My Bout With Depression

by Mark Ivar Myhre on September 12, 2011

Dark. Cold. Alone – very alone. Standing on the outside of a huge gray wall. It’s raining. It’s always raining. The wall is so big. So imposing.

This is where I was yesterday. It started when I woke up, after asking for insight the night before as I was falling asleep. I wanted to better understand some blocked energy I was going through, so as I was drifting off, I asked for help to know what was going on.

So yesterday I wake up, and I started remembering what it was like when I was ten. Funny thing, no matter how hard I tried, up till now I could not recall one single thing during that year, except for my fifth grade teacher’s name. Mrs. Vickers.

All these years, I can’t remember anything except that one name. Now I know why the year was a blank, as a flood of memories came rushing back yesterday.

I spent the year standing outside in the rain, in a state of total despair. It wasn’t even the emotional pain, or the darkness that bothered me so much. It was the feeling of despair; the helplessness; the hopelessness; the trapped feeling; the nothing-matters feeling; the I’m-stuck-no-matter-what-I-do feeling. Which can all be summed up in one word.

Powerlessness. A life of utter despair and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Yesterday it all hit me like a ton of bricks. For several hours I walked around not caring if I lived or died. Fortunately, all the while, I know it’s just a pocket of pain from those forgotten days, so it didn’t bother me. In fact, I wanted to get into the feeling as much as possible, just so I could feel it and release it.

It was still scary. I’d forgotten just how dim those days were, until yesterday. I spent about an hour just feeling that cold dreary wet wall. When I put my hands up to touch it, they almost glowed, because the wall itself was so dark. Glowing white fingers pressed up against a concrete wall of pain. What a contrast.

It’s hard to believe I lived like that every single day. At ten years old! Thank goodness they hadn’t started TV commercials for antidepressants back then in 1966. As unstable as I was, I’d probably be that one in a hundred who goes crazy after taking depression medications.

Instead, I was left to my own devices: Pity. Judgments. Victim. Martyr. Blame. And hate. Lots of hate.

And the powerlessness, which always leads to rage. The rage usually gets buried, but it’s there.

Yesterday, I got to experience it all over again. It fascinated me, because I thought I’d worked all that stuff out. Yet there it was.

I’m walking around the university right before the big football game. First game of the season. It usually brings up a lot of excitement. But yesterday, I truly didn’t care if I lived or died. And those bright orange and blue clothes everyone was wearing looked so drab and gray. And I’ll admit, there was a time or two when I got a little concerned that these feelings inside me might not pass.

Costumed character at the football game.

Not even Darth Gator could snap me out of my depression.

I’m telling you, it was intense.

Is this how it ends?

Even thought I could have distracted myself to get out of it, I wanted to instead experience it to the max. But that’s just me. I wanted to be done with it – not push it down again like I did forty something years ago. So rather than stuff it, I let it fill me. I saturated myself with depression.

After a few hours, it all went away. Because I kept bringing the feelings closer. I kept trying to feel that despair and pain in my heart. I kept trying to extract every bit of energy out of those feelings. I kept sucking them up like a Hoover.

Hey, my power was locked up in those feelings. And I wanted my power back! And the only way I know to do that is to feel the intensity of it. Don’t push the feelings away. Bring them closer and closer. Embrace them.

I’ll admit there were a few times yesterday when I didn’t want to. And I could have paced myself a little slower. I could’ve taken smaller bites. But that’s not me. I’m gonna go for it. If it kills me, it kills me. At least I died trying.

Of course it’s not really like that. Nobody dies from feeling their feelings. It’s actually the other way around. People die because they don’t feel their feelings.

Oh, and as for that wall… That was a whole ‘nother experience in itself.

I also spent the quality time healing the wall of pain yesterday. You may have already read about the wall of pain that surrounds your heart, which keeps out your feelings. This was a different wall. (Actually, we have many walls that keep us separate from all sorts of things. The common denominator – they all create pain.)

