One thing I’ve noticed about the Empaths, Intuitives, and Energy Workers I’ve met over the years is the high number of whom that live with Depression. I don’t mean the general ‘bummed out’ feeling one gets now and again… I mean Depression, the Entity that moves into one’s brain and heart and sets up long-term/permanent residence, the thing that has no body of its own and yet has a distinctive palpable presence which leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth, the puppet master which can artfully turn people into marionettes and force them to dance clumsily to a hopeless dirge.

Now, I’m not saying anyone who suffers from Depression is Sensitive. Nor am I saying all Sensitives have this “dark tenant” living within. Let’s face it, Depression is something that a high percentage of the population lives with. Where once it was a topic of discussion to be had in hushed tones in the back corner of some dark room, people are now coming to terms with the fact that Depression is a) common, b) often times genetically handed down, and c) not going anywhere any time soon.

There are a few things that can have an effect on Depression: the weather, the foods we eat, and the medications we take are on the list. Sensitives have a few additional things on that list: the people we hang out with and/or work with, the buildings we work in, the homes we live in.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D., is what it sounds like: the weather’s ability to effect how one feels. Dark storm clouds that make you turn up the collar on your coat as you hurry your step to get home. Cold, grey skies that have you reaching for your favourite sweater and a mug of cocoa (I’ll have mine with marshmallows, please). Harsh, angry winds that make you hunch your shoulders up around your ears as they pound against your walls and whistle through your eaves. Fresh Spring breezes that carry the scent of new life budding on the trees. Bright, blue skies that make you think of sandy beaches and children laughing. The warmth of the Sun as it reaches deep inside of you and hugs your Soul. Crisp Autumn winds that blow colourful leaves about your ankles and make you think of a cozy fireplace. That first snowfall that sparkles in the light of a Full Moon, the one that brings all the magic and wonder of Winter to dance upon your heart. Perhaps it goes back to the days when our ancestors relied so heavily upon good weather days for survival. The effects weather could have on the life of a person that lived in a cave (tent, castle, wooden shack, one room farmhouse that wasn’t quite plumb) were varied and could be drastically life altering. Those that hunted for food and/or grew crops knew the harsh realities of day-to-day weather. Now, with (somewhat) standardized First World living conditions and the next hunting expedition as close as the nearest grocery store, we’re not as reliant on weather conditions for physical survival – but our mental survival still takes a hit. There is a way to help alleviate the symptoms, aside from chemical intervention responsibly prescribed by a licensed physician. One can purchase a Sun Lamp, which simulates the Sun’s rays, and curl up on a favourite chair with a good book. One can also take Vitamin D on a daily basis – I do this myself, and it does help. I’ve also heard good things about St. John’s Wort, and would advise speaking with said aforementioned physician before trying it as there may be counteractions with medications. Of course, getting as much natural Vitamin D is best. Go for a 20-30 minute walk on a sunny day, at least three times per week. It gets you out of the house, changes your mindset, and releases natural endorphins – all good things to help you feel better! Sometimes the hardest thing to do is get out of bed, or get up off the couch. Once you’ve taken that first step, the rest is all physics – a body in motion tends to stay in motion, a body at rest does nothing to get out of the rut it’s in.

Believe it or not, food is a HUGE contributing factor to how we feel. Raise your hand if you have at least one comfort food. Ok, so if you’re at a public computer or on your laptop at a coffee shop maybe you should lower your hand… In all seriousness, though, food is a big thing. I’m not going to get into the issue of allergies, intolerances, and dietary choices – that’s a whole other topic of conversation, and not one I’m touching upon today. But I digress. Heavier foods like breads, pasta, rice, starches in general (and that includes potatoes) tend to weigh us down both physically and mentally. Lighter foods like vegetables don’t seem to leave the same ball of lead sitting in our stomachs. Try as I might, I just can’t seem to indulge on a mixed green salad to the point where I have an uncomfortable ‘food baby’ and need to unbutton my pants for relief. If you find you’re experiencing some darker than usual days, look to what you’re putting in your body. Try keeping a food journal, make notes on how you feel after you eat greasy or processed foods and see if it differs from how you feel after eating a garden salad with grilled chicken. Oven pizzas and pre-made microwave dinners are easy, but what’s the price one pays for that convenience?

