October 2016 - Depression


"Bench with a View", Kathy Reid

In this newsletter:

  • Holidays and Depression
  • From the Founder's Corner
  • Depression
  • Some Thoughts on Feeling Sad

Holidays and Depression

This month's newsletter is about Depression.

With the holidays coming up, many people experience depression. The holidays are not the loving family time for many of us and so we feel our losses more acutely. If you have a tendency to be depressed, the holidays can exacerbate it.

I have experienced depression throughout my life. I don't think I was aware of it in my younger years. I began therapy in my 20's and it certainly helped. I think a lot of it is passed on genetically and cellularly. My Mother and Father were both depressed and used alcohol to self-medicate.

There are two types of depression:

Endogenous, which comes from environmental circumstances; and Exogenous, which comes from within the person. Many people experience both.

Symptoms of depression include lack of interest in daily living, sleeping too much, or insomnia. Feelings of worthlessness, agitation, restlessness, or eating too much or too little, are some of the symptoms that can contribute to a person with depression generally feeling horrible, sometimes to the point of suicidal ideation or thoughts.

It is very important to get help before it gets to that point. You may need a combination of therapy with a good therapist and medication to get you through. I believe talk therapy is not enough. That is why Star is so beneficial for people who experience depression.

If you or someone you know is experiencing depression, please consider attending Star. It made a huge difference in my life and enabled me to take action in a way that I never could have, had I not done Star.

I wish you all a depression free holiday season and please know that your Star family is here to help you if you need it.

With Love,
Candace Rosen
Clinical Director, STAR Foundation

Our Star 2016-2017 retreats are filling up quickly! We have also added our 2017 retreats so you can plan ahead. You can find a calendar and other information, including how to register, on our website by clicking the links below.

2016 Fall STAR Retreat
November 11, 2016 - November 20, 2016

2017 Winter STAR Retreat
January 27, 2017 - February 5, 2017

2017 Spring STAR Retreat
April 21, 2017 - April 30, 2017

2017 Summer STAR Retreat
July 21, 2017 - July 30, 2017

2017 Fall STAR Retreat
October 13, 2017 - October 22, 2017

From the Founder's Corner

As most of you know, in the winter of 2015, the STAR foundation returned to me at Kenyon Ranch. It was a surprise and a challenge. Since then, with returning staff lead by our Clinical Director, Candace Rosen, we have completed four successful STAR retreats using our tried and true balanced approach of engaging body, mind and spirit. We love working together as a team witnessing the healing transformation in participants lives. Our next group begins Nov. 10, 2016. We are committed to continuing STAR retreats into the future - bringing the magic of STAR to as many people as possible. Thank you for your support, and may Thanksgiving remind us of the blessings we share.

In Gratitude,

Founder STAR Foundation, President STAR Board of Directors

"Coast View", Kathy Reid


Due mostly to my prenatal and perinatal experience, I grew up from a foundation of fear and danger. My reptilian brain took over to a large extent. In order to survive, I (unconsciously) learned to shut down, hide, and repress my feelings. As I did this, although my anxiety lessened a bit, my sense of emptiness and meaninglessness increased. Consequently, depression took hold at times.

As far back as I can remember I was anxious, nervous, apprehensive—basically, scared (except when I was playing sports) all the time. My fear often showed up as shyness. I was afraid of drawing attention to myself, looking stupid or weird—what I later came to recognize was living in and from a fear-based paradigm. I almost always expected to be or feel embarrassed, humiliated, laughed at, or shamed. Over time I became hyper-vigilant—always on guard to a heightened extent, both toward myself and toward all other people. I tried not to act too spontaneously where I might do something that could lead to humiliation.

My fear was based around people and having my emotions show. In school if a teacher called on me in class I'd immediately flush red and wish I could disappear. That went on for a very long time. I say this to explain that because of my fear-based reality, I did all I could to repress my feelings and to try to look okay, cool, or normal. I had to shut down, to some extent, my feelings and consequently, my self. In doing that, I eventually lost a connection to my feelings, my authentic self, and to my heart. I lost access to, or even the awareness of what it was to feel alive, open, or relaxed. I ended up living mostly in and from my head—thinking, daydreaming, and worrying. I often didn't feel connected to much of anything, except maybe some vague sense that something was missing, something was not right. I tried not to show much feeling on the outside but inside I was anxious, wary, and distrustful—essentially not safe.

There is obviously much more to the story. However, suffice it to say, after surviving for a long time without much connection to my heart and rarely feeling truly alive, the emptiness, meaninglessness, and hopelessness led to depression. In other words, having to put the brakes on my feelings at a very young age laid the groundwork for depression.

What helps me get out of depression is to have connected feelings. By that I mean I let myself be emotionally affected by situations, movies, music, etc., and allow myself to go with the feelings that arise (in a safe place, with a safe person). In doing so I often get in touch with and feel more directly and more deeply my anger, grief, sadness, and fear. I can't "make" myself feel these feelings but I can "let" myself feel them to some extent. When I do all of that, even a little, I feel connected to my heart and my sense of self. This is in stark contrast to feeling stuck in the vague heaviness, negativity, and emptiness of depression.

