Take out a journal and write at the top of the page "The Gifts of Depression." Give yourself a half hour to reflect on how your depression could be a gift, or how it could be meaningful in your life. For example, one person wrote that her depression made her drop out of business school and the only classes she could take were the easy ones (for her) in child development. These classes were easy to her because she loved children so much. She realized that if she had not gotten depressed she might have pressed on in business school which would have set her up for a career she was not interested in. With her child development background she was able to work with children who had developmental delays and to become a wonderful mother and a resource for her friends in this area. After writing your free-form response, consider the following sentence stems and write responses:
I don't like this depression, but if it was serving a purpose in my life it might be: If it were not for this depression, one thing about my life that would be different is: My fatigue prevents me from doing: If I gave myself permission not to do these things, my life would: Although I hate to admit it, one good thing about my depression is: This depression has forced me to: Finally, in trying to uncover a possible meaning to your depression try the following thought experiment. Imagine you wake up tomorrow morning and your depression is completely gone. You are relieved and amazed. However, there is one thing that concerns you about the rapid disappearance of your depression. What is it? Write the answer to this in your journal. For example, one person realized that if he completely lost his capacity for depression he might lose his emotional sensitivity that allowed him to reach out to other people who were depressed but not able to admit it to themselves or others. He realized he had a gift for feeling the pain of other people and could use this to connect with other people on a deeper level than he might if he were not depressed. He was able to use this insight to think about ways he could preserve his sensitivity without the experience of a full-blown clinical depression.