From Depression to Progression: Guidance from the Mystery Tramp & Napoleon in Rags


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  113 comments   :  19,366 Views

When you got nothing,
you got nothing to lose.
You’re invisible now, you
got no secrets to conceal.
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

Bob Dylan
Like a Rolling Stone

If you’re wondering what a couple of characters in a Bob Dylan song (Like a Rolling Stone) have to do with coping with depression (the subject of this series of blogs), so am I. But it made a lot of sense to me last night when I was listening to the song (a nightly ritual), so I thought I’d see if it still makes sense when I try to write about it.

I think that most people who are or who have been depressed will see the connection between depression and what Dylan is talking about in the lyrics from what may be his best song (and, imo, the best song of its generation and genre). The feelings of isolation, being different, having no purpose or direction, not being seen or known as you “really” are and not even really knowing yourself, finding no real pleasure in your life or your activities, and just rolling through life detached from your customary landscape—all of these are basic symptoms of depression. (Back in the pre-Prozac days when Dylan wrote the song, this package of “symptoms” would probably have been called “alienation” rather than “depression,” but that’s another story).

But Dylan also seems to suggest they are quite a bit more than mere symptoms of an illness. In Like a Rolling Stone, all of this sounds more like a necessary rite of passage than an illness or a personal problem. In order to move beyond the unconscious, unsatisfying life of “fitting in” with the crowd and its dubious and often oppressive collective values, into a fuller, more individualized and self-chosen life, we have to become depressed for a little while, at least. We have to recognize that life as we have known it so far really isn’t the whole story—and that more is required of us, and more is available to us if we make the effort. We have to recognize and experience this on a feeling level, not just a philosophical one.

The first stage in this process is becoming dissatisfied on a deep level with what we’ve already got, what we’ve already done, and who we already are—i.e., getting depressed. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to lead directly to sudden enlightenment and a clear sense of what’s really important and what we ought to do. Instead, the next step is about recognizing that we have to “compromise with the mystery tramp,” learning essentially how to live with one foot in two worlds—the world of what we can no longer be satisfied with, and the undefined world of our own creative vision. But that second world has not yet been created, because we've been too depressed to try. Which means we have to commit to it without knowing what we’ll get out of the deal in advance. Not all things are possible for us. It’s not like we can literally do anything and everything we want, once we decide what that is. We have our own limitations, we have to consider the needs of those attached to us, and we live in a finite and unpredictable world where things don’t always go as planned, no matter who we are. In short, every choice means leaving something else behind. And we can’t be sure that the choices we make in terms of where to focus our energy and effort are the “right” ones.

In Dylan’s terms, we have to “stare into the vacuum of [the mystery tramp’s] eyes and ask him do you want to make a deal.” And what the mystery tramp has to offer is the possibility of liberation from our own shame:

When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.

Without our images, schemes, and objects to protect, and our secrets to conceal, we’re finally free to be ourselves, and that is the foundation on which all development or progression from here on out depends. But the price we pay for this liberation is becoming even more invisible to those who aren’t taking this journey themselves.

One way or another, it seems, we’re stuck with some kind of being invisible. We can be invisible to ourselves by remaining stuck in the unproductive, uncreative suffering of depression where all anyone (including us) sees is our symptoms. Or we can be invisible to others by undertaking a private, interior journey where we try to turn our suffering and our symptoms into clues about what kind of changes we need to make in our personal lives. This latter kind of invisibility may be less painful and more rewarding, but it is still less than what we probably need, and is its own kind of suffering.

But maybe there’s another option. What if we take seriously the option of joining forces with “napoleon in rags” and add our own voices to the language he uses? It may not be popular in our culture of medicalized human problems and quick, consumption-based fixes for everything that bothers us. What if we try to become artists at expressing our own experience of depression? Instead of describing our symptoms and talking about all the medications and therapies we’ve tried, what if we talk instead about our desires and needs, fears and insecurities, hopes and dreams--and ask why they aren’t portrayed every place we look, like the other images our culture has seized on to define the world of human aspirations. All we really need to do is learn how to express what it feels like to be a rolling stone.

OK, rant over. Now, back to our regular programming.

Some of you may be wondering what developed after my last blog, about going in for ECT therapy. Well, that’s an interesting story all by itself.

I was feeling pretty proud of myself last week, after cleverly deducing that the message the Universe has been trying to send me has something to do with not isolating myself so much, and developing more “real-world” relationships and activities. And I was pretty sure I was taking the appropriate steps to remedy this situation by using ECT to help me out of my depression as quickly as possible, so I could bravely tackle the world of face-to-face relationships, on my own, undepressed terms.

A less biased observer might have noticed that there’s a pretty basic misfit between the goal (getting more involved socially) and the method (electroconvulsive therapy) in this plan of mine. And that my resolve not to “medicalize” my symptoms evaporated pretty quickly, and turned into a desire to get rid of them by the quickest means possible, instead of trying to learn something from them.

I suspect that’s why whoever’s in charge of delivering messages from the Universe decided that I need something a little more forceful and direct than the normal signaling methods. And that’s exactly what I got…

Last Tuesday night, I was in the behavior health unit of a local hospital, getting ready for an early bedtime so I that I’d be ready for my first ECT session the next morning. I was heading to the bathroom when, the next thing I knew, I found myself waking up in bed, in the regular medical section of the hospital, with a cast on my lower leg. Apparently, I had passed out while walking to the bathroom (thanks to several medications that tend to induce positional hypotension), fallen, and broken my ankle in a couple of places. It was a day and half later when I woke up, and I had missed my ETC session. When I asked about my ECT, and when I’d be going back to the behavioral health unit, I was told there were no beds available there, and that I had been taken off the ECT schedule, since no one knew how soon I’d be ready to do it.

Now, I can be pretty dense sometimes, but even I got this message. No ECT, at least for now. Instead, I will try to spend the next three months of enforced physical idleness (no biking or hiking—yikes!) seeing what other approaches to remaining (or getting?) sane I can come up with. You’ll be the first to know what I come up with, or don’t.

What do you think? How do you talk about depression (your own or others)--as symptoms and remedies, or as a clue to something bigger? Are you willing to start thinking of your depression as the beginnings of a new way of life, instead of as psychological symptoms--or does this make no sense at all to you?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!
NEXT ENTRY >   Megan Fox Doesn't Work Out, Eats Once a Day


  • 113
    I've often felt like I am depressed and suffer depression...and even went to some doctors about it but they told me I wasn't depressed. So... but yea a lot of what you describe fits my feelings and detachment as well... - 8/1/2016   7:36:56 PM
    Nice. - 10/19/2010   9:10:04 AM
  • 111
    Wow, Coach Dean, I loved your blog. It was not a rant, but a thoughtful description of one aspect of life, depression. There is a lot to comtemplate in your blog, so I printed it and I will write on a few choice enlightenments.

    Perhaps depression (other than severe, life-threatening depression) is something we have to work through instead of rushing to medicate to make it go away. - 10/8/2010   9:16:22 AM
  • 110
    Thank you so much for this. I have recently been diagnosed with depression and am dealing with some pretty big life changes currently so this rang very true for me. - 3/31/2010   11:59:52 AM
    I tend to get depressed when big changes are coming my Feb 19 the day I find out if I matched for internship. On Feb. 22 I find out where I will be going. I have made some wonderful friends at university and love the clinics I work in.....the idea of packing up a 6 yo, a Siamese and what little material possessions I have is scary. I'm doubting my ability to make new friends, live up to the expectations of training directors, etc. Just having a grand time driving myself crazy. - 2/5/2010   10:17:15 AM
  • 108
    I currently experience small bouts of depression. I know these are part of a mourning process as I prepare in many ways to leave life as I know it. I am leaving a career I dislike to move into a less reliable occupation, along with relocating. SparkPeople is helping me leave this unhealthy body behind so that I can achieve some longtime dreams. Leaving the familiar to go into the new requires a mourning process. Finding the emotional strength to go after dreams is a "two steps forward, one step back" process. - 8/30/2009   10:22:06 AM
  • 107
    I need to think more about this blog but I felt a connection while reading it. The depression may rise from the disconnect between our inner self, the artist we all start out as, and the face we wear for the world. Both are us, but there is no balance between the two.

    The older I get, the more I see messages from beyond in my life. You certainly got a definite one with the broken ankle.

    I love reading your blogs. Keep it up. Hope you aren't off your feet too long; or, if your are, that you find another way to grow while you're waiting. - 8/29/2009   7:44:19 AM
  • 106
    It makes perfect sense to me that depression is part of our life "not fitting anymore" and needing to take the time to re-integrate. The old clapping game, "Going on a bear hunt" says, "You can't go over it, you can't go under it, you can't go around it, you have to go through it." As far as I can tell, grief and depression have been like that for me.

    I hate to admit it, but I'm kind of glad that you didn't end up having ECT. I think you have a fabulous mind, and I really want you to be careful with that brain of yours. My reasons are totally selfish, of course, so I'd never presume to tell you what to do. I am however willing to share that I am relieved. I'm really sorry about the ankle, but it looks like that might turn out pretty well for me too. I'm really looking forward to your articles.

