Catchy title,huh?First, I would like to start off with a disclaimer. I am neither a psychologist nor any other type of mental health professional. I am though a person that has , at different times, been depressed for various reasons. I am the guy that normally is most optimistic and genuinely enjoys encouraging others. I love it when people feel better about themselves after hearing me speak. I wake up looking forward to who I can either encourage ,inspire, educate or empower through my words on that particular day. Yep, I’m one of those people or ,at least, I’d like to think that I am anyway.
Despite this fact, I have had a number of periods in my life that I have felt hopeless, discouraged and , momentarily, stopped giving a shit. During those times, I wasn’t much fun to be around.Ask my wife. There have been times that I literally felt that I was done. What do I mean by done, you might ask? I mean just that. Done!!! I was ready to die. I felt as though I was a complete failure. I never blamed anyone. I just felt that life had passed me by. I had made too many mistakes to come back from. I was doomed. I had a nasty habit of comparing myself to other people. I would hear about their new jobs , new houses and larger salaries and asked myself, “When is it going to be my turn?”. I would ponder this question for days and , in the process, send myself into a downward spiral of negativity, self pity, hopelessness and doubt. Normally, this “funk” would last for a three day period.During this period, it would be as if I had “positivity amnesia”. All of the positive advice and self help books that I had both read and recommended to others meant nothing to me. By the end of the third day, I would reason with myself that my situation was not as bad as I had originally perceived and focused on finding the lesson to learn about myself that would serve to push me forward. Afterwards, I moved forward better for the experience. Ultimately , it came down to a decision to do so.
Perhaps you might be asking,”What motivated you to push forward?” It was that pinnacle moment of self realization that I refer to as the “kick in the ass!!!” It was the realization that 1)There was no one outside of me that was going to save me and 2) It wasn’t just about me. What about my children? Who was going to be a better father to them than I could? Why would I even want to find out? What about my wife? Would it be fair to her if I killed myself while leaving her to take care of two kids? I also thought about all of the added expenses and work that would go into burying me , not to mention, the emotional grief that my death would cause my family, perhaps, for their lifetimes.The main reason why I would get so deeply depressed ,in the first place, was because I felt that I wasn’t providing for them in the way that I wanted to from the beginning.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not an atheist. At the same time, I no longer believe in some long, white haired ,giant grandfather looking down on me from the sky while judging my every move and thought either. I stopped praying to something or someone outside of me a long time ago. My current conviction is that we share “life” with whomever or whatever is responsible for each of us being here. I believe that there is a “source” for all life . We are it(source) and it is us. We are each Source, God or whatever term that you choose to identify it ” in action”. Yes, I said it. We are each “God in action”. I concluded that I had to find my own solutions, not only for me, but for those who I love and that depend on me. A definition of love is to put others needs above your own.To an extent, I agree with this definition . How can you most effectively take care of others if you do not take care of yourself? There is a direct connection between the two.It became apparent to me that it was necessary for me to save myself in order to “save” others. I was inspired to find my own solutions to my problems. I am going to take this time to restate that I am not a mental health professional. I am merely sharing my experiences and what has worked for me.
I am going to take this time to share certain steps that have helped me to get through my personal challenge with depression. Hopefully, they will prove useful .
