This is going to be an interesting slant on this discussion because I both agree with this statement and disagree with this statement. How do I do that? Here’s how.
Assuming you don’t have an other medical conditions that are contributing to the chemical imbalance in the brain, the majority of depression cases are caused by subconscious patterns of thinking about life that have become solidified. A habit is something that you do without thinking.
Notice I highlighted the work ‘subconscious’.
When we talk about a choice, that’s something that we consciously do. The conscious part of the brain makes up 2-4% of how much we think. It’s like the steering wheel of your car. If you feel low, down and depressed, you might become consciously aware of this and may be able to learn some tools to feel better, change how you’re thinking and shift yourself out of that place, and this is what people mean when they say you can ‘choose’ to not have depression.
However, if you don’t have these tools, or don’t think to use them when life isn’t going to plan, or when you’re feeling low, it would be like taking your hands off the steering wheel and switching the car (your brain) onto a pre-programmed autopilot. You will be steered in the direction you’ve been programmed to go.
Often times, you may not even realise that you have been in auto-pilot because those depressive feelings have become so normal, that you’re not even conscious of another way of being. There doesn’t even have to be anything triggering you to feel depressed. It just is. The cells in your body have literally been trained to feel depressed and don’t remember any different.
This is where depression is not a choice, but a default. However, that default can be changed and reset and this is where psychology/counselling organisations like The Parental Stress Centre come in.
If you learn how to become aware of your feelings, and the ‘stories’ behind the events that trigger your emotions, and then arm yourself with the tools to consciously change your thinking / feeling connections, then you can literally retrain yourself to a better feeling place. You can change the chemical responses in your body through awareness (being conscious) and adjustment (applying different ways of thinking and thus creating different physical responses (chemically).
This is now where depression does become a choice, providing you have your hands on the steering wheel. Over time, practice and support, you will very quickly start to FEEL the difference between when you’re in conscious control and when your default auto-pilot has kicked back in. Upon noticing, you can put your hands back on the steering wheel using the tools you have learnt.
With repetition and consistency of applying awareness and adjustment, you will begin to retrain those cells in the body to a new mind – a new pattern of thinking/feeling, and depression will no longer be your default.
Sure, you’ll still have down days where you feel that life hasn’t gone to plan, or your feel down on yourself, but you don’t make them mean something about your whole life, or your self-worth. They just become moments in time that were unwanted, and serve as opportunities to learn and grow.
How would it feel to be more in control of your depressive patterns? How would it feel to be able to become aware of when they are in control of you and know the tools to change your thought patterns and physically shift the cells in your body out of that state of being, and teach them how to feel more at peace, happier and more forgiving of your mistakes and challenges?
This is what we do in our Be the Change program. If this is a pathway you would like to go down, please let us help you.