    Seriously Dean, I really appreciate you. I remember you in my prayers. I'm incredibly grateful for the way you are allowing us to walk with you through dark and dangerous inner territory. How else will any of us learn to map that landscape unless someone takes us along? You are doing a great service. - 8/16/2009   3:06:18 PM
    Just wanted to let you know that we are all rooting for you and appreciate all of your sound advice. As my grandmother always said "This to shall pass!" Good luck - 8/6/2009   7:52:00 AM
  • 104
    Wow! You certainly are having a time of it. About 6 yrs back I was going through something that I finally decided was depression. Well, it was sort of decided for me after I filled out a questionaire. Going into this I decided I would be as honest as I could be. I was rereading the questionaire and thought who is this person! When I saw the doctor (an endroconologist) he said how long have you been depressed? I looked at him and let out a III'mmmm not depressed wail sounding much like "Lucy". It was then I started trying to find the right meds for me. I eventually did go to a Psychyotrist who I was told was a great diagnostician. He must have been! After working with me for a few months we seemed to find the right combination. While going to him he sent me to a counselor. That was one of the best things that happened to me. I think I only went to about 5 or 6 visits with the psycologist but I was all talked out at the end of it. One of the things that was sorted out for me was that I really wasn't hungry all the time. I was having bouts of anxiety! About what!! Oh! the commute I had to work was one thing! When I realized that Everything fell into place. It helped explaine Why I was starving by the time I got to work. I would get some fast food and shovel it in. I moved closer to work. Now when I have feelings of hunger I will check with myself to find out what is going on.
    It does help me to talk about things. However, I need to make sure of who I am talking to. I have to feel safe. - 7/28/2009   5:48:11 PM
  • 103
    You are clearly a very gifted writer and thinker. It is too bad that you are also in such pain. I have been lucky that I have been able to control my depression with medication (so far & after decades of developing coping techniques) Some of my relatives have not been so fortunate. Good luck in getting your brain waves under control. - 7/24/2009   3:18:06 PM
  • 102
    Hey Coach Dean, I'm sorry to hear about you breaking your ankle. I hope that heals up quickly for you. As for the ECT, I hope that works itself out for you the way it is supposed to. I go in for my 7th ECT session in the morning. I am experiencing the memory problems they describe (I saw Harry Potter last week and do not remember doing so) and maybe starting to feel some benefit (but that's still up in the air). I'm not sure how many more sessions I will need, but I am hopeful that this will pull me out of my two and a half year low. As far as I was concerned, desperate times called for desperate measures. It turns out it's not so bad. The hardest part is getting an IV catheter each time. Next thing I know, an anesthesiologist pushes a drug into my line and I fall asleep. I wake up a short time later and it's over. The memory loss is a bit disconcerting, but nothing I can't handle. Good luck to you. I dearly hope you experience some relief from your symptoms soon, however that relief manifests itself. - 7/23/2009   1:21:11 AM
  • 101
    While sitting alone at my computer in my own little world of depression, I found your article and the corresponding comments....thank you for sharing. It's given me a new perspective. As a member of the Spark family, I, too, wish you the best and thank you. It's sad to say, but your misfortune is helping many, many others "see" that they are not alone. Take care. - 7/22/2009   7:31:34 PM
  • 100
    Coach Dean... sorry about the broken limb... been there, done that...

    I must state that I am saddened by so many comments that are connecting your injury as a reason NOT to participate in the ECT. In no way do I see any connection between the two events.

    I am sure that you and your medical-staff completely explored many options and/or variety of treatments which included the ECT. One never enters any treatment easily. I experience clinical depression and like a 'transplant' patient, I am willing to be as healthy as possible. I would consider ECT if my depression became severe. Severe clinical depression is a medical condtion NOT an issue of just thinking positive thoughts.

    I wish to state that I have two very very close family members who participated in ECT. As with any illness there are pros and cons... yet ECT was a life-saving event for our family.

    Surgeon and author Sherwin Nuland discusses the development of electroshock therapy as a cure for severe, life-threatening depression -- including his own. It’s a moving and heartfelt talk about relief, redemption and second chances. The link is:

    - 7/22/2009   1:49:20 PM
  • 99
    Once you're feeling a bit better, we look forward to hear about exercises for the disabled, from one who is temporarily so! - 7/22/2009   1:03:17 AM
  • 98
    Perhaps Dean,

    The universe sent the msg and wants you to start w/ real world relationships w/ the team in physical therapy!

    Good luck! - 7/21/2009   3:34:42 PM
    I always feel reassured, Dean, when I see one of your blog entries. They're proof that you're continuing to heal on so many levels. That you share your experiences with us - and with such eloquence - is a gift I gratefully receive, and you've given me much food for thought (fat- and calorie-free!) in my own exile from depression, wondering where I currently am along that path. "Rolling Stone" (we're of the same vintage) underscored my adolescent depression, but it also seemed like an anthem to anomie and cultural upheaval back then, too.

