Tag Archives: language

body language and cyber language

my new-found friend sheldon from the kitzul connection wrote this the other day:

given the world we live in with social media dominating our relationshipscapes, why all the love??!

i have had this brewing in the back of my mind for a while now. but it really hit home during a recent trip to the interior. i am an avid twitterer and saw that a connection from there was also traveling to kelowna the same time i was there. i sent her a message and asked if she would like to meet for coffee or a drink. she agreed. my friend and i went to meet her one evening and during our conversation we talked about how easily we give up trust in people we meet this way. i have had many recent examples where i meet people from twitter or elsewhere for coffee. having never met each other, without fail, one party always leaves their belongings at the table after the hand-shake to go get a coffee. somehow, having never met you in person, i’m willing to leave my laptop, keys, cell phone etc with you. i have just transferred my trust to you.

in kelowna, the woman we met with told us that her husband had offered to come along and she declined feeling that she trusted us – two strangers. did she have enough information from our tweets and blogs to know we were trustworthy?

being the woman in question, i thought i`d say something about this. in fact, i, too, think that this is a very interesting phenomenon. just one observation, about what i’d like to call bodylanguage and cyberlanguage.

you know how they always say that social media is a poor method of communication because we`re missing the body language? it is true that in written social media we miss body language (not so much when it comes to video, of course) but there is an equivalent in social media – let me call it cyberlanguage. i’m sure linguists and postmodern woollymouths have created a term for it but – well, let’s leave that for now. this cyberlanguage is quite rich. let’s look at twitter and just some of the many ways we communicate outside of the informational content of the text:

  • mode of interaction with others. do we reply to others? is there evidence of actual conversation with others? what is the nature of that interaction? friendly, hostile, fun, etc.?
  • evidence of self-involvement. does the person tweet nothing but her or his own “wisdom”, or references to their blog or web site?
  • what do the avatar and twitter backgrounds say about the person? fun? boring? interesting? unusual?
  • what does the bio say? is there a link to a web site or blog?
  • what is the writing style? formal, informal, flowery, abrupt … ? can they spell? how do they use punctuation and symbols?

and the list goes on … i often think people are developing their own unique cyberlanguage, their own internet voice print, so to say. the more time we spend online, the better we are able to discern the subtle undertones and colorations of these voices. we can judge them according to more common standards (e.g. use of swearwords, uniqueness of twitter background, amount of retweets, etc.) but we can also attune to our own resonances. maybe the person uses certain expressions that really appeal to me. maybe the person has a ratio of conversation to just-talking-to-myself that makes me feel comfortable.

and then of course there is also the content, both of the tweets and of the bio and the web sites that the bio leads to. in my case, i did go to sheldon’s blog, where i had been before, and discovered that he spoke favorable of research on drug addiction by bruce alexander, one of my favourite psychology professors at sfu.

did all of this guarantee that sheldon was a good guy and not a serial killer? of course not. but how different is that from real life?

what do you think of the idea of a unique cyberlanguage?

spiritual language

a while ago we talked about the lack of scripts for talking about mental illness (at least in “polite society”), and before that we had a conversation about how uncomfortable it can be to engage in peaceful communication.  and now evan took up the topic the other day and asked how can we talk about our spiritual experience?

“i find it hard to talk about spirituality,” he says.  which is interesting: spirituality is a much talked-about topic, especially on the internet.  so what’s the problem?  let me attempt to summarize evan’s ideas:

we don’t share a widely understood language, notwithstanding the fact that many different religions are represented, from christian to buddhist to new age.  in the media, these languages appear side by side, almost as flavours to go shopping for.  this is very different from the experience of spirituality, which, to name but a few,  can go to the depths of who we are, can mean “waking up” or “dying and being re-born”, or can have a feeling of inevitability – very different from shopping.

the wide variety of languages that can be found can also be beneficial; we now have the opportunity to talk to people from many spiritual traditions, even those who have none.

we need to represent our spiritual experiences, with poetic and academic words, with images, with sound – and we will probably be telling our spiritual stories for a long while before we will start understanding the language.  we will need to become sympathetic and respectful listeners and viewers and doers. our language will need to stay close to our experience.