Many people have sought, and found, relief from their Depression with chemical intervention. Some, like myself, have tried that route and found it wasn’t an option for them. I can’t speak for everyone when it comes to medications, but I can share my experiences. Some have asked why I choose not to treat my Depression with chemicals. The answer is simple; I didn’t like who I was while taking those medications. There are so many different medications on the market because humans themselves are so different, what works for one person may not work for another person. I tried a few different ones over the years, and after trying the third or fourth one I decided to stop playing chemical roulette. I found I felt like a drooling zombie (and apparently closely resembled one, as well). I didn’t have any variations in emotional range what so ever. And while that might be the desired result, rather than sitting mid-way on the spectrum, my emotional range was more along the lines of a slug. I didn’t have ‘happy’ days, I had a never-ending stream of days where I simply didn’t care… I couldn’t appreciate the warmth of the Sun, or the contented purr of the cat on my lap. I wasn’t living, I was existing – and that wasn’t something I was willing to accept. I need the good days to help get me through the bad days. Knowing the Sun will come back out to play makes the dreary days of seemingly never-ending rain more bearable.

Now I’ve come to the point of a double-edged sword – friends. Friends are one of the best ways to combat Depression. Friends can listen while you vent over a cup of coffee. Friends can show up on your doorstep and drag you out for a walk in the Sun. Friends can give you a much-needed kick in the rear end to help you with that forward momentum that you can’t seem to muster on your own. Friends can be AWESOME – if you have the right friends. Well, perhaps ‘the right friends’ isn’t quite the correct phrase. The reality of the situation is: friends are human, and humans are imperfect. Any number of your friends might be experiencing their own Depressive Bouts, especially if weather is a contributing factor. Or perhaps there are so many things demanding their attention (work, family, relationships, medical appointments) that they have little to no time to look up from their own lives to see what’s going on around them. People these days have so much going on in their lives that they only have enough energy to expend on the things that demand attention. And this is where Depression plays Catch 22. Depression touches us in so many ways. It can manifest insecurities, lower our self-esteem, and bring on self-doubt. Depression is able to mimic voices and say things like “No one likes you, no one wants to hang out with you, everyone is having such an awesome time because you’re not around”… Stop me if you’ve heard any of these coming from the dark, inner reaches of your brain… Personally, I get a lot of “You’re not good enough, you’ll never be smart enough or pretty enough or thin enough or strong enough, or funny enough, there’s no point in trying to do anything because you’ll mess it up, and everyone is better than you”. I’ve lived with these voices for a very long time, since I was about 10 years old. I know how much easier it is to withdraw into yourself and hide away from the world rather than reach out and risk rejection. The thing is, when these voices start to get loud(er), that’s the time you NEED to get out, you NEED to call your friends, you NEED the positive reinforcement that only they can give you. Think of your Positive Self like a car battery – sometimes your energy level is low enough that you need a boost to get it going. But, you need to make that call or send that text, otherwise you’re just stranded on the Highway of Life while everyone zooms passed you, focused on their own path and trying to avoid potholes. Yeah, I know, I get it – you don’t want to be a bother to anyone. You don’t want to intrude, or interrupt your friends’ amazingly awesome lives… Here’s the twist, your friend(s) may be going through the same thing. They may need a boost, too. Maybe they’re so wrapped up in things that they forgot to schedule that much-needed deviation from their everyday rat race of a life. Or maybe they’re sitting at home, twiddling their thumbs, wondering how many times leftovers can be safely re-heated… You won’t know, unless you get in touch with them. And for the record while social media sites have their good points, reliability in connecting with others ain’t one of them. Not all of your posts show up in your friends’ news feeds, or perhaps a particular friend isn’t on that particular site very often, or perhaps the friend you really want to connect with is unable to connect to the interwebz (work policy, technical issues, etc). Go the direct route, it’s more reliable. And yes, to all my friends out there, I get the irony of the situation – Writer, heed thy own words… Anyone got time for a cuppa?

This is the part that is the double-edged sword… Some of your friends may be Negative Nellies, or Energy Vampires – you know the kind I mean, the ones that just seem to suck the life out of everything. The ones who can’t enjoy the warmth of the Sun because they’re thinking about skin cancer. Rather than taking the time to stop and smell the roses, they complain about hay fever and high pollen count. We all have experienced these people, some of us may even be one (unintentionally, of course). This is not the kind of person you need to be around during a Depressive Bout, especially if you’re Sensitive. Not only do they FEED on bad stuff, they generate more of it. Dark Energy is easier to spread around than Light Energy, Hate and Anger are easier to promote than Love and Harmony. To use a food analogy, it’s easier to open a box of pre-processed food that is full of chemicals & preservatives and toss it in the microwave for two minutes than it is to create a healthy meal from scratch with ingredients you can pronounce. The pay off is faster and pretty much guaranteed, but you’ll likely feel like crap afterward.

