depression is a way your body tries to save you

Depression as a way your body tries to save you

Your body is like a house. The way you feel depends on what is happening inside and around it, and how much you care of this place. But life is often out of control. Tornados, floods, fires happen. Then – after difficult and full of stress experience – the house needs more of our effort to become a comfortable space for us again. And it is natural sometimes we have no power and no will to clean the house after a disaster. We would like to have a nice place back but looking at the mess is enough to feel exhausted. That’s depression – the state when we feel bad but we can’t do anything to change it, we can’t find any power within us to do something and the longer it takes, the more hopeless and helpless we feel.

After Peter Levine, a trauma therapist and an author of many great books, freezing the body is a normal reaction to a highly stressful experience. In the natural world, an animal which can’t evade a predator freezes to seem dead. The pretending to be carcass is its last chance to survive. This survival mechanism is typical to every creature, including humans. I believe it is helpful to understand that when we feel depressed, powerless, hopeless, our bodies are pretending they are dead to help us survive something that is happening to us, something that reminds us about a difficult event from the past or something what our subconsciousness judges as dangerous. In every case like those, our bodies try to rescue us from a situation without exit!

I’d like to highlight the part ‘what our subconsciousness judges as dangerous’ because some of us who suffer from depression say something like ‘I don’t understand why I feel this way, my life is not so bad, I should pull together’. In many situations, the way we feel is not based on our conscious perception. We are a part of the natural world, we have the same survival instincts as animals but our environment is full of stimuli. The place we live in is not a forest or a meadow with flowers and butterflies. Instead of those, we are surrounded by sounds of civilization everywhere, we have too much work to do and not enough free time to rest.

That’s the constant speed with focus on things which happen not only around us but all over the world. Never before we had access to such a tremendous number of information. Never before we were focused on something else than ourselves and the part of the world close to us. Our subconsciousness has a lot of material to check if we are safe or not, doesn’t it? No wonder our conscious perception doesn’t notice everything we would like to know, don’t you think?   

So when we suffer from depression or we are just unable to find some balance after a very stressful experience, it is good to thank our bodies for the try to save our lives and help them to feel we are safe again and there is no need to rescue us anymore. We need to provide ourselves some time with no pressure to do anything. No thinking about anyone else and no duties! Our job is to find the safe place to relax and rest there as long as we need to feel better. Our job is to show our bodies we are not in danger anymore. Our job is to provide ourselves good care.

If you are interested in the methods to let your body feel safe again, check the next posts. You can use a tag ‘tools and methods’ to find them.

The photo was taken by Lee_seonghak