There are many resources that offer explanations of clinical depression and bi-polar disorder from a clinical standpoint. But what about from a spiritual one? Cheri Huber, a Zen Teacher in
Mountain View, California
, has created several books which teach depressed people how to look at their condition in a new way. There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate and The Depression Book: Depression as an Opportunity for Spiritual Growth are two of Huber’s books which teach mindfulness as a way of letting go of the fear, anger, and self-hate.
There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate by Cheri Huber (ISBN 0971030901) and The Depression Book: Depression as an Opportunity for Spiritual Growth by Cheri Huber (ISBN 096362556X) are both very similar books. Huber is a Zen teacher and uses spirituality and awareness to show what depression does, why it does it, and what we can do about it. In the introduction to The Depression Book, she says that depression can be a gift that teaches us how to have compassion for ourselves. She also tells us that “the state of depression is not the problem; the process of depressing is the problem.” With gentleness and love, Huber shows us how the mind works to control our behavior and tells us things that sound helpful, but which really are punishing us and keeping us from connecting to our true self.
Both The Depression Book and There Is Nothing Wrong with You are type-set in such a way that the print looks like a person’s handwriting. Little diagrams by June Shiver are included throughout the text. Quirky and fun, these illustrations help us to relax and not take ourselves so seriously. Essentially, that is the entire purpose of both of Huber’s books: to help us to relax, become centered, and let go of taking our thoughts so seriously.
Each book has the same overall message with a slightly different focus. The Depression Book focuses on clinical depression and There is Nothing Wrong with You teaches how to move beyond our personality, fear, and self-hate, which are the tools that our mind uses to prevent us from seeing and appreciating our true nature. In reality, the fear and self-hate are intimately entwined with depression, so when I read, I just substitute “self-hate” for “depression.”
What makes Huber’s books so unique is that they are loving, accepting, and fun. As you read, you learn new concepts for relating to yourself and your own mind so that you can become aware of when you start to “depress” and then you can consciously choose to stop. It takes practice, but each time you do it, your body learns that new behaviors are possible. Your mind begins to think of other ways to talk to you rather than using anger and fear. Huber’s books give you the chance to allow yourself to just be you without obsessing over how to “get rid of” depression.
One of the problems that I have with books on depression is that you can get so caught up in analyzing your depression and its symptoms and in all the methods of treatment that you begin to get depressed about being depressed or depressed about not being able to do the exercises that you are told will help you become “un-depressed”. Everything about your condition becomes another excuse to beat yourself up and use the depression against yourself. Huber’s books are completely different. The books are not about depression so much as about how to connect to the you that is there underneath all the depressed thoughts.
Depression is not an illness that just “goes away”. The books offered here are not cures, but they offer key information in understanding how to work through depression. Use these tools in conjunction with your medical treatment or therapy as a way to support the healing process.