Depression and the Purpose of Pain

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about my mood fluctuations in particular the low ones and have gained a few insights that I thought I would share. It’s to do with our relationship with Pain. Many people hate pain as it is uncomfortable and we usually avoid it. Sometimes that is the wise choice but recently I’ve observed and witnessed that upon deep reflection sometimes pain was actually helping me to grow. Deep down it was positive not negative. Pain comes in many forms but I’ll refer to depression in this post as its a typical form of pain everyone can relate to.

I usually run away from my low moods. I’ll numb the pain with coffee or something. But recently I realised my low moods were actually a message. These messages were communicating something. Some change was needed or some growth needed to occur and my feelings of depression were stuck because I wasn’t allowing this growth. I would look at the pain wrong or respond to it in the wrong way. I wouldn’t go deep into it and listen to what it was trying to tell me. I realised that my depression kept returning because I was unwilling to go into discomfort. Not willing to face my problems and deal with them. Not willing to change my dietary habits and instead live with the feelings of guilt. Not willing to give up bad habits. Procrastination. Negative thinking or looking at something the wrong way. Self doubt. Whatever painful emotion I was dealing with it would all feed my depression and continue to do that because I wasn’t willing to go into the discomfort of embracing these messages and responding to them the way they wanted me to.

If you look at body builders the only way they grow and beautify is by embracing pain. The stress, self-discipline and discomfort of waking up and going to that gym and then carrying those heavy weights. It’s undesirable who honestly wants to go through that? But there is a lesson in that example. They grow after that. This life is beautiful but it isn’t paradise. If we want something we have to go through discomfort first. After pain there is pleasure.

If you notice our whole human essence whether it’s our soul, body, brain, heart, limbs, muscles, personal hyigene etc they all crave growth. If we’re not growing in a certain aspect of our life then we actually slowly deteriorate and this is how depression also works. It’s how your muscles work you need to be active or they degenerate even our bones do that. The bones remodel themselves when a healthy stress is placed on them. When we floss our teeth our oral hygiene grows and we maintain our health well into the future if we keep doing this.

There is deep lessons in the simple examples of nature that never seems to stop amazing me. Nature is a humble teacher.

I’ve realised today that I get depressed or go into low moods because I’m not growing somewhere or something needs maintenance. I’m a bit of a lazy person and my lack of self-discipline causes a lot of my suffering but again pain is a feedback mechanism whether it’s depression, guilt, fear or whatever and it’s part of a magnificent design that is actually trying to help you and push you to grow and be comfortable again. The whole point of pain is to push you so you stop feeling pain. It’s with you not against you. In other words pain has a purpose. It’s a signal of content and meaning.

Sometimes we can feel down and label ourselves as just depressed or sad because it’s not always apparent why we feel a certain way but upon looking deeper, there is a whole world to explore, a message to be listened to.

So remember, love yourself and work with your pain and you may just open up a new world of positive feelings you never knew existed.

As a fun activity to do, go and google brain scans of someone idle or just in their normal state and look at a comparison picture of when the brain is exposed to novelty of some sort. The brain lights up more on the scan excited with more activity. The pleasure chemical dopamine is released a powerful antidote to depression. I looked at such pictures and it helped me understand why I get depressed when I’m in the same routine for too long or I’m just bored and need something new to do. I would use the pain of boredom and channel it into something novel and new to feed myself positive emotions and brain chemicals.

I hope this post helped someone.