my sister sent me yet another email educating me on the mindfulness process. this time it came with a video.
the video has a premise that mindfulness is like living in blue sky. even in a hurricane, the blue sky is still there; it’s only a matter of finding the way back to it.
this is my response on how she could help me find a way back to my patch of blue sky.
the blue sky is always there. the question is how to get back. while in a hurricane, the thought of blue sky seems impossible. the swirl of the hurricane works to bind depressed people in. while in the hurricane the thought of mindfulness is just a pipe dream since energy seems to go almost exclusively to keeping one’s head above water.
something exists that can shorten or even make the trip to blue skies even possible, acknowledgments. they help to remind someone they are okay and even lovable as they are and where they are. not hearing this helps to keep them trapped in the whirling hurricane since they have such a great discomfort with who and where they are. surprisingly the message that, “you’re okay even though you’re troubled.”, serves to work on self-acceptance and helps to disperse the power of the hurricane.
unfortunately, one acknowledgment can not free someone from a hurricane, especially if it is a class 5 mega-hurricane. it takes many acknowledgments to allow for an escape from the hurricane. at times, straying from acknowledgments to other types of support such as solutions, devil’s advocate, comparison or measurement, and misplaced accountability, remind them of their flaws. these all remind the person struggling to get out of the hurricane of their brokenness. generally, people who get sucked in a hurricane are very good at piling on, so they hear the brokenness message and add some more to the brokenness message just for safe measure.
so, what’s the best way to acknowledge. i have come to recognize four types of acknowledgments. they are acknowledge the person, acknowledge the journey, both good and bad, acknowledge their accomplishments, and acknowledge hope. here’s some examples and why they work.
acknowledge the person
i’m glad your here.
i’m glad you’re my sister.
it’s good to see you.
i’m look forward to seeing you.
these statements help to humanize and recognize them as a being. not only a being, but someone who is worthy to be a friend/brother/lover just where they are.
acknowledge the journey, both good and bad
that sounds exciting.
way to go.
you handled that well.
you do ________/that well.
your struggle serves as an inspiration to me.
you are worthy of __________/being free of a given struggle.
your progress inspires awe.
so often in the hurricane, it becomes easy to lose track of the journey. acknowledging the good parts of the journey serves as a reminder that they have done good(sic). acknowledging the bad parts of the journey not only proves that you are listening, it lets them know the hurricane sucks, and their journey is important to you even though they struggle. and finally, that they are worthy of help.
acknowledge their accomplishments
i honor you for __________/doing that.
recognize that you made it through _________.
thanks for __________/what you do for me.
in the hurricane, much of our energy goes to survival. those people can’t see or recognize their accomplishments. by acknowledging their accomplishments, you say, you done good (sic). the reminds the person in the hurricane of their accomplishment. this serves double duty since they can then feel good for both the recognition and the accomplishment.
i am here to support you.
i hope you will get on top of yours struggles.
i hope you will persevere.
i have hope that you will rise above your struggles.
in the hurricane, thrashing about and gasping for air, the feeling of doom with every wave, rain drop and gust of wind increases. despair, the lack of most of their hope, becomes a true possibility. people who lose all hope, give up and sink into the abyss. someone’s got to fill the struggling people’s hope tank, remind them that they can make it through, be their rah rah.
with enough acknowledging the person can finally catch their breath and have some energy to spare. they can swim for a little while, and see a beach. now they can finally imagine laying on the beach. the thought of mindfulness becomes a possibility. they can now imagine laying out on a beach and taking in the blue sky.
i recognize this may be a lot to digest. these ideas are made even more foreign by our upbringing. unfortunately, or i guess fortunately, depending how you look at it, it has taken me many cycles of depression to accumulate this knowledge. i hope this helps you understand the process of recovering from depression a little bit more and can be an aid to you.
unfortunately, society works against us, too. our society has become a solution based society. we are taught to solve problems from a young age. acknowledgments are disappearing from society. people have forgotten about then or have minimized their importance. without the acknowledgments, people more easily lose track of who and where they are. if you ask me, that becomes a detriment to the very society we live it.
if you take only one thing from this, remember, emotions carry no value of right or wrong; they just are. no matter how you try, they can’t be solved. they can be acknowledged, though, and that acknowledgment helps to calm the storm.
p.s. acknowledgments are equally effective for all. they serve as a little pick me up. they don’t only help depressed people.
