Hi. I’m Emily Rowe and I help people when they’re sad to feel better and start to feel alive again.
Today I want to talk about the difference between depression and grief, and how often I think that people are diagnosed with depression, and what they are struggling with is unprocessed grief.
Now, I like to use the metaphor of unprocessed grief as being on the path in your life, and every time something happens or you lose somebody, or something doesn’t work out, you suffer something, a separation, an abandonment that causes you distress, that you pick up a rock.
You pick up a rock and you put it in your pocket, and you learn to live with that heaviness and you keep going until something else happens and then you pick up another rock, and you pick up another rock, until you get to a point where you have some many rocks in your pocket, and they’re weighing you down so heavily that it’s really really hard for you to move forward, everything feels very difficult because you are weighed down.
Now, psychiatry adopted this term, depression, and created a clinical name with this word, depression.
Now, the actual word, depression, comes from Late Middle English, which is from depremere, which is depressed down.
So it’s like being pressed down.
And that’s where I find this connectivity between this idea of depression and feeling like you’re at a lower energy level and you’re struggling with that energy to go forward.
And the reason why you are is because you have all of these trapped feelings that you haven’t processed.
And the reason why we don’t process our grief is because it’s not really socially sanctioned, and the process of experiencing the abandonment, and letting it come up and reflect upon it is deeply painful.
There’s also a counterpoint to this though.
There’s a flip side in that once we can acknowledge the pain of our loss, we can also reflect on the value of what it was in our lives, that we did lose.
For example, I kind of got blindsided a little bit this weekend.
It’s coming up to my daughter’s birthday, and this year, it will be exactly half her life since her dad has been gone.
And I am kind of stunned that she’s growing into a young woman, and it’s happened so quickly. But at the same time, there’s a sadness that I have for her that she is going through this journey without her father.
And there’s also a great big dose of self-pity in there, I’ll be honest with you.
It’s really hard yards doing this on your own.
It’s very different to the idea of parenting where you’re estranged and/or divorced, there’s custody, and you maybe share custody, and have other people to support you.
That has not been my experience. It has just just been myself and my daughter.
And so the last seven years have been particularly intense.
On top of parenting her, it’s been taking responsibility for finances and focus, and where we’re going to live, and how she’s best supported, and how well I am as a person in terms of me able to be a good parent, to be caring and available and present.
So I would say that there have been a lot of times in my life when I have felt very depressed, and I think it’s been an unwillingness to acknowledge the sorrows that I’ve experienced, because it’s not really cool to be in your sorrows.
It’s not really okay to talk about adversity and difficulty, even though those parts of our life that are the most difficult are the ones that seem to create the most growth.
People don’t really want to know about it.
They want to turn up for the champagne and the cake and sharing the laughs and the good times.
But there are no lasting good times without connectivity.
And the flip side of the connectivity is the loss, is the abandonment.
So every time you are experiencing great joy, sorrow’s just around the corner, because I think that grieving is to sorrow what laughter is to joy.
And you know what it’s like when somebody says something or you’re in a situation where something is extremely funny, and you have to keep a straight face, and you’re trying terribly hard to not laugh and it’s almost impossible, and it’s kind of painful.
The same thing happens with sorrow.
If you try and hold in you, and you don’t express it, and feel it out to its outer edges, then you are going to experience a lot of discomfort.
I’m kind of wrapping up the work that I’m doing on my good grief response, the program that I’m going to have available to the public pretty soon.
This is the last module within a 10 … Sorry. 10 or 9? It was 10-module course.
And I’m pretty excited about it.
This is the grand distillation where I’m weaving in all of the different parts of the course to create one very simple and specific tool to help you with your emotional equilibrium and balance.
Now, if you’ve looked at my other videos before, you’ll see that the three perspectives that I like to work with are our emotions and stories and changes.
And our relationship with all three of those different perspectives is really what informs our lives.
So this final module, I have a tool that I’ve created called the Momentum Loop.
And in the Momentum Loop, it’s exploring this relationship between stories and emotions, and how we can shift perspectives about the stories we tell ourselves about our feelings and the feelings that come up around our stories.
So just a little teaser for you, I’m going to go into a little more detail later, I have just finished that PowerPoint on it, and the worksheets, so I’m pretty excited about presenting that to you.
I guess what I really wanted to share with you is that here I am, it’s almost eight years on, and I’m in good shape, I can’t complain.
Most days I get up, and I’m just extremely grateful that I’m breathing and I’m up, and I have choice, and I have opportunity, and I’m in a position to be able to support other people that have been blindsided by fate.
But the grief is like tiny little trapped bubbles.
If you imagine yourself as a bottle of honey, and then these little bubbles sitting on the bottom, and every so often one of them just releases to the top of the jar.
I think that’s what grief is, and it’s again, this connectivity to our stories.
And this sadness and grief that came up for me over Cal not having her Dad was wrapped up in this narrative of …
It was really about my expectation, having her, and that journey of creating a person together, and how enormous that was.
And the idea that we were sharing on this project, a humanity project, contributing another person to the world.
And Matt being killed, Matt dying.
And he was no longer in a position to do that, and it’s become my sole responsibility.
So a lot of my grief is in that expectation.
But I guess they are the fail-safe narratives that we inform our lives with.
So we are prepared to take risks, like having a family.
But I sat in this pain and I thought about my story, which was about loss and what was missing, and then I started creating more of a tapestry around that narratives, making it more rich, realising that Cal was lucky enough to have her dad for the first seven years of her life.
She’s an incredibly secure, affectionate, emotional person.
She’s really really balanced and stable.
And I think that is because she did have Matt for seven years. So I appreciate the fact that he was there for seven years.
And I also accept that there are no guarantees, that perhaps we’re blindly going to things hopefully that things are going to work out exactly how we would like them to, but surrendering control helps it …
It makes it a lot easier for you to come to terms with things get way they are rather than the way you thought they were going to be.
So tomorrow is the birthday, and it’s quite momentous.
It always seems to spike this year.
It feels a little tougher.
It’s a big birthday for me too.
I had my birthday in March and it feels strange every year to be getting older and older and older.
I’m now older than Matt was he died.
And that’s kind of odd, because we always hadn’t enjoyed that no matter how old I got, he’d always be older than me.
And that’s not true.
I’m actually older than him, and he would be forever young and forever gorgeous.
So I just wanted to share that with you, this idea of grief and depression and realising that sometimes are sorrow, our grief reaction to losing somebody feels extraordinarily huge and it really blocks our ability to go forward.
And it’s not just that loss.
There could be a lifetime of losses behind it that were never processed.
You just kept picking up rocks, small rocks, medium rocks, big rocks, putting them in your pocket and hitting on your way, until finally you’ve just been blindsided by this massive bolder and it’s hard as hell to find your way forward.
So keep your ears out for the Momentum Loop.
I am going to be uploading some more information about that.
I’m going to be doing some brief outlines of the different tools that I’m offering within this program.
I’m very excited about it and I look forward to speaking with you soon.
So thank you for your time and attention.
And if you want to leave any comments, leave them below, and I’ll endeavour to get back to you when I can.
And that’s it for me.