- Kenny Ball, STAR Facilitator

Some Thoughts on Feeling Sad

We all feel, at times, in the words of Henry David Thoreau, "mired in moods of quiet desperation." When we are mired this way—the word mired offers a vivid image of slogging through a muddy swamp, every forward step a struggle-even when we manage to keep up with the requirements of daily living with a "normal" veneer on the outside, we are exhausted by the effort to conceal how miserable we feel on the inside. The smallest tasks are overwhelming at these times, tears are often close, things that don't make us want to cry are intensely irritating, and our misery feels beyond the understanding of most of the people around us. You know the sources of sadness in your life. Even those of us lucky enough to live a satisfying and fulfilling life most of the time will experience loneliness, rejection, humiliations at work, failed ambitions, lost friendships, financial woes, estrangement from family...when these things happen they are of course particular to you and your life, but these are also universal experiences.

We live in a society that regards sadness as a feeling to eradicate, while cheerfulness is supposed to be the goal we all share. This doubles the struggle when we are feeling really sad, because there is also the shame of our failure to keep up with all the happy people sprinting cheerfully in the happiness derby. But the truth is, sadness is a real feeling, an important natural feeling. There are many moments in life when the truest and most in-touch feeling is sadness. Not allowing ourselves to feel our feelings, whatever they may be, requires shutting down, tuning out. When you’re out of touch with your feelings, you're not fully present. Sometimes our sadness feels overwhelming, too much to bear. But we do bear it, like the narrator of Samuel Beckett’s novel The Unnameable, whose exit lines are: "You must go on. I can't go on. I'll go on."

We go on because episodes of sadness are natural and inevitable feelings for our entire species. Your own particular sadness matches your own particular life, but you’re not alone. We are all alone together. Sadness is one of the many symptoms of being human.

People around you who might seem to be endlessly successful and fulfilled may well know that place of despair where you have dwelled. You may be someone else’s envied model of equilibrium and fulfillment. We conceal our feelings from others and then we miss the universality of those feelings. Why is it so hard to be compassionate to ourselves? We wouldn’t turn our back on a sad friend, but sometimes in sadness we abandon ourselves.

People around you who might seem to be endlessly successful and fulfilled may well know that place of despair where you have dwelled. You may be someone else’s envied model of equilibrium and fulfillment. We conceal our feelings from others and then we miss the universality of those feelings. Why is it so hard to be compassionate to ourselves? We wouldn’t turn our back on a sad friend, but sometimes in sadness we abandon ourselves.

- Katharine Weber, STAR Facilitator

"Flying Over Molokai", Kathy Reid

Depression Symptoms and Warning Signs How to Recognize Depression Symptoms and Get Effective Help

Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A. and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.

Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life, but when emotions such as hopelessness and despair take hold and just won’t go away, you may have depression. Depression makes it tough to function and enjoy life like you once did. Just getting through the day can be overwhelming. But no matter how hopeless you feel, you can get better. Learning about depression—and the many things you can do to help yourself—is the first step to overcoming the problem.

What is Depression?

Depression is a common and debilitating mood disorder that is affecting more and more people around the world. An estimated 350 million people of all ages experience symptoms of depression and about 13 percent of Americans take antidepressants—a figure that jumps to 25 percent for women in their 40s and 50s.

While some people describe depression as "living in a black hole" or having a feeling of impending doom, others feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic. Men in particular may even feel angry and restless. No matter how you experience it, depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun.

When you’re trapped in depression, it feels like nothing will ever change. But it’s important to remember that feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are symptoms of depression—not the reality of your situation. There are things you can do today to start feeling better.

Am I depressed?

If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms—especially the first two—and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from depression.

  • You feel hopeless and helpless
  • You’ve lost interest in friends, activities, and things you used to enjoy
  • You feel tired all the time
  • Your sleep and appetite has changed
  • You can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult
  • You can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try
  • You are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual
  • You’re consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behavior

What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms. It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted—the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression.

You can read the rest of this article and other excellent posts on the STAR website blog by clicking here.

"Coastal View", Kathy Reid

The STAR Foundation's mission is to provide nurturing intensives where adults experience empowerment and inspiration, and are given tools to transform their lives.

We also hope that you will continue your generous contributions to STAR Foundation in order to fulfill our mission, vision, and values.

There are several ways you can contribute:

  • You can pledge monthly support. Your gift helps us cover operational costs, workshop leader salaries and provides a stable financial base for our work.
  • You can make a one-time donation.
  • You can dedicate your donation to the general fund or one of two scholarship funds; General Scholarship or our new Diversity Scholarship to encourage participation from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Your support will be greatly appreciated. You can make checks payable to STAR Foundation – our mailing address is below. You can also donate online at our website here www.starfound.org/donations. STAR Foundation is tax-exempt under 501(c) (3) of the I.R.S. Code EIN 77-0009281.

Please mail donations to:
STAR Foundation, PO Box 1554, Tubac, AZ 85646

Visit www.starfound.org for more information, to register for a retreat, or to make a donation in support of our programs. The STAR© Retreat is a 501c3 non profit. The STAR© Retreat stands alone among personal growth workshops with its 1-to-2 staff to participant ratio. Its remarkably large, diverse, and knowledgable staff provide you, as a participant, a safe, unparalleled level of personalized attention creating an extremely individualized and tailored experience. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter by visiting the links below.

Photos copyright and courtesy Kathy Reid