Posted in awe and wonder, childhood abuse, childhood suffering, depression, healing, healing recovery, males and depression, Uncategorized, tagged beauty, coastal maine botanical gardens, depression, healing, Rollo May on June 2, 2012 |
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Recently I was appreciating the photographs of a woman whom I admire tremendously – pictures of her garden, the ocean, a number of stunning landscapes, an osprey nest, and an eagle in flight. As a child she was the victim of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, tortured by the kind of cruelty and ugliness that can break hearts and shatter souls. And yet, as an adult she has spent a great deal of time both capturing and creating beauty. I was reminded as she shared her photography with me of psychologist, Rollo May, one of the founders of the humanistic psychology movement.
As a young man May fell victim to a debilitating depression. Many years later, when asked by writer and film maker, Phil Cousineau, what had saved him during that dark and painful time, Rollo replied, “beauty.”
In his book, “My Quest for Beauty” May wrote of wandering aimlessly in the hills of Greece where one day he stumbled into a field of wild poppies and had the following epiphany, “It seemed that I had not listened to my inner voice, which had tried to talk to me about beauty. I had been too hard-working, too ‘principled’ to spend time merely looking at flowers . . . it had taken a collapse of my whole former way of life for this voice to make itself heard. . . What is beauty? . . . Beauty is the experience that gives us a sense of joy and a sense of peace simultaneously. Other happenings give us joy and afterwards a peace, but in beauty these are the same experience. Beauty is serene and at the same time exhilarating; it increases one’s sense of being alive.”
I am thinking about my remarkable photographer friend and about Rollo May when I visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. After a long and difficult week, I lie down beside the waterfall in the rhododendron garden among the ferns, hostas, bees, and beautiful blossoms. I welcome the beauty, allow myself to become intoxicated by it, lost in it. George Washington Carver wrote, “If you love it enough, anything will talk with you.” And so I send my love out into the garden. I listen. It begins to speak…
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Despite the poor quality of the introduction, this lecture by Andrew Solomon, author of , “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression,” (based on his own struggle with major depression) is well worth the time it takes to listen.
Following is a quote from Solomon’s book:
“Listen to the people who love you. Believe that they are worth living for even when you don’t believe it. Seek out the memories depression takes away and project them into the future. Be brave; be strong; take your pills. Exercise because it’s good for you even if every step weighs a thousand pounds. Eat when food itself disgusts you. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason.”
On the PBS special, “Depression: Out of the Shadows” Solomon observes,
“I always say that the opposite of depression is not happiness but vitality, and that depression has to do with finding all of life totally overwhelming…
…clinical depression really has to do with the feeling that you can’t do anything, that everything is unbelievably difficult, that life is completely terrifying, and a feeling of this free-floating despair, which is overpowering and horrifying…
…So that’s the real message of hope, is that you can get better. And when you do get better, not that you’ll look back on it with great longing, but you may look back on it and think, ‘I learned a lot by going through that. And I’m a better person because I did it.’”
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In an article entitled, “Men’s depression is different — and Dangerous,” Tom Keenan addresses what Harvard psychotherapist Terrence Real identifies as “a silent epidemic in men,” chronic depression.
In his article Keenan points out that:
- A man’s depression tends to manifest differently than a woman’s. He is far more likely to act out his pain rather than talk about it. Common ways that depression in males is acted out include but are certainly not limited to workaholism, substance abuse, aggression, and irritability.
- Men are less likely to seek help and more likely to commit suicide.
The following are resources available on the web that I often recommend:
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