Mindfulness and Mental Health

I found myself depressed over the weekend. This is part and parcel of my mental health issues, so it’s nothing new, but it was disappointing after the happiness, or so it seemed, that I was experiencing recently in my quest for joy.

I had been moving forward in various areas, pushing compassion during interactions with people, writing and creating successfully, and interacting with more people in general. This left me with a slightly euphoric feeling, though better than mania, as it was filled with happiness. But then I dropped off the edge and went into depression.

This was characterized by a lethargy and malaise that did nothing. I simply lay around all day. I didn’t write, I didn’t interact much, I wasn’t compassionate, and I didn’t feel good.

My sudden loss of happiness seemed unfair. And though I know that mindfulness is a method for dealing with such situations, for allowing one’s thoughts to become fluid and filled with space so that such events do not have as much of an impact on happiness as they might otherwise have, I still didn’t like it.

So I read a chapter in a book about happiness, and it was about comparing. Even comparing one day to the next. Habitual comparison that affects self-image is negative and hurtful. It doesn’t help one get to the stage of mindfulness where true happiness lies.

Comparison bad.

Except when it’s good.

But then, I was comparing two different parts of experience. I was comparing the parts when I was happy, when I was doing well and things were going my way, with the parts that weren’t happy, when I was depressed and miserable and didn’t want to do anything. The problem, I understand, is that by comparing I was trying to judge, and by judging I was labeling the experience.

Now, this is far from what should be happening with mindfulness. Instead of judging the experience I should be observing the experience. This allows a distance from the emotional and physical distress that comes from depression and creates a buffer with which the experience can pass over, much like a stream passes over a rock.

At least that’s my understanding. And if it’s my understanding, I am going to start pushing myself towards more mindfulness practice. Because if I can create a buffer between pain and reaction, a space in which calmness and thought can occur, then that’s all the better.

An exploration of mindfulness and mental health. Yay.

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