I consider myself to be an excellent advice giver. I can tell you just what you need to do in order to fix your problems.
Relationships woes? Pfft, piece of cake. Work trouble? Simple fix. General feeling of malaise and an overwhelming sense of depression, with suicidal thoughts to boot?
Actually, that may be the one time you SHOULD listen to me. Despite staying at a job that often leaves me infuriated and isolated, and making many of the same mistakes in my romantic entanglements, I can dish out pearls of wisdom on those subjects that are genuinely useful. See, I KNOW what I ought to do in those cases, but that doesn’t mean I have the balls to follow through. (…yet)
The one part of my track record that actually does endorse the hippie bullshit likely spewing from my mouth is in the depression department. I recently reached out to a friend with whom I am no longer close, after he had posted publicly on social media that he was dealing with serious demons. A constant accident/suicide/murder whatever-ends-with-me-dead video loop running through his head.
Severe depression is debilitating. You may not be able to get out of bed, even when you know you must or face consequences. Things like cleanliness and eating fall by the wayside as you remain trapped in your own head. When this is the case, by all means break out the big guns and fork over whatever your copay is to the pharmacy.
But like functioning alcoholics, some people learn to live with their depression. Every day you hear the lies your sick mind is telling you. (Your friends don’t like you, you’re fat, you’re unlovable, you will never amount to anything) It sucks the joy out of life. Things that ought to make you happy, that you are positive make you happy, just don’t pull the trigger internally. As my friend described it, something similar to Stockholm syndrome occurs, and you begin to think of your depression as *who* you are. The bleak outlook on life you cart around with you becomes as much a part of you as your sense of humor.
In that moment things may look hopeless. Your choices consist of the pills your over scheduled doctor throws at you, because he has a total of 15 mins to figure out a fix before the next HMO patient’s appointment starts, or the status-quo.
I have been there. Daunting doesn’t even begin to describe it.
But you have a secret weapon. The same powerful tool that is tormenting you can be turned on itself. Our brains can be manipulated by things other than chemicals packaged by big pharma. You must be diligent in silencing the voices in your head tearing you down all the time. When you hear them begin, say aloud “STOP!” Look yourself in the eyes while saying out loud and facing the mirror the opposite of whatever insult you’d been saying internally. … yes, you will look a little crazy. Then again, if you’re running around with a one man reenactment of the Final Destination franchise projected on the inside of your eyelids, you might already.
Stop and truly look around you. Go outside and look at the clouds, or the sunset. Try and actively notice little things that make life beautiful, like a scraggly little dandelion poking through the sidewalk, insisting that it too gets to live. The next time you take a step on the stairs, stop and focus your attention on feeling gratitude for your ability to walk. I find something every single day to be grateful for, even if it’s just that my sinuses are finally clear. (Screw you flu of 2013)
Meditate. Exercise! (A LOT!) Let your body’s natural happy pills wash over you as sweat drips from your pores. Be mindful of what you eat, and how you spend your free time. Most of all remember you must decide to be happy, and work at it.
… So all of that sounds pretty good right?
As I walked with my friend along the cliffs up above the waves I realized I had forgotten how much power we have over our own personal reality. I stopped, glancing around me at the million dollar views, and let a wave of gratitude wash over me. Seemed like pretty good advice.