-We don’t know a lot about how depression works.
-Unique and personalized methods can help cure depression.
-Breaking depression into smaller chunks makes it much easier to heal.
-We can use our depression as a “base” to build our advanced mindset, and ultimately, our better life!
-Trauma and depression can be the same problem.
-“Presence training” can get us out of our minds, thereby rejuvenating our mental energy, which we may then use to cure our own depression.
-Depression can be a lack of purpose. Find your purpose!
-Diving into philosophy and spirituality because you desire healing and/or an escape can and should be used to your advantage.
-As far as depression is concerned, perspective, beliefs, and attitude are everything!
In this post, we'll be approaching depression from a unique angle since I had to do so in order to help myself. I'll be outlining some unconventional methods that worked for me, and some perspectives that will hopefully aid you in your quest to take control of your mind. Enjoy the article!
Destroyer of Lives
Depression. The word carries a heavy, ominous weight to it, almost as if it were damning in and of itself.
Even just writing about it gives me the chills as I remember how massively depressed I used to be. I used to be on the brink of suicide – every night I hoped that some belligerent drunk guy would kill me in my sleep, and every morning I woke up disappointed when nothing happened.
Seeing multiple therapists, having undying support from my friends and family, and otherwise being in the company of wise, brilliant, and amazing people didn’t help me at all. I still found myself on top of a five-story garage and debating with myself on whether or not it was high enough to do the job, and since I decided it wasn’t going to work I was ready to try Plan B, C, and D in hopes of relieving myself from my excruciating pain.
Nothing could help me, nobody could give me advice that was any good, and I couldn’t see any way out of a life of terrible misery and torment… Forever. It was bad.
How Is The Brain Involved?
After all, isn’t depression caused by genetic predisposition, low serotonin levels, weak nerve cells, and a small hippocampus? The answer is, we don’t really know yet.
Let’s take a quote from Harvard’s post about depression to demonstrate what I mean; “Researchers have learned much about the biology of depression. They’ve identified genes that make individuals more vulnerable to low moods and influence how an individual responds to drug therapy. One day, these discoveries should lead to better, more individualized treatment (see “From the lab to your medicine cabinet”), but that is likely to be years away. And while researchers know more now than ever before about how the brain regulates mood, their understanding of the biology of depression is far from complete.”
I recommend reading the full article to find out how little we actually know about curing this dis-ease.
Something we think we know is that the brain’s ability to regulate mood plays a big part in whether or not someone is feeling depressed. A fairly large list of neurotransmitters and their functions can be found in the post I linked above, including norepinephrine (which restricts blood cells, increases blood pressure, and may trigger anxiety), serotonin (which helps regulate sleep, appetite, and helps in inhibiting pain. Research suggests that serotonin may be linked to low serotonin levels), glutamate (which is believed to play a role in bipolar and depression), and a few others. If one or more of these neurotransmitters (serotonin being the most popular by far) aren’t communicating as much or as fast as they should be then we think it plays a part in how well your brain can regulate your mood.
The reason I’m putting emphasis on the fact we don’t know isn’t to disrespect the people who put have put long, hard hours into this kind of research, but rather because we simply don’t know, and the fact we don’t know must be known. The body is a very complicated biological machine that we don’t have a manual for, so we can expect to make some mistakes and some wrong turns along the way as we write it ourselves.
What Does This Mean?
If you (or someone you know) has tried everything modern society has to offer with no relief then you’re probably wondering what the next step is. You may not even know what’s wrong, but it’s very important to know exactly what’s going on before trying to change it.
If you haven’t tried the conventional methods of treating depression (which includes speaking to a therapist, psychologist, and/or psychiatrist), a full examination of the current state of your body to check for any deficiencies, making sure that you do everything in your power to eat, drink, and sleep very well, taking prescribed antidepressant medication, etc then I suggest you do so before reading the rest of this article. Knowledge is power, and if you can find the solution while you still have the power of society behind you then I recommend going down that path as far as you can before branching off and finding your own solutions.
I would also like to point out that I am not a licensed professional in any field that I mention or talk about in this post.
The Word “Depression”
“Depression” is often vaguely thrown around as a word that means “not normal, sad, down, traumatized, negative (she has a negative vibe around her),” or in the case of clinical depression, “incurable torment that needs medication and/or other assistance.”
In other words, the initial assumption for someone who’s depressed is that they aren’t normal and they need some kind of help. Merriam Webster defines depression as (1) “A state of feeling sad: dejection” (2) a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.”
There are a couple of others like, “a reduction in activity, amount, quality, or force,” but let’s focus on the first two for the time being since they’re more important.
The second definition puts depression as a “mood disorder” that’s marked by “sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, ” etc. The first issue I have is with the word “disorder;” if you (or someone you know) feels depressed the last thing you want to hear is that your state of being is wrong, out of place, invalid, or something that needs to be “fixed.”
