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Depression Is a Choice: Winning the Fight without Drugs

by A. B. Curtiss

Chapter One


The moment I felt depressed, it never occurred to me to do anything else but be depressed. The progression from a feeling of depression to being a depressed person was a foregone conclusion that I never questioned.

Depression always ends. Not because of Prozac. Not because of psychotherapy. Not because of psychoanalysis or shock treatments. Depression always ends because it is in the very nature of depression to end. The only question is, how can we get it to end sooner, the way we want it to, instead of later, which we hate?

The answer is that we have to learn to think about depression in a different way. But it is not going to be enough to simply consider new ideas from a safe distance. We have to get down on our hands and knees with a magnifying glass and crawl around inside of the beliefs we have for so long relied on. It is not going to be enough to consider what we think. We have to consider how we think because the problem of depression lies in the very gears of our thinking process.

To do this we must entertain some rather esoteric ideas that we cannot so easily dismiss with our ready-made answers. There are wonderful clues in ancient paradoxes, like koans: What is the sound of one hand clapping? These clues can reach beyond our normal considerations to some uninvented part of us that we are not normally in touch with. They help us learn to think sideways, intuitively, restructuredly — all the better to match wits with our depression.

Depression makes us fear that we will never be truly happy because we see how our happiness can be blown away in an instant, like straws in a hurricane, and absolutely nothing remains to comfort us in our anguish.

We need not be afraid. We do not need comfort. It is not true that all our happiness has fled and what we are suffering is the pain of its loss. Our essential capacity for happiness is not something we can get back or acquire, no matter how hard we try, because it is our natural state. What happens is that depression covers over our natural state and tricks us into thinking that we don't have it anymore. When we properly address our depression, it relinquishes its hold upon us, and we find ourselves once again in the bedrock of our infinite okayness. Practically speaking, happiness is unlearned depression.

Our essential happiness is not conditional. Conditional happiness cannot pass for essential happiness any more than being serially grateful for disparate things can pass for a state of infinite and abiding gratitude. Conditional gratitude, where we see something that causes us to be grateful, is not the same as essential gratitude, where being grateful causes us to see something. Conditional happiness, the temporary excitement of having what we want, is not the same thing as essential happiness, the transcendent awareness that we can want what we have. Conditional happiness is a feeling that comes and goes. Essential happiness is our original state of well-being that is always available to us. It is not quantitative despite the fact that we think it depends upon some quantity of things or feelings we must have.

Depression is not quantitative, either, despite the fact that psychiatrists have labeled it a disease and divided it up into various classifications and diagnoses. Depression, like essential happiness, is qualitative. But depression is not our natural state, it is a state of alarm. When I began my career as a psychotherapist in 1987, I was as deeply afflicted with depression as anybody else who walked through my door looking for help. But no more. I have come to see depression in a revolutionary way, which has totally eliminated the whole idea of it as a disease in my life. After suffering with it for decades; after watching my brother struggle with the same ravages of manic depression that killed my father, I know, now, that it doesn't have to be that way.

There are 17 million people suffering with depression who are all seeking an answer to their hurt and pain. Ten years ago, as a result of my work as a cognitive behavioral therapist, my struggles with my own severe mood swings and my experiences with patients who came in for therapy, I discovered the real cause of depression. I haven't "been depressed" since that time.

*End notes were omitted

Copyright © 2001 A. B. Curtiss

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