say instead? Again, there’s no “one size fits all” answer. Just do you best to be sincere and supportive.
Here’s a rough idea of what I might say (maybe not all at once):
“I love you, and I’m not the only one. Please believe me. Please believe that the people who love you are worth living for even when you don’t feel it. Strive to re-visit the good memories your depression (or heartbreak) is hiding from you, and project them into the present. Breathe. Be brave. Be here and take today just one tiny step at a time. Exercise because it’s good for you even if every step weighs 900 pounds. Eat when food itself sickens you. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason. I’m here now, and I’ll be here tomorrow too. I believe in you. We are in this together.”
And then I’d give them a long, silent hug.
6. Heartbreak can be a healthy anchor for healing and living well in the long run.
While depression disconnects us from our human emotions, and therefore must be carefully addressed, heartbreak by itself can actually help us move through our emotions. Heartbreak is never a pleasant experience, but it can be a healthy one when it’s internalized in a healthy way. In fact, as human beings we sometimes get used to the weight of our heartbreak and how it holds us in place. Angel once told me, “My brother, Todd, will die over and over again for the rest of my life, and I’m OK with that. It keeps me closer to him.” This was Angel’s way of reminding me that heartbreak doesn’t just break you down and disappear. Step-by-step, breath-by-breath, it becomes a part of you. And it can become a healthy part of you too—an anchor that keeps you grounded.
When it comes to the heartbreak of loss, although you may never completely stop grieving, simply because you never stop loving the ones you’ve lost, you can effectively leverage your love for them in the present. You can love them and emulate them by living with their magnificence as your daily inspiration. By doing this, they live on in the warmth of your broken heart that won’t fully heal back up, and you will continue to grow and experience life, even with your wounds. It’s like badly breaking an ankle that never heals perfectly, and that still hurts when you dance, but you dance anyway with a slight limp, and this limp just adds to the depth of your performance and the authenticity of your character.
Truth be told, the wisest, most loving and well-rounded people you have ever met are likely those who have been shattered by heartbreak. Yes, life creates the greatest humans by breaking them first. Their destruction into pieces allows them to be fine-tuned and reconstructed into a masterpiece. Truly, it’s the painstaking journey of falling apart and coming back together that fills their hearts and minds with a level of compassion, understanding, and deep loving wisdom that can’t possibly be acquired any other way.
Angel and I have worked one-on-one with hundreds of these incredible people over the past decade, both online and offline, through various forms of coaching, side projects, and our live annual conferences. In many cases they came to us feeling stuck and lost, unaware of their own brilliance, blind to the fact that their struggles have strengthened them and given them a resilient upper hand in this crazy world. Honestly, many of these people are now our biggest heroes. Over the years they have given us as much, if not more, than we have given them. And they continue to be our greatest source of inspiration on a daily basis.
7. Painful hardships often lead to Post-Traumatic Growth.
To piggyback off the previous point, I want to briefly mention an emerging field of psychology called Post-Traumatic Growth which has proven that we as human beings are able to use various forms of hardships (including those that lead to severe heartbreak and even mild to moderate depression) for substantial intellectual development over the long-term. Specifically, researchers have found that hardships can help us grow our contentment, emotional strength and resourcefulness. When our view of the world as a safe place, or as a certain type of place, has been shattered, we are forced to reboot our perspective on things. With the right support and healing practices in place, we gradually gain the ability to see things with a fresh set of beginner’s eyes again, which can be extremely beneficial to our personal growth.
Here is an excerpt on Post-Traumatic Growth from our new book:
“We need to remember that all of us can heal through hardships, and many of us are even catapulted onto a more meaningful, motivated path after experiencing one. Growth through hard times is far more common than most of us realize. The challenge is to bring awareness to the opportunity presented by these kinds of unexpected and undesirable events. Afterward, we need hope. In the aftermath of intense pain, we need to know there is something better—and there almost always is. A traumatic experience is not simply a painful experience to be endured. Instead, it can be incredibly life changing by motivating us to evolve in the best ways possible.
It isn’t an easy journey, but most of us have the mental and emotional capacity to emerge from our hardships—even severe ones—stronger, more focused, and with a better perspective on life. In numerous psychological studies of people who have suffered traumatic hardships, about 50 percent of them report positive changes in their lives as a result of their negative experiences. Some changes are small (more appreciation for the average day, for example), while others are so seismic that they propel them onto totally new and rewarding life paths. The bottom line is that the most painful things that could possibly happen to us can be pivotal circumstances of great opportunity. Hardships often push us to face the reality of life’s impermanence, to appreciate our limits, and to find more meaningful understandings of who we are and how we want to spend the rest of our lives.”
