Part 6 – The Depression Series
If you want to change your life, you have to start with your thoughts. Thinking an orange is blue, most likely won’t just turn it blue. However, thinking that happiness is possible can motivate you to make drastic change you wouldn’t even consider while thinking that happiness is a cruel illusion. In the same manner, thinking you’re worth being well and thoughts of worthlessness inspire totally different attitudes. And the more you persist in a certain way of thinking, the more that pattern gets cemented in your life, together with the appropriate assortment of feelings… and consequences.
Depression is the result of continually telling lies to ourselves – the big destructive kind, like: “you can’t do anything right”, “you don’t count”, “you can’t make a change”, “you’re stupid”, “you’re ugly”, “you don’t deserve to live”, etc. They really are lies. Even those of us who call themselves realists are still seeing things through their own eyes and their own preconceptions. Things just are. How they are is a whole different story that varies from person to person and group to group.
This is the last part of the Depression Series (which I will wrap up in another post), and it comprises some ideas that could be considered advice, if they ring true and inspiring to you. Here they are 🙂
The world is imperfect, but it is imperfect in relation to our idea of perfection – an idea that varies greatly. What if we gave the world a little break? It has existed long before we were born, and has proven it can take care of itself. It offers us a platform for life – a wonderful thing, if you ask me. There’s air to breathe, water to drink, soil and sun to grow our food, and so much more. Observe the simple, general, stable, beautiful aspects of life, and try to hold on to the positive feelings. Despite doomsday scenarios and human faults (sometimes translated into soulless corporate entities), this Earth of ours is still a place for life, which is pretty perfect 🙂
Other people have their own puzzles to sort out. Are you ever comparing the depth of your sorrow to the (shallow) appearance of someone else’s life? You can’t compare a feeling to a smile, because they exist in different planes. What if the smile hides feelings rather different than the joy usually associated with smiling? What if you and the smiling person have an incredibly similar story, and the difference between your frown and their smile is merely a difference in attitude? It isn’t always so, but sometimes you have no idea how much you have in common with others until you ask them about their lives. The more you observe and know people, the better you understand that, just like yours, their lives resemble icebergs – only less than 10% is visible. You also understand that those who hurt you with their lack of attention, care, affection, and/or kindness, have been priorly subjected to a form of suffering, and it’s really their own burden.
Your entourage is not the world’s entire population. Obvious, I know, but isn’t it hard sometimes to be aware of this huge fact? “If I can’t get along with my family/friends, how can I ever even hope of getting along with strangers” some may think, but it’s biased logic, totally untrue. Until you interact with others, you have no idea if you can get along with them or not. You may focus intensely on a few people who, for whatever reasons, inspire unpleasant feelings in you, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot choose to pay attention to something new. By changing the direction of your focus you will find other people, some much more in tune with you, people who can naturally accept, understand and support you. If you don’t like the people around, maybe it’s time to look in a different direction.
Think of the relationship you have with yourself as the blueprint for all your relationships. You know the saying “treat others as you would like to be treated”. Try to treat yourself first as you would like others to treat you. Do you want to be validated, respected, cared for? It makes sense to validate, respect and care for yourself before expecting these things from others. Do you enjoy being put down by others? Of course you don’t, so why do you do it to yourself every day? The dialog with others is a sporadic occurrence, while you speak to yourself all the time. If you keep repeating to yourself “I’m such an idiot, I’m such an idiot”, you will not believe someone who doesn’t agree that you are an idiot, and there’s a good probability that you will try to prove you really are an idiot, and will actually be convincing. Another example of how this works: you think you don’t deserve appreciation, but you’re also longing for it, so you look for it where you can’t find it, where the belief that you’re not worth it gets reinforced. If someone, anyone, seems to need extremes gestures from you in order to give you their attention, approval, or anything that could resemble affection, you have to neutralize their influence on your life (avoid them, cut them altogether out of your life, if necessary), but, most importantly, try to understand why you are contributing to a relationship in which you have to go out of your way, your mind and/or heart. You have to see yourself as valuable in order to align with people who think the same about you. If you don’t, you’ll prefer the company of those who don’t care for you.
Try to see depression as an opportunity to learn, primarily about yourself and your beliefs. Take the struggles and shift them to your advantage. I know that thinking about your own advantage may not be your priority if you’re depressed, but, if you’re reading about depression, if you’re on a quest to understand and take steps towards overcoming the issue, then you already care about yourself enough to oversee some light at the end of this tunnel. Consider the possibility that depression itself is not the actual problem, but the consequence of prior issues that were not taken care of properly. Examples of such issues: life choices that were made against your heart’s desire, medication known to have depressive symptoms as side effects, dealing with illness from a position of fear and hopelessness, etc. Some opportunities for these examples could be: discovering that you care about others’ opinions of you more than you care about your own well-being, remembering activities that you were passionate about and maybe introducing them in your daily life, asking your physician for a different treatment, trying alternative medicine, admitting that you’ve worked yourself into illness and you need a break, educating yourself about your body and your health condition, and so on. Not easy, but worth the effort.
Do not depend on life having a meaning. Who says there needs to be a meaning to life? The only meaning life has is that which you put upon it, and that is not only subjective, but also likely to change at times. I’m not expanding on this topic at this time, but I am recommending Charlie Chaplin’s wonderful movie “Limelight” 🙂
One day you could look back to whatever bothers you today, and be surprised at the difference in magnitude between your current take on things and your later perspective.
You are not alone.
The Depression Series ends here, for the moment. Thank you very much for following!