Depression can take on many forms, from just feeling nothing at all to being very irritated, deeply hopeless or just wanting to withdraw from the world. As varied as the symptoms of depression are, so are its causes. One of the causes I often see in my practice is what I have come to term “a lost sadness”. What do I mean by that?
Well do you know the experience of being lost? You don’t know your way anymore, wander around somewhat aimlessly, not knowing where you came from last, nor where you need to go. You’re stuck, unable to find your way out of the situation.
That is the kind of psychological state I sometimes encounter in my clients, who are struggling with depression. When I ask where their depression is coming from, they are mostly lost. Yet when I inquire about their life in more detail we often do end up finding some significant event that has instigated the break in well being, yet they have lost sight of it, or deemed this not important enough to have caused such impact. It is lost to them!
Once it is, having lost sight of the cause of our unhappiness, we are in danger to get really stuck with our sadness and from there it is no easy coming back. Now the “sadness” that normally “knows” why it makes us so, has turned into this diffuse, cloudy melancholy. Not only that, but even more damaging is that it is also not clear how to resolve this emotional state: which direction to take with our life seems now daunting a task. Sadness is lost and can’t find its way out.
That is why in these depressive episodes, there is often the experience of crying “for no reason”. The feeling is there but is disconnected from its roots. The work that needs to happen in therapy then is to discover that original context of the depressive state and work through the pain, thus helping the sadness to finish the course it began (sometimes a long time ago).