Let’s start by giving a definition to what I believe depression actually is:
Depression is the result of lacking all or part of a belief in any possibility of a new or better future.
The greatest struggle most people have with overcoming depression is they don’t believe it can happen for them, and they don’t believe they deserve to overcome it.
The vast majority of people experience “depression” as a deep state of being demoralized and they are constantly emotionally exhausted. Often times, the depressed person will feel isolated from the rest of the world – understood by no one. A person in this state has lost the ability to meet one or more of three of their basic human needs: CERTAINTY, SIGNIFICANCE, and CONNECTION/LOVE.
Doctors say depression is caused by a “chemical imbalance”. But my contention is that the “chemical imbalance” is the RESULT of being depressed, rather than the cause.
If you are currently suffering from depression, I would like to ask you to take a few moments and objectively rate your experience with these three human needs, from 1 to 10.
Certainty – The need for stability, safety, and comfort
Significance – The need to be special and worthy of attention
Connection/Love – The need for connection with others and ultimately the need to love and be loved
I would also like you to take down on a piece of paper, as many reasons you can think of for why you are not strongly in line with each of these. These are for your private use only, so there is need to be shy.
A very important piece of information to keep in mind here is that the experience of pain in life is unavoidable and inevitable. The experience of suffering is optional, and is based on a choice to feel powerless against that pain. So, trusting that this is an absolute fact, what beliefs and stories do you have, that create a sense of suffering or depression? What is the specific focus of your depressed feelings? What story do you tell yourself to reinforce that?
First and foremost, no matter how unique your story sounds. No matter what emotions you are feeling. No matter what the situation actually is, or seems to be. Your situation is NOT unique. You are NOT alone in the experience. Others DO understand you and your pain. There are billions of human beings on this planet at any given time, and every single one of them has their own experiences of problems. Everyone has problems – that’s a sign of life; a condition of living.
So, logically speaking, it is incredibly unlikely that your problems are unique in the whole of human experience. This may sound bad in some way, but it is actually great news for you. This means that somewhere, somebody has experienced your exact situation, and has information that you can use to help yourself (like I am doing by writing this now).
I do not believe depression is a hopeless, dead-end street. I believe depression is a tool intended to help you progress into the next stage of your development and potential. Those feelings you have while you are depressed are the tools that are supposed to force you to pay special attention to a life lesson. Your act of endlessly repeating those negative feelings is essentially your act of not acting on and learning from that lesson. So, until you examine that lesson, and force yourself to grow from it, you will endlessly spiral around the drain of depression and feelings of hopelessness.
The very first step towards making this change for yourself, in my professional opinion, is to take a long and hard look at the events that led you into depression. Start by asking yourself, “exactly how long have I been feeling depressed?”, “What started these feelings?”, “What exactly happened, and when?”
The point of this is to be as factual and clinical as possible. Write everything down on a piece of paper
Next, step away from that list you just wrote down, and think deeply about it for a short break. Carefully consider how those past events and situations impact your current events and situations. Please do this while sitting down and relaxing.
Next, you need to start breaking you pattern of depression. Stop sitting around, and start doing this step while being very physically active. Get on an exercise machine, or go outside for a jog. While doing this, try to imagine ways those past events or situations might have actually been beneficial to you. Imagine what good things may have come from those times, even if those good things didn’t involve you personally. It is crucially important to only try this while you are being physically active. In your mind, I want you to make a list of at least 3 positive things that came from those events. Then, I want you to find ways inside yourself to appreciate those positive things – to be thankful for them. Be very specific here, WHY are you appreciative and thankful?
Next, focus on all the reasons that created those negative feelings, and led you into a state of depression. Remember how those things, that were so terrible before, now also have some positive meanings behind them as well. Really take the time to see and appreciate those positive meanings. Give those positive meanings an equal amount of attention and focus as you have all those negative ones.
Finally, start this “Action Plan” over again from the start, and repeat the entire process two more times (for a total of 3 times).
Not asking for the help you need is an act of pride.
While I might make depression seem like an easy thing to conquer, it definitely is not. I personally struggled with depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, and attention deficit disorder – all at the same time. I took these steps, and I mastered my own emotional state, and conquered all of those negative things. I’m no super hero, nor am I a genius. I am no better or worse than you or anyone else. So, I deeply believe that you can master this as well. And that you can take these skills and help others master their emotional states. I believe in you, so believe in yourself.
And, as always, you can contact me directly and schedule some time to talk.