My Two Clues to Depression by Bryan Hubbard
For years, I struggled with chronic depression. There was no apparent cause: I had a wonderful marriage, two daughters of whom I’m deeply proud, a great little publishing business, and a lovely home. Despite this material success, a grey fog enveloped me always. I saw little or no point in going on – life had no meaning or value, and I couldn’t find joy in anything.
As a philosophy graduate, my way into the problem of depression was through the wide and perplexing portal of self-identity. Put it another way: who am I, or, what is this that’s depressed? It’s the perennial question that’s kept philosophers busy for more than 2,000 years, and their answers seemed to ricochet between having a soul and just being a ‘smart brain’ in a body.
To the smart brain theorist, my chronic depression could be explained away as a chemical imbalance, but, again, this minimized what had happened to me, and to the countless others similarly experiencing the condition. My depression – and I suspect that of my fellow sufferers – had an existential element to it. It was a shout against the life we lead – that somehow it should be better than this – and no pill was going to change that.
The ‘who am I?’ question puzzled me, picked at me, pinched me, pounded my head when I tried to sleep and pummelled me awake in the morning. The answer tumbled out of me in one session as I was sitting in the garden one afternoon. It started with my golden rule, such as it has become:
That to which you do not fully attend will weigh you down.
The sentence came fully formed, and it sounds rather biblical, but – thank goodness – nobody with a long white gown appeared to announce it. It seemed to have the gravitas of a commandment, perhaps the 11th tablet that was too much for Moses to carry down from the heights of Mount Sinai. But what did it mean?
At the prosaic level, it suggests we leave nothing undone when we carry out any transaction or relationship. The small print is initialled, all quarrels are resolved, and everyone leaves happy. But it has a much deeper meaning, too: if you’re not fully in the moment, you’ll have experiences that’ll leave a mark – and that mark is the past and it will weigh you down until you’re time-heavy, as I call it. You’ll eventually become more the past than present.
Yes, it happened in an instant, but my whole life had been a prelude to that moment. From all of this, two clues in particular stand out that helped me along my way.
The first happened with the death of my father. He was in his ninetieth year, and yet there was absolutely nothing wrong with him physically. A check-up a few years previously had revealed that he had the heart of someone 20 or 30 years younger. Yet, there he was, on the day I went to see him at his home, lying in bed.
‘What’s wrong?’ I asked.
Nothing much, he replied with a shrug, other than that he’d had enough. He’d become tired of life, and now he wanted to die, he said. He turned away from me and faced the wall.
Hours later, as I was leaving, I put my head around the bedroom door and gave a tentative goodbye. I had a fleeting thought that it would be the last time I’d see him, even though the idea seemed absurd. He wished me well, and I left. Three days later my mother telephoned to tell me that my father had died.
In a sense, he’d wished his own death. There was no postmortem, but had there been one, the cause of death probably would have been something general and vague, and certainly not ‘tired of life’, or ‘had enough’, or even ‘couldn’t stand another day of this’.
On the day I visited my father, he was both a body that was talking to me in the bedroom in present time, and a past that seemed to inhabit him. In the end, that’s what happens to most of us – the past bears down on us, as if it were a separate being, until we can’t stand it, not even for one more day.
The other clue came to me years later, when I read a book about ghosts. It was called Visions of Immortality (Element, 1998), by Ian Currie, a Canadian university professor who’d carried out a thorough review of the evidence for life after death, ghosts and apparitions.
Until then, I’d had almost no interest in ghosts, but I was astonished by what I read, and my preconceptions were turned on their head.
Currie had documented tale after tale of ghost stories or, more precisely, instances of contact with those who’d died. The stories were highly plausible, the people who related them had far more to lose than gain from the telling, and they were all independently verifiable. Currie demonstrated, beyond any reasonable doubt, that something of us survives death. But what is it?
It seemed to be something that still had unfinished business on Earth – invariably a message that had to be delivered through an emotionally charged entity. It wasn’t physical – clearly not, as the body had died – and so it must be energetic. However, there’s nothing extraordinary in that: physics tells us that everything, ultimately, is energy. Seen that way, it’s reasonable to consider that our body and this ‘ghost’ that survives death are expressions of two different forms of energy.
So here were my clues: my depression was an expression of the energetic past that continued to live through, and was me. When I saw this process with great clarity—that I was being lived rather than living—the depression lifted. In its place was a ‘me’ that was completely present (not past) that takes enormous delight from the smallest things.
Bryan Hubbard is an acclaimed author and co-editor of international magazine What Doctors Don’t Tell You.
He is married to Lynne McTaggart. Author, Lynne is know for bridging the worlds of science and spirituality, and is listed in the worlds 100 most spiritually influential people by Watkins Books.
Brian and Lynne will be delivering a 3 day workshop in London in June 3-5th on Rewriting Your Past; where they will be empowering people to become conscious of the power of their thoughts, so they can free themselves of where the past is living through them, dictating limiting choices.
Tickets available by clicking here.