Depression, My Secret Power for Personal Growth and Fulfillment
My Half Decade Journey to Recreate My Entire Life
Originally published April 2018.
This post has literally been in the writing for approaching two years. I’ve gone back and forth, editing and rearranging it, but it’s time enough.
I want to share my story of a spiraling descent that had me a hair’s width from full mental breakdown, and flipping between locking myself in my room for days, and acting incredibly recklessly with my closest relationships.
I want to talk about what depression is and isn’t (courtesy of science).
I want to talk about how I believe that this horrific illness, with a LOT of work, can be used as the most potent driver of self transformation I’ve ever experienced. How misery so dark it sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it, can be the impetus that drives you to completely restructure everything in your life, from those ashes birthing something that you find truly extraordinary.
But most of all, I want people to have a greater understanding of this illness.
Often times it’s still shrugged off by society as weakness, when in fact having the vulnerability to even speak about it takes vast courage for a great number of men (generally).
Western society as a whole still does a great job of projecting an image of the emotionless, tough guy as the perfect man. Out in the wilderness, felling trees with his hand axe and wrestling grizzly bears for laughs.
I am maaaaaaannnn
But here’s the big, grizzly problem with that image — it raises a massive amount of men that really don’t know how to deal with their emotions. Not only are they unable or unwilling to communicate their emotions to others, they don’t even know what their emotions feel like.
The sad truth is that the biggest killer of men in many Western societies, isn’t car crashes or drugs, criminal violence or war, it’s themselves.
In the UK, suicide is the largest killer of men under FORTY FUCKING FIVE. It breaks my heart to think of so many people, feeling so lost, so isolated and so unable to change their lives, that they feel the only resort is to take that life…
A Lead Blanket and a Knot in Your Stomach.
You’re under water, a metal barrel hoop is tight around your chest, it has enough room for you to breathe, but not by much.
You’re slow, floating but heavy.
Sounds are distant and muffled.
You’re not in water, but thick tar.
It’s difficult to move, you’re so tired.
Leaving the house is exhausting. Replying to friends is exhausting. Getting out of bed is exhausting.
So you shut down, switch your phone off, remain in bed, and watch every romantic comedy in existence whilst you survive on peanut butter, hoping that these elicit some feelings.
They do not.
Dating is near impossible.
If you can manage to catch someone’s interest, how are you supposed to keep it, when 90% of the time the last thing you feel like is seeing to or talking to anyone.
Your ambition, all of your energy and motivation, these are all directed towards working for goals in your future, but you existing in the now, so they evaporate away.
This pisses you off.
You’re defined in a large part by your drive, enthusiasm and passion to do big things.
That part of you is gone.
You feel pretty sure that the driven part of you will come back, but again, that is in the future, which has little meaning for you.
You get impatient and annoyed waking up each day, thinking “Is my motivation back?! Am I me again?!”
Only for the cold slap of reality to hit you in the face, and normally before you’re even up for 5 minutes and out of the shower.
Nope. Still broken. And into nothingness you slide.
Are you sad?
You wish you felt sad.
You feel nothing.
You’re an empty husk.
On the surface that is.
Just below, a maelstrom rages…
You’re subconscious is a vicious, raging storm of self doubt, worries, anxieties and potential situations blown so far out of reality, they border on insanity.
But you don’t know this.
You’ve no idea what these emotions feel like.
You’ve spent all of your adult life up until now making a conscious decision to take any complex negative emotion, and to squish it down into a tiny box to bury somewhere in your depths.
You just feel a knot in your stomach. A lethargy. A shutdown.
And when you do get a glimpse at these feelings.
When some are actually so intense they break through your decade built barrier of stifled emotions and shut down feelings.
You are struck with such an intensely burning, yet bone chilling dread, you’ll find yourself feeling so trapped and helpless, that you just want to scream and cry, and act in ways that are so selfish and against your character, that you’ll start to question who you really are.
That is just a peak behind the curtain at what depression feels like.
I get depression.
Due to what was a shocking lack of connection to my own emotions, I’m not even sure how long it has been happening for.
At least 6 years I’d say.
