Another Way of Looking at Fatigue and Depression

Depression, anxiety, and fatigue are an essential part of a process of metamorphosis that is unfolding on the planet today, and highly significant for the light they shed on the transition from an old world to a new.

When a growing fatigue or depression becomes serious, and we get a diagnosis of Epstein-Barr or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or hypothyroid or low serotonin, we typically feel relief and alarm. Alarm: something is wrong with me. Relief: at least I know I’m not imagining things; now that I have a diagnosis, I can be cured, and life can go back to normal. But of course, a cure for these conditions is elusive.

DiagnosisDepression, anxiety, and fatigue

The Question

The notion of a cure starts with the question, “What has gone wrong?” But there is another, radically different way of seeing fatigue and depression that starts by asking, “What is the body, in its perfect wisdom, responding to?” When would it be the wisest choice for someone to be unable to summon the energy to fully participate in life?

The answer is staring us in the face. When our soul-body is saying No to life, through fatigue or depression, the first thing to ask is, “Is life as I am living it the right life for me right now?” When the soul-body is saying No to participation in the world, the first thing to ask is,

Does the world as it is presented me merit my full participation?

What if there is something so fundamentally wrong with the world, the lives, and the way of being offered us, that withdrawal is the only sane response? Withdrawal, followed by a reentry into a world, a life, and a way of being wholly different from the one left behind?

WithdrawnWhat if withdrawal is the only sane response?

The unspoken goal of modern life seems to be to live as long and as comfortably as possible, to minimize risk and to maximize security. We see this priority in the educational system, which tries to train us to be “competitive” so that we can “make a living”. We see it in the medical system, where the goal of prolonging life trumps any consideration of whether, sometimes, the time has come to die. We see it in our economic system, which assumes that all people are motivated by “rational self-interest”, defined in terms of money, associated with security and survival. (And have you ever thought about the phrase “the cost of living”?) We are supposed to be practical, not idealistic; we are supposed to put work before play. Ask someone why she stays in a job she hates, and as often as not the answer is, “For the health insurance.” In other words, we stay in jobs that leave us feeling dead in order to gain the assurance of staying alive. When we choose health insurance over passion, we are choosing survival over life.

On a deep level, which I call the soul level, we want none of that. We recognize that we are here on earth to enact a sacred purpose, and that most of the jobs on offer are beneath our dignity as human beings. But we might be too afraid to leave our jobs, our planned-out lives, our health insurance, or whatever other security and comfort we have received in exchange for our divine gifts. Deep down, we recognize this security and comfort as slaves’ wages, and we yearn to be free.

RecognitionDeep down, we recognize this security and comfort as slaves’ wages, and we yearn to be free

A Rebellion of The Soul

So, the soul rebels. Afraid to make the conscious choice to step away from a slave’s life, we make the choice unconsciously instead. We can no longer muster the energy to go through the motions. We enact this withdrawal from life through a variety of means. We might summon the Epstein-Barr virus into our bodies, or mononucleosis, or some other vector of chronic fatigue. We might shut down our thyroid or adrenal glands. We might shut down our production of serotonin in the brain. Other people take a different route, incinerating the excess life energy in the fires of addiction. Either way, we are in some way refusing to participate. We are shying away from ignoble complicity in a world gone wrong. We are refusing to contribute our divine gifts to the aggrandizement of that world.

That is why the conventional approach of fixing the problem so that we can return to normal life will not work. It might work temporarily, but the body will find other ways to resist. Raise serotonin levels with SSRIs, and the brain will prune some receptor sites, thinking in its wisdom, “Hey, I’m not supposed to feel good about the life I am living right now.” In the end, there is always suicide, a common endpoint of the pharmaceutical regimes that seek to make us happy with something inimical to our very purpose and being. You can only force yourself to abide in wrongness so long. When the soul’s rebellion is suppressed too long, it can explode outward in bloody revolution. Significantly, all of the school shootings in the last decade have involved people on anti-depression medication. All of them! For a jaw-dropping glimpse of the results of the pharmaceutical regime of control, scroll down this compilation of suicide/homicide cases involving SSRIs. I am not using “jaw-dropping” as a figure of speech. My jaw literally dropped open.

SupressionWhen the soul’s rebellion is suppressed too long

Back in the 1970s, dissidents in the Soviet Union were often hospitalized in mental institutions and given drugs similar to the ones used to treat depression today. The reasoning was that you had to be insane to be unhappy in the Socialist Workers’ Utopia. When the people treating depression receive status and prestige from the very system that their patients are unhappy with, they are unlikely to affirm the basic validity of the patient’s withdrawal from life.

The system has to be sound — after all, it validates my professional status — therefore the problem must be with you.

