IS FUCKING SHIT.
Let’s fix it.
(This is Part two Part one can be found here)
How to fix depression
There is no ‘instafix’ or magic bullet. Unfortunately you can do everything in your power to fix your life and in will fly some sort of trigger that puts you into a spiral. The key to dealing with the spirals is being mindful of the triggers, your reactions and yourself as well as having good behaviours waiting to combat depressive episodes when they strike (this takes practice and discipline- but the good news is, it gets easier the more you do it).
If you can’t find the immediate cause of your depression and do something about it then the best thing you can do is perform good action. Good action gives you agency and a sense of control over things in your life.
Things to avoid
I think we’ll first start with a brief list of what not to do. You won’t like this list, but it’s for your own good.
In no particular order:
Sweet / delicious food – it’ll give temporary relief, it’ll fill the void. Then you’ll crash, you’ll get fat and you’ll feel even worse.
Porn / sex you’ll be temporarily distracted by the bouncing boobies and all the trimmings, but then afterwards you’ll be swept with lethargy, emptiness. The French refer to orgasm as La petite mort (the little death) In some this can be accompanied by shame, anxiety and a bunch of other not particularly useful feelings.
Drugs / alcohol / cigarettes –sedatives and escapism – fill your body with temporary good feelings, then a crash. These are typically addictive and are bad for you. They also hinder your progress at actually finding a solution for your problems. Pretty obvious but I’m saying it anyway.
Video games– I have wasted many a night depressed and playing video games. Be it playing WoW or LoL –at the time I’m absorbed in the experience – great. Afterwards I log off and all my problems come back – I also usually feel worse because I look at the clock and realize how much of my life I just wasted not actually doing anything.
Video games are designed to make you feel like you’ve accomplished something when you haven’t. So as soon as you unplug, that reality sets in. Maybe you stay in denial for a few months/ years but one day that house of cards will come crumbling down and you’ll feel worse – that armour you spent 3 months grinding for is just a bunch of ones and zeros.
I’m not saying don’t play any video games but don’t let success in a game be the meaning in your life.
Basically avoid anything that gives you a false sense of accomplishment or temporary distraction from your issues unless it’s constructive or has long term, real world pay off.
What the hell is good action?
Any thought, action or behaviour that leads to good.
Some quick fire things that qualify as good actions:
Cleaning your room
Pet a cat or dog
Having conscious experiences
Helping an old lady across the street
Warmly greeting a passerby
Giving to someone worse off than yourself
Weeding your garden
Building a thing
Getting more sunlight (this was my dad’s go to)
Cooking yourself a healthy meal
Getting more sleep
Getting out of bed
For me personally: I like walking, playing guitar, giving a homeless guy on the side of the road a tenner. Alternatively I do something constructive that I needed to get done already – like fix the fence, mow the lawn or clean my room.
Basically you need to push yourself to accomplish something and accomplish it.
The satisfaction will lift you beyond the very stars and give you a sense of empowerment and control of your destiny.
Exercise is particularly good for this because biochemically it gives you a shot of endorphins to ease the pain – breaking a sweat every day also forces you to have a shower every day (something people with depression like to ‘forget’ to do)
Yes the pain will come back sometimes, yes it will hurt -but it’s about fighting through – because the more often you overcome, the easier it gets to overcome.
The other thing that I find helps me when I’m depressed is to do something for someone else – help someone else out, lift someone else’s spirits.
This can be as simple as checking in with a mate who’s having a rough time, calling your mum or grandparent and asking about them, giving blood or giving some money to a homeless person or a charity.
“Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you are withholding from the world.”
IF YOU FEEL HELPLESS, HELP SOMEONE ELSE it will empower the fuck out of you.
A special shout out to cleaning your room
By sorting the excess baggage in your life, you sort out the excess baggage in your head.
To quote my father “an untidy living space is not conducive to mental well being”
Your living space is a reflection of your mental state so fix that and see what happens.
Count your blessings
Don’t lie to me! You know you’ve got them. Be thankful for what you have! Take some time to take a deep breath and list a few things you’re thankful for.
If you’re stuck here are a couple of examples:
I am thankful that my eyes work and I can read this
I am thankful I am above ground and breathing
I am thankful I have leisure time that enables me to read blog posts on the internet
I am thankful for the internet
I am thankful I don’t live in a third world country
See how fucking easy that was? See how unshit your life actually is? This practice is really about giving you a sense of perspective and gives you a chance to focus on the positive instead of the negative. Depression could be interpreted as the habit of thinking negatively – so by doing this, we’re trying to counteract this with some positivity – with practice this can be enough.
Another interesting thing you can try is ‘Wim Hof breathing’ I can go into this one later or you can look it up. Basically you take a few minutes in your day and by taking deliberate, deep breathes your mind-body connection improves and shit sucks less. I’ll put a link below.
I find that being depressed can also be a symptom of not being conscious enough – too busy stuck in your head worrying about your problems instead of existing in the outside world and experiencing shit. What do I mean by this?
I was walking in the rain today and intentionally shook a tree to create a downpour of icy cold water on my noggin –this experience was cold but invigorating and it really broke the numbness I had been experiencing today. I laughed and carried on.
While walking I generally like to touch (not break or rip) the plants I walk past, smell the smells around me and listen to the world (or the heavy as fuck music pumping through my headphones as my every step stomps on all my problems)
I hope you understand what I’m trying to explain here:
Experience things, be aware of your surroundings and focus less on the storm clouds in your head. By focusing on them and feeling helpless you give them more power.
Depression is shit and will affect almost everyone at some point in their lives.
Medication/ escapism and sedation shouldn’t be your first resort to fixing it.
Depression is an accumulation of negativity, dis-ease and disempowerment.
Good thoughts, good habits and good behaviours will trump the negativity if you steadfastly work on training your mind.
Being negative pulls more negative shit towards you. It puts you into that state of mind- that wavelength.
You need to consciously train yourself to think positively so you can overcome the negativity when it strikes.
Empower yourself in other areas to break free from the sense of hopelessness.
Reach out, find someone to help you deal with this stuff and realize it’s a temporary setback not how your life is meant to be.
Lastly and most importantly, one of my favourite maxim’s:
THE MORE OFTEN YOU DO SOMETHING THE BETTER YOU GET AT IT.
^this works for good things as well as bad.
Writing this article has been particularly beneficial for me. The sense of accomplishment is rather gratifying, I hope reading it provides you with some light in the dark – there is light inside you, you just have to reclaim it and foster it.
Thank you for reading, this was a long one. I hope it has helped. If you have any questions or comments, post them below or get in touch.
I personally found this well crafted article useful on the subject http://www.artofmanliness.com/2016/12/21/call-new-strenuous-age/
Wim Hof with Joe Rogan
Therapy vs Medication