Warning! This is me working through a really, really depressive episode. I talk about all kinds of traumatic stuff. Yet I also find a way to resolve it, and I show you the method I used. Read only if you feel ready.
I went through a really tough time the other day. It was a full on “Depression Crisis”, so I worked with it by writing.
What I did was to put into practice what Havi calls the “three part method”. It’s at the core of pretty much all spiritual teachings I’ve encountered (that’s not many), and it’s proven the only way to work with your emotional turmoil.
The “Three Part Method” or “The 3 As”
The 3 As are: Awareness (or acknowledge). Allow. Action.
First: Awareness. You become aware that you are totally having a Misery Attack. You stop on your tracks and recognise it for what it is.
Second: Allow. You take the misery seriously. You stop pretending it’s not there. You agree with it and you let it be there.
Third: Action. You take some form of action, with the new perspective you have acquired through following steps 1 & 2.
I’ve been applying this technique to my bouts of emotional turmoil for a while now, which is why I was able to do it kinda instinctively. But you can still see how I apply the method.
I sat down mid-crisis and this is what I wrote.
I’m feeling horrifically at the moment. It’s a real misery attack. The eye of the depression maelstrom.
There was a trigger… or two (never mind what) and I was thrown into the realisation that…
“Oh, right. It has been a sh*t day. And a sh*t week. And a sh*t month. And a really, really sh*tty decade.”
And that leads me straight into “you only get 7 decades in this life, if you’re lucky. I’ve wasted one”
And that can only take me into “Suicide Land” also known as… “just kill yourself already”.
Like I said. Truly horrific stuff.
You can see here I’m beginning to acknowledge what is going on… but it’s still difficult. It’s really hard to acknowledge that you are feeling horrible! And in this case, it took full on suicidal fantasies to make me realise that “Oh, I am totally feeling miserable here.”
First I wouldn’t dream of talking myself out of feeling this way.
For the record, I only tried this approach… my entire life. And it never worked. (In fact, it only made things worse)
So, when Imo asks “How are you?” I no longer respond with “I’m OK”. Now I say “I’m not OK. I’m really, really not OK.” This is important.
I am becoming more and more aware… And I’m beginning to take it seriously and to allow the feeling to be there.
When I say I feel that this whole decade has been sh*t… when I say everything has been utterly, utterly horrible for a decade and a half… then that’s what I feel. I’m not even trying to deny this. There is no way I could interpret all this misery as anything other than “horrific”. So that’s what I feel.
More acknowledging and allowing. Saying “I’m not going to deny this”. That’s allowing right there.
I no longer try to talk myself into perceiving it differently. Like “Well, not everything has been utterly horrible! What about…?”. No. I no longer do that. It’s an evil thing to say at a time like this. Everything HAS been horrific. For a long, long time. That’s that. That’s how I feel. End of.
My perception of my life. Mine. I get to decide over whether it’s been horrific or not. And not all the well meaning people in the world, and not all the well meaning monsters in my head are going to override my own personal perception of my life. It’s been horrific. Everyone, back off. My life, my view. My opinion. There.
This is “allowing” with a vengeance! I am actively defending my right to perceive my life in whichever way I want.
I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that everything has been horrific since forever. With the fact that I have tons of trauma to recover from. And nothing to show for at my 29 years of living on this planet.
I am defending my Goddess Given right to define my life. Yes, even if that means labeling it “horrific”. It’s what I feel. It’s what it feels like right now.
Which means that clearly some part of me needs to see my life as horrific. It’s clear that some part of me needs me to acknowledge that my life has been horrific.
Awesome! I have acknowledged that there is a part of me who thinks my life has been horrific. I can now talk directly to this part of me and tell her it’s ok to feel this way and think this way. This is the essence of allowing and it’s also where the magic happens. If you can address the part of you who is trying to call your attention, then you are *this* close to resolving the conflict.
So. Hello part of me who thinks that my life has been horrific. I can totally, totally see why you think this. I mean… I won’t even try to describe all the ways everything has been utterly horrible. It’s bad enough to have lived a horrific life. So. I totally agree with you. You have every right… every DAMN right to say that life has been horrific. It has. I hear you.
And yeah, I also agree with you that the rational, logical thing to do would be to end this horrific life right now. Because going by past experience, of things being utterly horrible forever… there is no reason, not a single shred of evidence that would indicate that the future won’t be just as horrific.