I’ve only been aware of it, and working my arse of to fix it for the last two years. And even still, with a colossal amount of self reflection, communication and personal work, I still get a mild but manageable wave every month or two.
How did I get depression?
So, I believe I’ve got a good handle on the inciting incident, and years later, the combination of life circumstances that started the typhoon of dread. All of the circumstances are varied, but all put me in a situation where I FELT trapped and thus panicked, and FELT like it was necessary for me to remain in those situations, and thus I did for far longer than was good for my health.
1. Shooting Myself in the Foot
I’m perhaps 14–15 years old. I’m in my first serious relationship. We’ve been together for about a year.
Apart from the occasional rumor of my partner’s lack of faith, which I confidently brush off as just that; rumor, often with panicked persuasion from her. It seems to be going well.
I think I’m in love.
Yes, I’m aware of how silly this may sound, but a whole swathe of mental and social issues are ingrained in people in their teens and younger from experiences they find extremely traumatic.
And what happened next sure felt extremely traumatic to me at the time.
It comes to light, that she’s been cheating on me with MY BEST FRIEND. That he’s been secretly messaging her, hooking up with her, and convincing her that I’ll be happy if she breaks up with me to be with him.
What’s more, after several story changes, she only tells me that she likes “one of my friends” when she finally shatters my illusion, and leaves me. A situation that he uses to quickly put the blame on my other closest friend, causing me to all at once have my little life shattered.
My girlfriend and my two closest friends. Gone. I don’t know who to believe. I don’t know who to trust.
It freaks me out so fucking much, that it’s one of my most vivid memories of my young teens.
This didn’t start my depression, but it was almost certainly the inciting incident that caused me to change my personality in an unproductive way.
I made the conscious decision that I wasn’t going to feel negative emotions. That I was just going to turn them off. And it worked, for a time. In fact, I really enjoyed that about me, for a time.
I essentially practiced half of stoicism for the next 6–7 years. I decided not to react to my emotions. But unlike stoicism, I did not reflect on these emotions, on what they meant, on how I should make a measured reaction to them.
I just squished them down so deep in side of my subconscious, that I needed not deal with them.
This technique was operating on borrowed time.
I’d shot myself in the foot.
It was a dumb move. More dumb than internet people … 😑
2. Cage of the Self Competition
This is the first situation that caused me to realize I was depressed, to put a name to it.
It’s my fourth and final year of university.
I’ve selected to study physics as I want to learn how to universe works.
I’m sure the problem solving and mindset it will give will be great for business, which I’ve been doing since I was 15–16.
I do think that physics was really great for me. I absolutely loved learning it and I really do think it’s crazy helpful (it’s also Elon musk’s suggested degree, and that dude is doing okay I hear).
But, I still find myself sitting in the senior tutors office, half way through my final year explaining to him that I just don’t care anymore, that I think I’m depressed.
I’ve come to university to study physics because I wanted to learn about it. I don’t need the degree for a career.
The conflict arises between this and my overly ambitious brain. Exacerbated by the fact that I’ve received a job offer in a marketing role, and the founder of the company had no interest in whether I get the degree or not.
When I’m in lectures learning about physics, or running experiments, it’s awesome, I love it.
But when it comes to exams, I just have no motivation to do well other than “I want to do well because I need to win”.
This conflict is colossal for me. It’s this feeling that’s making me feel trapped.
I won’t drop out or do worse because my competitive brain won’t let me.
This is one of the first times I seriously consider that I’m medically depressed.
Again, I cut down any thoughts of concern for my mental health, repressing any emotions and intelligent thoughts about quitting deep into my subconscious.
In this final year, I grit my teeth and make myself work 10–15 hours almost every single day from the start of the summer holidays, until I finish my exams. So 10–11 months at that rate.
I really, really have to recruit all of my brain drive. I force myself through a deep, overriding feeling that I don’t need the degree (true), that the final mark is just a stupid number (also true), and that there are better things I can be working on that will contribute much more towards my future (true again).
Was it worth it?
It did a number on my brain. For what? I could have tried 10x less to get the same degree without the top grade.
But, do I regret it?