    You know the old show-biz wish for good luck, "Break a leg!"? Maybe the universe was delivering that message to you, too, though perhaps in wishing you a detour from ECT via an alternate path of your own making. And no one could forge that path like you do! All the best, Susan - 7/21/2009   1:02:52 PM
  • 96
    So glad you've had to take time to slow down and think things through.
    Pay attention, pay attention, pay attention.
    Ahh, the music of the spheres. - 7/21/2009   11:49:59 AM
    Dearest Coach Dean ; From my Psych College Textbook (Fudamentals of Abnormal Psychology; Ronald J. Comer) regarding ECT procedure "In this procedure, two electrodes are attached to the patient's head, and an electric current of 65 to 140 volts is sent through the brain for half a second or less. The current causes a brain seizure that lasts from 25 seconds to a few minutes. After 6 to 12 such treatments, spaced over two to four weeks, most patients feel less depressed (Andreasen & Black, 2006;Gitlin,2002Fink,2001,1992). " They go on to say that "Patients who receive ECT typically have difficulty remembering the events before and immediately after their treatments. In most cases, this memory loss clear up within a few months. (Calev etal., 1995, 1991; Squire & Slater, 1983) Some patients, however, experience gaps in more distant memory, and this form of amnesia can be permanent (Fin, 2001;Squire, 1977).
    I walked away from this class with the acute knowledge that my professor (who was quite an interesting and intelligent lady) feels that ECT should only be done as a LAST RESORT ONLY! That was VERY very clear to the entire I was pretty stunned when I heard that you were going to undergo this treatment. You're a smart guy who does his homework ...this we I'm figuring that you have thourghly researched this treatment. Have you?
    You mentioned that you were attempting this because you wanted out of this pain "as quickly as possible". Are you really at that point when you are willing to undergo brain SEIZURES for relief? If you are at that point....when you have tried everything else and absolutely nothing else will work....and you can't take it anymore....well...I can certainly understand being desperate for relief and reaching out to unconventional therapies. The textbook goes on to say that "Today as few as 50,000 (people) per year are believed to receive it (Cauchon, 1999). Two of the reasons for this decline are the memory loss caused by ECT and the frightening nature of the procedure.
    Please understand, I'm not saying you shouldnt undergo the procedure, I just want to make sure that everyone who reads this understands that ECT causes brain seizures and memory loss, and that sometimes the memory loss is permenent.
    In essence, we are attempting to "reset" the brains chemicals by causing seizures. Serious stuff.
    Karen - 7/21/2009   8:35:55 AM
  • 94
    Coach Dean, I am a big fan of your work. I continue to read many of your motivational articles over and over for guidance. You break things down and give good practical advice that I am using to improve my attitude and behavior, and I consider myself lucky to be among your readers. I'm sorry for the personal misery you're experiencing right now. I hope you get things resolved with as little pain as possible and that you find your confidante. I will continue to eagerly await each new blog or article you write. - 7/21/2009   3:54:11 AM
  • 93
    When DYLAN had his Motorcycle accident, he had a change in his view about what REALLY mattered in life. I think many people have depression from not seeing what REALLY matters. I've taken Prozac for 14 years since I started peri-menopause and it just makes me feel "normal" and that is all. It is well worth taking. - 7/20/2009   11:16:13 PM
  • 92
    Your blog got me thinking about the some of the songs I've written, particularly the one titled "Apathy."

    Oddly enough, looking back at my work, I realize that some of the best songs I've written were born out of depression or anger. When I'm angry and frustrated, the words just come rushing into my brain. I wish this wasn't so. Once I wrote a love song. It took everything I had. Unfortunately, the person who inspired me to write it turned out to be unworthy of my affection. Though I'd really like to, I can't seem to write another one.
    Since coming to spark people, I have the desire to write inspirational lyrics to help people help themselves. It isn't easy. Perhaps when I'm done with the children's songs I'm working on for my day job, I'll find my positive muse.
    I think that blogging is an art form. Your blogs are like lyrics. They evoke a multitude of thoughts and images, reaching out to touch others who hunger for nourishment; tools that can help others help themselves.
    Karma is a funny thing. Isn't it ironic?
    Grace supersedes Karma.
    - 7/20/2009   10:15:37 PM
    Hope your ankle heals up soon! I hope you will take this time of forced physical idleness to come more to terms with yourself. It's interesting to think of depression as a requirement to start anew. I'd have to chew on that a bit more.

    Stay strong, Coach Dean! - 7/20/2009   7:30:08 PM
  • 90
    Dean, I am always so inspired to read your remarks. As a retired psychiatric nurse, someone who has had depression, and has had a dear friend go through ECT, I blatantly and shamelessly urge you not to have ECT. Thank God that you broke your leg. I am quite serious about this. It is only meant as a last resort, for someone in a complete vegetative state. The memory loss is permanent and emotionally devasting if you have children, or any other happy life moments that you enjoy. There is no way to predict what will be lost, and the grief is immense and lifelong.
    I have personally had great success with simple clary sage aromatherapy baths, and much intense, personal work, writing and purging. I send and offer you every powerful thought and prayer I can give, and look forward to your writing terrifically, and fearlessly, in the future. - 7/20/2009   7:08:31 PM
  • 89
    Coach Dean, I'm so sorry about the ankle, but Yup, I have to agree, the Universe does tend to step in and let us know what needs to be. This was definately one of those times. ECT was not on your life menu. I have a feeling we are going to all benifit from your wisdom over the next 3 months! - 7/20/2009   6:07:33 PM
  • 88
    Truly when I started reading this I was thinking "Dean still has his voice" and I was surprised. How many people that had this treatment have you personally discussed this with? I have a bit of history, second hand and believe it is a very personal choice to have ECT. I would not try to sway you either way. I just would hope that you will be "mindful" like you are now after if that is what you choose.
    About Bob Dylan and Rolling Stone. I too have a close attachment to this (and other songs by him). I was going from child to adult and felt the connection with the lose of my old self and the becoming of the new. But I never connected depression with it. In fact people have been telling me I am depressed all my life. And it always comes as a surprise to me for them to say that. I have come to the conclusion that when a professional wants to discuss "my depression" and treatment of it I say "anyone living the experiences that I have of course would be depressed. But I can live with it, I have other things to do besides changing who I am since I rather like myself just as I am."
    You have my support whatever you chose to do. Thanks for sharing. - 7/20/2009   5:58:41 PM
  • 87
    I'm afraid I have to agree with the others - maybe ECT wasn't the way to go, Karma just stepped in and blocked you. another angle, or another doctor, may be in order. - 7/20/2009   3:50:10 PM
  • 86
    Sympathies on the multiple fractures in your ankle. That sounds like a high price -- at least to me -- to pay for the message. On the other hand, I can't disagree with your interpretation. It wouldn't matter how much I had researched a controversial therapy like ECT, if I had an accident or other fluctuation of any kind just before my first session and it took me off their schedule, I'd see it just like you did: a message that the therapy was not, after all, for me. Something ordinary, generally agreed and accepted as the norm would be different. Something optional or controversial (insert shrug), that's just different.