Really appreciated the thoughts you shared here, and the suggested acknowledgements are truly helpful. The last ones, though, under “hope” would annoy me. In my periods of depression these would have rung very hollow, even downright piss me off because they suggest I am supposed to DO something about improving my condition, which I honestly can’t.
In the end, it was through accepting my feelings and embracing the overwhelming cloud and knowing it would clear when I was ready that helped me deal most effectively. Like quicksand, the struggle only made things worse for me. Being gentle and taking care of my hurting self brought healing.
hope is not about having to do something about your condition. hope is not about denying your situation. hope is meant to serve as a reminder that there may be something beyond the condition and situation that you find yourself in. you may be blind to see them because of your condition or situation, but they still exist.
the absence of hope is despair. someone knows there there when they get a message of hope and the only response they can think of is to bash the gifter in the nose. hope! bullshit! i’ll have none of that! i don’t have any hope.” Ya, i’ve been there, i’ve seen it many times before in the support meetings i attend. every time i hear despair, it scares me.
when a recipient finds themselves in that place, that’s when they most need to hear the message of hope. Ya, they don’t want to hear it and they just want to punch someone, but they need to hear it. Hopefully, a chink in the armor will form and open a path back were they feel hopeful, again. without that, the choice to not go on becomes precariously close.
i’ve taking your comment to heart. It has caused me to think further and more tightly formulate my ideas on acknowledgements. thank you. here are the results.
first, a definition. acknowledgement: non-judgemental words or actions that offer a immediate feeling to someone that they are okay where they are and with who they are.
as you recognized, the first three fit that bill; hope doesn’t. hope can still be thought of as a type of support, just not an acknowledgement. firstly, hope is the future; it talks about a place to be, not where they are. secondly, hope potentially carries judgement. if i don’t find myself at the hoped for place now, it could trigger self judgement. it could be i’m a loser for not being at that hoped for place to the pissed off feeling you described.
i honor you for respectfully challenging my ideas. that challenge has helped me to further formulate my thoughts and make them better.
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I’m impressed by your receptive attitude. That indicates real character. THAT can certainly give you hope 🙂
My objection to the particular affirmations you gave (only examples, I realize) was that each of them sounded like I wasn’t accepted where I am. There seemed to me an underlying implication that I need to somehow get myself out of the depression. Which you and I both know is impossible. What we can do is take care of ourselves where we are and let ourselves heal and get better. Would you say “I hope you rise above your struggles” to someone who has just lost a loved one? But you can offer hope in that you believe that they will get through this… that there will be sunshine
i understand your objections, though i’ve seen it work at least four times.
i’ve approached four different people who said they were in depression, one who had checked themselves out of the hospital because they weren’t getting closer to getting out of their depression. i sent 2-3 acknowledgments a day as outlined above. everyone felt better after just a week. one person gave me a hug of thanks. that surprised the bejesus out of me because i didn’t think they would have been capable of this type of display of affection.
I understand that acknowledgments probably wouldn’t continue at a 100% success rate, but I have found them to be affective.
I find acknowledgments to be (excuse the generalization here, I couldn’t think a good way to say this without a whole bunch of words) a statement by me about what I see in you. my experience is those reminders do make a difference.
… That life will once again feel normal. In a lot of ways depression is a waiting game.
I think you have wonderful insight and you obviously think carefully about your approach to handling this “disease.”
thank you. I appreciate the feed back, positive on top of that. that’s a bonus!
that’s what 7 some odd cycles along with over 2 years on this cycle on does for me. i assimilate waaaay too much knowledge about depression. my hope is I can write a book, decimate information that can help a bunch of depressed people get better support, and it the process, get better sooner.
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