In many ways, I really did love university. I made some amazing friends there and I don’t think I’d be half the person I am today if I didn’t go.
As painful as it was to force myelf to do a year of straight lunatic work, this would serve me well when working long hours on my own business when I had to do less fulfilling parts of it.
It gave me an incredible insight into a vast array of people, their motives, drives, and ultimately into the structure of society itself.
University let me understand how the world actually works, and made me a better person on reflection, I just wish I could have had all of those benefits without breaking my brain.
3. Cage of Fear
I’ve graduated from university and am staying in a small converted shed in Worcestershire, rented on Airbnb with my girlfriend of seven years.
She’s a sweet, kind girl, and has sacrificed a lot for me.
She started university a year later than me, and so decided to join one in Derby, a city an hour away from where I studied in Birmingham, so we didn’t have to try long distance.
She found a wildlife volunteering job about 20 minutes walk from where I lived, so she could stay over and work whilst I studied.
She even went to great lengths to find a job that was close to Birmingham, as I’d already firmly said to her that I had a job here, and I only wanted to take it (more on my dream job next).
She studied zoology, and as you might imagine, people love animals, and they’re willing to work for nothing or pennies to get a job with animals. This makes finding a decent job in the entire country difficult, let alone within an hour or so of one city.
And me? Something just isn’t right with me, brewing deep inside.
I just don’t feel that we want the same things, or that we are heading in the same direction.
But guess what. I have no fucking idea how to communicate this. Again, because I’ve crushed all aptitude to communicate with my emotions deep into my subconscious, and thus I’m unable to understand and communicate them with others.
The worst part is this issue doesn’t often creep into day to day life. But, when the emotions burst through, I realize very quickly that I feel horribly trapped. Instead of dealing with them, I go into complete emotional shutdown until they subsided.
I spend months in that shed stuck in bed all day whilst she’s working a summer job.
I’m meant to be building my business, Provos during this time in preparation to test pitch it to investors in India in a few months, but I’m not.
I’m just sat in bed playing video games and watching movies. Anything to distract myself from focusing on the chasm of emptiness that pervades the rest of my existence.
What I end up with is a relationship that in many ways is great, coupled with this orchestral, low rumbling dread that if they’re not the right person, then at some point we’ll have to break up.
And as we both continue to grow and develop into the people we want to be. People that are less aligned with the futures of each other. That rumbling dread becomes a vicious, deafening chorus of pain.
But there’s never a good time to break up.
Breaking up fucking sucks.
And guess what.
The longer I leave it, the worse it gets. As the pressures and expectations of family, friends and my partner rise and rise.
When are you getting a house together?
When are you going to get married?
When will you have grandchildren so I can have a baby girl to play with? (Mum 😑)
As the clock ticks and ticks and the decision becomes more and more monumental.
I just shut down.
I’m crippled in a cage of fear for what happens to the lives we’ve so closely intertwined when I rip them apart.
I feel fear because I know we’ll have to break up, I’ve known it for a long time, but I keep suppressing and forgetting, but it keeps building.
I feel fear because she won’t see it coming and it will crush her, and I don’t want to do that.
I find a near unlimited amount of reasons to put it off over and over, making me feel trapped and paralyzed.
Waiting kills both of you. Action kills both of you. Sayuri1314 Deviant Art
All at once, just a few days after Christmas, after months of trying to understand my depression, and starting to build the ability to communicate with my emotions and my partner, we have a conversation that ends everything in roughly 20 minutes.
I’m shell shocked, and it’s miserable, but it’s necessary for us both to grow.
So there’s depression trigger number two, being in a relationship with someone that through no fault of their own, no longer aligns with your future.
I have no regrets about being in the relationship.
I do of the many poor ways in which I handled parts of it, but I don’t regret it. It’s a big part of what’s built me into the person I am today. And I keep liking myself more and more, month by month.
4. Cage of Apathy
It’s university and I’ve been running the entrepreneurs society for a couple of years. I’ve met my future boss Mike via that several times.
He’s a super awesome guy, really one of the most genuinely nice, patient guys I know, someone I’ve got loads of respect for.
A natural entrepreneur, oozing charisma and fun.
