Highlights from Jonathan Otto's interview with Dr. John Gray, for the Depression & Anxiety Series.
John: 01:30:00 The most common mental illness in the world is depression. Depression is an imbalance of brain chemicals. It is triggered by stress, something shocking to us, a loss and attachment. First, let's understand attachment and why that causes stress. If I grow up and my mother dies, I've been attached to my mother, I could become depressed. Why? Because as a young child, I have a need for love. It's called a need attachment. I need my mother's love. I need love as a child. My mother gives me mother, so my brain now goes, "I need my mother to get love." If my mother is gone, then I'll never have love again.
John: 01:30:48 So depression is when we become attached to either an expectation or a person or a situation, and our brain has attached itself and says, "I need that situation. Have my need met," as opposed to, "If I lose that source, I have a need, and I can fill it elsewhere." A need for love, the need for survival, the need for security, the need for fulfillment. Whatever it might be, I can make that adjustment. People who are chronically depressed can't make that shift, and there's a variety of reasons for that. One is psychologically, as a reason. If my mother dies, my first reaction is to feel grief. Why do I feel grief? Because I love my mother. If I don't feel grief, it must mean that wasn't that important to me.
John: 01:31:31 So therefore, my feeling grief is a sign that I love my mother. So, to let go of my grief, which is the healing process, is like, "What? I'm not feeling grief over my mother's loss?" Then that must mean I didn't love my mother. So, people will literally hold on psychologically, hold on to the reason for their depression, because to feel good about what happened would mean that that person wasn't important to me. Now, I've had many deaths in my life, and I know what healing the heart means. My dad was found dead in the trunk of his car. He'd given money to a hitchhiker, and it was shocking. I had a very loving relationship. I was on a honeymoon with my wife, and I found out I was very, very upset, like a knife into my heart.
John: 01:32:16 It took nine months of my learning to process my emotions to let go of that. So now, I can talk about it. I don't feel pain. I could talk about it in a more intimate setting, and I can have a few tears that would come up. I sometimes remember my dad at a special moment, and I wish he was here. It's not like I have no feeling about it. I have no painful feelings about it, and that's the important thing about healing the heart is you're not going to be depressed forever. But people hold onto it. That's one aspect. Sometimes, people are able to let go of it. They have the right psychological framework to say, "Okay, time to let go. We have to move on. Open my heart to receive what I need elsewhere," but they don't have the biological support, because the stress of a shock to the system, a fulfillment of an expectation that suddenly shifts, their world shifts.
John: 01:33:02 I thought I was going to get this, and I didn't get that. I thought I was going to have this, and I don't have that. This was supposed to happen. I did this and did this and it didn't happen. I was even depressed when Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, my book, my famous book went off the bestseller list. It was the New York Times number one bestseller for literally almost five and a half years. Every week, I saw it there, and it had gone off the list here in Marin County, where I lived a year before. My agent said to me, "Did you expect it to be on forever?" I said, "Well if every day you see it on there, why should it go off?" So I became depressed.
John: 01:33:44 And again, you see, we can laugh about it, but you just built up an expectation. You expect something, and it's really fulfilling to you and then it's gone, it's going to have a reaction. Now, I was able to bounce back from that, because I have the skills to do it.
Interviewer: 01:33:57 It was real though, wasn't it? It was a very real feeling for you?
John: 01:34:00 Yeah. Oh my God. I'm over the hill. I'm done. It was very deep. I knew, fortunately, because I've helped people for 15 years before that to deal with their emotional distress and the physical side of it. So I talked about one thing, is to talk about, you don't have to hold on to things just to say that you cared. That's one. That's the more intimate types of depression. Two is processing your emotions. Whenever you're upset about something, you're feeling depressed, usually you're numb to your emotions, and you keep being numb to your emotions by eating too much or taking drugs or whatever. There's a natural healing process that you'll see children go through when they don't get what they want. It's called a tantrum.
John: 01:34:45 You want to give yourself permission to have several tantrums, and you would journal out your feelings or talk to a therapist, where you would make sure that you would experience anger, sadness, the fears and regrets. Those are four emotions that need to go through whenever there's a loss. These are the painful emotions. Some people will be sad, like one woman was depressed for years and she just cried and cried about her husband. I said, "You need to be angry with your husband." She says, "Oh no, I love my husband so much."
John: 01:35:16 I said, "I know you love him, and anger, it doesn't mean he's bad. It doesn't mean that you're holding on to the blame. But there's a part of you that's mad at him because he was eating all that junk food, and you told him not to eat that junk food, and that gave him a heart attack. Give yourself permission just for five minutes to say, 'I'm angry,' and then let it go. It's not permanent. Emotions flow." And giving her permission, I had to give her the words. I've done this 100 times. The words for the emotions that she wasn't allowing herself to feel or couldn't feel, and then she got relief. I didn't stop there.