We get to choose our friends. We don’t always get to choose who we work with. You may have a co-worker that revels in idle gossip and hate mongering, or maybe they feel bad about themselves so they tear someone else down to make themselves feel better. It’s difficult to deal with someone like that when you’re in an environment you have little control over. Changing the topic of conversation works. So does getting up and leaving the area, go get a drink of water or visit the loo. A more direct (read brave/blunt) person might actually challenge a Negative Nellie – sometimes they really don’t know they’re a Negative Person. Try not to take this Energy home with you. Shake it off after work, ground it out, shower when you get home, don’t discount a good cleansing breath, or ten… – don’t make that Energy your own, you have enough stuff to deal with.

Because Sensitives pickup on the Energy around them, when a Depressive Bout is in full swing we feel everything MORE. We have difficulty raising our shields to guard against what we’re exposed to. So now not only are we trying to deal with our own issues, we’re now sifting through Bob’s sore tooth, Mary’s arthritis, Jean’s sore back, Nancy’s insecurities, and Willa’s negativity. It gets to be too much. Especially if a Sensitive lives with someone who has chronic issues – there’s nowhere to go… And those that don’t understand what their able to do will take all those outside issues on as their own, the lines between what belongs to them and what belongs to others is blurred and there’s no distinction between them. Trying to recognize what is “yours” takes a bit of practice. Sometimes it’s very obvious, for example suddenly experiencing hateful racial thoughts or the desire to kick a kitten where that’s never been something you’ve thought of before… Other times it isn’t as obvious. When you notice something that isn’t yours, release it. Don’t own it, don’t even borrow it for a time – because it can quickly move in and set up house in your head and you’ll have a new ‘tenant’ to deal with.

Energy is a powerful force which can stick around for a while. Two analogies immediately come to mind. One is that of a concert goer has spent hours rocking out to their favourite band and can’t hear properly for a day or two afterward because of the overwhelming noise they’ve heard. The other is cigarette smoke, the tendrils that rise up from the cigarette itself and wisp around the light fixtures, or the exhaled smoke that spreads far and wide – not to mention that it seeps into the furniture and the curtains, and leaves a yellow residue on the walls and ceiling. Some Energy is like the audible assault, it can heal itself given time – that would be what we come across in the run of the day (friends, co-workers, passersby, transit users, cranky customers). But what we exude ourselves is more like the cigarette smoke. We secrete it in our work space, and/or living space. We sit in it, day after day. And we absorb what we’re exposed to, so what we secrete, we take back in. This is what brings on that general feeling of malaise, that funky rut we can’t seem to get out of. What’s the point in getting up and sweeping the floor or doing the dishes? They can wait until tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that. Again, it’s that first step that’s the hardest. Getting up off the couch and opening the window to let in fresh air takes more effort and exerts more energy than staying in that comfy spot you’ve made on the couch and starting a new show on Netflix or scrolling through your social media news feed. But if you don’t take that first step, your situation is not going to change. To quote Dr. Phil, “How’s that working out for you?” If what you’re doing isn’t having a positive effect in your life, then it’s time to change what you’re doing. One of the arguments I’ve heard for ‘not doing anything’ is “I’m broke, I have no money”. Going for a walk around the neighbourhood doesn’t cost anything. Most playgrounds are within walking distance of just about anywhere, go sit on a swing and see how high you can go! Take your shoes off and walk barefoot in the grass. Heck, keep a bottle of bubble solution in your house and take it with you to the park, blow some bubbles! I don’t care if you’re 4, or 74, bubbles are awesome! It doesn’t matter if there are kids there to appreciate the bubbles, blow them anyway! Sidewalk chalk is another good thing to keep on hand. If it’s raining, go jump in some puddles! Find some mud and squish your toes in good and deep! If you have a reliable means of transportation call a friend and arrange to go to the local hot spot and take selfies like a tourist! If you can’t get a hold of a friend, go by yourself! Go to the local dog park and make new friends (be sure to say hello to the humans, too – they get kinda weirded out when you just talk to the dog). Go to the library and pick out a book. The idea here is: GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! By doing something as simple as getting out of your house, you’ve just changed your mindset – and that’s half the battle. The other half of the battle is cleansing the Energy in your space. That’ll be next week’s blog topic…

Please share the link to this site with friends. You never know who might find answers they seek in what they read.

The Bruja Roja
(originally published June 29, 2015)