How I Stopped Feeling Depressed
Since the start of this year, and for 8 months following that, I have been battling with feeling depressed. And even though I thought I had overcome it during the first few months, its devastating effects lingered and haunted me in subtle ways.
It wasn’t until a series of personal struggles and more episodes of emotional breakdowns that followed, did it eventually “crack” me and had bring me back to a place of serenity.
This is a slice from that story.
I have been writing and rewriting this article on and off for several months, each time exposing different details and insights. With every version, I would allow self-doubt or excuses to over take me, I would then scrap the piece and start over.
Truth be told, I was embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to see me this way. I was ashamed at who I had become. I felt lost. I was struggling with everything and I had to “stand up” again.
Then it occurred to me that, sharing my struggles with you is a good thing. It exposes my own battles, the techniques which help me overcome them, and what I have learned through the experience.
It also shows you that all of us are in this together, in that we all dip into the pit falls of life’s turbulence, but we always recover, and often as a better person.
I am a believer that things in our lives happen for a reason, a purpose greater than our selves, often greater than what we can fully comprehend.
When “bad” things happen, we have two choices, we can blame and prolong our victim identity, sinking deeper into our victim story, OR, we can choose to see the experience as a gift, an opportunity for personal growth, to expand our self-understanding, to expand our capacity to love ourselves, and to expand our capacity of compassion for others.
I choose to see what happened to me as a gift. The Universe loves me so much that she gave me a series of challenges that knocked me down. She knows that I have within me, all that I need to stand up again.
Like a loving mother, watching her baby learning to walk, she’ll have to allow the child to fall, sometimes hurting herself on the hard floor. The child may cry in pain and protest, but the mother must not interfere, allowing the child to learn on her own. Soon the child learns how to stand, then walk, then run. The Universe is the same way.
I choose to see what happened to me as stepping-stones to learning incredible life lessons that I wouldn’t gain any other way.
I choose to see what I experienced as a pathway of awakening, to discover the sacred within me, which also lies in every one of you.
I choose to view the events that lead to what I experienced as an act of compassion from the Universe, so that I can share my understanding to others experiencing similar pain.
Life is really very good, but we forget sometimes that we have choices at every step of the way. We have the choice to act or react. We have the choice of perspective. We have the choice of stepping back, taking a deep breath, and then moving forward deliberately.
We have the choice of creating, with the power of our mind, how we want the story of our lives to go.
Every moment of everyday, we have a clean slate, in which we can decide what our future will be. If we don’t do so consciously and deliberately, we simply bring what was once in the past into the future, and repeatedly live in the pain of the past.
Every time we tell someone our story of pain, where we play the victim, we are creating the same pain in our future. So, if you want a future free from pain, a future free from the past, tell a different story. Stop complaining, stop looking for sympathy from others, stop dwelling on all the unfairness that life has put you through.
Life is very short, and it is very beautiful – but only if we choose to see it as such. Do you really want to waste the limited time we have on this planet by dwelling on something that happened in the past, which is no longer real? Or choosing with deliberate intention to live life fully, to appreciate the everyday miracles we once took for granted, to focus on things that makes us happy and fulfilled.
3 Steps to Live Consciously & Stop Feeling Depressed
Like many of us, you may be experiencing some sort of problem on your side of the world. The fastest way to free yourself from your problems is the following steps:
Step 1: Stop Creating Problems
Recognize that you don’t want to recreate the problem in your future.
Try asking yourself,
- “Do I really want to spend my precious time on this planet worried/concerned about this?”
- “Do I want this worry/concern in my future?”
Recognize that your life will be better if you stop focusing on the problem.
Try asking yourself,
- “Will my life end if I stop worrying about this?”
- “What will happen if I stop worrying about this?”
When you choose to stop focusing on problems and pain, it doesn’t mean that the problem will magically go away. It means that even though the problem still exists on some level, you are choosing to no longer allow it to affect you emotionally. You are choosing to no longer waste energy on it.
Step 2: Focus on What Makes You Happy
“The mind is everything. What you think, you become.”
Shift your focus towards things that make you feel good. What memories or thoughts make you smile, or feel good when you think about them? Use this memory as an anchor to shift your focus towards something more positive when you need it.
As you go about your day, regularly ask yourself, “What would I be happy doing?”, “What would make me happy right now?”, and then do those things.
Consciously doing things that make you feel good, not only shifts your thought pattern to a more positive one, thus attracting better feeling thoughts and experiences, it also makes you less susceptible to the emotional dips that come the with challenges that life presents us with.
Step 3: Refill Your Consciousness Tank
Conscious awareness is like a muscle, and to keep it healthy and functioning optimally, we need to regularly give it sufficient exercise. What exercise it needs is an individual choice, and one that your inner wisdom knows best. Here are some suggestions:
- Meditation – no need to formalize this or over think it. Just sit some where quietly for 10-20 minutes, and consciously focus on your breath. When a thought comes, just gently allow it to pass and put your focus back on your breath. The results from this will bring miracles to your life in leaps and bounds (trust me, I’m speaking from personal experience).
- Yoga – consciously moving your body, and stretching your body with awareness. Yoga is meditation with movement. Not only is it incredible for your consciousness, it does wonders for your physical body. After doing yoga (consciously), it feels as it you’ve had a massage. It is so relaxing and wonderfully healing.
- Creative Engagement – Take up a hobby that draws on your creativity. Things such as: writing, dancing, drawing, wood working, scrap booking, etc. You fill in the blank with what makes your heart sing. For me, activities that make me feel creative are: writing, graphic design, and photography. Even if you don’t think you’re good at it, do it if it makes you feel creative. That’s the point: that you feel good. If you feel stuck not knowing what to do, I highly recommend getting the book, “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”.
- Mindful Practice – being conscious in all that you do, by placing your full awareness in the doing of things. When you’re walking, put your full awareness on your feet, and the feeling of walking. When you’re washing dishes, put your full awareness on your hands and the act of cleaning your dishes. When you’re drinking a glass of water or sipping your cup of coffee in the morning, put your full awareness into the enjoyment of that drink. You can be mindful about anything (even in the bedroom *wink*).
- Journaling – no need to formalize this. Just grab a pen, a notebook or some loose paper, a glass of water or a mug of tea, and find a quiet place to start dumping what’s on your mind. It’s an incredible practice that allows you to sort out the random thoughts running in your head, and teaches you introspection that leads to a better understanding of yourself. Turning this into a ritual is very rewarding and feeds the soul. I like to do this when everyone’s asleep, then I climb onto my favorite reading chair, turn on the reading light and some candles, curl up in a ball and start writing.
- Inspirational Reading – reading something that makes you feel empowered, inspired and motivated is not only a positive boost to your psyche, but also reminds you of the magnificence of your Being, and how powerful you are in the creative design of your life. Don’t treat inspirational reading like a fictional book, where you read from front to back and then move on to the next one. If you find something that inspires you, come back and revisit it regularly. I find myself going back to re-read the same book, over and over.
- Questioning Life – questioning and analyzing your decisions and actions through out your daily life is a good practice to bring more conscious awareness into your day-to-day living. Even when you’ve taken unconscious action, analyzing what happened can be an enriching experience. Find a friend who you can talk about it with, or write it in a journal, or blog about it (like what I’ve done here).
Parting Words on Feeling Depressed
“You cannot control what happens to you,
but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you,
and in that, you will be mastering change
rather than allowing it to master you.”
~ Sri Ram
If you’re currently battling with feeling depressed, or even irritability from life’s problems, I suggest the following personal advice from me to you:
Be gentle with yourself.
It’s okay to feel bad. Healing takes time. Don’t be ashamed.
Take time to love yourself. Take time to get to know yourself.
Meditate for 20 minutes a day. You’ll be glad you did.
Take your self to Starbucks, get your favorite drink (I like white chocolate mocha or hot chai latte), find a comfortable seat, relax and do some people watching.
Expose yourself to people that makes you feel good and leave you feeling energized, instead of deleted.
First thing in the morning, drink a fresh glass of water, do some deep breathing, and then stretch your body out (yoga poses if possible, but optional).
Last thing before sleep, give gratitude for everything you are thankful for, starting with your body and your breath.
Whenever you are feeling cranky or sad, remind yourself to take a long deep breath.
Get a copy of “You Can Heal Your Life” and “Loving What Is” and (if you haven’t already) “The Power of Now”, and read them. Expose yourself to encouraging words of wisdom everyday, I repeat, every single day!
Are you interested in hearing more on the topic of Depression? Let me know your interest in the comments. Got a story you want to share? Speak your mind and share your thoughts with us in the comment section. We’ll see you there!