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UP #71: Burnout, Depression, Activism And The Return To Wholeness With Lesley Fox

UP #71: Burnout, Depression, Activism and the Return to Wholeness with Lesley Fox

As a critical thinking, soul-expressed status quo crusher, I see the world through a more expansive lens; the lens of the heart. Where society sees one thing, I see many others. I believe in accountability, which means that I’m willing to say things that many are unwilling to hear. It’s often easier to remain a victim to circumstances than it is to own it. But that’s a cop out from life and I refuse to accept anything less than the admission that we can all be and do so much better.

The purpose of this post is to redefine mental illness/depression and tell it like it is. Depression is the mind’s response to a short-circuit from the soul; a cry from the heart to wake up! Depression is a psychosomatic response to a closed heart and the subsequent separation from who we authentically are.

In a world where humanity has strayed so far from its core essence, it’s not surprising that depression, anxiety, and addiction are commonplace. The paradigm that we call “reality” is not set up for life, truth, presence, authenticity, integrity, compassion, and love. This world is not designed to nurture the essence of who we are. As a result, our inner disconnect manifests mental ailments such as depression and anxiety. These afflictions may be considered “normal”, but normal is not natural.

In the past 10 years, the use of anti-depressants has doubled. The farther we stray from the truth of who we are, the greater the likelihood of experiencing depression (herein called, spiritual disconnect). We live in a spiritually vacant paradigm and the repercussions are ugly. The more we conform to a culture gone sideways, the greater the likelihood of spiritual disconnect. The more we believe the dysfunctional thought loops in our heads, the greater the likelihood of spiritual disconnect. The more unworthy we believe we are, the greater the likelihood of spiritual disconnect. The more time we spend spinning our wheels “doing”, the greater the likelihood of spiritual disconnect. The more time we spend in fear, the greater the likelihood of spiritual disconnect. The less time we spend honoring our souls, the greater the likelihood of spiritual disconnect.

Spiritual disconnect is a powerful invitation to turn inward and rediscover the truth of who we are.

I believe that we are all born connected and whole. But we’re taught to disconnect and separate. When life brings us pain and discomfort, we don’t know how to cope. Heartbreak happens. Death happens. Money struggles happen. Stress happens. Life happens. It can often feel impossible to remain present and connected when life presents us with so much pain. Sometimes it’s easier to just check out, but this comes at great expense. We are not our pain, yet so many of us identify with just that…unconscious victims to our own emotional immaturity.

On a deep spiritual level we all know that we are so much more than who we’ve been conditioned to be. We all know that we’re meant to live more, give more, be more, and love more. But in a world where we don’t feel safe expressing who we authentically are, many of us separate from our true selves in order to shield our hearts from the judgement we so deeply fear. This separation leads to a loss of direction, vitality, meaning, purpose, identity, compassion, and love. Culturally, we’ve normalized unhappiness by medicating it rather than owning it. We’re not taught to be emotionally mature beings. We’re taught to judge, label, and suppress our emotions while attaching to the fictitious stories we create in our heads. We’re taught to think and not feel – a dangerous recipe for depression/spiritual disconnect.

When we ignore our emotions, we ignore our souls.

A quote by George Brown in the book, The Noonday Demon says it all, “Depression is a response to past loss, and anxiety is a response to future loss.” Depression and anxiety are the soul’s direct responses to an unchecked lack of presence.

In a world that covets the mind and negates the heart, it’s easier to “blame the brain”, swallow a pill, and carry on with the “same old, same old” than it is to look deep within. When we reclaim the truth of who we are, depression is rendered null and void. We don’t need medication, we need ruthless self care. This is a bold statement in a cultural paradigm that chooses pills over pain. Accountability is the first step towards wholeness. I know. I’ve been there…and sometimes I still fall flat. Consciousness is a ongoing practice.

We need to feel what is real so we can heal and reclaim our wholeness. We need to “be” as much we “do”. In a culture that perpetuates an endless cacophony of distraction, we must consciously slow ourselves down and unplug from the techno-trance that short circuits our minds from our hearts. We need to realize that we are so much more than our thoughts. We need to remember the essence of who we are – love, compassion, courage, joy, strength, power, and truth. This is the paradigm-altering shift from head to heart.

The truth of who we are lives in our hearts; in the stillness of meditation, in the presence of nature, in the flow of creative expression, in the joy of time spent with animals or children, in random acts of kindness, in compassionate vegan meals, in the power of movement, and in service to a higher calling. In order to maintain the connection to our soul, it’s imperative to establish a solid, non-negotiable daily practice that feeds our sense of Self and keeps us grounded in truth and internal alignment. It’s only then that we can more consciously navigate the external world in a way that doesn’t bring us down.

In this week’s Unplug podcast, I speak with Lesley Fox, animal activist, and executive director of The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals. Our candid conversation openly exposes our respective personal struggles with spiritual disconnect, how we found our way back, ruthless self-care, and healthy activism. Living consciously in an unconscious world is a vigorous practice, but it is doable when we remember the truth – the soul – of who we are.

This week we discuss:

• How being moved by injustice drives a passion for change.
• The necessity for self expression and a supportive, nurturing environment to foster authenticity.
• How expectations lead to disappointment.
• The importance of like-minded community to inspire expansion and positive action.
• How anger can fuel positive transformative action.
• Underneath all grief is love.
• The necessity for ruthless self-care to preserve a connection to our hearts.
• How we all need a personal practice for balance.
• Learning how to ask for help.
• The power of service and random acts of kindness to “bring us home”.
• Consciously “powering down” for greater productivity.
• Navigating burnout and depression.
• How a conscious life is an ongoing practice.

Spiritual disconnect is one of the greatest problems facing humanity today. The repercussions of our spiritual vacancy are playing out in frightening ways – from rampant depression to runaway climate change. The greatest act of service that we can do for this world is to dare to care about the truth within our hearts. When we return to wholeness, there are no limits to the transformation we can affect.


• Fur Bearer Defenders website.
• “The Art of Asking” – Amanda Palmer TEDx talk mentioned in our conversation.

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