What is freedom? Is it the ability to do whatever we like? Freedom is the opposite of imprisonment. We can be imprisoned in a cell or within our mind. I believe the thinking man would prefer the jail cell to mental discord. Although it seems to me, there is no worse incarceration as depression or psychological maladies. Is there a cure? Psychology sometimes has the answer, and psychotic drugs can help. I know depression as a friend, it warns me to look carefully at my surrounding environment and who or what may be demanding too much of my life. Depression’s greatest foe is understanding and acceptance. Once the illness is accepted the source can be discovered. You see while looking for a ‘cure’ to quiet the ‘black dog,’ we ignore the reason the hound resides in mind.
Depression instills a feeling of helplessness in mind. It is an insipid weakness which flows through the imagination like smog, choking creativity and wellbeing. Once the thoughts are focussed on the despair of the illness, the mind is overwhelmed and cannot accept anything as good. In the shadows of the malady, nothing seems bright or right.
The question ‘why me? Is easily answered ‘there is no single reason, all lifetimes have nights and days.’ The real danger is false beliefs born from repetitive thinking, the worse being: ‘I cannot shake this depression’ The illness will take us to the edge of a precipice. The fall ‘over the edge’ is inevitable and the mind spirals down into the valley of desolation. The valley is dry river bed, this has to be followed. In time the mind arrives at a more sinister place: the desert of barren thought: in this wilderness, the victim sees nothing of value or importance.
Self-respect is soon lost, without self-respect, there is no respect for others and before long relationships collapse. The dog barks louder, and the external world is fragmented by fear. Mistakes become a sinister aspect of daily life, aspects of work or employment no longer matter and in time the vocation is lost. Financial difficulties are the next stage. The hound is now wild, and out of control, it is a rabid animal, and the victim is running in fear of a fatal bite.
There is a strange phenomenon of depression. Somewhere in mind, there is knowledge of a route to safety. Unfortunately, the consciousness does not realise the way to freedom is a paradox. The more the depression is fought, the more it fogs the mind. The route to safety is seen as a symptom, not a cure. Everything is now falling apart, relationships, friendships, employment, financial security. No one listens anymore, choices are running out, the victim hangs onto anything remaining, the last remnants of when life was good and secure. Now the crossroads approaches, we have to accept few continue to care, they have had enough, they have their own lives to lead. And the worse thing they do is agree or capitulate to the depressive’s whims, they will agree to anything, rather than speak the truth. The truth is they cannot see the turmoil in mind. You ask ‘will I be alright’ they answer ‘of course’ knowing full well the question is asked a hundred times.
Some surrender in suicide. Others who have lost all become aware of a miracle. During the last moments of the fight, the hound dies. Even so: all is lost no family, friends or employment. Abject and complete failure now means there is nothing left. No pride, respect, love, hate, happiness or unhappiness. The feeling is one of space and vacancy. The victim lays prostrate on the desert wilderness, and as he takes stock of the illness, he sees there are shoots of new beginnings growing in the sand. The mind has won: it has demonstrated a hidden strength: the power of self-destruction. The depressive has fought and struggled with the dog and is exhausted; the battle is drawing to a close.
The survivor now rises to a more significant challenge: it matters not which direction he takes: any destination is safe: there is nothing to lose when one has nothing. Venturing into the future, he may experiences an epiphany. The magnitude of this realisation will take time to rise into the conscious mind. It is a first awareness of the ‘Paradox of Freedom’. Before the depression his real being desired freedom. The relationship was wrong; friendships were false, employment was slavery. He attached himself to people, possessions, and situations which were not matched to his being. During the depression, he fought against his actual being.
Believing he was the reason for the darkness when in truth the environment was the darkness. His mind retaliated against the resistance by destroying all which prevented him being his true self. The fact is the mind will destroy the environment which is opposed to its real needs, desire or purpose. Over many years the external environment forced him away from his true self. The poverty, anger, frustration, arguments, self-abuse, and addictions enforced by the personal unconscious are the only way to freedom. Although, the destruction of past, association, possession, and values inflicts great pain and desolation. The loss of everything from the history is metamorphosed, it becomes tabula rasa. He can begin again, and this time he will follow his true self.
The reality of owning nothing can seem bleak. Until its full implication is realised, there are two other lessons to learn. The first lesson learned is we must find our true self and the second is the ‘Paradox of Freedom.’ If he takes time to learn the teaching of the paradox, he will not experience long-term depression again, if at all.
The paradox is this: –
The desire to possess depresses the mind from the fear of losing all.
With nothing, we are free to do as we desire. And then we find ourselves.
And free ourselves from the black dog.