Campo de concentración de Terezín, República ChecaSometimes we can fight depression. Sometimes we can’t.

There is a rhythm to every emotion we have. It goes in and out, depending on whom we encounter that day and how our bodies react, and just how much we are in the grip of a sadness that won’t go away.

Depression is a dreary, drab misery that seems to take on a life of its own and keeps us imprisoned in the belief that we can’t, and won’t, and don’t have the power or even the will to just take control. It has taken the life out of us.

The other day I found myself in the grip of depression. The endless wait for something that may or may not come. The feeling stuck with nothing to be done.

It is an automatic, ongoing, hardly conscious wallowing in some version of “I can’t have,” “I lost,” “I’m incapable,” “I have no choice,” “I am a target,” “I am a victim” and so on.

But then, in an instant, I became aware of a fine distinction:

On the one hand, there is the endless stream of misery that cannot be wiped away because it is so unclear, so unfocused. It’s that part of the self that has no sense of agency, that can’t tap into the power we have in our lives. That needs to stay in a dream state for fear that what needs to be faced would wipe us out.

And then, on the other hand, there are those parts of life that we know cannot be controlled. We have no choice but to accept that it’s out of our hands.

That is when real sadness, real processing of what is lost can be done: To face the tough parts of life that we know everyone is confronted with, but no one wants to really deal with.

To accept: there’s nothing to be done here. There’s nothing to hang on to any more. It’s over. I failed. I lost. I have to give up.

We have to loosen the grip on what we are hanging on to so tightly. Our relationships. Our achievements. Our stubborn idea of what makes us happy and what makes us miserable.

Sometimes we have to just give up and count our losses. Come to terms with what we can have and what we can’t. Even if that means that we have to accept our sadness, our sense of failure and disappointment.

Coming to terms with our limitations may not make the sadness go away immediately. But it frees up energy that enables us to turn away from what we have to let go of, and towards what we already have, or are able to attain.

We don’t have to be stuck. We always have a choice.

photo credit: Norto


    Last reviewed: 5 Mar 2012

APA Reference
Schoen, G. (2012). How To Fight Your Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 27, 2015, from


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