Saturday, March 28, 2009

Natural Depression

Natural depression is a term I am often asked by people who come to see me for treatment. I personally do not believe that depression is a natural state to be in if you are a healthy human being living your life under the best conditions that meet all your essential needs. However, I am certain that depression will affect each one of us somehow, some way at some time in our lives, regardless of whether you are healthy or not. Therefore with regards to depression being a normal or unavoidable circumstance in a person's life, then yes, I would say that there is such a thing as natural depression.

Natural depression is a process that is commonly expected from someone who has just experienced some form of loss in his or her life:
  • the death of a loved one, be it a person or a beloved pet
  • losing a job
  • losing a partner due to a divorce or a break-up
  • losing a home
  • a failed business venture or investment
  • losing a friend through a misunderstanding or a fight
These are all valid reasons for someone to undergo natural depression.

Natural depression occurs during times of loss because our normal routine as well as the order we have set up in our lives are suddenly disrupted by a tragic event. That is why grieving is an expected behavior from a person who has just experienced loss because as human beings, we are aware of the emotional and mental pain this incurs in a person's life. As a matter of fact, society respects a person who is in mourning and allows them the time, space and privacy to overcome this trial in his or her life.

Natural depression associated with loss is considered a purging of one's soul and should be allowed to unfold on its own time so that the individual can surface from it with a valuable life lesson. Through sadness, one begins to reevaluate his or her life and develop new perspectives regarding what he or she considers valuable in life. Consequently, the person begins to have new priorities and proceeds to make changes in his or her life -- they could either be big or small changes -- but the process will certainly contribute to his or her personal growth.

As for depression that occurs for no apparent reason, then there are more factors that need to be considered, some may be biochemical while others could be physiological. In this case, depression is in no way considered "natural" however the symptom of being depressed is indeed a natural result of the underlying cause.

Possible causes of natural depression in these cases are:

  • Stress - lowers the immune system and can disrupt the brain's normal chemistry by lowering its ability to produce sufficient amounts of serotonin
  • Unbalanced and nutritionally deficient diet
  • Insomnia or sleep deprivation -- disrupts the production of melatonin as well as the body's circadian rhythms
  • No exercise or lack thereof -- people who exercise regularly are able to produce sufficient amounts of dopamine and endorphins, called "happy hormones" therefore making it highly unlikely for them to suffer from depression three times more than those who have no exercise routine at all
  • Alcohol and drug abuse -- alcohol is a natural brain depressant while illegal drugs can alter the brain's chemistry which is a major cause of depression
  • Prescription drugs -- sadly, medications that people use to contain a chronic disease is also responsible for causing depression. Examples of these are anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines, birth control pills, sedatives, etc.
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Yeast infections
  • Parasitic infections
  • Hypothyroidism/ Hyperthyroidism
If you suffer from depression that is not caused by grief or loss, seek medical attention immediately to rule out any of the factors listed above. Of course, there are a lot more factors responsible for causing symptoms of natural depression but the ones I have included here are the most common.

In addition to seeking help from a medical practitioner, it would also be advisable to complement this with some form of natural therapy to help you deal with the painful and debilitating effects of depression, especially if the problem is a product of the unconscious mind. Sometimes it is only a matter of being conscious and aware when depression shows up in your life; why it is present in your life; how it affects you; and how you can arrest it from developing into something bigger that could cause further complications in your life.

I personally experienced a year-long depression myself when my marriage fell apart but I was still able to function normally through the help of natural therapies. Although I was only able to handle simple and routinized tasks, it was enough to slowly build my self-esteem, courage and determination until I was finally able to overcome the disease. However, I was also fortunate to have family and friends close by to give me all the love and support I needed to get through that difficult period in my life.

