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Unwrapping the Cryptic Gifts of Depression

There’s something here in this juxtaposition of billboards. Something almost suggesting that maybe depression can sort of ‘be there’ for us, maybe even be with us in some strange way, accompanying us in hard times… perhaps even in just the right size and measure.

What if that were true?

It seems a pretty shocking thought. For depression is often cast in a bad light – something simply to be overcome and gotten rid of. A villain in the story of our lives. Something to think or shrink our way out of. And fast.

Often there’s a kind of double layer to depression – a sense of feeling depressed about feeling depressed. Having a sense of failure or shame for even experiencing it in the first place.

But what if depression were more than that? What if it could actually be a messenger of sorts?

Something to take stock of? To listen to?

What might it have to tell you?

Or what might it be asking you for?

What could it be trying to let you know about your life and the things you value?

Depression usually has several other traveling companions, including a ‘flat’ feeling, an emptiness, and a sense of being drained, where nothing seems to matter much anymore. It makes it hard to enjoy the things you normally would. And it steals a lot of joy and light. So it takes a lot out of you.

But what might it bring?

Often, depression makes it near impossible just to get out of bed in the morning (or, perhaps more likely, in the afternoon), as though bed is the only reasonable place at a time like this. And maybe it is.

A place to rest.

A deep rest.


To rest from all the obligations and pressures and ‘shoulds’ for a time, and have permission to just escape to some inner sanctuary. To step out of the stream of your ordinary life for a while. Just to stop. Just to breathe. Just to be.

Seen from this perspective, perhaps it’s possible that depression (and maybe some of the other painful emotions) might have important gifts for us.

If so, what else might your sadness – or your depression – be trying to give you?

And how might you begin the unwrapping process?

Photo: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also co-facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She is the editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.

Unwrapping the Cryptic Gifts of Depression

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

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APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2010). Unwrapping the Cryptic Gifts of Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 22 Sep 2010
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