    I really like your attitude about finding something positive in depression.

    Good for you!

    I can only start today from where I am. Thanks for reminding me! - 7/20/2009   3:09:48 PM
    Coach Dean, I am so happy you broke your ankle! I will continue to pray for you!--Padraigha - 7/20/2009   1:41:51 PM
  • 84
    Been praying for you--ECT was definitely not the thing to do! I couldn't even comment on your "ECT" blog--knew from just hearing about it that all that "electro" stuff is not God's will! So now that you've got even more time on your hands, take GOOD advantage of it. Time can never be Resurrected, so don't kill it! Worthwhile goals must become your priority. Look long and hard at how you've been spending your time. What rules you? Is having a spotless house your priority? What consumes your time?
    Napoleon once planned a whole campaign between acts while a the theater. He worked while the rest of the world slept, and conquered all Europe, because he utilized the time that the rest of the world was letting go to waste. Even if you didn't change your schedule (well, now it's kinda been changed for you), but changed only the way you handled wasted moments, you could start realizing your dream. It would be slow, but you'd be on your way. An old Chinese proverb says: "Patience is power; with time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes silk." Let every moment be enriched and utilized! Use this time to enrich your brain or study towards your dream. Trust God to make a way where there seems to be no way! See waiting as an opportunity instead of an exasperation. As a Writer, carry your note pad wherever you go. Want to learn a foriegn language, write a book, write a play, do some research? Do it! Time passed can never be retrieved; so make it count. You can do it if you will reprogram your attitude and approach to things. Look at delays as productive interludes given to you in this race of life. Don't curse them--welcome them. Life will have its delays, waits and slow hours; (we all experience them) expect them and plan for them. Don't join the crowd of bored people sighing, griping, and complaining. Write a musical while they curse.

    Time is one of God's greatest gifts to mankind. We all have the same amount, but we all spend it differently. Time can never be recalled. Once it ticks away, it's gone forever. The only thing we have to show for it is the investment we made with it. Coach Dean, I KNOW you've got a lot to invest in this time you were now given. Don't make great plans to do great things until you reach a certain age, make now the time to do it! Start today! Carlyle said it well: "Our grand business is not to see what lies dimly in the distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand." Time does not blow horns nor make announcements. It is quiet, unassuming, and faithful. It forever marches forward on padded footsteps into the ageless future. All that was yesterday is no more and cannot be retrieved. Benjamin Franklin made this statement, "Dost thou love life?--Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of."

    May God Richly Bless You with His Grace & Peace!
    - 7/20/2009   12:55:49 PM
    Very, very interesting turn of events, Dean.

    As I was reading this portion of your blog:
    "We have to recognize that life as we have known it so far really isn’t the whole story—and that more is required of us, and more is available to us if we make the effort. We have to recognize and experience this on a feeling level, not just a philosophical one."

    I immediately thought of that state of being I entered years ago, after a near-death experience, wherein I was convinced that my future would only hold happy days and that I was alive to serve some monumentally important purpose in the world. IDK whether I expected to single-handedly bring about world peace and put an end to world hunger, or if I thought that somehow my newly-damaged brain would somehow understand sciences and mathmatics that were formerly beyond my grasp, or what, but I was pretty damned certain that God saved my life because I had not fulfilled my destiny.

    I may have had some delusions of grandeur going on there, y'think?

    I do think that you're onto something with the idea of separating the medical issues from the emotional ones. The mind is not the brain and the brain is not the mind. There may be funky stuff going on with your brain chemistry that biologically impact your emotions, and that certainly can be considered a medical issue. But fixing that won't resolve the deep, soul-searching questions you have for yourself. To get to that nitty gritty requires something other than chemically-induced balance.

    I also found your musings about invisibility to be quite interesting. Some years ago, I had a cousin, whom I hadn't seen for years, tell me that the thing he most remembers about me as a child was that I was so good at making myself invisible to the rest of the world. How odd! From my perspective, as a child I just wanted somebody to notice me and to acknowledge that I might have something of value to offer the world. Maybe I took the "children should be seen and not heard" thing a little too far??

    I know your broken ankle isn't funny, but I had to laugh at the circumstances under which it occurred. You evidently had not been listening closely enough to yourself (or to the Higher Power?) with regard to the best course of treatment. The Universe found a way to steer you a different direction, at least for the time being.

    Sometimes we have to get a lot of "slow down, there, partner" signals before we get the message. Could you be given any clearer opportunity to take some time for reflection and introspection?

