Depression - no energy or willingness to do anything or care about anyone, including oneself. What’s the point, anyway? Why try? I’ve been there. And some days still am. There is a way out of the state of depression - a gradual path of personal change. But it has to be chosen consciously. Life has to be chosen, daily.
You’re Empty. Done for. No reason or desire to go on. Nor energy to do so. You feel sad, lonely, misunderstood beyond words. To the point you become numb to it. Either way, you’re fucked. And can’t find a way out of this misery.
I have lost my will to live. Simply nothing more to give. - Fade to Black by Metallica
What are your choices? What to do, or not to do?
- Keep going. Hoping it will get better. It doesn’t.
- Quit life. The realisation that I could end it all freed me.
- Change. Kinda obvious, but how can I change, to what, and why?
The first two options are the simple answers.
1) Keep going.
“Just keep going. Hang in there. Find the strength to go on.” - are all terrible advice. It will lead to more of the same, deeper down the hole. Doing what you’re doing is what got you here in the first place.
Besides, you feel bad, real bad. So why the hell would you like to perpetuate that? What is there for you to hang on to anyway? Why should you care? Other’s don’t feel your pain, they don’t get the agony you experience daily. That each day we fight a losing battle just to get ourselves out of bed, to face yet another dreadful day.
And no, it does not say anything about your ability or worth as a human being - rare is the person who has been taught proper self-care, for lack of a better word, in the family. We are ill equipped to tend to our inner world. But that is a whole another topic.
2) Quit life.
When I realised that I could end it all, that I don’t have to endure this inner pain, don’t’ have to make sense of life, or find a way to keep living. It freed me. Suddenly I had a choice. I was no longer a victim, bound to endless suffering in my lifetime. I could quit. But I could also try one more day, just to see whether I can find a way out of my misery on my own. Now I had options, and it became a journey of self-discovery - of discovering my Self.
When I realised that I could end it all, that I don’t have to endure this inner pain, don’t’ have to make sense of life, or find a way to keep living. It freed me. Suddenly I had a choice.
Let’s talk about the third option.
Something has to change. Obvious. But what? And how? And why? How do we go about changing our lives, which parts, where should we start?
Would a healthier lifestyle work? Starting an unsustainable fitness routine? Binging on distractions such as social media, TV, sex, food, alcohol or whatever? Attending success seminars, yoga, detox and meditation retreats? Perhaps pick up painting? Or get a better job, prettier girlfriend/boyfriend, new car, bigger apartment? That should make us feel better, right?
Distractions. They work for a second or two, and then we are back - or deeper - in the hole.
What if you could - somehow - find a reason, strength and energy to keep going? To give this business of living another chance?
An Inner Change
An inner change is in order. Nothing else will work. Nothing else ever has. By inner change I mean a change in our concept of self - perspective about ourselves, the world, our place in the world and relationship with everything in it.
To say it differently, an inner change means changing our personality, who we are, our state-of-being. It means becoming a new version of ourselves, with different beliefs, attitudes, reactions, expectations, feelings. We think differently, talk differently, feel and see the world differently, we have different relationship with everything and everyone, including ourselves.
Now, the degree of ‘different’ will vary for each topic. The new version of ourselves might be only slightly annoyed by the rain outside, not see it as a reason to stay at home. Whereas we could need a radical change in perspective regarding our own self-worth.
An inner change, always, is what produces outer results. Though, if you are depressed, it’s the inner change your’e seeking. To just feel better. Or, at least to not feel so damn rotten all the time.
For me, what allowed me to change - was a realisation and acceptance of three things. These were hard realisations, but they were necessary.
3 Steps or Choices
- Acknowledge that there IS a version of your life that you’d like to live. That is meaningful and worth living to you personally, uniquely. That draws you, inspires and gives energy. Trust in this vision, it is guidance from your Inner Self, and it is real.
- Realise and accept that nobody will help you, because nobody can. No one will ever fully understand you, or feel what you feel. Not in this physical world. Your Inner Self will support you endlessly and give you all the energy and inspiration you need. Seek all from within.
- Commit - daily, minute by minute, breath by breath - to deconstructing and rebuilding yourself. To living. To choosing to live. Choosing to become and live as your ideal, the person you came here to become. Trust me that it is a daily commitment, not a one time thing.
I still struggle with the third step. And the second. Heck, even the first one eludes me some days.
The one thing that will keep you going, give you energy and meaning - is connection with your Inner Self.
New Daily Routine for Gradual Change
We can change, but not in one fell swoop. Instead, a gradual, step by step, day by day approach is more harmonious and sustainable.
The idea is to form a new daily routine, a ritual that will help you become a new version of yourself. Gradually, by taking small steps each day, you will change. Not in a big leap, but you’ll notice the changes when looking back a month or two.
