Love Letter to a Depressed Friend
My Dear Friend,
Our mutual confidante revealed to me that you’ve been struggling with depression and despair recently — feeling that all is lost. My heart is heavy because I cannot be there with you now...know that if I were, I would sit beside you on that overstuffed couch under the front window, hold your hand, and share with you some things that I have come to realize. Since our distance makes this an impossibility, I hope it’s OK for me to share with you here on these pages. I share these things with the intent that you might also realize something new, something that will bring you relief and comfort.
First of all, please know that it is perfectly fine, in fact more than fine - it is quite normal, to have so called “bad” thoughts and feelings. Every conscious human on the planet has an infinite variety of thoughts and feelings passing through them all day long and there’s nothing inherently wrong with having “bad” ones. It is only our categorizing of them that makes them “bad.” Without this judgement, there are only thoughts and feelings.
I do enjoy how Rumi expressed this in his poem...
“The Guest House”
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
This poem is a delight and speaks so eloquently of the qualities of a flowing, internal human experience. In a far less poetic timber, I would argue that these guests don’t actually require any attention. Not only will they come uninvited, they will also leave, the same way, in their own time. The only guarantee is the guarantee of movement, because just as the rest of nature, the human experience is never static.
When my daughter was barely a month old, I was holding her in my arms and the most beautiful feeling came over me. I closed my eyes and tried to hold it there, to remember the sweetness of it, the light touch of her soft cheek, the sparkle in her eye, the delightful scent that is exclusively bestowed on newborns. Yet no matter my efforts, that magical moment did pass…and while I’ve had many beautiful feelings since, each is unique. Each has it’s own qualities, it’s own personality, and none of them stay forever.
While this may seem a tragedy at first glance, it is actually quite hopeful. Because it means too that when the feelings of judgement, frustration, anger, worthlessness or despair come, they also must move on. We can grab on to them, we can try to shut the door to the house and lock them inside, we can think there is something wrong with us because they arrived, but they will move on. They move on even more rapidly when we realize their nature and our relationship; we realize this guesthouse is not a stagnant jail with everyone barred inside, but a wide open hacienda, with many doors to and from the veranda.
No matter how many unsavory characters come to visit the guesthouse of your mind, please remember that you are not they. The thoughts and feelings that flow through the hallways of your mind are NOT who you are. They are an energy that comes and goes, an energy that is sometimes helpful, and sometimes not, but it is always flowing and it is not yours to control. We can hope for those most beautiful guests wearing the labels of “joy” and “bliss”, but we cannot make them appear on command. This is a very great and widespread, albeit innocent misunderstanding. We think that if we manipulate the circumstances around us then eventually we will have only delightful guests cross the threshold, but this is not possible.
This one misunderstanding alone has caused countless volumes of pain and fruitless effort. If this were true, then those who have good circumstances, would always have a good feeling and those with bad circumstances would always have a bad feeling. It takes very little to see that this is absolutely not so. I have been to the refugee camps… the people there are not without laughter. I have been to the elite yacht clubs… the people there are not without pain.
Most importantly my friend, as you see these things for yourself there is one conclusion that may come to you, but it is significant enough that I would like to draw attention to it. This is the fact that you are not broken. Even in the darkness of the night, when all the remote corners of your house are occupied by sorrows, know that your house cannot be broken. The mind, like the body, is resilient. It is often the idea that it is not that keeps us from realizing our own peace. You are not broken, you are not damaged, you are not incomplete — you are simply entertaining guests.
I do hope we’ll find a way to be together soon. In the meantime, know that I am happy to talk to you anytime, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I have only shared the tip of the iceberg here and imagine you may have questions. Even though I help people by sharing this understanding in my workshops, you know I am not a psychologist, or psychiatrist. If you would feel better talking with someone licensed I know of some beautiful souls who qualify and they also know that you are whole and well, and that there is great reason for hope. Just write me and we can figure out who might be the best fit.
Sending you all my love,