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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5 years ago

Just so eloquent and concise, and timely. Brilliant.

Anne Molenaar
5 years ago

I need to say something critical. Chronic fatigue syndrome, Eppstein Barr, thyroid problems, these aren’t psychological illnesses. They aren’t caused because there is something wrong with a person, or with society, they have a physical cause (which in case of cfs is still unknown). Society’s and personal problems could keep one ill much longer, but this is not the cause!

For the rest, I think this article is beautifully written, thank you. I also think that we you should stay critical of whether what happens to us happens because of the world, or because our way of responding to it. Being anxious, depressed or burned out usually happens because of both.

5 years ago

Wonderful, wonderful!! Thank you!

5 years ago

I have some issues with wording here and there, I did not “summon” EBV or “choose” to develop ME/CFS, but all in all absolutely true.

Charolette A.
5 years ago

Wow! SO affirmed by the message(s) in this story. A tip of the hat to this magnificent writer! Right on point.

5 years ago

I’m just wondering if anyone else has this thought?:
Humanity is always crying out for better conditions. Everyone wants world peace. But if you look into nature there is no world peace there. I saw an injured turtle near a lake with meat bees eating away at its exposed flesh. My instincts were to help the turtle escape the meat bees. But if I were a meat bee fan, maybe I would be on their team and cheer for them for their meal.
Animals in the wild are killing each other and it’s sad depending on who’s side you favor.
Humanity reflects nature in this way. To christians, world peace might be that everyone is saved. To atheists, it might be that science prevails and their children are free from being influenced by religion.
To my husband, world peace would involve free and open sex for all. But to my mom, monogamy is the only world peace she will accept.
I know we all see these terrible issues around the world, I don’t like them either, but in most cases there is someone on the other side of the issue. It’s insane to think that your version of world peace is right for everyone. With the fight for world peace comes unkindness. We are mostly telling other people that they are wrong. But are they? They don’t think so. So how do you know that you are right? Can meat bees eat living turtle flesh in world peace?

Molly Sky
5 years ago

I see this kind of state, (depression, fatigue) reflecting the idea that we are NOT our bodies. Our self concept is that our soul is lugging around this heavy skin suit that is our body-burden.
It has been conditioned in us to think this way by our language. In English we say “my head”, “my arm” etc. We are not separate from our bodies. We ARE our bodies and this is wonderful!
I believe that relaxation is our true nature. When we don’t cling or resist (like when we tense our muscles or over exert) life flows through us. And then we are ALWAYS living our true nature. There will never be a question of wether or not we are on the right track.
Life is geometry and perspectives. We have immense capabilities for sensing the universe, all of which is translated through our senses, making everything us! If we perceive it, it’s us! Light is only light because eyes makes light from waves; sound is only sound because ears translate waves that way.
What I see is an epidemic of people who believe that they are living behind their eyes somewhere, and that they will one day be freed from the body.

R Vao
5 years ago

Umm, where’s the map?

5 years ago

Spot on! Thanks for writing this article!

5 years ago

Put into words EXACTLY what I am currently feeling. My health is beginning to be affected as I become more aware that this world is in a very bad place. I have hope, but it may just be that my life will now be dedicated to paving the way for others to come to the awareness that they are not crazy — the world is.

Doru Tand
5 years ago

The need is great. The time is NOW!

Vanessa L. Jackson
6 years ago

Totally and wholeheartedly agree. Going through my exhaustion and depression has taught me that I must slow down, even when others are forging ahead. My path is mine, no one else’s.

6 years ago

OMG this is it – just what I needed to read. I have been alone all my life – although surrounded by others and it is only recently that I feel am in a place of rest. You speak #truth and you even write like me – paragraph with well searched for photos love it all of it and the content speaks for itself.
Like I said I have now found the place for me to act out my life’s purpose and I help others at the same time transgressing all barriers from how to live their lives, to financial freedom and spiritual truths all from within. I am blessed and tis no wonder you appeared here before me 🙂

6 years ago

It’s well worth remembering that there are psychiatrists and therapists who do not subscribe to the generalised approach that is outlined (and rightly maligned) here. for example Bessel Van Der Kolk. In his book ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ he writes an account of a huge amount of work gone into understanding and helping people work through the long term affects of trauma (such as as experienced through childhood abuse, war, horrific accidents) in the last 40 yrs. This stuff can be really helpful. Yes we all witness and experience events in life which are not good; sometimes these affect us so much that we need help a little help to recover; that doesn’t mean we are told by therapists that we are ‘all wrong’ and ‘need fixing’. On the contrary, a therapist can understand all too well, usually better than ourselves, why whatever has happened to us has affected us; and can help us to find our own route to healing the hurts.

6 years ago

Like others I too have found this article at a time of need. I will read it again and again because it’s content has presented me with a disorientating dilemma and I love this because this is when the deepest learning occurs. Thank you

6 years ago

Thanks for the article, I really appreciate It. I am going trough rough times and your words are just on the spot.

6 years ago

Beautiful post thank you! Birth and rebirth can be difficult, painful and sometimes life threatening events! Thanks for the reminder.

John Budan
6 years ago

This is one of the clearest, most comprehensive articles I’ve read about our plight as humans at this time. I’ve been guilty myself of saying all is well and that it all serves our evolution, and I still believe everything in our experience at this time is exactly what we, as a species, need to be prompted into the next phase of our development – as unpleasant as much of this may seem and how uncomfortable many of us may presently be. Unfortunately (or perfectly fortunate) we need to experience tremendous discomfort to be shaken free of our lethargy, and our discontent will continue to rise until we simply can’t take it anymore – we break, snap, and disintegrate. And then we evolve. Thank you so much for this article and insight. I can talk for hours on this, and I’d love to hear your ideas for speeding our recovery and development. The process of Life becoming more began long ago, and we are still in the process of our awakening to true alignment with who we really are. I feel we are on our verge… Let’s give it a little push, shall we? Our continued communication of what you’ve shared, and methods of restoring our natural balance is where our work lies. I’m ready.

Debra Callum
6 years ago

Could it be true? I m not going insane! Yes indeed my soul tells me to go with the flow, but my ego tells me comr on hurry up do something do anything! I love this article thank you. Where can I get more of this type of discussion please?

Jason O'neal Robles
6 years ago

My soul has been gasping for some sort of relief…

I have been searching incessantly, for something that would validate what I have been experiencing for the past months. Specially towards the end of September.

This is truly, the best confirmation I could possibly find. I am literally experiencing all the symptoms… This article is practically a description of my current circumstances…WOW.

6 years ago

Wonderful article passed on to me by a friend in the Middle East and of interest to me as a clinical psychologist. I can’t help drawing a parallel with the dynamics of alcoholic families where it is forbidden to comment on all the craziness that goes on in the family under threat of emotional abuse or even violence. So one internalizes the nuttiness as “normal.” In the same way, the societal vacuity in the West cannot be commented on without the commentator being ostracized. In the old Soviet Union one was deemed mentally ill if not enthralled with the workers revolution. In the modern West, one is seen as out of touch. Society immunizes itself against criticism by invoking the charge of judgmentalism. Even the most inane and outrageous must be tolerated and not judged. Where can someone raise their voice?

6 years ago

I can only say that this article is validating, and that I am waiting, anticipating the next big push as I am challenged with the diagnoses I have been labeled with. On the one hand, I am happy to know what is “wrong with me,” but on the other, I realized long ago, that what was making me feel overwhelmed, anxious and eventually deeply depressed, unable to navigate my way forward was my response to what was wrong with the world.

My frustration to try and exist in a world where knowledge has been willfully surpassed and ignored, where one’s value is based upon productivity or their means to consume is not isolated, yet I and so many others have been medicated and reinforced with techniques of pop-wellness that are designed to help us cope with our inadequacies in a world of high demands and artifice. The goal of such wellness, often impossibly unrealistic within mechanical systems and cycles dictated by the patterns of economics and social expectation, can be just as stressful as the environments that have caused withdrawal from them in the first place.

It’s not enough to be caught up, struggling to assess and keep up with the price of goods, healthcare, labor, pleasure (all misaligned in a hierarchal pattern that is self-enforcing), but trying to maintain both physical, mental, and, perhaps most importantly, emotional health within such a draining environment can be enough to trigger patterns of hopelessness. I struggle with this daily, trying to maintain an inadequate pharmaceutical regimen, balancing social expectation with personal needs, and to be a happy and productive individual.

My daily reality is one of desperation: a constant allure to withdraw and any failure to sustain interaction bring in to question my attitudes, my commitment, my mental health and “wellness.” I’ve often felt that I’m just not cut out for this world, or rather, that the human world is no longer cut out for individuals like myself who feel out of synch, out of balance, and out of touch within it.