Natural depression is not a problem that should be a cause for alarm. Yes, it is not something to be taken lightly, however, find comfort in the knowledge that it is curable as well as containable. Do not think you are going crazy (even if it sometimes feels that way) and never think that it is the end of the world. There are solutions to everything and there are people who are fully qualified to help you through your depression. Also, never forget that you have family and friends who care and love you and will give you all their support if you ask for it. Often times, it is through the generosity, unconditional love and compassion of others that one becomes fully healed from natural depression.

Loving You

photograph courtesy of

Loving yourself may sound like the easiest thing to do, but I will be the first one to tell you that it is more difficult than it sounds. Loving you in the truest, purest and most honest form is no easy feat; not even for Narcissists or people we normally label as "selfish" or think of no one else but themselves. In fact, you'll be surprised to know that they are even further off from loving themselves than what their actions imply.
Loving you for who you are, not just for your good points but for your bad points as well, does not only ask for self-awareness and objectivity on your part, it also requires an open mind, a humble heart and a good sense of humor. Finding out about your weaknesses, bad habits and unpleasant qualities are painful enough realizations for one to accept, but if you take it to heart in an unhealthy way and allow it to consume you with guilt, regret, and a need to blame someone else for who you are, then you are no way near the powerful gift of loving you.

My personal challenge in life since I was a child has always been about loving me for who I truly am; and that includes the person I was in the past, the person I have become and the person I am destined to be. This inability to love myself stemmed from sexual molestation and abuse that I experienced in my childhood, teenage and adult years. These ordeals developed within me a sense of shame, self-loathing, disgust, anger and disloyalty to my own being which then made me go through life without any love or concern for my own needs and my own rights.

Almost three-fourths of all the decisions I made in my 39 years of existence were based on wanting to serve others, to please others and to win everyone's approval and love at my own expense. This attitude and outlook towards love and relationships attracted more abusers into my life and by the time I was married and had my first child, it was only then that I woke up one day and realized I was completely miserable and felt I was of no value to anyone or anything whatsoever.

I had a beautiful son, a lovely home and a husband who was seemingly very caring and loving towards me yet I could not understand why I was in complete despair and comsumed by feelings of utter helplessness, worthlessness and insignificance. To me, life always seemed so difficult, cruel and so unforgiving that despite the fact I would give out my heart and soul to everyone around me including my work, I always found myself sucked dry and drained of all energy and love until I had nothing left to give.

After attending an amazing healing workshop one weekend called Loving Relationship, I realized I was deeply entangled in a recurring pattern that perpetually left me powerless, abused and beaten down all the time and the abuser who was responsible for making me feel this way was none other than Michelle -- me.
The people in my life who loved me and still love me unconditionally in the truest sense of the word, like my family and my closest friends, could never understand why it always seemed like they loved me more than I loved myself. After that weekend, I finally knew why and I understood why my life was such an unhappy one. The Loving Relationship workshop was not about your relationship with others, it was about having a loving relationship with yourself -- a workshop aimed at loving you.

Now I never dismissed the fact that there were real people who abused me as a child, as a teenager and as an adult, and I never disregarded the crimes they committed against me. But the crime has been done and there is nothing more I can do about it. It does not matter that I cannot turn back time and change things. What matters to me is that I have moved on from my past and my pain and have risen above my feelings of shame, guilt, self-loathing, anger and disloyalty. I forgave my abusers and most importantly, I forgave myself.

You may not agree with my opinion and I respect your own views regarding this matter, but I believe that what you put out into the Universe is what will come back to you two-fold. I believe in Divine justice and I know that the people who have done me wrong will eventually pay for their wrongdoings in the proper time, if they haven't already. But I never felt the need to carry out the punishment myself. I have forgiven them for their crimes and I sincerely have no hatred in my heart for any one of them. For me, I still came out the victor in this major trial in my life and my reward is the ability to love myself for who I truly am.