For example, we can’t shed all of our excess weight, or become fit in one day. We became out of shape over a course of many months or years. Same with our inner world - we took on our beliefs, thought patterns and emotions over many years, so it will take time to unravel them. But the time it takes to change consciously is much, much shorter than it took to become our present self.
Now, there are two sides to changing oneself - one is letting go of the old self and beliefs, the second is creating and practicing daily the new version of yourself - new thoughts, emotions, feelings, perspective.
There are two Latin sayings that can illustrate the sometimes subtle difference between letting go and practicing the new.
- Memento Mori - remember to die, remember you will die.
- Carpe Diem - seize the day, enjoy the moment.
These both ideas or approaches complement each other. First we need to release the old, the baggage that is weighing us down. Empty the cup. Only then we can go for the new, or really enjoy the existing. This is key to changing ourselves, something that slowed down my progress considerably - when we try to jump into the new version of ourselves from the old one, our existing beliefs weigh us down. In other words, if we want to put on new clothes, we first need to take off the old ones. Same with concepts of ourselves, or states of being. Step out of the old - into beingness, awareness, I AM - then assume the new state of being.
For example, if I feel that money comes hard, it would be hard for me to think, feel and believe that money can and will come easily. It would clash with my existing set of beliefs. I could feel the resistance in my body, muscles tensing, it would not be easy, nor feel natural. But, if I first go deep into meditation, releasing my hold on my present self, just being, then it is much easier to assume a new feeling, get familiar with it, practice it, and return to it.
- let go of what does not matter - would you fuss over it if you only had a year to live, or ten years?
- what is significant to you?
- what give s you energy, makes you feel alive, makes living worthwhile?
It’s only your life on the line. You can’t and won’t lose much more. Only your personality - who you think you are. Yea, it will scare you to death. :)
The letting-go or releasing process is best done in a deep meditation. It is easier to disconnect, release the old self-concept, to surrender, let go and just be - be aware of your beingness. When you have reached a detached state of being in a deep meditation - affirm ‘I AM’ continuously - until you lose sense of time, space, self - and are only aware of being. Empty the cup.
I have found that in releasing the old beliefs it is helpful to remind myself that nothing really matters - I will die - so there is nothing to lose, apart from my self-concept. Memento Mori.
- feel and experience the new state of being in deep meditation, to familiarise yourself with the new feeling
- be mindful - slow down and see, experience the new state of being in the here and now
When we have detached from the old, we are able to experience the new - how we choose to feel and think, to see the world and ourselves, our new perspective and experience of everything.
The first step is to experience the new in meditation - after becoming empty. Then we can practice the new state of being in our daily lives. To gradually change how we see and experience our day, to bring the desired future in our here and now.
It is tempting to jump to the very extreme of our desire - I want 10 billion dollars now! - but it is counterproductive. The key in changing ourselves is assuming the new state of being gradually. To live and experience the day from a slightly different point of view. Wanna feel more prosperous and secure? Don’t think about a million dollars - chances are you have no frame of reference what that would be like, how it would feel - not in a real, everyday sense. Instead, how would you feel if you made 50% more each month, and with 50% less effort? Now that is something you can relate to, and feel and experience as real. That is a state of being you can practice and live from.
Accept What Can Support You
- healthy habits
- better routine/schedule/rituals
- distractions, hobbies, art
The journey of personal change is not an easy one. Much more so from a dark and lonely place such as depression. But he Hero’s Journey of personal transformation is by definition a challenging one. Without life-threatening circumstances we would not change.
But no need to make it harder than it already is. We all fall short on some days. It is OK to take a break from the inner work and get lost in some distractions - whether a walk in nature, a good book, hobby, creative and artistic endeavours such as writing and drawing, or even playing games or watching TV. But realise that these are distractions.
Build healthy habits and routines/rituals that can support you - exercise and meditate in the morning, eat better, go for walks regularly etc. Try and see what works best for you.
For me, regular meditation and working out was very supportive - meditation for mental/emotional well-being, and working out for feeling better physically.
Small steps, taken consistently, will produces shifts.
Here is a message by John Cali and Spirit that especially resonated with me - the Way of the Warrior
Depression is a dark, lonely and scary state of being. But we have the means and power to get ourselves out of it, with the help and support of our Inner Self. The vision of who we can become - how we can feel and experience the world and ourselves - can give us energy and willingness to change. We have to consciously choose to live, and this vision will give meaning to our lives.
Depression is a dark, lonely and scary state of being. But we have the means and power to get ourselves out of it, with the help and support of our Inner Self.
Have a question or just want to talk? Feel free to contact me.