If you have personal experience with depression and/or heartbreak, have ever helped a loved one cope with either, or if you have something to add to the list above, Angel and I would love to hear from YOU.
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
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As someone who has been diagnosed with depression in the past and sometimes still struggles with it, I thought this short write-up was well-written and thoughtful. Is it tad generic on some levels? Yeah. But it’s a great reminder overall. We often need these reminders because the population in general doesn’t truly comprehend depression and what a depressed person goes through. The slightest bit of misguided commentary can set a depressed person back rather than move them forward. The people closest to me who know my situation and are reasonably educated on what is covered here, but that wasn’t always the case, and sometimes they are still a bit forgetful because this is a mental wound like you said that doesn’t show clearly on the outside, like a physical wound.
PS: Great trailer! I just pre-ordered your new book on Amazon. I don’t usually pre-order books, but I know pre-orders help authors and I figure it’s my way of saying thanks. Thank you, Marc and Angel, for all the coaching and support over the years.
Omag A. says
Thank you M and A, really a great piece, and so very true! I know because I am a survivor of heartbreaks and intense pain. Thanks for the encouraging truth always. Your work helps me daily keep positive, hopeful and somewhat happy.
Marc Chernoff says
Thank you for the positive feedback and insight, Jessica. And thank you for pre-ordering our new book. That helps us tremendously.
Jamie J. says
That invisible aching agony, the unendurable pain so deep to the core… Yes chillingly only those who have experienced it can even grapple with the understanding of being able to cope with it. It’s no wonder then that there are so many bewildered friends and family out there when a loved one succumbs.
As a survivor of both depression and debilitating heartbreak I can relate to everything you’ve stated here, and I couldn’t agree more. There’s always more that could be said, but too appreciate your thoughtful brevity.
And as for your points about caring for those who are suffering, it can’t be overstated how important it is. Simply being there is all it takes. Don’t push, just hold an open space for their return. Shine enough light, love and presence to gradually drown out their darkness.
Once again you have hit the nail on the head – how blessed I am that you are gracing the planet during my time here, thank you Marc and Angel.
And your new book has been ordered here as well. I look forward to reading it.
Marc Chernoff says
Thank you for the added insight, and for supporting our work, Jamie. 🙂
M. Flowers says
M&A, just as I’ve come to expect from your teachings, this is a beautiful piece. I love what you’ve said about grief too. I’ve been helping my sister cope with the death her 37-year-old husband to cancer, and mild depression is part of the equation. It’s been a difficult journey these past six months. But I agree with what you’ve shared here. In times of deep grief, I will hold my sister…and take her grief and make it my own for awhile. When she cries, I cry, and when she’s hurting, I hurt. And together we cope…and just make it through this bumpy road of life, together. Then I step back and allow her to breathe, and I allow myself to breathe.
Also, I want to let you know that your getting back to happiness course has been referenced time and again by both my sister and me as we’ve battled this grief together. Thank you.
Marc Chernoff says
So beautifully stated. And, it’s been an inspiration to work with you in the Getting Back to Happy course. Keep on keeping on! 🙂
thank you for this. i have always had a problem with people using the word depression so lightly, it has really become just the term for the casual ‘oh, he dumped me, i’m so depressed ‘ kind of scenario. it really pains me to see how people cannot see the difference between feeling down, upset, sad and being clinically depressed. on the other hand, we could also conclude they are blessed, as they must have not experienced such a state. anyway, i don’t believe ignorance is bliss in that case, so thank you for spreading the word and pointing out the difference. i hope it resonates with a larger audience. it certainly does with me.
This article seems to have come at the right time for me. Am at the end of an on and off relationship. Have been in love with him for a couple of years. He has some relationship issues and has always been a little leary in opening up about his feelings. We would get close then he would disappear then come back to call it off. I wasn’t in an rush. He recently let those three little words come out. I thought wow he is finally ready to move forward. Then he disappeared again. And came back with he reviewed his life and is truly blessed, but has decided he doesn’t want or need a relationship. End of story no discussion. This totally crushed me. I have questions and he refuses to answer. My head is saying “Yes it’s time to let go for go”, but heart is crushed and I tend to lead with my heart.