    Whether you think so or not, I think you are making good progress. Sometimes you have to be patient and allow things to percolate for a while. Maybe what you need isn't a quick fix. - 7/20/2009   12:45:31 PM
    Yes, I believe I understand your question---well, I would prefer to think that we who battle with depression have to accept who we are, recognize what might be triggering the depression, and either act upon it, or avoid it. As nothing good is easy, it would appear your short-cut was not your path. Interesting to see that you stumbled into a solution that did not involve the EST.

    I am doing one day at a time, now off of my "rose-colored glasses" medication and after five weeks I have still not seen the darkness yet. I know that I need to continue to work on my personal "ladder" so I can bridge over the hole rather than fall in. I miss my med as I believe I was a nicer person when on it and I never got angry in traffic, but everything is a trade-off.

    But with depression, it is chemical as well as emotional...we are complex little creatures and not every little chemical release and hormone seems to work after we ease past a certain age. We are social creatures, comfortable in routine and frightened of change, and so many things can cause stress, fear and trigger than dark hole. So your desire for a good listening friend to share your feelings with will be one of the best healing techniques you could ever find. That makes this life journey so much easier---sharing the load!

    I enjoy Dylan, but I would ask you to find another nightly ritual music. I did the same thing when I was depressed, finding music that I thought answered questions or made me think I was not alone in my darkness...but I don't believe that it was helpful now. It was more helpful to listen to classical and not to always think about me...but to see the universe in see the beauty in the spirit of the music. It was more gentle to my mind and it created a safe, peaceful spot without self analysis and loneliness.

    May you gracefully surrender to the incredible journey you are on (with speed bumps, fences and stones that will trip you) and find yourself, whole and happy, in who you are---which by the way is not invisible and not directionless.
    Be at peace and heal quickly! - 7/20/2009   10:16:04 AM
  • 81
    What do you think? How do you talk about depression (your own or others)--as symptoms and remedies, or as a clue to something bigger? Are you willing to start thinking of your depression as the beginnings of a new way of life, instead of as psychological symptoms--or does this make no sense at all to you?

    Oh this concept is all-too-familiar to me (i.e., you're making complete sense)! I've struggled with bouts of depression at various times, too, and can relate to the frustration of 'knowing this is temporary and will pass, but don't know how to make it pass without disrupting my whole life'... I've sort of resigned myself to the fact that depression is just part of life - it's part of the cycle of renewal necessary to keep me moving on my life-journey because nothing new can begin until something else ends... And sometimes I can be dense, too. For instance, I had to take a really bad job and be constantly mistreated because I was too stubborn to see that I needed to follow a different career path. I'm not saying I deserved the treatment, but only that without the pain of the experience driving me to find something else, I wouldn't have been motivated at that time to make necessary changes (mostly b/c I was too afraid of the unknown).