1) It’s Temporary
Whatever experience that I am going through , at that moment, it never stays that way. Although it might feel like a “snails pace”the conditions of life are constantly changing. At close observation, there is no such thing as identical days. I have found myself in certain situations that , at that moment, felt like the end of the world. It seemed as though the circumstances were terminal. They never are. I remind myself that every problem comes with a solution even if I might not know what it is at that time. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. I see the value of being solution oriented as well as continuing to move forward. If I am in a mindset of constantly moving forward looking for the solution, it seems draw the end of that traumatic scenario to an end much faster. The faster I gather both my thoughts and emotions, and focus on solving my issues or finding someone who can help me to solve it, the better I feel about it. I also find it important to mention that while I am going through this process, I am still remaining present. I acknowledge my emotional state, yet, I don’t wallow in it. I have learned the value of “observing” it. I give it the attention that it deserves and , in exchange, it begins to “pass on” or dissolve away. This is far better than ignoring it which , in my case, festers it like an exposed womb. I can’t hide from myself nor how I truly feel about anything. I stopped judging my depression. To do so seemed to give it power. It made the emotional state that much more “inviting”. I tend to go through my moment and , ultimately, it dissipates on it’s own. In time , I began to realize that depression din’t define who I was and it was merely ” visiting”. It has been my experience that it like all other negative emotions are potentially evasive, yet, when it exposed to the sunlight of reason and solution oriented thinking, it fades away. When it has dissipated, it was as if it was never even there. Do not give it anymore power than what it deserves. If it comes acknowledge it and watch it move on. It is never truly the end of the world and if it was, it wouldn’t matter anyway. It will be time for a new “adventure”. Never forget who you truly are. You are infinite being having a finite human experience. Let’s stay busy with the business of consciously creating your life. You are a creator. THIS is your true nature. Every situation exists to serve you. Expect it…no…Demand it!!! Don’t let a temporary state define your all powerful, limitless nature.
2) Physical Activity
Get out of your self. Find an activity that engages you. I good workout can give you a new perspective. It takes your mind of off of what you are depressed about. It also helps to release endorphins which strengthen your natural immunity, lower blood pressure and prevent cancer. Studies have shown that Cancer is tied tied to stress and stress is a main factor fueling depression. Exercise helps you to clear your mind . If your mind is clear, there is room for new insight about your situation. This new perspective can inspire you to become more optimistic. You might start to realize that your situation is not the end of the world, but rather , a transition into a new beginning with new possibilities. Exercise can also increase your serotonin levels. Serotonin is considered the “feel good” hormone. It helps to improve your mood. Give it a chance.
3) Practice Mindfulness
Fully engage yourself in whatever you are doing. Even the most most mundane task , such as washing dishes or making your favorite sandwich, can serve you by getting your mind off of whatever you are depressed about. The primary purpose of life is to experience it. Learn to add meaning to every experience. Take notice of the things that most of us take for granted. Allow events to unfold at their own pace. Stop worrying . Instead of reflecting on the past, practice staying present. Take notice of your emotional state without judgement. Your response doesn’t determine who you are nor your self worth. The vast majority of our responses are a result of conditioning anyway. They are not necessarily true. Practice the art of observation. Observe the emotion and let it go about its way. Don’t allow it to define you.
Write out your thoughts and I mean all of them. Don’t judge. Let it flow. Use profanity, if you’d like. Get ugly.Stay real. “Vomit” on paper. From my own experience, each time that I had decided to be “gut level” honest with myself and my feelings, I have always felt better afterwards. There is something about expressing my true feelings on paper that cleans me out . I feel refreshed afterwards and tend to think clearer. Try it.
Read more. Read about people that have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Read about people that struggle with depression. There are many individuals that have faced challenges that neither you nor I will ever have to face in our entire lives. Find out how they did it. What were they thinking about at the time? There are many individuals that faced various challenges and overcame them. They deserve your respect. Read about them in order to learn from them. Certain parts of our life journey can seem extremely lonely. In certain cases, we might feel misunderstood , especially, by those who are closest to us. Trust me, you are not alone.
Most importantly, never ever give up. Ever. You exist because you were supposed to be here. You deserve to be here as much as anyone else. There will never be another one like you. Never underestimate your worth. Don’t allow society, fads, political correctness or popular opinion to put a price tag on your value. Your value is invaluable regardless of your perceived mistakes. Consider them lessons. They exist to serve you if you would allow them to do so. Establish your “kick in the ass” moment. I am referring to that personal realization that will “fuel your dreams” and keep you moving forward. What is it. Be determined to find it. No more dwelling on regrets,alright? Make the decision to live your best life. Until next time…