Treat Your Thoughts as Honored Guests

I was a miserable host in the early days of my depression.

That is a strange observation. I once believed that depression was an opponent to be defeated, an enemy to fear, an entity meant only for derision. These beliefs came from learning the worst lessons imparted by sport, school, and religious dogma.

Sport taught me that depression had to be attacked. That I could outwork it and prevail through sheer effort and willpower.

School taught me that distorted thoughts were problems to be solved. That I could pass the harsh examination of mental illness through study.

Religious dogma taught me that depression was either a blessing or a curse. That I was being punished for the sins of my humanity or being tested by an inscrutable higher power.

Fifteen years of studying my own mental illness, and deepening my knowledge of philosophy and human behavior has led me to appreciate my depression in ways unimaginable to my younger self.

Today, I am a welcoming host to my sad, scared, and confused guest. I need not attack him for his nature, nor provide solutions to his problems that he does not desire. Most especially, I know he is not a demonic manifestation nor a heavenly arbiter. He is me, and though he is a terrible guest, I must show him a better way to act by the example of my conduct.

The question I wish I was asked at fifteen is: could your depression be nicer to you if you learn to be nice to it?

As it turns out: yes. Depression is still an awful visitor, but he has learned to be more considerate of my needs by witnessing my efforts to make my mental home more welcoming to him.

The Guest House


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi,