like a millstone, can drag people into immobility. They can't work.
They can't take care of themselves. They can't take care of others.
Once productive pursuit is eliminated, inactivity lets the mind chew on itself,
viewing and reviewing an expanding repertory of lousy feelings. As people
who have been seriously depressed know, this spiraling descent into hopelessness
is powerfully destructive. It can be fatal. It's the worst and most
terrifying enemy most of us ever have to encounter. And because the enemy
is invisible, yet entirely encompassing, it is difficult to resist or combat.
hopelessness as the enemy is the first counteroffensive. This can give
people distance from depression, because "it" then has an
identity. They can come to distinguish the sentiments of despair as they
occur. Once it is recognizable, hopelessness is not so pervasive; it has
its own boundaries like a separate country.
patients must engage hopelessness in a battle as if it were Satan himself.
It's a war, not a skirmish. They can, either on their own or with
professional help, develop a combat strategy and start implementing its
tactics. The short-term tactic is distraction, to force thoughts away from
succumbing to the lethal hopelessness. Effective distractions are
different for everyone. One person must get outside. Another should
read. Exercise. Meditate. There are many options, but activity
is essential. Get out that calendar and jam it with pursuits.
force of hopelessness will attempt to bleed enthusiasm from these distractions
and there is a tendency to trivialize their worth. But distractions, by
their very nature, have the ability to focus the mind elsewhere, even demand
that it go elsewhere. And these short-term approaches may naturally
suggest another more challenging involvement that will, if cultivated, grow into
passion. Passion is the all-encompassing opposite of hopelessness.
Like a Shrink, by Emanuel
H. Rosen, M.D.
said, "A depression is a blessing of God. I mean, in the individual
it's the greatest blessing somebody can have." Jung always talked
about the blessing of a neurosis because it's the only way you are tempted to
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