I know his company is growing so I pitch myself to him about a year before I finish my studies. He’s a part of the New Entrepreneurs Foundation, and suggests I apply for it.
NEF pays a significant amount of money for you to receive world class business training. You work with a host company for a year, and your host company also pays a significant amount to NEF in part to pay for this training, as well as giving you one or two extra days off a month to go for training events in London.
NEF seeks to build the business leaders of tomorrow and it’s an awesome program, where I’ve met some of the most impressive people I’ve ever encountered.
Mike offers to be my host company if I’m able to get on to NEF. On top of this, he gives me an extra three weeks off near the start of my contract to go to India for three weeks to check out the entrepreneur ecosystem there and to test pitching the startup I’ve been working on for several years to investors and grant providers.
I get on NEF, and I land what what is my dream job, or at least that’s what I convince myself.
I can basically do anything I want, marketing or online business related, to make some more money for the company. I have free reign to try out any fun strategies I want. And this is completely irrespective of how my degree goes. I could drop out of university and still have this job.
I’m so pumped for it, it’s perfect and exactly what I thought I was looking for.
I know I can do online marketing, I’ve done it before. At this exact company even!
During the summer before I start the job, when I’m living in the “shed”, I spend two weeks there, a brief period of relative positivity. I helped identify and develop a strategy that scales out to bring in the bulk of their revenue for months and months.
I’m even more pumped up now. My brain is exploding with possibilities.
But after I start. I just can’t move the needle.
I try for months, I really do, but I just can’t muster the creativity, intelligence or persistence to develop effective marketing channels.
I’m not working effectively, despite often being convinced I am.
It confuses and frustrates me, a lot.
A whole chunk of my self confidence is tied up in my ability to pull this off. Marketing is something I’ve never had a formal education in. Am I even any good at it?
Tsunamis of doubt crash over me.
Over my first four months there I start sliding faster and faster, until, I brake up with my girlfriend of seven years as I mention above.
This delivered slithers of respite due to finally making a decision, the lack of which has been slowly, and ever more noticeably crushing me for years. And again, it’s something that’s definitely the right move to make, and that needed to be made.
But mainly, at this time, is something that succeeds to further whiplash me into a spiral of misery.
I need to find a place to live, and figure if I move in with other people it will be great way to pick myself up again.
I go out house hunting and one of the first places I come across is cheap, close enough to work and another 5 people live there. I don’t get a chance to meet them, but with 5 others, I figure I’ll make at least one friend to hang with.
Amazing, just what I need.
Except it isn’t.
The people that live there are either never in, or are so nervous, they’ll not enter the kitchen if someone else is in there, for fear of conversation perhaps.
All of my friends moved to London after graduating.
I’m alone, trapped by a contract, and with an ever growing confusion at my inability to make money for this company.
For months I continue to spiral down and down, like one of those penny drop toys where the coin spins round and round towards the abyss.
Within minutes of waking into the office I’m completely under water.
I arrive in the office and just stare at my screen for hours and hours. Sometimes a whole day passes and I’m not be convinced I’ve even attempted anything. Time passes like treacle.
I just wear sweatpants and gym clothes and in general exude a vibe of “lazy and unmotivated”, because I’m lost, I’m drowning. This isn’t unnoticed by other people in the office.
I spend increasing lengths of time just sat in a toilet cubicle staring at the wall. I’m just listening to a low humming noise, like I’ve been near a bomb that’s gone off, that permeates every moment of my existence.
Felt a little something like this. Shawn Coss Art
I start acting increasingly erratic, short sighted, self centered and self sabotaging.
My whole world starts to close in to a tunnel existing only in the now (but not in the fun, mindful, live in the now way..)
At the crescendo of this malice, I convince myself that I really just need some adventure.
That adventure will fix me. We’ve traveled abroad to do remote work before and it’s been fun and productive.
So, with that simplified down so nicely in my head, I book a flight to Barcelona that returns a week later.
And then I tell my boss about it.
“That’s an interesting way to ask to work remotely”
Is his calm, but clearly shocked and somewhat upset response.
fuck, fuck, fuck, Fuck, Fuck, FUCK.
