One of the most damaging aspects of depression (apart from shredding a person’s sense-of-self to pieces and making happiness seem like an unlearnable foreign language) is the shame that can make a person feel like an uncertain houseguest in the world-at-large. Shame and depression create a feedback loop that is difficult to break. Did I just say something I shouldn’t have? Am I a failure because I would rather stare at the ceiling than interact with friends or family? Why can’t I just get a grip and do what I need to do? It’s easy to believe these kinds of thoughts because another word for depression is confirmation bias.
Depression is an inside job that gains an increasingly stronger foothold through your personal narratives and thought-patterns. In other words, you are what you think. Research shows that being mindful of our thoughts effectively reduces depression by giving us the agency to challenge our automatic ideas and reactions. The “lens” of depression can make life seem like an inescapable trap. Mindfulness is an invaluable tool to challenge this notion.
Creating space for recovery in the vortex of shame and depression.
Mindfulness creates space in the seemingly inescapable vortex of shame and depression by allowing us to step back and see ourselves at a new angle. This new angle is evidence in and of itself that we have the capacity to become our own support system.
Completing a low-commitment creative project is an effective way to jumpstart a mindful way of thinking. Sit down with a pile of newspapers and magazines and begin to cut out images that appeal to you. Making these very basic choices forces you to distinguish your values and preferences and think actively as opposed to reactively. Once you have enough images, assemble and paste your collection of images into a collage. Be sure to cover the entire paper (or piece of cardboard) and then step back to view your creation!
Making creative choices allows us to express ourselves in new ways, and this is invaluable when it comes to creating space in our minds to be mindful. We can benefit our mental health by using the tool of mindful imagination in order to see ourselves in a different light and relate to our potential and not the shame.