John: 01:35:47 I said, "Now, I want to go deeper and I want to find your fears." You know, the fear of never finding love again. Angry that he left, sad he's not here, and afraid I won't ever find love again. I'll never find someone like him again. I'll never be happy again. These are all totally irrational ... Negative emotions are all irrational. People just get that. This is our monkey brain, and we hold onto them like these noble truths. You know, "I'm mad. I'll always be mad. I resent the fact that I'm afraid. My life is going to be terrible." We buy into all of this. So, literally, the brain is so smart.
John: 01:36:22 If you just feel the negative emotions and don't get stuck in one, usually if you ever stay stuck in a negative emotion, and that's what depression is. You're stuck using kind of a despair or hopelessness and you're stuck there. You've got to identify, "I'm afraid. What am I afraid of?" Feel it. Then, "What am I angry about? What am I sad about? And, what do I regret?" Let them be irrational. Things that you don't even believe are true, but they're in there to this childlike monkey brain that has all kinds of negative reactions. You have to realize depression is imbalance.
John: 01:36:52 You have to look at what's crazy inside of you right now and then come back to sanity, which is, world is a great place. I know people's depression. I mean, I lost a child. Okay, you lose a child. You're going to be depressed. Your loss. It's a horrible thing happens, and I'm not saying you're going to celebrate that, but you're going to celebrate your own life, and that you have a life, and that you had that opportunity to be with that person for some time, and be grateful for that. You move on with love.
Interviewer: 01:37:17 Did you say you lost a child?
John: 01:37:20 Someone in the family lost a child. Well, I lost also my brother, which my little brother, to bipolar. So that was the first experience of a big loss, then my mother was poison, and my father was robbed and put in a trunk. So I've had tragedies in my life and accidents have happened.
Interviewer: 01:37:36 That's so much.
John: 01:37:36 Yeah, I had a brother who died from cancer and I had another brother. I had two brothers with heart attacks. My younger sister died of Alzheimer's. I've dealt with this stuff a lot. I'm a happy fulfilled person, but I went through those feelings. I know what it is to go through them and heal your heart. You can heal your heart. To be happy again doesn't mean that you didn't love those people. That's so important to get. If you believe in them in the afterlife, they don't want you to be unhappy either. It's not a betrayal of them. You need to move on and be happy, but you can't move on unless your brain has to process that pain.
John: 01:38:12 Whenever there's pain, physical or emotional, it's imbalance. When it's emotional, that means it's irrational.
Interviewer: 01:38:18 And you process that?
John: 01:38:19 You process it. Oh gosh. I master ... I process thousands of people in this. I teach seminars. I stand up in front of the room. I tell them, "You're feeling this, this, this, this, and they say it, and the emotions come out, whatever. We were so shut down as a society. Historically, we've always been shut down. But now, we're at a time of evolution, where because our lower needs are met, our emotional needs are higher, and therefore, these emotions are available to us.
John: 01:38:44 If they want to come up, and we push them down by overeating our drugs, what happens as we push them down, we go into denial of the emotions, then we stay stuck in the depression. Or if we're in denial of all the emotions, meaning, let's say you're angry. Some people spend their whole lives being angry because they're not letting themselves feel what didn't happen. The disappointment, the sadness, the loss and cry and feel sad. They're just angry. Well, they'll stay angry forever until somebody helps them find the vulnerable part that's sad or the part of in this deeper that's afraid and scared. They're all irrational scared I'll never be loved again, I'll never be happy again, nothing will ever happen. They're just stuck in, you did this to me. So, people there's four of these basic colors of emotion. The main three or anger, sadness and fear. Just like if you have those old TV sets where you had three lights and they would go on a screen. You can have all colors on the screen if you just have three colors. Your three basic emotions is you got the red light, which is like anger. You've got the blue light, which is the sadness. You've got the yellow light, which is like feat. Those three emotions are always there when there's depression and you've got to feel all of them. You've got to do it in waves. You feel them and then you get in touch with what you wish you then you feel bad. You wish this happened or wish that happened and what could happen, what I want to happen. And then you get in touch with desire again.
John: 01:40:07 Depression is suppression of desire, passion, aliveness, motivation. My desire right now is to communicate something to help someone. Inside that desire as passion, is the wisdom and knowledge that I can do it. That's where confidence comes from is feeling the flow. Being in the flow of desire and all depression is the suppression of desire. What you do is you get in touch with the emotions which is what's blocking the desire, then you write them out. That's called the feeling letter technique. Just to write out your emotions and whatever you're stuck in one go to another one. There's the three basics. Sometimes you want to get the feeling, the regret and what you apologize for. Get in touch with what you want and then feeling so forgiveness and love and greater wisdom and understanding, the wisdom of your higher self or this part of the brain comes through to give you the support to move on in your life. So, that's something people have to know.
John: 01:41:00 It comes in waves. It will go from sadness and grief to happiness and joy and sadness and grief and celebration and joy. That's kind of what happens at funerals. You go, and everybody cries then you go and you eat and you all socialize. This is how supposed to be is we're supposed to go in waves with this for several months and you will heal that. With the next loss, it will take less time and it will the next loss it will take less time. Because you've learned how to do it. But most people don't know how to deal with their emotions and go through these things. So, that's a, to get through those emotions and to let go and deem fully feel them. You've got to have nutrition. This takes a healthy body to do this.