I have been through a break up of a 20 year marriage. That was a rough one, but this hurts my heart more then that did.
Reading this article reminds me I am not alone.
Am hoping to save up and one day sign up for one of your seminars. Your articles helped me during my marriage break up and I know they will help me through this.
My heart hurts hearing your story. Keep in mind that this fellow’s disappearances are all about him and his fear of intimacy and not at all about you.
When I”m in these difficult situations, one piece of the pain is “since this went bad, then I am doomed to repeat it forever.” This is not true. If you take action to uncover what made you attracted to this man in the first place and heal that, you may free yourself from having to go through it again, or at least recognize it early before you’re so deeply in love. I’m sure Marc and Angel’s course can help you with this. I would advise you to make saving money for it a priority.
The experience I’ve had with similar rejection, is that after your heart heals and the sun begins to shine on it’s own, you realize how lucky you were to have only suffered for months instead of years. Fate freed you up to find a match that you deserve that will be more fulfilling. When things don’t go as I hope (a controlling person, due to fear), I always repeat to myself: Don’t push the river, it flows by itself.
After many years of twists and turns, the river has brought me to many, many places of joy that I would have not discovered on my own, had I been the Captain constantly.
Just know that unless something is equally fought for, it will never be right and so to honor yourself, let it go, as Nature intended.
I don’t have a lot of regret, because of the river. I know I’ve tried to love the unloveable, but the ones you don’t have to jumpstart, are the ones that fill my heart and my love for myself. That’s where self respect and inner strength comes from.
And that, is the key to growth.
Perla milner says
Your messages and wisdom are so inspiring especially now I am going through very confusing and tough times. Thank u ? hoping to meeting you both in the near future. Looking forward to reading your new book?
I appreciated the what to say to your depressed friend part of this article. That’s what I’m going through. But this friend is in such a hard place having suffered deep betrayal, catastrophic losses, and no real friends besides me (and we are not all that close) and I live across the country from her. She has financial troubles and can’t get work, her kids are estranged, and she’s suicidal. If she were younger, she might see a need to fight through all this, but she’s 77 and so lonely. What can I say to her? Standing in her shoes, suicide would look like a good option. OK, maybe I should call her more rather than waiting for her to call me. Any other thoughts?
Call her more often. Send her a card. Keep it up.
You don’t know how valuable a life line you are.
As one who has been going through a long depression, I have been buoyed by my couple of life line friends. I had gotten some help from counseling but I haven’t had the mental/emotional strength to carry on the techniques, even though on the outside I look like I have it “all together”. Now I have gone to get help through meds. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Thank you Marc and Angel. I really needed this reminder of HOPE today.
I was expecting a post geared more toward those suffering from depression, but I thoroughly enjoyed this post as well and thought it was very informative for those who have loved ones suffering from depression.
I absolutely loved point #3 – I’m going to use it to explain to my friends why I push them away even though I fear being alone.
Thank you M&A.
Bernz JP says
One of the biggest challenges of my life was when I lost my mother four years ago. She was in an ICU for more six weeks, and the toughest part was making that difficult decision to pull her out of that situation. Surprisingly, my siblings and I felt relief when we finally made that difficult decision. We almost instantly felt that she’s finally at peace. That was one of the stressful days of my life. The other one was when my son was diagnosed with a rare type of pneumonia last year and had to have lung surgery. It was difficult, and my inner strength was tested, but I had to be tough for my son and for the whole family. Every time I am faced with a challenge like this I always think of Wayne Dyer’s quote, which goes like this. “We are not human beings in search of a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings emersed in a human experience.” Thanks again for this great article.
I went through a very painful divorce twenty years ago and where my heart was shattered, I vowed not to let anger enter into my feelings. We have three adult children, who were adults at the time, and I knew we would have numerous occasions where we would need to be together (graduations, weddings, funerals) and if we could not be in the same room together and be comfortable, no one else in the room would be comfortable which was not fair to our children. Therefore, my Ex and I have remained friends and continue to openly communicate when discussing birthday gifts, graduation gifts, etc. Even though he has remarried, we all are together for every big occasion involving the kids and do fine. There are several parts in your article that I found particularly helpful because even though it has been 20 years, I still feel the heartbreak and pain at times and wish I didn’t.