this is different from religion, which has often been presented in terms of intellectual belief. this leaves out much of our experience: the delights of the senses, the connecting with others through emotion, moments of transcendence and intimacy …

evan finishes the post with this:

this post i hope is just a preliminary. i would like to hear about your spiritual experiences and whether these experiences have led you to any particular tradition; have you drawn on various different traditions, or even formulated your own? what aspects of your life do you regard as spiritual? are there some parts of your life that you don’t see as spiritual?

i am curious about that, too.  before we go on to exploring this, i thought it would also be interesting to go back to the two posts i mentioned at the beginning and see whether some of the commenters have ideas that may apply to spirituality.

make it positive

alexander zoltai suggested framing things in positive terms.  so perhaps rather than saying “it’s difficult to talk about spirituality” we could say “discussing spirituality is new for me and i’m excited about experimenting with different ways of talking about it.”

avoid labels

evan himself had the idea of avoiding labels.  instead of mentioning the catch word spirituality or words like god, church, prayer, etc. one could describe the actual experience.  “the other day i went for this beautiful walk; the leaves were of all conceivable shades of red, gold and brown, the sky was blue, the air was fresh and clean; it just made me so happy and grateful to be there right at that moment!”

do we really need to talk?  how about listening?

listening is something that ian from quantum learning said is important: “listen for what sits under the words of others”.  talking is about communication.  communication is as much, or more, about listening as it is about speaking.  listening closely to what the other has to say, or wants to say, may give us clues about how to engage with them regarding spirituality.  or it may just end up being that listening to them will be our spiritual experience.

choose who you talk to

sandy said that in connection with talking about mental illness it “takes quite a bit of getting to know someone before they’ll own that their life has a problem.”  in my experience, they same holds true regarding spirituality.  maybe that takes us back to listening again.  through listening we form relationships, relationships that may then be ripe for a discussion of spiritual experiences.

yet another commenter wrote that it feels good to share such experiences with others who have been there themselves.

using the written word

marie said “having a blog that brazenly describes what is going on with me ‘in secret’ is helpful. i write under a pen name; but when i want to share that side of me with someone in my 3D world, i can simply point them to my blog.”  this reminds me of a minister i was once friends with.  we could talk about a gazillion things but not about spiritual matters – for that we needed the framework of the pulpit, from which he spoke most movingly.

just keep talking

another commenter recounted that the only way he achieved a well enough state to have nice conversation as well s complete wellness was by continuously talking.  so here the advice would be to just keep on talking, no matter what.  this goes with what another commenter mentioned, namely that it’s important to remember that when we are afraid of judgment by others for talking about “strange” subjects, it often comes from being afraid to be judged my ourselves.   not everyone will understand, and that’s ok.

what do you think?  how can we talk about spirituality?

in defense of “trying”

yodathe word “trying” has a bad rap. why?

yoda said, “do, or do not. there is no try“. there is the idea that “trying” is associated with excuses, that trying comes just before failing, that trying implies no commitment, etc.

fair enough.

here are my points:

what does try mean?

let’s start by looking at some definitions of “try”:

  • to examine or investigate judicially
  • to put to test
  • to make an attempt

trying and commitment

when i google the word “trying”, the first site after the definition is trying to conceive. that’s interesting. all the women i know who are or have been “trying to conceive” are very, very committed to the process. one person i know spent eight years until she found what was working for her and her husband – and lots of blood, sweat and tears, not to mention dollars. i don’t think that there is a lack of commitment, or that “trying” stands for making lame excuses.

try and persistence

the last request in the extended version of the serenity prayer says

… and the strength to get up and try again, one day at a time.

trying, honest, earnest trying, requires strength. “trying” may make some people think of excuses – it often makes me think of persistence. “if at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again” and again, and again, and again.

trying as a process – example: quitting smoking

in addition to parents who try to conceive, another “trying” comes to mind: research shows that most people who successfully quit smoking have tried a number of times before they succeed. that was certainly true for me. interestingly enough, my first attempt or two were not overly committed. but the desire to quit grew over time. i honestly don’t know what the outcome would have been had someone said to me that trying isn’t good enough.

so what about yoda?

now i don’t want to diss yoda. i have a soft spot for him (you can even find him on my bathroom altar) so i want to take him seriously. in the snippet in question, luke says to yoda, with a dejected eeyore type of voice, “ok, i’ll try.” when yoda says, “do. or do not” i think the point is more about confidence than about dismissing the idea of trying wholeheartedly.

suffering from a lack of confidence (which, often enough, is truly a form of suffering) or simple being half-assed is something that you can do without invoking the concept of trying. i know enough people who say, “i’ll commit myself to … (losing weight, exercising, writing that letter, etc.)” and still don’t do it.

so leave the word “try” alone already.

