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The Question of Ownership. Wednesday August 21, 2013

Owning something can be exhilarating. Humans, however, tend to 'own' intangible things too such as beliefs and emotions. Furthermore, we have a habit of 'owning' conditions. Only one of these latter types of ownership is useful.

The language of ownership is shown through the use of the word 'my'. When I say, "my temper sometimes gets the better of me," that is useful ownership. It linguistically shows the possibility that I can take responsibility for controlling my temper.

Lots of people, however, talk about their conditions as if they owned them and were defined by them: my arthritis, my cold, my depression. This is not 'wrong' – I simply believe there is a better way.

If we talk about 'the arthritis', 'the cold', 'the depression' – we dissociate and distance ourselves from what is a foreign invader, alien to our natural state.

Many faiths believe the body is a temple – a beautiful place fit for use as a sanctuary of peace and joy. As such, I don't think afflictions have a place in the temple. By removing the word 'my' from the way we describe something that is hurting our temple, we sow the seeds of resistance and resilience. We may not be able to expel the condition for medical reasons but we can at least resist its tendency to define our days.

Depression is a challenging one since some aspects of it can be influenced by our approach. In one sense, owning it as 'my depression' makes sense, as in talking about 'my temper'. My take on this, though, is that we are better off seeing depression as a complex, layered, alien state that would be better addressed as 'the depression' (similar to an economic or weather depression).

Distancing ourselves from it in this way challenges the legitimacy of its right to continue – and can lead to more resilience. In application, I might say something like, "the depression has lessened today as my joy in writing has distracted me along a more useful path." These small distinctions can make a difference to your day.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Anonymous Wed, Aug 21st 2013 @ 10:47am

Nice one, Lex!

Anonymous Wed, Aug 21st 2013 @ 11:52am

Powerful - will come in handy - thanks!

Anonymous Wed, Aug 21st 2013 @ 12:44pm

" if they owned them and were defined by them..." Mighty big logical leap there. In normal language, referring to something as "my", whether it's my cat or my copy of The Lord of the Rings, does not mean I think it defines me.

Then again, emotions are mine in a much deeper sense than physical possessions. Depression is not an invasion from outside; it is part of my mind's operating system. Seeing it as alien means I have no way of dealing with it other than trying to shoo it away, or taking pills in the hope of poisoning it. That may work for some people, but it's not something I would ever do. I believe that accepting depression as part of who I am is an important step towards taming it and living with it.

Julia Wed, Aug 21st 2013 @ 1:01pm

Yes I sort of agree with the last comment. If depression is means I can give it away for one thing. If it is "the" depression, it conjures up an image of it lurking somewhere above my head ready to descend at any minute.
Depression doesn't define me either but it is part of who I am as Anon says and therefore I do accept it and try to live as comfortably alongside it as I can. After all there are so many kind intelligent and thoughtful people out there and especially in Moodscope who suffer like we do, that at times I am almost glad I am one of this community.At least we have acknowledged our mental health issues and amongst us, and I suspect a growing community,it is the norm. But thanks Lexi, you have made me think about this.

The Entertrainer Wed, Aug 21st 2013 @ 3:18pm

I did have mixed feelings about sharing this blog - simply because depression is not a straightforward nor simple 'state'. My key point is the leverage you can get from dissociation. Perhaps it was not wise to try and articulate this is in 300 words! A shift in perspective is often followed by a shift of approach, or the generation of new options and hopes. As Julia said, "you've made me think..." and that was my goal. "as if" are two powerful words - so I'm not saying depression defines people, but rather that they can feel this way sometimes when fully "associated" into that feeling. Hope that clarifies.

Julia Wed, Aug 21st 2013 @ 4:19pm

I think it was very wise of you to try to articulate your point into 300 words! I did understand what you were saying.;of course it's far easier to respond to a blog and say whatever we like. You have done the work, we can read, digest and respond whichever way we feel like at the time, however our mood takes us. I am glad you wanted us to, and made us, think about depression in this way. It was interesting. It's all so personal but your blog has helped me to view it (depression etc) somewhat differently or try to! Actually the more I think about it, the more I think it might view it in the way you suggest

The Entertrainer Wed, Aug 21st 2013 @ 4:39pm

Thank you so much, Julia. That's an encouragement.

Anonymous Wed, Aug 21st 2013 @ 5:21pm

Recovery language is so powerful! I might say, "Managing the challenges of depression"...

Anonymous Wed, Aug 21st 2013 @ 11:50pm

helpful, thanks

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