Conversations with Myself: Accepting the Past

There are times when I try to shut out a part of the past that makes me uncomfortable. I guess it’s the opposite of the tendency to obsess about everything I ever did wrong. (For example – reliving that humiliating interview 43 years ago, or that meeting I mishandled in 1995, or a hundred others.) Whether I’m trying to forget or can’t stop reliving those long-gone episodes, the effect is [...] Read the rest»

Young man acting on stage

Inner Beliefs and Outer Action

A few months ago, I found a picture of myself from college years that gave no hint of the turmoil of inner beliefs I held at the time. There I was, a lean young guy, sporting a cigarette for a role I was acting. The strange thing about this is that at the time I was telling myself I was stupid and fat. I believed I was ugly, awkward and [...] Read the rest»

Smoke from Wild Fire

Compassion for a Burned Man

I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary that evening, but I wound up in the hospital with a burned hand and, at least in retrospect, a little insight about compassion. It started after work one day when I had just sat down at the kitchen table with a glass of water to stare at the mail. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my 5 year-old son [...] Read the rest»

Red and yellow lilies in vase

Fighting Self-Compassion

Strange as it may seem, I find myself fighting therapeutic approaches based on self-compassion. The reasons run deep and reveal a lot about the difficulty of trying to get depression completely out of my life. In a recent newsletter, I summarized Kristin Neff’s idea of self-compassion as a way of relating to ourselves that is more helpful than the commonly used idea of self-esteem. Instead of focusing on self-worth as [...] Read the rest»

Self-Acceptance and Depression

Depression is the opposite of many qualities of well-being, and one of them is self-acceptance. Until recently, I hadn’t spent much time in that inner place. Self-rejection had been much more familiar. I came to know every corner of its neighborhood. There have been many times when I felt fine with my life, but later I’d realize I had been overlooking everything too painful to face. When I added all [...] Read the rest»

Has Depression Become Part of Your Identity?

I can pinpoint a moment when I came to believe that depression was not just an illness that struck from time to time but part of my identity as a person. I was talking with a friend one day about how big a problem depression had become. He thought it must be brought on by feelings that life had no meaning. I told him it wasn’t like that at all. [...] Read the rest»

Stories to Explain My Life with Depression

Stories can be an immediate and moving way to learn about someone because they evoke the feelings and experience that factual details never can. When told with honesty and sincerity, a story helps establish a bond of trust because the teller has been willing to open such personal insight to the listener. For me, certain stories have served another purpose even more vital than forming connections with other people. Those [...] Read the rest»

What Do You See in the Mirror When You’re Depressed?

Some Rights Reserved by Atiqah Aekman W. at Flickr Here’s a post I wrote at Health Central about a year ago. There are a couple of China Beach stories I keep coming back to, and I hope this one is as helpful to you as it has been to me. Quite a while back, there was a TV series about a group of nurses in the Vietnam War. It was [...] Read the rest»