I am totally acknowledging and validating her point of view. I am listening to what she needs to say: and she clearly needs to tell me that everything has been horrible.
So yeah, you dread living because everything is horrible and everything has been horrible forever. And you really, really don’t want things to carry on being horrible. And yet you totally see that, whenever you told me “I don’t want things to be so horrible!” and some part of me replied “but maybe it won’t be so horrible! Who knows? Nobody knows what the future holds. I mean, something amazing and wonderful may happen”. And I see that you feel… betrayed. Because, let’s face it. We didn’t kill ourselves at 15 because “something amazing and wonderful may happen!”. And bullsh*t did anything amazing happen! Instead we had abuse, trauma, more abuse, more depression… and a couple of entirely unexpected things, like poverty and homelessness thrown in the mix.
So I’m not even going to try this time to tell you “who knows, something wonderful may happen”. Because you don’t see it that way. And I am you, so if you don’t see it that way, then I don’t see it that way. You feel that clinging onto the “hope” that things will get better… the “hope” that, let’s face it, a “miracle” may happen is a waste of time… because it has been a waste of time so far.
This is so important! We do this all the time, and we mean well. We tell ourselves “well, things can only get better”.
But it’s totally the wrong thing to say at a time like this! Because the part of us who is screaming with pain needs for us to listen to how much horror and pain there really is. And if we try to “talk her out of it”, she will only scream louder. The essence of acknowledging is to acknowledge it fully as it is, in all it’s painful horribleness.
So this is what I’m going to do. I’m not even going to try to argue with you. I am going to stay here and agree with you. And listen to you. You feel horrible, and you are entirely justified in feeling horrible. It’s your feeling. YOUR FEELING! YOUR LIFE!!! And I’m going to accept whatever you feel and whatever you perceive. Because you are a part of me. You are me. And your feelings and your thoughts are important.
Now I apply compassion…
And I’m also going to tell you… that I’m really, really sorry that everything has been so, so, so sh*t. I am really, really sorry that every instance of past sh*t is still firmly lodged in your memory, so that you carry around decades of sh*tty memories. I really am sorry. I would have wanted nothing more than for a “miracle” to have happened, and for us to be enjoying something wonderful and beautiful and amazing.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I am totally on board with you that things are shit and things have been shit. And yeah, they might be shit forever. They certainly feel like they will be shit forever… because you feel that way.
This is when I apply the “Action” step. Now, with “action” it doesn’t always have to be about “doing something” concrete. It’s about actively and consciously doing something you feel you need to do, because you have gained a new perspective on things from steps 1 and 2.
But no matter what has happened, and no matter what will happen, we can always, always wish for things to be or have been different. So, I wish things have been different. And I wish something amazing, wonderful and beautiful happens to us. It may not. It feels like nothing wonderful could ever happen, after all this shit. And it does feel like we have every reason to just kill ourselves already.
But even if that happened? We can at least wish. Wishing is just a fancy way of saying “WANTING”. I want a wonderful life. I want us to have a wonderful life. And to begin to relax in this wonder and finally, finally, begin the long process of healing all the horrific past trauma.
Yep. In this case my Action is wishing and wanting.
No matter what happens, we can want. And wish. This is something we can do. We can’t control anything else. We can’t control what happens in the future.
But we can want whatever the HELL we want. And I want wonder. Beautiful landscapes, and amazing adventures. Gorgeous surroundings, delicious food. Travelling. Mind expanding experiences. And love. Sweet, sweet, unbelievably sweet love. Hell, love so sweet I am moved to give up sugar.
This we can do. We can totally wish this. I’m wishing you this.
And by wishing and wanting, I show the part of me who feels that everything is and has been horrific that I am on her side. And we are no longer fighting.
First, I acknowledge her existence (Awareness). Then, I listen to her and agree with her (Allow). Then I do something that reassures her that we are on the same team (Action). I acknowledge her wish and show her it’s my wish too.
I am making myself super vulnerable by publishing all this stuff online. But I do it in the hope that you can see how I apply the techniques, and so understand better how you can apply them yourself.
What I would like: to know if you find this useful.
What I’d rather not have: any suggestion that “my life is not horrible”. This is only going to trigger the part of me who really feels that everything has been horrible. And the point of this exercise is to reassure her and let her know she’s allowed to feel that way.
And now, my wish is for you to learn this method so you can work with your Misery Attacks and learn how to befriend all parts of yourself.
So much love to you for reading and for being on this journey with me.