The Hunger That Is Depression


Like many of you, I’ve been thinking about Robin Williams and his death has challenged me to reflect on depression and suicide.

Executive coach Richard Leider believes “There are three hungers that people are trying to feed throughout their lives. The first is to connect deeply with the creative spirit of life. The second is to know and express your gifts and talents. The third is to know that our lives matter. Fulfillment comes from feeding these three hungers.”

When I came across this quote two years ago, my knee jerk reaction was to ask myself how deeply am I connected to my creative spirit; how satisfied am I with how I express my gifts; and do I believe that my life matters?

But then I started asking myself harder questions: “Am I aware of feeling hungry or have my senses been numbed?  Do I value my gifts or do I disparage them?  Do I allow myself to feel the weight of people’s care or do I brush off love?”

At the risk of venturing into “TMI” territory, I’ll admit that for much of my adult life I’ve lived and wrestled with clinical depression. I’ve been fortunate to have a support system, professional and personal, that has bolstered me so that not only can I function, but also I can succeed in so many facets of life.

When people ask me about depression, it’s frustrating to explain because almost any explanation can easily sound like self-pitying.

Perhaps the best way to describe my experience of depression is that it blurs my vision. I’m not able to recognize what’s in front of me — love, opportunity, gifts, reasons for hope and excitement. It brings about distortions so that when I say I struggle with depression what I mean is that I struggle with righting a distorted view of life. Yes, there’s often been a physical struggle to muster energy, but more than that it’s about being able to draw a sense of urgency and commitment from the bounty surrounding me.

Depression essentially makes harder the struggle to mindfully engage Leider’s Three Hungers.

Occasionally I meet someone who lives life in a way that daily satisfies these hungers. Yet, I meet so many others who are unable to name their hunger and understand why it makes them restless. Others know the origins of their hunger but feel hopeless, lacking the “recipe” that will satiate their hunger. And for others, they simply satisfy their hungers with “junk food” and so become dull.

Depressed or not, the Three Hungers challenge us all.

What about you?  How hungry are you?  How do you satisfy your hunger?  How do you help “feed” the hungry in your life?

Please send your questions to JP Reynolds at:

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