    So, I think you're right on target with today's blog post. Keep 'em coming as you work through this round! It will pass for you, too, when you're ready. :) - 7/20/2009   9:55:45 AM
    I cannot imagine the depth of your private Hell with depression, but it must be very very deep to undergo something as radical and drastic as ECT. I hope you recover soon. I encourage you to try acupuncture to help alleviate your symptoms. It is so helpful! - 7/20/2009   8:57:16 AM
  • 79
    well, well, well, it sure seems like life had other plans for you, doesn it? dealing with one thing (depression) now morphs into dealing with just about everything (NO lower body physical activity PLUS depression, stress, physical pain, and recurrence of perhaps every negative thought you may have dreaded entertaining for a very long time). do you know the old announcements they used to run on tv and radio: "this is a test. this is only a test. for the next 30 seconds...." there you are, getting ready to attack one problem with gusto and you end up a day late, unconscious, casted, confused, and candidly corrective, trying your absolute best to manage this new set of events, circumstances, challenges....dean, you are more of a survivor that i bet even you ever gave yourself credit for. the writing, journaling, purging, enlightenment of self-discovery, all of that can be done casted, sipping green tea while looking out your window, doing upper body continue to learn about yourself, grow, and evolve as you face your many, current, physical, and mental challenges. your analytical prose (no, that doesn't have to be oxymoronic) is heightened and made somewhat rueful by irony. know that you have hit many sore spots. you're still understanding what those spots mean and how they fit into our evolutionary (and your personalized) human-beast picture. you're putting every puzzle piece in place, in your own time, in your own way, and that's how it's supposed to be. you may not need ect after you're done working some things through in your own mind, now that you're forced to reflect in a much less physical way. perhaps bouncing some of your incredibly deep, cerebral thoughts off a skilled, objective facilitator will give you that push of the envelope you're looking for. i regret though that i, personally, cannot offer you anything but strength and support. you are always in my postive thoughts, well wishes, and prayers for a speedy, complete, enlightened recovery. we love you, coach dean. we even love things about you that you may not like. and that's because we love and accept you for you, all that you were, are, and will be. nancy - 7/20/2009   8:38:20 AM
  • 78
    When you listen to older musicians carefully there packed with stuff like this! Some of the newer ones are but not as deep! - 7/20/2009   7:31:43 AM
  • 77
    Great blog about Dylan. Sorry about your ankle and hope you get off those meds or find safer ones. Dylan would be better therapy. Like you said it should be a temporary thing on your way from one reality to another as you grow. The idea is not to get stuck there but get through to the other side. - 7/19/2009   11:45:43 PM
  • 76
    I wasn't sure about what all you were saying here, even as a fellow professional in the field, however my one thought after reading this blog is YAY! I say Yay for 2 reasons.... First, I'm glad you never went thru with the ECT. I just had my doubts about it and it worried me even though I don't know you personally. I am relieved that that plan fell through for you! The second reason for a yay is that maybe since you have a broken ankle that SP will work harder to post some exercises for people who are non-weight bearing on their legs.... More cardio ideas please! It is funny how a serious injury can relight a fire though.... 17 months ago I severely broke my leg. since then I joined Spark and got interested in exercising and eating healthier. Just as losing my eyesight 21 years ago saved my life, so did breaking my leg. I did the first swimsuit bootcamp from a chair, moving arms and legs as best I could and have since been allowed weight on the leg and am walking, dancing and exercising all the time! But, I know many people on SP who cannot bear any weight on their legs and need some cardio ideas, so maybe you can spark some development in that area. I'm sorry you broke your ankle, but I'm glad it kept you out of ECT. I look forward to more blogs in this series. Another thought I had in reading this blog is that often depression does spark creativity and that any change involves a period of grief which is synonymous with depression much of the time, so yes, to get from one side to the other, often we grieve and cry and wonder, but it helps transition from an area of comfort (which may be depression) to an area of progress, whatever that means to us! Journey on! - 7/19/2009   10:46:32 PM
    Sorry to hear that you have now, broke your ankle. Maybe ,this is a different kind of wake up call. You don't belive in God, and he might just be trying to send you a message that he is indeed for real. Maybe , you should try doing a little research on the matter to see if you have changed your mind any about it. Sometimes, I think we won't let ourselves dig too deep into our problems, for fear ,or some other reason. What I do think helps somewhat is reading other's people's comments, blogs, and even some books on different subjects. I think this helps us to get a clearer picture of what our own problems might be about, and than be better able to deal with them. Personally, I kind of hated to see you go through the ECT program. I watched those on T.V. once, and I thought , oh my gosh. I'm glad that you are able to write all of these interesting blogs to help the rest of us. I only hope though, that you can start feeling better, too. I hope that you can find the right direction to take for yourself to find the inner peace that I wish you could find. Hope that you have a speedy recovery for that ankle. Since ,you can't exercise for awhile, I hope that you can take up some good reading to help pass the time. If not, maybe, watch some funny movies, since laughter is suppose to be the best medicine. - 7/19/2009   9:12:23 PM
  • 74
    Wow, when the universe sends you a message, it really goes all out!

    Joking aside - I think we all find our own way to express our angst, whether as a generation (as did Dylan, or van Gogh, or so many others) or as individuals. For some of us it's words, as in your blog. For some of us, it's another form - I kept a visual journal, a journal of drawings/paintings reflecting my changing moods and thoughts. Art is therapy for me. I think art - in all its forms, written, visual, musical, etc. - is basically the creator/artist expressing and working through emotions, thoughts, feelings.

    And, well, I'll admit that my personal anthem of the 60s was the Byrd's "Turn Turn Turn." For what that's worth. A time to every purpose under Heaven. (Huh. Not in a religious sense, not for me to proselytize - as in everything in human existence. Everything in the world. Universe. There's still a purpose. Which I think is part of what you've been talking about.)

    - 7/19/2009   8:19:44 PM
  • 73
    While you are taking care of that leg, you'll learn a whole new kind of patience with yourself. I hope the journey through will be insightful for you. I have found that when I am physically restful, that my mind has the added energy to tackle things that I otherwise can't or just don't think about. Being and LEARNING how to be still, has brought about most of my recovery from very dark deppressions. I think we expect too much of ourselves, taught by our upbringing and schools to always be DOING!! Moving, accomplishing, achieving, producing, go, go, go!!!! The perpetual hamster on the wheel. Even sleeping is scheduled in!! I am learning to deprogram myself from that kind of existence and in the proccess, I have found myself. Now some of what is there, needs therapy to handle, but at least I now have an understanding of who I am, and what I need. And it isn't put on me by some outside force beyond my own awareness!! You said something in your blog that hit me. I am stuck in two worlds, my own and the one I am trying to leave behind. I do have a problem with the CONTROL factors. I have a problem taking my control back from some other entity! I do give it away and I do forget that I need to be in control of all my decisions and all my actions. I'll bet this is the hardest habit to break of all the negetive things we learn as kids growing up!! I will keep trying though and so will you. Thanks for writing about this. It really struck a cord with me . - 7/19/2009   5:20:13 PM
  • 72
    I use my depression as clues to understanding myself and my interpretations of the world. I'm very lucky in that I have two close friends, "sisters", who have similar health problems, including clinical depression. We are very good at supporting each other, helping each other over the hurdles and challenges of life. The three of us always have someone to talk to when the "stinkin' thinkin'" starts to spiral down into depression. We're there to remind each other that a positive attitude and a spiritual outlook will help us during the hard times. We all use our depression and other emotions to help ourselves and others to learn more, become stronger, or to connect with God.