Part of the process of loving you requires you to undergo some of the darkest periods in your life for it is only during these major trials that you learn more about yourself. With this learning comes the next difficult step:
  1. Do you choose to stay a victim for the rest of your life, endlessly pointing fingers at everybody else for their mistakes while feeling sorry for yourself?
  2. Do you choose to seek revenge and become the next abuser, wrecking havoc and causing pain to everybody around you for the pain others have caused you?
  3. Do you choose to cut yourself off from the painful realities occuring in your life and numb yourself to the point of becoming disconnected and indifferent towards people and the world around you?
  4. Or do you choose to overcome your pain and seek to be a better person from who you were before, at the same time free yourself from negative thoughts and emotions that suppress you from becoming the best you can be?

Loving you can only be attained by choosing the fourth option. I do not promise that the journey will be an easy one. In fact, it is no way near as simple as I have written it out to be. It can be a long drawn process of moving two steps forward and one step back (as mine seemed to have been in the span of four to five years). But by choosing to work on yourself; by being honest and true to yourself; and learning to laugh at your own mistakes without judgment or deminishing who you are; YOU will eventually be rewarded with the beautiful and liberating gift of loving you.

Body Mind Healing

Body Mind Healing is quickly gaining popularity not only around the globe, but here in the Philippines as well. There is a growing demand for coaches and healers who can effectively teach and assist people, not only for educational purposes, but as a practice they can incorporate in their daily lives to relieve stress, brain fog, depression and a whole range of debilitating diseases including dealing with the realities of death through body mind healing.

Body Mind Healing evolved from the common principle called "mind over matter", a phrase widely received in the 1960s and 1970s as a spiritual and philosophical belief that the mind is more powerful than the human body. By conscious intention and determination, body mind healing is the practice of restoring the body to its normal and healthy state in conjunction with another form of treatment, either through traditional medicine or through natural means.

As a manual therapist and spiritual coach, I often inform my patients before we even begin our first session that I can only do 50% of the work; the other 50% has to come from their own conscious effort and dedication to become better. I have patients who could barely walk when they first come to me due to paralysis on one side of the body brought on by a stroke. But because they refuse to let their bodies cripple them and limit the remaining years of their lives in this condition, they incorporate a body mind healing practice into their medical treatment and physical therapy. Before long, they are able to walk solely by themselves and find that they are not only healthier and more fit physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.

Body Mind Healing, simply put, is any form of therapy that clears your mind of negative thoughts and a defeated attitude towards a disease or illness that you are physically suffering from. If you hear a person say he no longer wants to "go on living" or claims he no longer "has the energy to fight the disease" would indeed benefit greatly from body mind healing.

However, be careful not to misinterpret a person who says he is "at one with his Maker", is "ready to go" or who says he is "at peace" as someone who is harboring negative thoughts or has given up on himself, especially if the person is suffering from a fatal disease and does not have much time left to live. None of us will live forever in a physical sense so allow a human being to pass on from this world when he is prepared to do so. If you find that it is you who is having difficulty letting go of a person whose time is up, then you may be the one who needs a body mind healing.

On the other end of the spectrum, a person languishing from a fatal disease and has been painfully suffering for a long time but cannot relinquish life either out of concern and worry over the family he will leave behind; feelings of guilt; unresolved conflicts with people in his life that matter to him or unsettled issues would also be greatly assisted by a body mind healing. A couple of sessions would easily help him let go of these "unfinished business" in his psyche, and in doing so, will give him the sense of closure and peace of mind he will need to move on to the afterlife.

Body mind healing is a natural and harmless technique that anyone can undertake through the guidance of a qualified and proficient coach. Practices like:
  • meditation,
  • Conscious Rebirthing,
  • Qi-Gong,
  • Reiki,
  • yoga
  • aura cleansing and balancing
are only some of the gentle holistic therapies that produce amazing and life-changing results. It is your rightful privilege to feel empowered, at peace, happy and content with your life. Do not allow external factors to get the better of you or make you feel like you have no control over your own life anymore. Whenever this happens to you, know that it is merely your own inner fears preventing you from living your life to the fullest and the best way to realize this and solve this problem is embarking on a practice that involves body mind healing.