It’s important to know that depression is a state of being; sometimes it’s tightly linked with your body in the cases of biologically-induced depression, and sometimes it’s a psychological state that always seems inescapable, but it is more like a base on which to build your castle, not a pipe that needs repairing.
The second issue I have is we use this one word as a stand-in for all of these different kinds of problems. Usually, if someone has 2 or more of the above mentioned (such as feelings of hopelessness, a decrease in appetite, and trouble sleeping all at once) they’ll be thought of, and probably diagnosed as, depressed by their friends, family, and by their doctor (if they even get a diagnosis from their doctor), and they might get a prescription medication that is supposed to solve all of it.
Well, that’s… Helpful? If the medication works, then yes! For others, like me, it isn’t, especially if you’ve been depressed for years or even decades on end without any hope of being happy or enjoying anything in your life. That’s why I say we take the word “depression” and leave it at the door as we head into the woods and fix the actual problems that make up the word.
Breaking It Into Smaller Chunks
Maybe you’re depressed. Maybe you’re discontent with your life. Maybe you’re thinking “there must be more,” or maybe you’re thinking, “God what’s the point, why am I alive.” If you’re reading this article, chances are you feel discontent on some level and you’re dying to change it.
That’s the first trap we encounter; no matter how much pain we feel, struggling and resisting isn’t going to help us any. That’s why it’s important to take a deep breath and accept your situation exactly how it is the best that you can. You don’t necessarily have to know what’s wrong at this stage, but what you do know is that you want to feel better; the last thing you want to do is sink deeply into a vat of negativity, after all. But, it’s important to truly accept your state of being the way it is before making any effort to change it.
Why you might ask? Because in your depression itself lies the clue to your next step. It’s very possible that accepting your state of being as current, valid, and lovable will provide an image in your mind, or an idea, or a piece of information that’s absolutely necessary for you to feel better about your life. This can be done by simply sitting and doing nothing. The “doing nothing” part is important; you don’t want anything or anyone to bother you while you’re spending quality time with yourself.
If you have a very busy life then you might have to make the time by telling other people off, and that’s very okay! This is your well-being, after all, something that should be taken very seriously at all times.
If you find that you’ve been sitting alone for a long time and you can’t figure it out for the life of you then I suggest expressing your desire to find the root cause(s) of your depression and seeing if any resistances pop up. Words are very powerful – you can repeat certain phrases like, “I wish to heal,” “I want to know what’s wrong with me,” “I deserve to be loved,” “I love myself” and have nasty things come up that probably aren’t even yours.
These resistances might be intense and difficult to feel, but they must be felt and they must be met where they are; that is, they must be accepted as parts of yourself that exist, are valid, and lovable.
Resistances can take the form of a thought, a feeling, an image in the mind, a sound, or even spoken as words. Have you ever given someone a compliment only to have them say, “Thanks, but…” “Well it wasn’t my best work,” “That’s not really me” or some other variant? That’s a form of resistance against the compliment being thrown their way, for one reason or another.
If you’re depressed and none of the conventional methods have worked for you then checking your mind and your body for resistance is a great first step towards fully realizing your deep-rest-ion. You can subconsciously resist anything from people to the food to airplane rides to thoughts and feelings and the more you resist something the more depressed you will feel. Resistance also comes in the disguise of something we all know very well, and that is…
Trauma is, in a lot of cases, depression itself. Traumatic events destroy lives, sometimes permanately, even with the help of therapy, medication, and the support of family and friends. There’s no doubt about this.
However, I would like to point out that a “traumatic memory” is simply a memory of an event that was too painful to deal with at the time and has now become suppressed. The memories themselves tend to carry the pain of the experience with them until the person with the memory resolves the issue completely.
Anyone can have a suppressed traumatic memory in their subconscious mind, they can scale in intensity over every person who has ever had a traumatic memory, and that each person will find different events to be traumatic than any other person depending on what they value, what they fear, and how they process present events.
For example, it’s possible for a war veteran to easily process the events that happen on the battlefield but find his wife leaving him to be a traumatic event. It’s possible for a child to be extroverted, outgoing, and boisterous, but find being alone to be too painful to bear (or the complete opposite). Traumatic events aren’t reserved for anybody, and you could very well be dealing with a certain level of trauma that you don’t know about or don’t remember.
If your trauma is prevalent in your mind, however, you can consciously choose to let it play out and accept it for what it is. If that doesn’t help you feel better you can let the memory change into a dream. This is the process of letting your subconscious mind show itself completely, and you may come out of the dream with a completely different feeling than if you replayed the memory in your head as it happened.
To find out if you’re suffering from subconscious trauma it’s very important to consciously make yourself comfortable and choose to revisit the events that happened back then with the maturity you have now. It’s as easy as sitting down and asking yourself, “What do I need to remember?” It’s important to be the person now that you needed at that moment so that you can process the memory/flashback/fantasy/feeling/etc.