Unfortunately, “holistic” approaches are no different, as long as they deny the wisdom of the body’s rebellion. When they do seem to work, usually that is because they coincide with some other shift. When someone goes out and gets help, or makes a radical switch of modalities, it works as a ritual communication to the unconscious mind of a genuine life change. Rituals have the power to make conscious decisions real to the unconscious. They can be part of taking back one’s power.

Rituals can be part of taking back one’s power.Rituals can be part of taking back one’s power.

I have met countless people of great compassion and sensitivity, people who would describe themselves as “conscious” or “spiritual”, who have battled with CFS, depression, thyroid deficiency, and so on. These are people who have come to a transition point in their lives where they become physically incapable of living the old life in the old world. That is because, in fact, the world presented to us as normal and acceptable is anything but. It is a monstrosity. Ours is a planet in pain. If you need me to convince you of that, if you are unaware of the destruction of forests, oceans, wetlands, cultures, soil, health, beauty, dignity, and spirit that underlies the System we live in, then I have nothing to say to you. I only am speaking to you if you do believe that there is something deeply wrong with the way we are living on this planet.

TransitionPeople who have come to a transition point in their lives

Anxiety ‘Disorders’

A related syndrome comprises various “attention deficit” and anxiety “disorders” (forgive me, I cannot write down these words without the ironic quotation marks) which reflect an unconscious knowledge that something is wrong around here. Anxiety, like all emotions, has a proper function. Suppose you left a pot on the stove and you know you forgot something, you just can’t remember what. You cannot rest at ease. Something is bothering you, something is wrong. Subliminally you smell smoke. You obsess: did I leave the water running? Did I forget to pay the mortgage? The anxiety keeps you awake and alert; it doesn’t let you rest; it keeps your mind churning, worrying. This is good. This is what saves your life. Eventually you realize — the house is on fire! — and anxiety turns into panic, and action.
So if you suffer from anxiety, maybe you don’t have a “disorder” at all — maybe the house is on fire. Anxiety is simply the emotion corresponding to “Something is dangerously wrong and I don’t know what it is.” That is only a disorder if there is in fact nothing dangerously wrong. “Nothing is wrong, just you” is the message that any therapy gives when it tries to fix you. I disagree with that message. The problem is not with you. You have very good reason to be anxious. Anxiety keeps part of your attention away from your tasks of polishing the silverware as the house burns down, of playing the violin as the Titanic sinks. Unfortunately, the wrongness you are tapping into might be beyond the cognizance of the psychiatrists who treat you, who then conclude that the problem must be your brain.

AnxiousThe problem is not with you

Similarly, Attention Deficit Disorder, ADHD, and my favorite, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) are only disorders if we believe that the things presented for our attention are worth paying attention to. We cannot admit, without calling into question the whole edifice of our school system, that it may be completely healthy for a ten-year-old boy to not sit still for six hours in a classroom learning about long division and Vasco de Gama. Perhaps the current generation of children, that some call the Indigos, simply have a lower tolerance for school’s agenda of conformity, obedience, external motivation, right-and-wrong answers, the quantification of performance, rules and bells, report cards and grades and your permanent record. So we try to enforce their attention with stimulants, and subdue their heroic intuitive rebellion against the spirit-wrecking machine.

As I write about the “wrongness” against which we all rebel, I can hear some readers asking, “What about the metaphysical principle that it’s ‘all good’?” Just relax, I am told, nothing is wrong, all is part of the divine plan. You only perceive it as wrong because of your limited human perspective. All of this is only here for our own development. War: it gives people wonderful opportunities to make heroic choices and burn off bad karma. Life is wonderful, Charles, why do you have to make it wrong?

I am sorry, but usually such reasoning is just a sop to the conscience. If it is all good, then that is only because we perceive and experience it as terribly wrong. The perception of iniquity moves us to right it.

IniquityThe perception of iniquity moves us to right it

Nonetheless, it would be ignorant and fruitless to pass judgment upon those who do not see anything wrong, who, oblivious to the facts of destruction, think everything is basically fine. There is a natural awakening process, in which first we proceed full speed ahead participating in the world, believing in it, seeking to contribute to the Ascent of Humanity. Eventually, we encounter something that is undeniably wrong, perhaps a flagrant injustice or a serious health problem or a tragedy near at hand. Our first response is to think this is an isolated problem, remediable with some effort, within a system that is basically sound. But when we try to fix it, we discover deeper and deeper levels of wrongness. The rot spreads; we see that no injustice, no horror can stand in isolation. We see that the disappeared dissidents in South America, the child laborers in Pakistan, the clearcut forests of the Amazon, are all intimately linked together in a grotesque tapestry that includes every aspect of modern life. We realize that the problems are too big to fix. We are called to live in an entirely different way, starting with our most fundamental values and priorities.