(or go another route – try [!] the concept of “allowing“).

image by orange_beard

mental health and mental illness in different cultures

the last few days, i have been thinking repeatedly about the ideas fellow vancouver blogger karen fung has brought up in her post on march 9. she muses about three topics, all of which fascinating. the one about mental health issues with immigrant populations is particularly intriguing, perhaps because for the past year, i’ve mostly worked with immigrants, and also because ethnic diversity is something very close to our hearts at the canadian mental health association.

karen says

as i have become more aware of my interaction with others and of my personal power in my relationships, i’ve realized how important language of empowerment is – and in some cases, even just language more broadly. one interest that i have (that i’m not sure i’ll ever be able to meaningfully pursue) is exploring mental health issues with immigrant populations …

what is the status of mental health stigma more generally in non-english media, and how are efforts at pushing that envelope? this is entirely out of self-interest; however, with populations around the world being more mobile and cultures more in flux, my read is that the ways of dealing with mental health issues the way my grandparents did – through self-medication, secret lives or behind closed doors – seems less and less viable all the time …

on a more specific, linguistic level, i’ve found english to be amazingly malleable in making words match the concepts ” people change and adapt phrases all the time to reflect, however artificially, a higher level of thinking that is non-judgmental, inclusive and accepting. but i can imagine that with other languages (say, the one i have most personal experience with, cantonese) this willingness to shift things might not exist the same way.

these are intriguing ideas. one thing that this makes me think of is that in german, my mother tongue, the concept/words “mental health” are not nearly as much in use as the concept/words “mental illness”. for example, if i search the english speaking google.com for the terms “mental health”, “mental illness” and “depression”, i get a close to 1:1:1 ratio. in google.de, on the other hand, the word “geistesgesundheit” (mental health), even when i add the related term “geistliche gesundheit”, relates to “geisteskrankheit” (mental illness) and depression in a ratio of 1:20:130.  mindboggling!

just to spin this a bit further – it seems to me that german has a similar malleability at the semantic (meaning) level but not on the sociolinguistic level. that is, the language structure is very capable – maybe even more so than english – of being bent this way and that to reflect many shades of meaning but on the level of actual language use, that just does not happen as much as in english.  similarly, the concept of political correctness, which is born from the desire to make language more reflective of societal changes, is not nearly as significant in german as it is in english.

what does it mean, then, when a person struggling with mental health issues lives in a country where mental illness is a much more frequently used term than mental health

i’ll assume that the situation in chinese speaking countries (china, hong kong, taiwan, singapore, parts of vietnam, malaysia, philippines, etc.) is similar to the situation in germany. one of my friends from mainlaind china agrees with me.  but that’s just two opinions – correct us if we’re wrong!

and what does it mean for a person from one of those countries when they move to a place like canada, the US or australia and encounter a totally new approach to mental illness? is it freeing, confusing, stunning?

cats, sanskrit, and 9 kinds of love – or was it 96?

admiring a catfirst thing this morning, i opened the kitchen door and let rum in, our cat. i bent down, stroked her thick gray fur, and told her how beautiful she was. i love rum. this love is tinged with admiration. we call her our zen cat; she is one of the most even-tempered creatures (humans or animals) i have ever met. it is a love, too, nurtured by the gifts she gives us – the healing sounds of her purring, just to name one.  many ingredients go into this love for our cat.

there is a claim that sanskrit has 96 words for love. i am hoping for some experts to confirm whether that is correct. suffice it to say – and the word “suffice” is a bit ironic in this context – that when i entered the word “love” into a sanskrit dictionary, i received close to 1,200 entries that are related in one way or another to the concept of love. (concept? feeling? experience?) 93 of them start with “A”. not all of them are words for either the verb or noun “love” – but below are some interesting ones. before i give them to you – 16 in all, 16 words of love – i thought i’d categorize for you the concepts associated with “love” (only as found in the letter “A”, mind you!). now we’re down to 9 kinds of love. quite fascinating:

