The first time I heard about depression, I was in 7th grade in homeroom, and we were watching the morning news. There was a documentary talking about how serious depression was, and how it wasn’t just sadness. It seemed intense, and I didn’t really understand what it was all about.
Today, I completely understand what it is. After dealing with depression for a while, I haven’t completely learned to overcome it, but I’ve learned to manage it. Like in the movie A Beautiful Mind, when he still sees the visions of the people, but they are off to the corner, not affecting his daily life.
From what I’ve experienced, depression is like a big wave that just overcomes you. You don’t see it coming, and you don’t really know it’s hitting you until you’re experiencing all kinds of terrible thoughts, as you dread the future. Everything seems bleak, and nothing or nobody seems able to rectify your feelings. While everybody is laughing, you’re just in a daze, putting on a fake smile so nobody asks you what is wrong. With everybody telling us to “Be Positive” and “Be Happy”, with smiling faces all around, it all seems like a big joke.
There are plenty of schools of thought on depression, some saying it’s genetic, while others saying it’s a symptom of circumstances. I agree with both to an extent, but just marking it up to genetics then taking a whole bunch of pills may be just masking the problems. From experience, I believe circumstance has a lot to do with it.
The scary fact is that anybody can be swallowed by depression. Whether you’re rich, poor, successful, a failure, or anything in between, nobody is spared. I once read that Paulo Coehlo, the famous author of the Alchemist, once he become rich and a huge success, became deeply depressed. He started going to therapists, and they suggested pills and different remedies, none of which worked. Finally, he spoke to someone who got to the heart of the problem. The fact is that once Paulo reached the heights of success, he didn’t have any more challenges. He achieved everything he wanted in life, and didn’t have anything to work for. This person told him to really look deep into himself, and to figure out what would give him satisfaction, and a sense of purpose. It was actually something completely different than writing, and from that point on, he regained a purpose and excitement to his life.
Depression can be debilitating because we feel completely stuck. We are in a situation or environment, and we feel like there is no out, and no reason to keep on going. The truth, though, is far from that. You have unique skills and talents that nobody else has. You have a way of looking at the world, with your own experiences, that nobody in the history of the world has ever or will ever experience. Too often, we focus on the next temporary fulfillment, instead of really getting a sense of our purpose and what we were placed on this earth to accomplish.
A way out of depression is getting in touch with that. What gets you excited? What gives you hope, a purpose, and a challenge? What scares you, and is something you think you never could accomplish? Find out one of these things, then pursue it. How can you live your life striving to accomplish one of these? If you must have a full time job, pursue these things at nights and on weekends in your free time, using your day job to fuel your fire.
Life is vibrant, flowing, and beautiful. If you’re feeling depressed right now, the first way out of it is to get yourself a good meal. Treat yourself, and show yourself some love. Second, write down a few goals you want to accomplish in the coming weeks and months. Figure out a plan to reach these goals, and figure out a long-term plan for yourself, too. Look at these, and realize that you do have a purpose for your life, no matter what emotional state you are in right now.
Robert Greene wrote in his book Mastery, “Alienating yourself from your inclinations can only lead to pain and disappointment in the long run, and a sense that you have wasted something unique.” Depression is tough, but we can overcome it. We just have to have a strong sense of who we are, and realize that the future is beautiful.