And then my whole world comes crashing down around me.
The short sightedness, the lack of professionalism, it just being a shitty thing to do to my boss who’s been beyond supportive of my struggles with depression for my whole time working here.
I near vomit.
Anyway, I go to Spain.
I panic work.
I walk to the seaside.
I sit down on a bench at the docks..
And I. Just. Break.
I have a piercing moment of really, deeply missing my ex.
I’m full on ugly crying, and I don’t give a fuck what any passers by think.
The trip is nice, but doesn’t fix the problem.
I don’t know what the problem is, and my confusion just rises.
What the fuck is up?
Why can’t I just get the motivation and drive to make this work?
Am I no good at marketing?
Do I even know anything about my abilities?
Fuck. I just want. to.
I. JUST. WANT. TO. SCR. AHHHHH.
I just want to scream. Krains Deviant Art.
In hindsight, it’s more obvious.
I’d just spent 4 years feeling trapped by university, being irritated that I couldn’t just do my own thing.
I also split with my long term girlfriend and was dealing with the emotional fallout of that.
So the problem wasn’t the job, so much as it was me having any job.
Consciously I was all in with it. I really thought it was a company I’d stay at, and I told many close friends this.
Subconsciously, I knew I needed to just do my own thing.
Unsurprisingly, what I’d spent the last 6–7 years of my life wanting, I still wanted. The job seemed like a perfect fit, something that could still get me to my goals, but that didn’t provide the journey to them I really wanted, deep down.
I’d built an invisible cage of apathy for myself. I thought I loved the job. I didn’t.
I needed complete control over my life. I needed to do whatever I wanted. I needed complete responsibility to both succeed and potentially fail horribly.
That conflict, rooted by years of desires was again ignored by my logical brain suppressing my emotions deep into my subconscious.
Depression is subconscious. It’s the storm of thoughts and doubts just below the surface, raging and spiraling so rapidly that you’ve no idea what the real cause is, what they’re saying.
I’d got onto NEF, I couldn’t afford it without a host company, which just so happened to be working with an entrepreneur I’d been inspired by, and wanted to learn from, doing essentially whatever I wanted, in the field I wanted to dive into, and it was only a year, right?
It was so easy to convince myself that it was the perfect idea for me, and standing alone that’s still correct. But, this neglects the years of desire to do my own thing, 100%, and circumstance trapping me from being able to do so.
Again, I have no regrets about this job. But, once again, I do regret how I acted at times, and my boss was BEYOND patient and understanding throughout it all. Like, really.
I’m certain I’d not be succeeding at the moment if I’d not had this job.
It taught me a LOT about taking action vs planning, convincing me that bootstrapping was what I wanted to do, and being efficient at doing so.
I just couldn’t pull it together in time to make it work.
What Causes Depression?
That’s my story of how various circumstances came together to cripple the brain of someone that on the surface, had (and has), it pretty damn sweet.
Now I want to dive into a little more on the science of depression, how to deal with it as an outsider, and as someone suffering with it.
So, being me, needing to know everything about everything, and also having the crazy strong urge to stop feeling absolutely, fucking, shit, I did some research!
First up, I’m not a doctor, don’t take my word on these things, be smart. I’m talking based on research I’ve done and based on my own experience.
They seem to align pretty nicely.
Depression is often caused by being trapped in situations that induce panic or fear in you.
Let’s look at evolution a little (apologies if I butcher this).
You’re on the plains of Africa.
Some big ol lion is coming for you.
An adrenaline rush kicks your fight or flight response in and you run.
Fear over, adrenaline subsides.
Or you’re eaten, in which case you’re out of the evolution game.
So fight or flight gets passed on genetically.
Plains of Africa again.
Your an infant and said lion eats your mother.
Again, adrenaline rush strikes so you’re ready for action, but you’re an infant so you’re not going anywhere.
As the lion is prowling around for you for ages, you either;
instinctively cry out for your mother (in which case you get eaten, again, you’re out of the evolution game
you instinctively quieten down, stay in the bushes in this state and hope your tribe fam comes and gets you.
You win the evolution game.
So, theory goes, that’s the genetic basis for quieting down in some scary situations.
