Fighting the darkness of depression

Let me tell you what depression is like. Imagine that you were trapped listening to a voice that spoke to you of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness and pointlessness with such certainty that it was impossible to ignore. Imagine that your world lost colour and felt darker while this voice worked hard to convince you that life wasn’t worth living. Imagine you fought back only to have it continuously alter its form and find more and more ways to attack you. It was as if you were locked into a dark hole of despair and no matter what you tried, you came up short. That is what depression is. In other posts I have referred to it as a liar. It lies to us about how bad everything is and it does so in such a convincing way that we struggle to believe otherwise.

The reality is that we have many metaphors for depression. It is a ‘thing’ which ‘hits’ us. It is a dark cloud. It is a black dog. It is resistance. It is brain chemistry. Often the way you describe a problem is important if you want to be able to handle the problem. When I was a teenager and I was severely depressed and suicidal, I used the metaphor of a fight… that depression is my opponent and it would keep hitting me and I had to survive the journey. The first Rocky movie gave that to me and, I believe, it saved my life at the time. I kept getting back up and fighting it every step of the way. As my life improved, I became less depressed. I started liking myself more and creating the kind of world I wanted. Still, however, the ‘dark cloud’ never moved too far away. The voice was always reminding me of its presence.

To this day, I experience times where I struggle with depression. Initially, I was embarrassed about it. Someone who does what I do shouldn’t be feeling bad with such a variety of tools which can help transform your life. Nonetheless, I do have moments when I struggle. Having worked with so many people who have been depressed and suicidal, I was always aware of the importance of recognising that logic doesn’t work. Just as it doesn’t work with irrational fears or anxieties or panic, rationalising things does not change the feelings. This is because when you are depressed, you are not thinking negatively, you are believing negatively. Believing negatively is when your negative thoughts feel like absolute facts and reality, not like thoughts.

In the work that I do, to avoid being a fraud and teaching people how to improve the way they think and feel, I practice the same stuff on myself. That does not mean that I’m always happy or relaxed or confident. What it means is that I handle the pain that I experience the best way I can. The voice can sometimes use such times in an attempt to hurt me. Now, just to be clear, I know that ‘the voice’ is coming from me. But I deliberately describe it this way as I believe that it is critical to disbelieve it. Realising that this is a voice reminds me that I have a choice as to whether or not I listen to it.

The ways to treat depression out there involve medication which can change the feeling through altering brain chemistry, cognitive behavioural therapy or NLP which can help change destructive thought patterns that lead to emotions and mindfulness exercises which train you to take more control over your mind so you stop getting sucked in by the inner voice. The problem is, if you listen to the voice, it not only tells you how bad things have been, are and will be… it also tells you that nothing can help, that nothing would work and that you cannot do anything about it. Furthermore, it tells you that owning up to it will bring with it even more problems. ‘Don’t tell people’ it suggests because you should be ashamed for feeling that. The other delusion that it often uses is the idea that the problem is you. It suggests that ‘there is nothing you can do to change this’. So, many people let themselves suffer and allow the pain wear them down day after day, week after week. They become more and more tired trying to fight the feelings, voice and darkness. Then they give up.

Recently, I have been recording some videos from the heart where I share a simple message that helps me to cope and handle the problems of life. When I say ‘everything will be okay’ or ‘you will get through this’, I am not pretending to communicate anything profound or deep. Instead, my aim is simply to offer another voice with a simple message that I believe some people need to hear. You see, here’s the deal. Those of you out there who feel like no one understands you, that no one could possibly feel how you do, that no one could be going through what you do every single day. Those of you out there who find it near impossible to drag yourself from the sheets and face the world. Those of you who see the world as hopeless, life as cruel and yourself as useless… you must fight through this cloud. You must refuse to be beaten by this voice. You must be defiant in the face of the certainty of this feeling of inevitable impending doom.

For the reality is that life brings many aspects of pain. The breakdown of friendships and relationships. The pain of rejection and unrequited love. The heartbreak of loss and grief. Sickness and illness. Life can be tough. The world owes us nothing. But the truth is that we don’t just have the ability to take more control over how we think and feel, we are the decision makers when it comes to how we define the events which happen to us. We are the ones who decide what the trials and tribulations of adversity mean. We are the ones who determine what it all means.

And so, my message is simple. If you struggle with that liar called depression, dig deep. Dig deep to the strongest part of you. Dig deep to the greatness that exists inside. Dig deep to your heart. And as you fight back, start with making a decision. Decide what the struggles of life are going to mean from now on. Decide what your pain means. Decide how you are going to treat ‘depression’ from now on. When you make those decisions, you will take a huge step towards turning things around. This doesn’t just work with depression but many of the issues or problems that people struggle with… from panic to anxiety, fear to stress.

Realise that the pain is a lesson. Realise that the pain is growth. Realise that the pain is exactly what you need to ensure that you become as great and as whole as you can possibly be. You do not have to be okay because people tell you to cheer up. You do not have to be okay because it is somehow a sign of weakness to be down. You do not have to be okay because you ‘should’ be. You just have to wake up every morning, dig deep and do your very best to fight and decide that every bad part of what you feel is just a way of helping you grow and get better. Believe that you will get through it. Believe that you will get to the other side of it. And when the voice speaks, remember it lies. When it is dark, remember the clouds are just hiding the sun which is always there. When reality seems bleak, remember the word seems is what matters and that everything can turn around. Lastly, remember that you are never alone in your pain. Many might not get it, but I do and so do many, many people. You can get through it and turn things around. It won’t be easy. It won’t necessarily be quick. But you can. You really can.

Feel free to share this with anyone who might find it useful.

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