Depression’s Maze of Mirrors

     In my hometown, there was once a tourist attraction called, The Mystery Fun House. One of its many chambers was a dimly lit mirror maze built with serpentine, mirrored walls. In the maze, inevitably you’d get turned around and completely lose any perception of where you were or how to get out. Because of the opposing mirrors, you couldn’t trust your eyes; and because of the way sound bounced off the mirrored walls, you couldn’t trust your ears. Even worse, the endless reflections made it impossible for your mind to create a map of where you’d been or how you’d progressed. There was a trick, however, to beat the maze. All you had to do upon entering it was stay in contact with one of the walls. Because all the walls in the maze were connected - including the one next to the exit - if you felt your way through the maze, you’d get out easily.

     Chronic depression is a torturous mirror maze for many people. External circumstances, relationships, societal norms, and even mass media can cause us to lose sight of what’s important in life or what’s true about ourselves. Our mind begins to believe the distorted and warped reflections of our environment. And without stopping to question our thoughts, these distortions appear more and more real. Unaware that this world of delusion is being created by us, we begin shadowboxing with a head full of lies.

     Just like an actual maze of mirrors, it’s difficult to think ourselves out of depression. In order to feel our way out, we must shut down the mistaken perspective from which our negative self-talk is coming. To do this, don’t think… feel. You can think your way into despair, or you can feel your way into gratitude. You can think that all hope is lost, or you can feel that love and connectedness are all around you. You can think yourself into the stressful perspective that the world is on your shoulders, or you can feel the guidance and support of a presence that is much bigger than you alone. And you can have fearful thoughts of loss, or you can feel yourself embracing change. To navigate these choices and these voices, remember that thought-based lies forcefully scream at you, but feeling-based wisdom gently whispers to you. Hearing this whispered wisdom cannot be done without quieting your mind. Making time to maintain balance and sanity through things like meditation, exercise, or being in nature is extremely helpful.   

     It’s important to pause here and recognize that far too many chronically depressed souls opt for suicide. Yet nothing is escaped or destroyed with suicide. Who we are is something indestructible, and our soul’s path to unimaginable happiness is unavoidable. Suicide represents a frustrated pause on that path, not an ending. It’s similar to tripping the “tilt” sensor on an old pinball machine while shaking it to manipulate where the ball goes. Suicide’s metaphorical shaking of life’s machine trips the “tilt” sensor, ending that particular turn. But what happens next, of course, is that a new ball emerges for another turn… and another… and another… unconditionally and unendingly. We are not our minds, we are not our bodies, and we are not our problems. We are something far greater than that, and we’ll keep playing this mysterious, blindfolded game of life until we grow beyond our delusions to discover the truth.  

         It is not the intention of this post to discount an individual’s predisposition toward depression. We’re all “wired” in different ways. But don’t be too quick to think that enduring happiness is out of reach because of your genetic “wiring.” Thinking so is believing a lie and shortchanging your full potential. There is nothing in the human experience - physical or mental - that cannot be overridden by spiritual awakening. Who and what you really are is truly that powerful. All it takes to access that power is a bit of humility, a sliver of openness, and a dash of optimism. There’s always something unexpectedly new and wonderful to be discovered in your life. When you are earnestly open to that possibility, the wonderfully unexpected… will find you.

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