  1. desire, passion and consuming love – “to melt with love”
  2. affection – “love of one’s own children”
  3. love as suffering – “to be ruined” (by love, i presume)
  4. comforting love – “to coax, soothe”
  5. brotherly love, compassion and kindness – “showing tender love towards the followers of jainism and settling them firmly in their religion”
  6. love as expansion – “to swell, increase”
  7. romantic / sexual love – “love, as a mental experience of lovers”
  8. lonely love – “suppressed (lit. inward) love”
  9. devotion

haven’t found anything on love of pets yet.

here are the actual words:

abhihary to wish anything to be near, call it near; to like , love

aintiNai 1. love between man and woman as manifested in five situations pertaining to the five tracts of land; 2. the five tracts of land

akagkaram self-love, egotism

akappuRapperuntiNai love between unequals

akattiNai love, as a mental experience of lovers

aLi 1. love; 2. clemency, grace; 3. desire; 4. coolness; 5. gift, present; 6. civility politeness; 7. poverty, wretchedness; 8. unripe fruit

ANam 1. love, friendship, affection; 2. support; 3. vessel

antarmanmatha suppressed (lit. inward) love

anurakti affection , love , devotion

anurudh to bar (as a way); to surround , confine , overcome, to adhere to , be fond of , love ; to coax , soothe, entreat

apahnava concealment , denial of or turning off of the truth ; dissimulation , appeasing , satisfying; affection , love

apatyasneha love of one’s own children

arAkam 1. melody-type; 2. a secondary melody-type of the pa1lai class; 3. a melody-type à takkarAkam ; 4. passion, love, vehement desire; 5. redness

aRattuvaccaLam showing tender love towards the followers of jainism and settling them firmly in their religion

Ataram 1. regard, love, affection, kindness, respect; 2. desire; 3. honour, hospitality

azi-tal 1. to perish, to be ruined; 2. to decay, to be mutilated; 3. to fail, to be frustrated; 4. to become unsettled, to lose standing; 5. to be defeated; 6. to melt with love; 7. to suffer, to be troubled; 8. to be disheartened; 9. to swell, increase; 10. to sympathise with; 11. to be spent, used up, sold out, exhausted

(refer to the dictionary for the meaning of mid-word capitalization and other information on pronunciation).

the image, in a big public gallery (“alte pinakothek”) in my home town, munich, comes from miscpix

escaping the prison of depression, out into a landscape of … ?

escape from prisonalmost two weeks ago now, catatonic kid (let’s call her CK) posted another entry in our cross-blog conversation about depression and language. in fighting darkness, recovering words, CK took her words and crafted a beautiful post. it’s a work of art and it, along with her readers’ comments, also raises a number of very interesting points. i found myself combing through at as i would for text research.

here are a two of the themes that came up for me:

though shalt not know, thou shalt not speak
dano macnamarrah left this comment:

my body shows the awful truth of living silently in pain. my arms and legs bear witness through countless pale scars of sewn up cuts, pink clouds from burns and livid areas of scabs i worry at.

… it’s safer and better to vocalize my pain, than share it on my skin.

i’ve spent years painting and scribbling my pain, but i have found that writing a blog is better than a diary. in a personal journal, one can get swept away by the terrible tides of isolated madness.

as CK pointed out, in an earlier post i had talked about the connection between creativity, oppression and depression. this connection can be seen again here. a therapist i saw for a long time often used the idea of torture as a metaphor of suffering in relationships. the essence of torture, he’d say, is to be captured and “done by”. torture is oppression. “living silently in pain” sounds like that to me. pain is the torture, silence is the prison guard, silence that says, “you are not allowed to know what’s going on. you must not speak.” and we all have that instinct to break out, or at least to do something about the torture and the prison. dano’s solution was to “share it on the skin”, using the language of torture (cutting and burning) to attempt a prison break.

says CK,

sometimes depression is all we know, all that’s familiar, and even though it’s dark we incidentally feed the darkness by not naming the seemingly unknowable.

a similar image, isn’t it? prisons are dark, and after we’ve spent a long time in them, they start to feel familiar and oddly comfortable. and we start using the language of prison.

how much healthier it is to use the language of words and creativity, and to share them out loud, as dano and CK and so many others do on their blogs.

language as a key to unlock the doors depression slams shut
when i first started collecting these themes, i had not even seen the connection between the images of prison and torture and the idea of unlocking doors.

