By Kaitie Silvertongue
TW: Mention of suicide ideation.
Possibly one of the most annoying things a healthy person can say to a depressed person is, “Just think positive” or “Why not just be happy?”
Speaking as somebody who has suffered severe depression, among other mental health issues, I would just roll my eyes and sigh whenever somebody said this. I still do, because they don’t really know what they’re talking about and are just repeating what they’ve heard others say.
The thing about depression is you can’t just be happy. I think Hyperbole And A Half’s “Depression Part 2” sums this up excellently and if you haven’t read it, I really recommend it. When you’re stuck in this endless void of lack of emotion, you are physically unable to care, and when I was there I thought “I’d rather die than live like this.”
I went to a Martial Medicine seminar with a man named Dr. Chris Roworth who is among the most well respected practitioners of Japanese Integrated Medicine. He told me that probably the easiest cure for depression is happy thoughts. Again, I sighed and rolled my eyes.
And then he went into detail, something nobody had ever done before. It’s not just “Cheer up!” It’s meditate and put forth conscious effort to remembering times you felt happy, things that you enjoy, things you’re looking forward to. Put effort into this for maybe 15 minutes a day.
Here’s a Zen breathing technique to help you meditate:
1. Begin by sitting in the fudosai meditative posture (Feet tucked underneath you. Your feet should not be crossed, at most only your big toes). The mudra or hand position of choice to rest the fingers of the right hand within the fingers of the left hand, palms facing upwards with the thumb tips touching each other. The hands should be then resting comfortably in the area of the lap/genitals.
2. Place the tongue on the roof of the mouth just behind where the teeth join with the palate. Close the eyes.
3. Begin to slowly belly breath, inhaling the air DOWN into the abdomen, expanding the stomach as the air enters the body. Fill the lungs from bottom to top. Inhale for a count of four. Time the breathing with the SLOW counting so that you have filled your lungs just as your reach four.
4. Exhale slowly from the top of your lungs to the bottom, contracting the stomach inwards. This should pull the tummy back inwards toward the spine. Do this for a slow count of ten.
5. Inhale once again, same as before. There should be no pause between the inhaling and the exhaling; the breath is seamless. Focus on the counting to keep the extraneous thoughts from intruding. Continue this for at least ten minutes a day.
The eventual goal is to get the breathing down to between four and six breaths a minute. The downward push of inhale will eventually become testicular breathing and inflate out well below the navel without the upper ribs moving at all.
Note: You should be breathing in to the stomach, not the chest. This lets you take a full breath.
Obviously this doesn’t work for everybody. It might not be your thing. I highly recommend getting medical help in addition to this. Remember, The Rainbow Hub has a list of hotlines and chats if you feel you can’t get help from those around you, or if you don’t feel safe. If you have imminent suicide ideations and think you are an active threat to yourself, please phone emergency services.