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Are You Depressed or Detached?

photo: Venturist on flickr

photo: Venturist on flickr

Dear Meli,

For a long time, I was totally enamored with spiritual life. Amazing things would happen in my life and I would be totally blown away. But now, I’m a lot more blasé about it all. Don’t get me wrong, my life is still great. But somehow, I don’t care. Things don’t impact me as strongly anymore. Sometimes I wonder if I’m depressed, but I don’t think it’s that. I think I’m just less attached. What do you think?

Duly Detached

Dear Detached,

Being healthily detached and being depressed can feel similar. I am not a therapist, but in my understanding, most depressed people would not say their life is great. So I am going to agree with the possibility that you are not depressed.

However, there is one additional possibility to consider. It doesn’t fit into either of the other categories you mentioned (depressed or detached). That is the possibility that you are grieving.

Grieving is a strange thing. It can look like so many different things. And it simply has to do its thing, and move on through us. If we try to bypass it, as so many of us spiritually- inclined folks tend to do, it will stick around and show up in a myriad of possible ways, none of which will seem to make sense.

This is because the grief has been repressed, and repressed emotion will show up somewhere, but not always as itself at first. It sometimes takes some digging to discover what’s actually being expressed.

That said, I have also had the experience of being so detached that I’ve wondered if I was depressed. Sometimes I’ve reflected on this and found myself grieving. Other times, I’ve discovered that I am adjusting to a new level of living life from the observer. It is a powerful thing to watch our minds, from this standpoint, interpreting life and our reactions to. Being in observer mode can create a sense of being removed from life, which may easily be interpreted as being blasé.

Here is what I would suggest if you’re blasé because of observer-overdose:

  1. Connect

Connect with someone you care about deeply. Ask them about themselves and practice the art of listening deeply, empathizing and connecting with them. Even as you stay aware of your observer, you can feel into their experience and connect there.

  1. Passion

Explore deepening your commitment to doing something you’re passionate about. Find your fire by engaging with a passion.

  1. Pray

Ask for, and imagining being able to walk through life with, a high degree of the observer present, while at the same time experiencing being fully engaged, present and alive.

  1. Animals

If you have a pet, spend some quality time with them. If you don’t, consider getting one or spending some time with someone else’s.

  1. Help

Of course, talking to a professional can always make a huge difference. Never underestimate the transformative and clarifying power of therapy!

  1. Routine

Consider changing up your routine, if you have one. Sometimes this is all it takes to shake things up enough to bring you present. All your good lies in the present.

Thanks again for writing. Let me know what you decide or how things shift for you as you continue to explore this.

Meanwhile, Blessings and Love to you in all you do,


What is your experience with detachment and spiritual practice? Share your comments below!

Have a question for Meli? Interested in a private session (in person or Skype)? Contact her at meli@ohmygodlife.com


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6 Responses to Are You Depressed or Detached?

  1. Sam September 20, 2016 at 6:51 am #

    Dear Meli, Thank you that was very informative and interesting! I can say that I have recently learned to be much more “Present” in every given moment, so that I am able to make those Joyful connections and to really “FEEL” those Passions! It has changed my world tremendously and I am now feeling truly blessed beyond measure. Thank you for all that you & “Z” do! Peace, Sam

    • Melissa Phillippe September 21, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

      Hi Sam, Yay!! Isn’t is amazing to be able to be present and really FEEL?! I love this! And I love that you are in the middle of this life-changing awareness. :) Big blessings to you, Meli

  2. Karen W. September 20, 2016 at 9:38 am #

    wow. I ‘happened’ to take the time to read today’s post, and was inwardly shocked at my own, physical reaction to it. I could understand the ‘detached vs. depression issue’ but was blown away by the grieving possibility.
    My body reacted in a ‘now, that makes sense’ kind of way.
    Too long a story to share here about what brought me to being struck by the post, but I want to thank you for helping me realize that the grieving process I had thought was complete, might, indeed, still not be finished.
    Darn. It takes so much energy to grieve, I just want to be finished with it all and move on. Burying oneself in work seems to dispel it, but maybe that is only wishful thinking. Does some level of grief stay around forever? Can it ever be completely gone?
    Until I get this figured out, I do enjoy living in ‘the present’, my kitty is a life-saver, and my spiritual quest brings such comfort and positive feelings. Maybe today’s reaction, and the un-accident of me seeing the post, is the Universe’s way of saying I am ready to go to the next level of healing. I certainly hope so! Thanks for the honest response to Duly Detached. your suggestions are ‘spot-on’. I’ll be looking at them many times today and beyond.

    • Melissa Phillippe September 21, 2016 at 4:49 pm #

      Hi Karen, I love how you share that, no matter what your mind was saying about it, your body reacted to the information about grieving. And yes, I can understand that you wanted the grieving process to just be over! I have heard people say that the grieving process never truly ends, but – at least from my experience – what once felt so hard and painful is now much easier – sweeter, even! SO glad that this post brought you some clarity. Sending you lots of love as you move through this process. Remember to be sweet and gentle to your self!! Love, Meli

  3. Marilyn September 30, 2016 at 11:40 am #

    Hi Meli,

    I just stumbled on your post and found it useful. Thanks for writing about grief. I have also heard it said that the grieving process never truly ends. For me, it seems a part of life that can flow for awhile, then ebb or take breaks, sometimes short ones, sometimes long ones.

    One thing I’m very curious about, though. You mention “adjusting to a new level of living life from the observer.” Can you say more about the practice of living life from the observer point of view? Is this something you find yourself doing as a result of meditation practice, or some other practice(s)?

    Thank you for your service and for sharing your presence.


    • Melissa Phillippe October 6, 2016 at 10:58 am #

      Hi Marilyn!

      Goodness! Somehow my system did not notify me of your comment! :-( My apologies for the delay in my reply…and thank you very much for writing!

      I agree that grief is its own little window through which we must view life…and allow it to work its way through. Time has nothing to do with that world, somehow…it just takes whatever time it takes. It’s so beautiful when we can honor that and go for the tender ride. I’m happy to know you seem to allow yourself this!

      I also appreciate your questions about living life more from the observer. For me, this has been something I find myself more able to do (when I choose to) because of meditation. I find that meditation allows me to observe my thoughts without always believing them, or allowing them to take me down their little rabbit holes. Because of this, I can more easily do this when not in meditation…notice that the thoughts are “just” thoughts and don’t necessarily have a particular meaning.

      So I think my answer to the question of whether this ability is strengthened by meditation or something else, I’d say yes. 😉 Both. I notice that because of meditation, I am better able to practice this in the rest of life. I do also take the observer mode on as a spiritual practice when I am not in meditation. I guess for me, life has become more and more of a meditation, all the time.

      I think this started for me when I was with clients who were experiencing tremendous loss or emotion. I can empathize and know that this is powerful and supportive. But if I collapse into the pain, or slip into sorrowful pity with them, I am no longer serving them. I can’t throw them a rope from down in the well next to them.

      As I noticed the power of that practice during those sessions, I have found it easier to practice when it is me having the strong emotional reactions. I can not say that I am a master of this aspect! But I am much more of a master than I used to be. And I find that life seems sweeter and better, the better I get at this.

      Let me know if I answered your questions fully, or if you have any others that this reply elicits. I’m grateful for the conversation! Thank you again for writing!

      Blessings and Love to you.

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