Printed in the Summer 2018 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Abbasova, Pyarvin, "Members’ Forum: That Little Light of Mine" Quest 106:3, pg 2
By Pyarvin Abbasova
Quest is starting a regular column in which members share their insights and experiences with the subject of the issue. This is the first installment. —Ed.
We often hear about the darkness that exists in the world. One click of the remote or one scroll of the mouse, and you will get more examples of the dark side of humanity than you can comprehend. But at least that kind of information is somewhat under our control. We can choose not to turn on the TV, or we can avoid certain pages on the Internet. But what if you are facing a darkness that is extremely difficult to shake off because it doesn’t come from the outside, but from within? I am talking about depression.
As a psychiatrist I knew a great deal about depression: definition, diagnostic criteria, treatment. But as a human being, I was not familiar with it. Don’t get me wrong. I am not upbeat and happy 365 days a year, but the down moments never lasted for long stretches of time. That was until I had my first son. Of course, I knew that postpartum depression (PPD) was common; I just didn’t know how common it was. Also, it was nothing like what I have studied; otherwise it would have been easy for me to detect the problem right away. After struggling with it for a while, I was able to find help and get better. But I will never forget the feeling. It was by far the darkest period of my life.
PDD rates in the U.S. are not known exactly. Official statistics say that about one woman out of five has suffered from it. But this number is way too low, simply because many women don’t seek medical help. Probably at least 50 percent are affected to some degree.
To Western medicine, depression is a chemical imbalance in the nervous system. But having lived through it, I can say it is not that simple. In fact, its physical manifestation as a serotonin imbalance is the last step in a process that starts on more subtle levels. This condition affects the mental body and the emotional body first. I had a clairvoyant friend who could see depression starting in a person’s aura weeks before it manifested on the physical plane.
Before PPD, I never paid attention to the fact that my life was full of light and joy and happiness. It is hard to know the real value of something until it has been taken away from you. Talking to many people who have experienced depression for various reasons, such as divorce, the death of a family member, or the loss of a home—or no apparent reason at all—I found that we all felt the same thing. It is a feeling that light and joy are being sucked out of a person, leaving nothing but emptiness and darkness.
Finding a way out is a long process, and it goes differently for everyone. In my case, I refused to take antidepressants, mainly because I was a nursing mother. Being a medical doctor myself and having a husband who is also a doctor, I decided to do some research and look for alternatives. I had to recall many things from my internship in psychiatry. For example, back in Siberia, at the Institute of Psychological Health, where I studied, doctors did not rely on medication alone to treat depression. They also successfully used physical therapy, aromatherapy, and music and art therapy. So with the help of my former university mentor and my clairvoyant friend, I embarked on the journey of getting my mental health back.
It was a lot of work, not only for me but also for our little family. We had to shift many things around. It started with the physical body. My clairvoyant friend told me that during depression, the energy flow to the head and solar plexus is altered, and the lower energy centers are depleted. One way to fix that was seeing a chiropractor regularly, going for deep tissue massage, and getting more sleep (the hardest part). Acupuncture was on his list as well, but I didn’t have the time or the money to have regular treatments. Another thing was to change my diet to incorporate more fresh, local, organic fruit, vegetables, and honey, because these are packed with vital energy. I also got back to practicing yoga asanas and pranayama. As for the emotional body, I think therapy would have been great, but I could not afford it. Finding online support communities of moms helped me a lot, because we could talk and share without judgment or fear. I have to say that kirtans (chants) with my Hare Krishna friends were most helpful, for they filled my heart with love, joy, and the spirit of bhakti. As for my mind . . . I just could not meditate. But I loved reciting Shiva mantras every day and doing Shiva puja once a week, and that was my meditation. The energy of devotion slowly but steadily healed my mind. Most importantly, I learned how to love myself in this new stage of life with all its imperfections—first-mom mistakes, rampaging hormones, and all.
For most people who have been depressed, there is a point when a little ray of light creeps in. I remember hearing some of my patients share their stories. For a moment, a person simply smiles or laughs at something, feels joy or happiness, and that is when the dark shell around the body starts to crack. And the shell starts to let in more and more rays of light until life can be experienced and enjoyed fully again.
I remember that moment for myself. A friend came to visit one day. She had a T-shirt on that said, “That little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!” I remembered the song instantly, and we laughed and sang it together. I still love the song, because it is a constant reminder that despite all obstacles on the path, nothing can hush that little light of mine. I am letting it shine!
Pyarvin Abbasova’s most recent Quest article was “Jyotish: The Science of Light: An Interview with Elena Tihonova” in the winter 2018 issue.