First of all, you are right about the cliches. At the time of the divorce, the classic cliches did not help. The one that I disliked the most was, “You know, many times people simply grow in different directions in their marriage.” However, there was one comment that was made to me that really did help and has stayed with me this whole time. A friend said to me, “In going on with your life, do good things and be the best person you possibly can be so that he will realize what a great person he has given up!” I think I have done that.
Another part of your article that caught my attention was when you said, “you may never stop grieving because you never stop loving the ones you’ve lost.” This, I feel, is so much harder in a divorce than in a death. This is not to minimize someone’s grief in a death but in a divorce, you are robbed not only of a future with the person you loved but also the past. It has only been in the last few years that I have been able to talk in a conversation about events that happened in the past with my Ex husband or even to be able to say the words “my Ex”.
And finally, the statement you made, “In the aftermath of intense pain, we need to know there is something better – and there almost always is” However, it is important to work towards making that happen. I know that I will never completely get over my divorce or grieving that my marriage didn’t last but I will continually work at living with it. And, to finish on a positive note, I have found a wonderful man who makes that work easier.
I feel like we must be sisters somehow. I’m in the middle of a divorce from my soul mate of 11 years. We’ve had a magical experience together of growth, learning, and fun, but he says that he lost his sense of self and his self-esteem the last few years. The pain of this beautiful man leaving me has been greater than I thought I’d ever feel in my life. I’ve thrown myself at therapy and self-help books, relationship books, everything in an attempt to understand how my perception of a “rough-patch” became his perception of an “impasse”. I’ve done this because from the very beginning of this process I was committed to not blaming my husband, and not hating him forever for making this decision. I’ve had to go deep into my feelings and thoughts and beliefs, but I am finding that I always come to rest at loving him. And that’s what my purpose is – love. To hate and blame forever would shatter the incredible gift of our 15 yrs together, and turn so many wonderful memories to scum. Why would I want that? I know how happy I’ve been all these years, even thru the ups and downs of life, I was happy and thankful and blessed. In a way I am still fighting for my marriage – for the memory of all that it was. We both still love each other deeply, but it seems we’ve arrived at a place where we are not able to continue growing together at the same pace. This cliche seems so simple, but sometimes it’s the only answer we get. It’s too simple to provide the comfort I want. As long as I can face my emotions, embrace my experience, and always come to rest at love, then I know I’m living my purpose. And that is the one thing that gives me joy as I work through this divorce that I don’t want.
marie douglas says
I love this article – we need to start the conversation of breaking stigmas in mental illness and getting to the truth – not just cliché sayings!
I appreciate you sharing, thank you xx
I have read your posts for years and never commented! Thank you for this. It really touched me, especially point 2. Twenty six years ago I suffered a major head injury and over the years went through the healing both mentally and physically associated with this. As you will know suicide is very common among head injury patients, especially when they get insight which ironically is a sign healing is happening. I was so lucky I had a support and sought professional help. Those dark days shaped my life and made me the person I am today. My friend committed suicide 20 years ago and even though I myself have been to dark places I have never been able to put in words what it feels like to drive you to do it. Thank you for putting it into words. Lisa
Carol Barringer says
Thank you for your helpful article. I need to say, though, it doesn’t completely address the depression I have experienced in my life (from which I am now thankfully free). The types of trauma you mention are all situations, devastating as they are, experienced in adulthood. Trauma incurred as a child goes so much deeper. Adults have years of building strengths, resources, choices and power that provide a foundation for coping with trauma when it comes along. Children have none of that: the younger the child, the less power they have over any aspect of their lives. When people who are supposed to love and protect you are the ones hurting you, deliberately and repeatedly, your power is reduced pretty much to the simple will to survive. I would just like it noted that childhood abuse, sexual or otherwise, exists, is widespread, and can underlie adult depression, complicating recovery and undermining a person’s ability to cope with adult-type traumas. Nor does childhood trauma have to begin in abuse: it could be an accident or illness, an untimely family relocation, the death of a sibling or friend — the things you are talking about, only experienced from the more limited resources of childhood.
Also, Post-traumatic Growth is a real phenomenon: I found in my 1990’s doctoral research that it’s pretty much universal among survivors of childhood sexual abuse. But it’s also possible that the 93 participants in my study self-selected in part out of a desire to help others. My research was done before it had a name or was “a field of study.” For me, recovery from severe childhood sexual abuse has a strong connection to spirituality. I believe the purpose of suffering is to provide the opportunity for growth, and that the healing process includes the capacity to choose to transmute pain into a gift, many gifts, that help others to heal, that help the world to heal. It’s been a long road, and I am still healing, but I am now filled with joy and have gratitude for every aspect of my life experience. I am indeed a spiritual being with a spiritual purpose to fulfill through my human experiences. It is very much a choice to take it to that level; we don’t all have to do it that way. But my level of joy is also unattainable any other way.