It’s also important to have compassion on yourself every step of the way when you revisit traumatic memories, especially if they’re very intense for you. This will probably need to happen more than once (as many times as you feel like it needs to happen) before you are able to fully realize and release a (perhaps several) traumatic memory(ies), but I promise you it can be done.
Psychedelics are a tremendous help in this regard. While they’re illegal in the UNITED STATES I cannot condone their use in any way, shape, or form for my own safety. However, many, many studies have been released, and many, many people have come forth and shared their healing and transformative psychedelic experiences, mainly with psilocybin mushrooms (magic mushrooms), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and dimethyltryptamine (DMT).
The only reason they aren’t seen as valid forms of medicine for treating PTSD and trauma, in general, is simply that most of us don’t understand what these substances really are.
If you plan to take psychedelics as part of your self-therapy then I suggest you do your homework; make sure you and your family don’t have a history of mental illness. Make sure you know what you want to change at this point. Read up on set and setting, choose the right substance, let go of your intentions, and decide what your dosage will be. If you wish to use psychedelics as a tool to help you process your trauma then I recommend taking your time to learn about them before diving in as they can lead to some… Interesting experiences if one is careless with them.
Try Presence Training
Presence training is a name I created to describe the process of learning how to being in the moment. This is what people are doing when they meditate; they’re attempting to become more and more aware of the happenings of the present. However, I don’t recommend you meditate (unless you want to); I recommend that you consciously decide to be in the moment, either in your head or out loud, throughout the day as many times as you can remember.
This is different from revisiting traumatic memories in that you’re paying more attention to everything that’s happening around you in general, the good and the ugly, as opposed to revisiting your painful memories.
If you become aware of everything non-physical happening within yourself (your subconscious thoughts, your mental images, your feelings, etc) as well as everything in your immediate physical environment at the same time you would be a legend amongst us (look at how far Eckhart Tolle has come!) and you’d probably look at trauma as a distant memory.
What If You Need… More?
I do! That’s why I’m writing this post! You could have everything in the world and feel like it’s not enough. It’s pretty common knowledge that famous, rich superstars get depressed, go on drinking or drug binges, and some go off and commit suicide because they have everything (physically) and yet nothing (that fulfills them). It’s very possible that your life doesn’t meet all (or any) of your own personal needs and that you need to add an activity for your own well-being.
If you’re depressed then it may be best to ask yourself, “What do I really want? How can I get it? What do I want to do for me, and how can I find time to do it,” alongside, after, or even instead of bringing up traumatic memories from your past. Filling your life with activities you want to do instead of activities that other people want you to do will certainly help. A lot.
Philosophy and Spirituality
Some people turn to philosophy and spirituality to improve their lives or to escape from the mental hell they live in. Some aspiring philosophers may be tempted to ask questions such as, “What is depression, really? Is it created from my perspective of life, or is it something that’s completely out of my control? What is life, anyway? What is the point of life? Why am I here? And why do I feel so terrible?”
These kinds of questions can be answered, but while that happens the purpose of philosophy must not be overlooked. The purpose of philosophy is to take everything you have learned, question it, play with it, use your mind to make connections between it and the rest of the universe, and eventually come to realize that you are it, aka come into spiritual enlightenment.
Once you are spiritually enlightened, words lose their meaning entirely, and only appear as tools for interacting with other people, if that.
Ok, Now What?
But let’s say you aren’t ready for spiritual enlightenment. I’m certainly not, even though I’ve come a long way from where I’ve started. If you’re like me and you’ve tried many conventional and unconventional ways to treat your depression with no success, you may be wondering, “Geez, what now? Not only did I get up and try to help myself by going to a therapist but I also tried these other things that worked for a little while but didn’t really help me in the long term. What the hell am I supposed to do now?”
Now it’s time to mention a word I haven’t said upunto (yes, I just invented a new word, deal with it) and that is “attitude.”
If we take the view of nihilism (which can be boiled down to, “everything is meaningless, there is no purpose, and chaos rules over order) and say it with a gloomy, dead-end attitude then we will have that kind of an attitude towards that kind of viewpoint.
If we then think of the core principle of nihilism with a cheery, optimistic attitude we will have that kind of attitude towards that viewpoint. Try it out for yourself!
Notice how the philosophy hasn’t changed, just the attitude towards it. Once we really realize our power to grow different perspectives on our different thoughts, feelings, mental state, reasonings, etc then we can look at the different causes of our unrest and begin to change them in meaningful and long-lasting ways.
Depression is a monster, that much is for sure. It can ruin lives and families with it’s cruel and unforgiving hand, especially since we’re still learning about it. But, we hold more power than we think – there are a lot of options to seek out and try, a lot of people who are willing to help in any way they can, and a long life of fulfillment and bliss if you’re willing to make well-being your #1 priority in your life.
If you’d like to contact me personally about something you’re going through you can email me at [email protected] and I’ll help you in any way that I can. Have a wonderful day!