All of us go through this process, repeatedly, in various realms of our lives; all parts of the process are right and necessary. The phase of full participation is a growth phase in which we develop gifts that will be applied very differently later. The phase of trying to fix, to endure, to soldier on with a life that isn’t working is a maturation phase that develops qualities of patience and determination and strength. The phase of discovering the all-encompassing nature of the problem is usually a phase of despair, but it need not be. Properly, it is a phase of rest, of stillness, of withdrawal, of preparation for a push. The push is a birth-push. Crises in our lives converge and propel us into a new life, a new being that we hardly imagine could exist, except that we’d heard rumors of it, echoes, and maybe even caught a glimpse of it here and there, been granted through grace a brief preview.

Glimpse of graceCrises in our lives converge and propel us into a new life

If you are in the midst of this process, you need not suffer if you cooperate with it. I can offer you two things. First is self-trust. Trust your own urge to withdraw even when a million messages are telling you, “The world is fine, what’s wrong with you? Get with the program.” Trust your innate belief that you are here on earth for something magnificent, even when a thousand disappointments have told you you are ordinary. Trust your idealism, buried in your eternal child’s heart, that says that a far more beautiful world than this is possible. Trust your impatience that says “good enough” is not good enough. Do not label your noble refusal to participate as laziness and do not medicalise it as an illness. Your heroic body has merely made a few sacrifices to serve your growth.

The second thing I can offer you is a map. The journey I have described is not always linear, and you may find yourself from time to time revisiting earlier territory. When you find the right life, when you find the right expression of your gifts, you will receive an unmistakable signal. You will feel excited and alive. Many people have preceded you on this journey, and many more will follow in times to come. Because the old world is falling apart, and the crises that initiate the journey are converging upon us. Soon many people will follow the paths we have pioneered. Each journey is unique, but all share the same basic dynamics I have described. When you have passed through it, and understood the necessity and rightness of each of its phases, you will be prepared to midwife others through it as well. Your condition, all the years of it, has prepared you for this. It has prepared you to ease the passage of those who will follow. Everything you have gone through, every bit of the despair, has been necessary to forge you into a healer and a guide. The need is great. The time is coming soon.

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Feature Image: Tomasz Alen Kopera



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Adrienne Isnard
6 years ago

Thank you so much – this has helped me refocus on the realisation…. I had it and then lost it, affected by the worries of others which gave me fright about living my life my way….I am still trying to find a way through. This has been so helpful

Christina Freeman
6 years ago

wOw! YES!!! Shared to 10TU8! Thank yoU ♥ (C) …..vvIvIvvv∀I..ʘ..IAʌʌʌIʌIʌʌ…..

Melurielle Lania Kea
6 years ago

Very nicely written, so much truth, thank you!

<3 धन्यवादाः <3

russell a st.clair
6 years ago

all true but missed one important thing , living with a gun to your head . Not being able to make a choice of my own but the choice the person holding the gun decree’s.

7 years ago

I have worked for twenty five years on the frontline of homelessness and with young individuals and families whom reside on the fringe/denied access of the mainstream pathways to the “system of success”. I have long believed that the plague of mental health issues i have witnessed is a spiritual despair: a soul yearning for valid and relevant connection and purpose. I left the sector and rested my exhausted soul for more than a year – forfeiting stability; status ( professional, familial and social); financial viability both current and future. I am about to make a move back amongst it…need to pay rent…. going to be interesting cause it is very hard to motivate young people whom are suffering anxiety/depression/substance use issues to make a step towards owning their future, identifying where they belong in this mess… and I can’t sell the gig to them…dont want to….I can’t steer them towards the relentless activity, much of it unnatural that is required to maintain the “modern game” so damaging and numbing to the spirit, heart, soul, mind and physical wellbeing of our bodies. Maybe we – my future clients and I, with our souls hurting – can find a pathway of motivation to a new norm. I believe in work, self accountability, contributing to community but this gig we got going has too many inherent evils, absurdities and unnatural requirements to be sane or sustainable. Wish me luck…:

Melinda Vale
7 years ago

You always find the words to speak for my soul. Thank you!

7 years ago

Thank you. What an illuminating article.

Fredthegod Donawa
7 years ago

Great article

Kathleen E. Foster
7 years ago

Your writing is so clear and easy and simple. Thank you, thank you, thank you…

El Dave
7 years ago

God I needed to read this.. I honestly didn’t think someone else existed that could write it out so accurately. This feeling, like the quicksand that is under every thought. Thanks for writing this.

7 years ago

This makes all the sense. All the sense! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing these words!

Barbara Sinclair
7 years ago

Charles, I am absolutely blown away by your article. It is truly one of the best I’ve read. I lived this (of course, I’m still living!) – healed after seven years of fibromyalgia. It ended several years ago. I was one of the lucky ones. My soul guided me through that experience and it changed my life in ways I couldn’t imagine. Looking back, there were so many people urging me to medicate, but I knew there was another way and always resisted. I’ve always needed to retreat, even as a young child. I learned as an adult to give myself permission. Solitude was a huge part of my recovery. I’m an artist and now a holistic health practitioner. So many people contact me seeking help. They are desperate. I’m saving this article to pass along to each and every person who looks to me for help. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this. Barbara

7 years ago

Every word of this article rings true. I completely identify with the author and am sure that he/she has gone through a life-altering process.
Especially loved the ‘map’ of the journey – it is SOOO accurate, its scary.

7 years ago

Thanks for framing a useful perspective on the increasing discomfort that envelopes so much of humanity. It rings true and truth can set us free.

Lucy Rowland
7 years ago

Great advice. The reintegration of body, mind and soul is paramount to our survival. Healing through quietening the mind, nourishing our bodies, minds and souls. Accepting and loving ourselves in gratitude wherever we are on our journey and trusting with patience that through our awesomeness we will find friends along the way.

Jessica Green
7 years ago

The malaise we feel is symptomatic of these times, but what to do? What do we do after withdrawing? I’m at a loss…

Tracie Louise
7 years ago

Finding this article at this time has been like a lifeboat. The daily unrelenting physical pain (which then leads to depression), has all but totally worn me down. But this makes SO much sense. When the doctors can’t find anything wrong, but you body refuses to function as it should, you are left feeling dazed and confused, and even like a failure at life, because everyone else seems to be able to cope and function. Being hyper sensitive my entire life, I have always struggled in a way most people can’t understand. I don’t understand it myself. This article gives me hope. But my question, is what can we do? Is there anything we can actively do to help ourselves get through this? I personally can’t take the pain for much longer and I can only see one other way out.

Brian Scott
7 years ago

YES YES YES. I have for many years tried different modalities and am currently under psychiatric care to “fix what is wrong with me”. A recent FB posting said that maybe why any of these modalities can’t or don’t fix you is because there is nothing wrong with you! That was an eye opener for for me. This post has totally opened my eyes!!! Its NOT ME!!!!!! Even with cymbalta holding off major episodes of my soul rebelling against where I am right now – depression. Meditation helps immensely. Music is my soul’s saviour. My bliss. I get more bliss out of music than anything else. Meditation included. Shamanic journeying is not possible and I think I know why. My soul already knows. It is starting to remember the way and doesn’t really need a major push. It just needs the occassional guide to steer me back on track.

Daniel Bowman
7 years ago

Just because you don’t bleed, doesn’t mean you are not hurt. Hurt more than anyone could possibly imagine. Mental health is grossly overlooked, and mental illnesses stigmatized.
I battled depression for years, and I am so grateful that I managed to fight that daemon off.
For anyone suffering from depression, I recommend something that has helped me a lot. It is a natural system developed by a former depression and PTSD sufferer, and teaches a totally natural 7 step process which relieves depression from your life. To see for yourself google lookingupstuff/depression

7 years ago

yes the body world has been so smacked down by the “fear of nature, death, pain while the emotional construct has been limited to fit a social agenda, maintaining a status quo of some absurd beliefs about hierarchy and control via the old god/king ego story. I see this as causing so many problems…pick a topic! Anyway I am experimenting with getting in better touch with body as a way to wake senses and refresh the psyche and spirit of life energy aan organic reboot. This aligns with the identity, ego refresh work ..seems they relate and support each other. So not the world i was taught toaccept!

Kim Williams
7 years ago

This article absolutely rings true; it clearly pinpoints the absolute truths about humanality (as I like to call it), specifically the focus on the conundrum of opposition of the destructive, collective, structured system of living we are all now born into, and who we are as grappling instinctive living beings. As humans this is additionally significantly more complex because of a divinely created spiritual essence which all people possess, some are aware of this dimension, some are not. This awareness now heightened in many people create these so called abnormalities, and a plethora of reactive symptomatic treatments that in fact worsen the condition of inevitable human evolution.

7 years ago

There’s some interesting stuff here, though one thing I do think is that sometimes we need to take medication of some kind to give us the push or temporary symptomatic relief to be able to see our Iives clearly and start making the necessary changes to improve them. None of this is really of much use to the person who has such bad depression that they can’t get out of bed and aren’t feeling anythig

Gloria Jean
7 years ago

This is the best article I have read in a very very long time.

Nishchaye Gokool
7 years ago

Thank you. much needed faith was restored, and the will to keep going is burning stronger.

Lisa Miller
7 years ago

Many thanks for this article. It has been very enlightening for me as a counsellor, as a mum to two teenagers and as an employee who has just made herself unemployed. I too am taking time out to withdraw from life and explore possibilities.
Best wishes.

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