The bottom line to all this, I found out I could still get depressed. And more important, I found out no matter how bad it gets, I can feel my way out of it in short order. It’s just a matter of opening up my heart and letting myself feel all that awful stuff, so it can pass through me.


Deb Klugger September 12, 2011 at 9:03 am

Dear Mark,

Thank you for sharing about your struggle with depression. It’s been a tough few days for lots of us. A bit of it may have been the collective consciousness with the anniversayr of 9/11. The energy has been more dense than usual to a lot of folks I’ve spoken with. I related so much to your blog because I too have been dealing with a lot of childhood and adult sadness recently and your blog was a great reminder to open up, feel the pain (which I think I do fairly well) but just as importantly for me is remembering to have compassion for that part of me and not feel guilty about the sadness. Sure I have many wonderful blessings but it’s OK to have the sadness. It doesn’t mean that I’m not positive enough or grateful just is.
Another thing your blog gave to me today was a since of connection of another human being open and sharing their struggle and who they are on this planet in the face of the past and present.
Thank you for your wonderful gift to me today!
Take care,
Deb (Ocala)

meg September 12, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I agree. The past few days have been very difficult to get through and I think it’s due to September 11th. How can we forget the terror we felt when we saw those images? Depression never really goes away. We just become more adept at knowing what it is and doing something to forestall it. Thank you for sharing.

Chris September 14, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Dear Mark,

Thank you for sharing your experience which I can identify with. Most of my life has been filled with depression, fear and anxiety. I admire your ability to not become overwhelmed by the power of those emotions. I have worked out strategies for dealing with depression and anxiety but fear of being overwhelmed again terrfifies me. What am I doing wrong? I meditate, turn negatives into positives and try to face what I am afraid of. I seem to have lost confidence in my own ability to deal with my fears.

Thank you

Mark Ivar Myhre September 17, 2011 at 9:26 am

Hi Chris,

fear used to eat me alive! Not to mention the anxiety and the panic. Whew! I could write a book about it. Oh yeah, I did…

Bottom line – now I just open up and let in the fear. See, I used to be afraid of my fears… fear of fear. It wasn’t even the fear itself, rather the stories I used to tell myself about what it means to be scared, and what will happen if I’m scared, what will people think of me if they see I’m scared, etc.

It was the stories, not the fear! Once I realized it really is okay to let in the fear, then a funny thing happened. I started feeling a whole lot less of it.

Now, specifically, what about being overwhelmed by emotions? The only way that could possibly even happen is by doing something other than feeling them. I just open up my heart and let it all in. Because I’ve discovered something wonderful. That is, my heart can consume all the feelings. Like a puppy lapping up a bowl of warm milk.

Overwhelm happens when you fight the emotions in some way.

As far as I know, it’s not really about mapping out a strategy to handle emotions. It’s about opening up to feel them in my heart.

One thing I keep in mind – my emotions are not designed to hurt me or overwhelm me. They’re there to empower me and they’re the raw material I use to create what happens to me. In other words, they’re a good thing!

Bottom line – not feeling your emotions will create overwhelm, in my opinion. I just let it be okay to feel whatever comes up. Whatever I feel is okay, because I’m okay. And the more I open my heart, the more the feelings can keep moving.

If I got stuck in some of the stuff I feel, that would really suck. But the more I’m willing to open my heart, and let in all my feelings, the quicker the flow goes, and the less chance I’ll get stuck.

Tara February 9, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Yes! I do believe the key is to feel what you are feeling and feel it 100%. So often the message we get is to feel “good” emotions deeply but push the “bad” ones away. Of course, this is complete nonsense. How horrible and boring that would be, not to mention unhealthy and completely against the laws of nature. I like to draw an analogy to our diets: sweet everything leads to a taste for sweeter and sweeter foods until nothing is satisfying; balanced flavors make the taste of each thing a gift. Ever notice how sweet a carrot tastes after taking a bit of peppery greens? It’s okay — even good — to feel depressed at times. All emotions add to a full, rich life.

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