CK again:

… discover those words which fit into the sore spots in our minds, and unlock the doors depression slams shut. meaningful language is a key – a very powerful tool we can use to experience the totality of being.

what a freeing thought, that these words are “discovered”, not, as in a prison situation, keys that are stolen and smuggled. what is needed then, especially in more intense experiences of depression, are the patience and energy to keep exploring. fortunately, if the right light is shone on what is found, every word, every phrase, every image can be a key, a gold nugget of freedom. the trick is to ask ourselves at every turn, “how can i use this? how can i use this word, this description, this little story, to escape the prison of depression?” (by the way, that brings me back to creativity. i’m thinking of my father, an artist, who would often exhort us not to throw out any little odd-looking doodads: “no, no, we have to keep it! i can use it in a collage!”)

my job as a counsellor is to help the people with whom i work to find and sustain the needed energy and patience. and when depression hits me, i need to run (yes, i said “run”; no time can be lost) to those who, in turn, can help me with that.

further on, CK says,

“i am depression’s dictionary”; and
“what resources do you discover when you begin to speak, and to map the hidden country of your mind?”

for those of us with years and years of dealing with depression, there is definitely still discovery, but somehow there is also a repository, a “dictionary” of depression. as i am writing this, i am actually imagining a word cloud. “lonely” probably wouldn’t show up big in my cloud, but “paralyzed”, “confused” and “indecisive” would loom large. when i “click” on these words in my mind, i will hopefully find some meaning – but also beyond that – maybe i need click again – an escape map: yoga. poetry. sunlight. walks.

if you deal with depression or other types of mental health challenges – what does your word cloud look like?  what’s on the map?

(ps. i wrote this post very tired, my eyes half closed through much of it. first i thought i should just leave it and edit it the next day. but it occurred to me that in view of the topic, writing it in this trance/fog might have its own revelatory power …)

 

image by amin tabrizi

september buddhist carnival part 2

woman meditating in japanhello friends, i’m back with part 2 of the buddhist carnival. part 1 is here. the last one had a pretty clear theme – delusions and illusions. this one is a bit more all over the place except for the first two pieces, they have something in common. they’re a bit crude.

meditation rant

new age bitch, one of my newest blog discoveries, throws around a few four-letter-words as she rants against self-proclaimed gurus and praises meditation. or does she? the title of the post is meditation is for masochist.

Q: o guru healer-person in whom i am blindly and unthinkingly placing all my trust and faith, how can we mere ignorant mortals apply this revolutionary new amazing healing method in our own lives please oh please?
A: that’s going to be in my second book.

meditation. it’s billed as a panacea, something that will cure every ill and imbalance. you. must. meditate.

but … what is meditation, exactly?

most people view meditation as a sort of struggle. calming the monkey mind. cultivating stillness, inside and out, so as to eradicate every thought. KILL THE THOUGHTS!! BANISH THOUGHTS FROM YOUR MIND! MAKE YOUR MIND EMPTY!!

you want more of this, right? well, read the rest.

zen in the outhouse

while we’re on the topic of hearty language, let’s talk about shit:

one day sosan was sent into town to buy brushes and ink. upon returning to the temple he had to respond to a call from nature. the temple had an old-style outhouse which was built very high off the ground. it was said that the outhouse was so high that if shit dropped when a traveler left taejon, it wouldn’t land until the traveler reached seoul! that’s how high this toilet was! so, as sosan taesa was squatting over the hole he happened to look down below-way below!-and saw many small animals.

as soon as his fresh shit hit the bottom, worms, rats, many kinds of animals would rush and dive into it, eating ravenously. after contemplating this scene for a while it struck him that the people in the market place were no different. they are always looking for something, always seeking something, always going for something new, always trying to make a profit off something. ahh… his mind opened.

this reminds me of my father. no, not the outhouse. but there was nothing that wasn’t capable of inspiring him when he was open to it. he would have loved this story.

buddhism and the japanese language

let’s move from the korean outhouse into more lofty intellectual realms in japan. glowing face man is studying japanese and mandarin and has noticed some features of these languages which lend themselves to buddhism in a way that english does not.  in his post connections between japanese and buddhism he gives a few examples; and believe it or not, once again there is one about illusion – the illusion of duality:

if a japanese monk is meditating, and she opens her eyes and sees a mountain, she might say “yama da” – “is mountain.” by context, we assume the sentence means “that’s a mountain,” but strictly speaking it could just as well mean “i am a mountain.” except japanese doesn’t have articles (“a”, “an”, or “the”), so it would actually be “i am mountain.” japanese doesn’t have plurals either, so we may as well make it “i am mountains.”

the weird way that japanese subjects work (or, don’t work, when they’re omitted) makes the idea of oneness just a little easier to grasp.