I echo Tracie’s struggles, feeling (or at least having been told for much of my life) that I am too sensitive, and that anything I am incapable of handling or easily become overwhelmed with is due some fault within. The getting through part she describes is a part of my journey, I suppose. I am ready for that push, that moment where things suddenly align, and a clarity of purpose matches what I feel (or rather have had to suppress) within my heart. I don’t know if it is worth hoping for, or whether or such expectation is bound for disappointment.

In the mean time, I will plod on, struggling as I always have, hoping the failures are but just long valleys between the peaks of personal success and enjoyment, of emotional fulfillment and meaning, of acceptance and knowing…

6 years ago

Wow. Never thought of it like this. It makes so much sense.

Jeff Morton
6 years ago

This is very enlightening and definitely holds truth. This year has already been a huge transition as I seperated from my wife. (but “practicing” spirit growth in Christ) I also left my teaching practice as the DOE is all sorts of wrong in so many ways. Yes you come to find that the world is not very accommodating to those in a transition phase and I am still pretty quick to withdraw from those who want to help, but then keep driving you to participate in the systems of Babylon. I want no part and I come across all sorts of treacherous and hurtful people, selfish and ignorant. In this withdraw and need for refuge, I have discovered just how broken my soul was and how we let the vipers of this world eat us alive, and collecting your self alone and building up independence, was not my goal but the wisdom in my Spirit saw this and spoke to me that I needed to make these big changes. At first I questioned myself and my sanity but now I can see that it was a wise choice. While making this withdrawal certainly brings about a whole new set of challenges, my spirit was in a chokehold before and I was literally losing myself and my soul to appease a world that had no right to either. Do not be afraid if you reach that point and things do meet that convergence (God will present you with the choice) and you know you can’t continue or if you do it just isn’t right. Trust yourself but don’t deceive yourself – It will be hard, maybe quite a bit harder- but the right way isn’t always the easiest way! You can take the fruit in knowing that you did what you thought was right and you followed your spirit towards a greater more honorable disposition in this world. Sometimes we get caught in things and we make bad choices, and then we forget that much of the life we built was by bad choices and we try and make gold out of fool’s gold. If you wanna get the real gold you have to rid yourself of all the weight of fool’s gold and go down a new path and find it. Life is no guarantee and you may not ever find it and right now I am still not sure, but I have faith that I will find the right path and make the right moves – at least now I am not blinded by the fool’s gold, weighted down to where you cant breath. I am free of those bonds and while God showed me to stay and be a good father, and be a good supporter of my ex and we men have an obligation and should we walk away there is no excuse to walk away from your children which is not what I am doing. I dont even know I may go back if we make major changes and fix the wrongs to where we are very confident that we can be happy for the long haul. But never will we live in that way, where the children think that this is the proper way to live and love, because they know nothing else…Life is super hard sometimes and I can understand to a degree why we have so much pain and we make our lives harder then they should be. When the storm comes it leaves all in its wake – and after leaving for 5 days my wife nearly died and was in a coma for 13 days totally paralyzed and in septic shock – I pleaded with God to save her and I stayed with her in the hospital – and when she woke up – she knew none of what we all had been through and I had pasteurs coming and going. God certainly tested me and my resolve and my understanding of love and my understanding of commitments – I later told her that I was willing to and wanted to try and work at our marriage but she is not that interested- which I understand and I am not depressed over it – and in a brush with mortality and the finality in it, we can realize just how petty we can get and how selfishness and self loathing become an exercise in futility. We are called to heroism and honor, we are called to a higher purpose, we are called to overcome the facade of worthlessness, and awake in purpose and reason, our spirit is not content in the mediocrity of societal norms, we all have a need to express a larger role in the grand makeup of all the dynamics within the human family and try to set the angels in us free. Remove the strongholds and the demons that attach to the unspirited portions of your life and

E Weintraub
6 years ago

if this was the 1950’s where the scientific method of giving an undisputed proof of mental illness, I would have given your thesis the benefit of some philosophical merit However in the age of MRI’s brain scans and all sorts of medical testings that clearly map and display a “healthy” brain from one that suffers from all the medical conditions you have outlined, I think your article is not only wrong, misleading but straight out irresponsible. Finding inner peace and serenity it has been proven that it greatly assists the human body to heal itself. But not without the aid of modern medicine that restores the chemical imbalance of the brain

E Weintraub

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