    Good luck on healing and don't let it get you down. - 7/19/2009   5:05:22 PM
  • 71
    Dear Coach Dean, I can relate to depression as I am on medication for it as well, and have been for over 15 years now (I'm 60 years old). I will keep you in my prayers as you work through this illness. I have been at rock bottom with thoughts I don't want to think about any longer now. I wish you all the best and may God continue to watch over you. - 7/19/2009   3:21:37 PM
  • 70
    Wow.....sorry to hear about the fall and the break!!! Sure hope you get along well soon...have had you in my thoughts and prayers - 7/19/2009   2:58:38 PM
    See LUVNMM below. Frankly, I was delighted you found a way, consciously or unconsciously, to get out of the ECT jinx. Memories, even the grotesque ones, are too precious to lose, and you're strong enough and smart enough to deal with each one. I did a 15-month psychoanalysis about 20 years ago, was initially terrified, had a crucial breakthrough which transformed me from constantly "fleeing" to courageously free. It's true: The only way TO is THROUGH. Your memories are priceless resources to your eventual liberation. Don't destroy them with ECT. Best of luck! - 7/19/2009   1:55:26 PM
    I love the "invisible" (one way or another) metaphor. You're right: Whom do I compromise with: me or "them"? Wanna hear my true-story shrink joke? A shrink's being interviewed about depressives. He says: "Depressives tend to be more rational than other people. Don't think about it too much." True story, no joke. My own solution: Accept that human existence is essentially meaningless, has no transcendent meaning, no meaning at all except that which I deliberately impose onto it, chosen based on my own personal profoundest values. Then take specific, purposeful human ACTION toward one or more genuine heart-felt goals which give me pleasure, if not "meaning". - 7/19/2009   1:43:01 PM
  • 67
    WOW!! What a lot of comments....obviously you have hit a cord or two with your thoughts and interesting insights. Thank you for sharing and giving me some good "Food" for thought. Loved the "fencing" analogy and think I am climbing up the dark side. Just finished with 10 years of medication and am trying to take life chemical free and more authentically, but it definitely has had it's moments. Luckily I have some good support from my husband and one of his favorite artists just happens to be Mr. Dylan. Don't let your recent accident send you under too far and keep writting. - 7/19/2009   1:37:43 PM
  • 66
    Plagued for years with depression I found solace in the bottle which led me to a 12-step program for drunks. This was 32 yrs, and 12 days ago. By the time I showed up I was physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually bankrupt. I couldn't make a withdrawl if my life depended on it and it did.

    Along with the other members of the 12-step program I received professional help that included anti-depressants and intense therapy. The first to heal of course was my body because I was abstaining from alcohol (and drugs) and eating and drinking good stuff. For the first time in years I began to experience hope, hope that the mental anguish and confusion I dealt with daily could be gone. My spiritual self was sparked by this hope which made my emotions soar. By diligently following the 12 steps and therapy I have come to believe that just for today my mind is healthy enough to handle whatever may come my way, as long as I'm spiritually fit. Notice I said spiritually fit not religiously fit.

    Did you know there were this many Spiritual Principles of the 12 Steps of Recovery?

    Spiritual Principles of the 12 Steps:

    1. Honesty
    2. Acceptance
    3. Surrender
    4. Hope
    5. Commitment
    6. Faith
    7. Courage
    8. Willingness
    9. Humility
    10. Unconditional love
    11. Perseverance
    12. Open-mindedness
    13. God-Centeredness
    14. Awareness
    15. Vigilance
    16. Self-discipline
    17. Sharing and caring
    18. Patience
    19. Forgiveness
    20. Optimism
    21. Selflessness
    22. Compassion
    23. Consideration
    24. Kindness
    25. Positive thinking
    26. Responsibility
    27. Tolerance
    28. Trust
    29. Unity
    30. Gratitude
    31. Service

    These spiritual principles are achieved as a result of my doing the steps (today). I cannot wish to have them or acquire them by copying the behavior of others who have them.

    I share all of this with you and anybody else who believes they are alone in the struggle with depression. Thank goodness what I had to deal with 30 years ago is not longer the case. There are 12-step programs for every malady now, even depression.

    - 7/19/2009   1:14:30 PM
  • 65
    As a person who has been depressed my whole life, I can honestly say this makes no sense at all to me. Maybe I'm just too depressed to "get it". - 7/19/2009   12:43:23 PM
  • 64
    "Not all things are possible for us. It’s not like we can literally do anything and everything we want, once we decide what that is. We have our own limitations, we have to consider the needs of those attached to us, and we live in a finite and unpredictable world where things don’t always go as planned, no matter who we are. In short, every choice means leaving something else behind."
    The above sentences from your article really HIT me! This is the way the universe is for most humans. Our reward is to do our best with what we have at the time, take a baby step and then hopefully improve as the days go by. Maybe, most of us just need to be more forgiving of ourselves. Keep trying and God bless your efforts! - 7/19/2009   12:29:19 PM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›