The Gift of Feeling

Courage is contagious, and building a society that is more open and less judgmental begins when you start speaking up. ~ Adora Svitak

Teenager and prolific writer, Adora Svitak perhaps became most widely known for her TED Talk "What adults can learn from kids."

However, Adora is likely less known for her brave article at TED-Ed blog, where she asks the question, "How do you talk about depression?" Among the many bright insights in her post are a list of excellent resources for readers to discover a reframe for thinking about "depression" as less pathological and as an avenue for growth and an opportunity for personal insight. 

Svitak quotes Stephen Fry from a New York Times piece titled "Depression's Upside," saying "It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.”

So I ask you to consider, how do you talk about "depression?" Does it get all the attention or little to none at all? What are it's characteristics? How and when does it show up? What, is it banging down the emotional door and you're standing there going..."Seriously, you're not necessary! I don't have time for that. I'd rather be Happy!" Or, are you in the bathroom all night crying it out thinking the world is passing you by? Deeply acknowledging the fact that we are in relationship with our qualities of experience gets us a free pass to meet our needs. Avoiding our needs by avoiding our feelings comes at an exceptional cost: emotional shutdown, numbness, physical symptoms, overwhelm, the list can go on.

How we talk about our feelings suggests the relationship we have with them...as well as the approach we take to addressing, healing, or harming them.

What if it was less about "dealing" with our feelings, and more about understanding our feelings? What if it was less about "getting over" our feelings, and more about learning from our feelings? What if it was less about "moving on" from them, and all about giving them safe, sacred attention? 

Svitak leaves her readers with a similar sentiment from personal experience behaving vulnerably. Choosing to address her emotions rather than avoid them in spite of the cost of fear turned out to bridge a relationship gap and find that in the end, she wasn't alone after all.

It was only after this long sadness had ebbed, passing with an uncharacteristic gentleness, that I felt like I could tell anyone else. I turned 14, and I confessed — about the crying, the journaling, the emptiness — to my best friend. “Why didn’t you say anything before?” she asked, aghast. A part of me was surprised, as if I had expected a reprimand for a different thing — for having the long sadness, not for staying silent.
I resolved not to stay silent anymore. ~ Adora Svitak