John: 01:41:38 As soon as you start to feel negative emotions, that stress. That's fight or flight. You deplete the brain of the nutrients it needs. Practical, you're depressed. What you need to do is you need to bulk up on your supplements. The most important supplement to take if I simplified down 25 milligrams of lithium orotate. You go online, it's going to cost you, what it cost you? Maybe $10 for a month's supply if you take five of the little capsules. If you take one capsule day and you come back as you need it, you just take it as is needed. There's no way you're going to overdose on a bottle of lithium orotate. It's not the lithium carbonate that psychiatrists give for depression.
John: 01:42:15 Now if you're on a prescribed drug for depression, you can't go off of it. You can still take 25 milligrams of lithium orotate along with your drug and you talk to your doctor. Because after you start taking these five little pills, you'll feel better and you say to your doctor, "I'm feeling better. I'd like to go off of my drug and with your supervision, I want to titrate off." Because you have to slowly go off. Depending upon how long you've been depressed, what your circumstances are, your doctor will know and it's different for everybody. It might take you three months, it might take you six months, it may be the rest of your life you need to take just a little bit of that drug. Just for different people, different answers, but the five little capsules of lithium orotate.
John: 01:43:02 Even better than that is to compliment it with the good Omega-3 supplement, okay? They're all over the place. A good Omega-3 supplement. If you're not a vegetarian, Vectomega has one that comes from the brains of salmon. It's absorbed by your brain 50 times more. That is fantastic. But there's good Omega-3 products. Super minerals, which is not just lithium orotate, but you get magnesium orotate, calcium orotate, potassium orotate and zinc orotate. They all work together to replenish your brain and the ability to produce brain chemicals.
John: 01:43:34 Third thing is you have to know that when you're depressed, you can't digest your food. You need to take digestive enzymes. There's lots of products with digestive enzymes, you take it before every meal. You've got to take digestive enzymes. If you're depressed, your gut functioning is not going to be happening right. If you're taking any anti-psychotics, antidepressants, your gut functioning is being shut down. So, you need to take a high-quality probiotic. My favorite is the Bravo Probiotic, which has 42 strains. You take your Bravo yogurt, if you don't want to make the yogurt, they do have a capsule where they dehydrate it, it's in the capsule. They have a non-dairy version.
John: 01:44:16 So, that's one way. You take your probiotics, you take your digestive enzymes before your meal, you take your super metals, the lithium is the most important and you could do like two capsules of super minerals and three capsules of lithium orotate extract. But no more than five a day is necessary for lithium rotate. More is not better at that point is to get the bang for the buck of lithium, just 25 milligrams a day is max. Then you take other things to co-factor with that, that I've just mentioned.
John: 01:44:45 Taking hot baths is one of the best things you can do for any, any mental issue for depression. You should be doing hot baths an hour every other night. Nice music playing. You need to at least have an hour before bed where you're not watching TV and you're listening to music and your journaling. You could be doing your process where you're writing your feelings. If you're spiritual or religious, prayer is so, so important. A simple prayer that I help my clients with is, "Dear God, my heart is open to you. Please, hear my prayer. Take away the sadness. Take away the pain. Take away these feelings of loss. Help me find love again. Help me find joy again. Bring your angels to bless me now. Let me feel your presence. Let me know that I'm going to be okay. That I'm not alone, I'm needed in this world, and all will be well. Help me to feel that now." And I repeat it again and repeat it again. That's a variation of 1000 different ways of doing your prayer.
Speaker 4: 01:45:45 John, what's the emotion coming up for you right now?
John: 01:45:47 Oh, I'm just feeling the sweetness of those words and pulling in that little prayer inside my own self and for my family and for the people who are listening.
Speaker 4: 01:45:57 Why is that meaningful to you, that prayer?
John: 01:46:01 Well, my purpose as most healers, is to help this planet. Anytime you say a prayer, you bring in divine energy to help this planet. That's what I was just feeling. This energy coming in through me to support the people were listening. Bringing it into this planet, because there's so much pain. Part of my daily practice is I watch the news, particularly when it's international news to see the pictures of people who are massively suffering, and I say a prayer for them and tears flow through me. Though I'm not suffering at all, it's tears of compassion. It's empathy and sending my prayers. That actually brings more energy into this planet and brings it into the world.
John: 01:46:44 In a sense, you cannot bring more energy and until you feel the emptiness. The pain is the emptiness. That's why all depression. Depression is the suppression of our feelings. It's the suppression of our pain and we get stuck in it unless we're able to feel that pain, articulate it. See, the idea is being angry, being sad, is different from feeling sadness. To feel, you're holding it inside of you. You're owning it and articulating it. When you can articulate the words that go with an emotion, you're actually using this part of the brain, which is in present time, as opposed to the emotion which is always about the past or the imagined future. Never about right now. So, that'll be in the present.