EXERCISE: experiment with removing some subjects from your mental dialogue. easier than it sounds, actually. if nothing else, a fun alternative way of thinking.

a companion post to this would be axel g’s post about meditating in japan.

planetary bodhisattva

for my last feature article, i’m happy to share with you the thoughts of christine the bliss chick, writing, in her own way, about the illusion of duality – the illusion that we are “other” from our environment.

when we get up the morning and don’t feel like being inconvenienced by a bike ride to work and consider driving our cars two miles instead, we can decide on that morning that we are not riding for ourselves but that we are riding for everyone and everything — for the entirety of the planet.

how could you possibly get in your car then?

please also read

… tejvan’s recounting of an old zen story, is that so? and anmol mehta’s thoughts on the role of urgency in motivating us to meditate.

thank you all for participating in this carnival – writers, readers, and all the techies behind the scene we never meet. the MySQL soldier at 1&1, the support fairy at shaw, the good person who took the photograph above, and the #8 bus driver taking home the nice lady who looks after my hydro bill. thank you all!

the next buddhist carnival will take place on october 15. please submit your articles here, or, if you have a hard time connecting to blog carnival, drop me a line.

depression and the power of language

depression is a state of subtraction, says catatonic kid,

depression is not an approachable thing. it seems, in fact, to be precisely the opposite. it has a power to repel that is apparently so strong that it stops our mouths before we have even thought to speak of all that runs through its dark night.

and

there are barriers around the whole experience of depression, and that’s unfortunate because it means we don’t have language, yet, for the most common states of it. it’s like the apocryphal story of how very many words eskimos have for snow…

in this cross-blog conversation with catanonic kid, maybe we can break down the barriers, make it more approachable.

wordwide, depression is the leading cause of disability and the 4th leading contributor to the global burden of disease, affecting 121 million people altogether. we better find a few words for it!

and we do have words. a sample from catatonic kid and her commenters

a grey wash over everything, a strange and fuzzy cloud, a bell jar, an emotional topper, a thick wall between the individual and the rest of the world …

depression is a barren space, a shore that no-one wants to swim to. i understand that so well. i feel contagious when I am so sickened. i would not want this awful mind to be visited by even the worst people…

a shapeless mess

in a previous post, i observed how words of numbness and emptiness are most common among people who describe depression.

the point i see is that – these are words.  maybe words that we don’t like, maybe words that describe something that makes us feel uncomfortable, but they are valid nevertheless. and i belong to those who think that language, meaningful language, can be a tool in dealing with depression. by leaving depression in the darkness of wordlessness, i give it more power; like a wet rag left in a warm kitchen, this darkness is a perfect breeding ground for dis-ease.

meaningful language. meaningful language is powerful language. ever been to a workshop where the facilitator writes on a flipchart? know that irritable feeling when they re-interpret your words (you say “brother” and they write “sibling”; you say “joyful” and they write “positive”) and, conversely, the great feeling when you see your own words?

i think it’s the same with depression (and with any mental illness, and, indeed any experience).

let’s find, express, use and stand up for our own words for depression. whatever they may be. numb? bleak? empty? what’s wrong with those words? darkness. dust. suffocation. “paralysis” is a word that happens to fit my personal experience with depression.

the more we can use these words, the more we invigorate our own experience, the less helpless we need to feel when it seems that others want to engulf us with their language – the language of those who are well-meaning but really don’t understand the experience, or the language of the overprofessionalized DSM-IV. why accept a word like “anhedonia” if it doesn’t fit the bill? it’s like letting your pharmacist name your cat. (that doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t use those words, too – but i don’t think they’re enough.)

when we are right in the depression, perhaps at first we cannot take charge like that. however, when there are recurring episodes of depression, we learn, over time, to pick up some tools, and train ourselves in more powerful times to respond in helpful ways when the depression hits again.

and language, many say, is the most powerful tool ever invented by humans. why not use it?