The issue is, in the modern world this is taken to extremes.
Our stupid monkey brains don’t know the difference between fear of lions and fear of deadlines. For much of our lives, especially for ambitious people, deadlines, tests, getting the job, these are all fearful pressures that we make up in our heads.
These freak us the fuck out all day, every day, for months at a time.
And what does months of made up, constant fear do to your brain?
After feeling trapped for so long with so much underlying panic about success, needing things to go right or your life is fucked, after months or years of this, your brain rewires itself giving depressive disorder.
More evidence for this is that depression is a strikingly first world issue.
Tribal communities who objectively live much tougher, more harsh lives than Westerners do, have next to no cases of depression.
They live in tight nit social groups of 50–200 who they spend all of their time with, and they don’t have these constant panics about needing to succeed or else be miserable and unfulfilled for all of their lives.
Two things that can’t be said for a vast number of young people today.
So many young people willingly sacrifice happiness now, for the promise of more happiness later, often tied up with money.
“If I just grit my teeth and stick with this shit job I’ll be able to get promoted, and then I can buy a nice house and car and I’ll be happy.”
There are two common, negative ways this plays out:
- You grit your teeth and suffer for 5 years at a job you hate, jump up the chain and the things that would actually fulfill you, don’t, because you’ve fucked up your brain in the process and can’t be happy.
- You grit your teeth and suffer for 5 years at a job you hate, jump up the chain and the money, the house, the car, they don’t actually fulfill you, you’ve been solve a false dream. Oh, and you’re brain is also fucked up from the process.
Neither seem that great hey?
Depression is often a results of ignoring your feelings or gut, and just suffering with short term pain for long term results.
This can be a sound strategy if you really would feel better by achieving those long term results, but often you’ve not thought about why you actually want them. Often it’s because society as a whole (which benefits from you working like a maniac and not thinking all that much) tells you that you want these results.
The human brain isn’t wired for happiness. Happiness doesn’t help you survive. The human brain wants you to constantly desire more. It’s natural to constantly move the goal posts and think you’ll be more satisfied, or satisfied for longer with these results than is actually accurate.
So what happens to many? Constant cycles of accepting misery, for delayed happiness that will never come.
How to Deal with Depression?
First up, if you know someone that’s depressed, please don’t mistake them for being sad.
Please don’t ask them WHY they’re sad.
1. They’re likely not sad, they just feel nothing, and this is scary. If they are sad, they’re sad because they are worried that they will never feel anything again.
2. They don’t know what the fuck the problem is. The best they can likely do is lay out all the potential issues that may be causing this bout. If, “luckily” there is only one big problem in their life at the moment, they may have an easier time with this. But in most cases, they will have few clues to what the problem actually is.
Honestly, I think the best thing you can do for a friend or loved on that’s depressed, is to be there to support them. Understand them, and be there to talk to them if they need it.
As you may gather from my personal story, my depression could have likely been avoided had I been more capable of communicating, both with my emotions, and with others.
If this is the case for the person you care about, just talking to them, trying to dig into what they’re experiencing can be by far the most helpful thing for them.
Depression is an illness of the brain. A good conversation and some new realisations really can pull someone out of a depressive episode. Sometimes, lifting that fog can be enough for them to realise that fixing the problem is possible, it is worth it.
Don’t be mistaken into thinking that one conversation will fix the problem. As I mentioned, I’ve been working on this actively for years, and it’s still not completely fixed. It’s a rewiring of the brain, and these depressive patterns take a long time to rewire. But one conversation can reveal the path to health, which is the first step to getting over it.
So, I’d made out in the title like depression can be a good thing and all I’ve done is talk about how much it sucks.
1. Haha, I fooled you, it fucking sucks. Avoid if at all possible.
2. There is some truth to the title!
In a weird double edged sword, the subconscious nature of depression — not knowing what causes it, can be quite helpful.
When I feel depressed, I can either:
- Lie in bed eating junk food and watching Netflix (which I often do for a day, just to give myself a break)
- Make a list of every possible problem in my life and start addressing them one at a time until I feel better.
