April 21, 2016
Patrick Mooney is a Community Outreach Services staff member with the Jasper Community Team.
OBSERVING DEPRESSION IS KEY TO UNDERSTANDING IT
“We spend our lives running away from darkness into light thinking they’re two different things. We don’t realize that light and darkness, joy and depression, are two parts of the same aspect.”
Patrick Mooney is a Community Outreach Worker in Jasper. He’s not a professional therapist, but he is a student of addictions and a practitioner of meditation. His job, and his life, have given him a wealth of experience so that he can speak to something that affects all of us, in varying degrees: depression.
Depression is commonly thought of as a bad thing, something to be feared. And while depression could be stemming from trauma that we’re trying to cover up, sometimes, Mooney says, people just need a little guidance for getting through these passing feelings. In that respect, Mooney talks about how a feeling of darkness can actually help us heal, if we let it.
“We don’t like to live with it, sit with it and observe the darkness,” he said. “But that’s our shadow side creating space to work. Our psyche has a phenomenal capacity for healing.”
When a client talks to Mooney about feelings of sadness or apathy—two common symptoms of different types of depression—he reminds them that our lives are made up of feelings, emotions and thinking, but that those subjective expressions and reactions are separate from the person experiencing them. It’s important to remember that we are the observers of a full range of thought and emotion—including the darkness. That disassociation eases the pain, because we are no longer possessing it, Mooney has learned.
“If you simply observe it and not attach to it it’s going to be easier to deal with,” he says.
Of course this all sounds easy, but it’s not. Mooney knows from his own experience of living with depression that figuring out what our emotions have to teach us is a difficult task. However, it starts with knowing that letting depression go unchecked, or thinking we can numb it by sleeping or overeating or engaging in other compulsive behaviors, are not going to help.
“We become very clever, very skilled, at hiding. We won’t let our co-workers know we’re feeling this way. We think ‘this is such a weakness,’” Mooney said. “But it’s OK to be weak.”
No matter who we are and how joyful or happy we try to be, depressed feelings will pass through us from time to time. Mooney reiterates that these are moments from which to learn, to identify that the feelings are not who we are, and that everything has a natural course.
“It’s the law of impermanence,” he says. “Nothing lasts, everything rises until it passes away. Life does that.”
You can get in touch with Community Outreach Services at 627 Patricia Street, Jasper or by calling 780-852-2100.
To learn more about depression, start at www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-types