You described how I feel so perfectly. It’s exactly like being lost in the deep woods for me. I keep thinking I’ll find my way back to the light eventually but not for long. Thank you for the encouraging words, it really helps to know that I’m not alone.
I’m with you, Lisa. The lost in the woods metaphor describes my situation perfectly. Thought it was temporary but it is now been years — years that I’ll never get back. Truly hope you find your way out.
What an amazing article! What insight you shared! Several of my children had enormous losses and find it so difficult to cope and deal with these losses in a productive and healthy way. I don’t know what to say when they’ve chosen anger, drugs, alcohol, suicidal thoughts, jail, and bitterness toward family, especially parents.
This article gave me some understanding and tools to assist them rather than enabling.
Thank you Marc and Angel for sharing your hearts, encouragement and wisdom. Every point hit home. Between the years of 2002 to 2007, I lost
four family members. Three were sudden, unexpected deaths and one after a short illness. I recall being sad, confused, upset, etc. But I also recall needing to be strong and supportive for other family members. Recently, I have had great difficulty dealing with losing my loved ones, especially the ones whom I didn’t have the opportunity to say ‘goodbye’.
I am working on dealing with my grief, sadness, depression and anxiety. As much as I miss my family, I know my strength comes from their love, God’s guidance and wisdom and a thirst to read and learn about the multitude ways of dealing with and expressing grief. One of my goals is to use my experiences as a tool to help myself as well as others. I have also learned that the many expressions people offer after a loss are not helpful but are said, definitely, with love and compassion. “She’s in a better place”, “You’ll get over it”, “He’s not suffering”, are only a few of the many, well-meaning expressions of condolences that are offered. I recall having offered these same expressions myself! I learned that there will never be the perfect thing to say. Sometimes sitting silently with someone, a warm hug, a card/text to say “thinking of you” can be powerful and comforting. Personally, I’ve learned that grief is a very personal process. One size does NOT fit all.
I absolutely adore your blog posts! They’re so inspirational! I love what you do, and the things you post is exactly the kind of things I’m interested in.
One of the things that helped me the most was someone just held my hand, i honestly didn’t need another piece of advice or a well meaning words, i just needed a touch, and the hug you mentioned really matters–its a connection and when your depressed or like me in a (long time) of despair to be able to talk positive and make sense of things was simply too much. I will never forget how a great friend of mine just held my hand. Often we ask all the wrong questions… for me when i looked out of the window it all looked the same but something had shifted and how was i to try and explain that, it was impossible and still is. God says psalm 62v8 pour your heart out to me, and i asked God How long have you got, sounds funny buts that’s exactly what i did, and i just needed to be heard and i just needed to be accepted and i needed to be healed, i was broken into lots of pieces, and we can,t be fixed overnight , hopefully i can help someone in the future because there is nothing new under this sun as they say, and my small experience might be able to help someone else,
#1 and #2 were very helpful to me. I been dealing with depression for 9 years (since age 12) and I still struggle every week, every month, every year. I know I completely limit myself because of it due to my unreliable attendance for literally anything, losing jobs because I couldn’t get out of bed, ignoring friends until I lose them for good, and letting negative relationships completely engulf me and steal my identity. Although I feel hopeless when I’m “lost in the woods” beyond measure, Marc and Angel let the light in when I feel myself starting to veer off the path. For that I am grateful because many bad days have been lifted up or even almost completely avoided. Sometimes you need that confident voice of reason to play over the voices in your head, even if that confident voice isn’t yours. Thanks guys.
You guys should send this article to every magazine and newspaper for publishing. In all my time of dealing with the demon, ( as I like to call it) (the rat on my back is another) I’ve never seen the topic of depression articulated with such accuracy and understanding. You absolutely captured every which way depression can present itself. Well done you amazing people. The thing that helps me is my go to joy list…it’s a list of every single big or tiny thing I enjoy like or love. I always find something on it to help pull me out of my feelings even if only for a while. I call it the joy list because there is joy, you just have to keep doing the things that bring it into your life.