The useful byproduct of this is that solving all of these problems is good for me and my development as a person.
If I’m not feeling fulfilled and I don’t know why, I feel depressed. If I feel depressed, I have to make myself better by fixing or actively working on every problem I currently have in my life — making me feel fulfilled.
It’s like a radar for fulfillment. Or unfulfillment? Anyway, it’s not all doom and gloom is what I’m getting at!
Over time, you’ll likely notice patterns emerge.
Do you often worry about wanting more adventure, more alone time, more social time?
More dates, less dates?
Working harder? Relaxing more?
Having a constant assessment (I do think in a daily journal) of what your problems may be, helps you get to grips with things that actually make you feel trapped and unhappy.
This can be the first step in figuring out what your perfect life actually look like.
By looking at what makes you unhappy and unfulfilled, you may be able to tease out the core values and drives that do make you feel fulfilled.
For me, I can see few less respectable pursuits than finding out what actually fulfills and motivates you, what gets you up in the morning, and constructing a life that allows you to fill ever increasing amounts of your time with that.
Another enormous benefits is my increased connection with my subconscious allows me to understand much more quickly if I’m not working in the right direction, or if I need some down time.
It’s like growing a muscle. The more I reflect on and think about my subconscious emotions, the more I get it right. The more you practice giving yourself space when you need it, the better you get at doing that quickly, and communicating to others that you either need space or support.
The final large benefit that comes to mind is the vast level up in emotional intelligence I’ve had. I’ve met a vast array of people whilst traveling and studying. Different ages, nationalities and backgrounds. And the one thing that really seems to reveal people’s emotional maturity, is how much shit they’ve been through.
Going through awful ordeals and coming out the other side gives you immense emotional fortitude. These people are the most empathetic, as the can really feel the pain of others, they’ve experienced it. They’re much more selfless and giving of themselves. They’re much more patient, having experienced that resolving trauma takes time, no matter how quick you want it fixed.
So there you have it, there’s a silver lining. I’d really not recommend becoming depressed just to fix it and become better… But, if you are depressed, just know that working on it and overcoming it will almost certainly leave you a person you have a deep respect for.
To finish with some advice; if you do feel the way I’ve mentioned (you might not have even considered that it might be depression) then my biggest suggestions would be:
1. Talk to someone about it. If you don’t want to go to a doctor, just tell a friend.
Honestly, as soon as I realised I had depression, I decided I was going to own it and I started being open about it.
2. Try writing down things you’re worried about. Write out what’s the worst that happens if you change and don’t change them.
Often the act of getting the thoughts that are cycling around your head out and on to paper, really helps to show that you’re just worrying about nothing, or not much.
3. Meditation can really help. Again, if you’re depressed, chances are you’re not the best at communicating with your subconscious feelings. Meditation can help to change this.
No spirity woo woo necessary (unless that’s yo jam), there’s a shit tonne of rigorous science backing up the effectiveness of meditation.
If you’re miserable, you can spare 10 minutes a day for something that can have a profound difference (even if you only keep it up for 3–4 months like I did.).
4. Chat to a doctor. By all means try out the suggestions above if a doctor scares you too much, but do know that for many, many people, professional counseling / coaching, and medication are needed to get over this. I know many people that have used anxiety and depression medication and it’s been a game changer for them.
Don’t play with your life, seek appropriate help.
It’s not your fault, it’s society, they’ve broken your brain.
Fuck yooou society.
Start working at it, give yourself space when you feel down, write about it, talk to someone (even though that’s the absolute last thing you will feel like doing), meditate.
It takes a long time to rewire your brain, so be patient, but know that if you keep making small but definite steps towards getting better, you will get there!
I guess if you know anyone that this might help, send them a link? I found that seeing someone describe my exact symptoms in a post under the name “depression” helped me realize I did have a problem and should start trying to fix it.
Final note — Once again, if you know someone that’s depressed, please don’t try to fix them. If you’re depressed, you’ve got to make the decision yourself to get help, so just be supportive and understanding of them. Get them to text you if they’re feeling down and call them, they won’t want to talk but it will help!
Yo, I’m Connor!
I’m a smart person. I don’t do smart things.