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How I Stopped Feeling Depressed

Photo by Sandra Lara

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.

Depression doesn’t heal overnight, and even though we experience heightened states of happiness during the healing process, complete healing takes time and a lot of loving patience for your self.

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,

  1. “Do I really want to spend my precious time on this planet worried/concerned about this?”
  2. “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,

  1. “Will my life end if I stop worrying about this?”
  2. “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.”
~ Buddha

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!

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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104 thoughts on How I Stopped Feeling Depressed

  1. John

    Another great article, Tina. We all know these truths but find them so challenging to apply sometimes. I needed to read this tonight, thanks.

    • Hi John,

      You’re right, they can be so challenging to apply sometimes. Maybe that’s why the Universe keep presenting us with opportunities to “work” on them. :)
      For me, the same kinds of challenges keeps showing up until I’ve learned the lesson. The hardest part is in the moment, since it’s so much easier to take the easy way out and give into our emotions, but if you somehow intercept our usual patterns, even just once, it’ll become easier the next time.

      Knowing these truths doesn’t immune us from these challenges. It just makes us more aware of them, and thus, one step closer to applying them.
      I really do believe that a daily practice of sitting silently while focusing on our breathe (ie. meditation), helps to insert time during these moments, giving us a longer slot of time to choose our response. :)

      Warmly,
      Tina

  2. J Bryant

    Excellent post! Every morning we decide how our day will go. Will you let little things bother you? Will you let old demons consume your thoughts? Or will you focus on the gift of life and the power you have to create a better future?

  3. Hi Tina,

    I, along with everyone else(i’m sure) appreciate you sharing this…

    I’m glad you’re in a better mental state now than the first few months, and happy to hear your baby has 10 fingers,10 toes and a fine working nose. I don’t have kids(yet), but I hear the greatest gift to a parent is to know hat our kids will grow up healthy and being able to one day take care of themselves in this (sometimes tragic) world.

    All the best,

    Parker

  4. What a tremendous simplification of a common feeling! It’s so good to say than to be done.

    In most cases, the first recommendation will fail, as there are people who are too responsible while you offer them to care less about problems. This not only gives them an illusion that they can leave these unsolved but also leads to problems accumulation as they become less important both to have and to solve.

    Fixing on positive feelings is good but still does not fix the problem either. It’s the surrounding that makes you feel depressed, i.e. your style of life, relatives, work — these should be changed or some time later you will have a recurrent depression and your positive emotions and associations will dim due to this ineffective solution. You should start to find new positive experience in your life and in whatever surrounds you, not in your past, or you will remain there and all your life will come past without you.

    It’s a deep psychological work to win over a depression which starts with its understanding and not just curing symptoms as modern doctors recommend. You offer only a temporary solution, no more.

  5. Onna

    I don’t think it’s that easy . When you are really depressed nothing gives you pleasure , nothing at all , everything is plain and tastless , the old stuff that was so dear to you and made you happy and made you smile doesn’t do it .
    Also when you are deep in the black whole to make yourself to do things like yoga or journaling is no such a simple matter , when you spend your days on crying and feeling numb such activity doesn’t come easy beacuse as you feel so down nothing seems to help you and you won’t reach for it .

  6. Hi Tina, ever since I stopped consuming anything that contained refined sugar, I’ve felt much better. I realized that a depressed mood can easily push you into “looking for reasons” for why it’s there to begin with, when really, it’s just a neurochemical reaction to eating the “wrong food”.

    Having said this, I also realize that there’s a significant psychological or spiritual component to mood creation. There’s some good emotional releasing techniques out there (EFT, EBT, Sedona Method, to name a few) that can benefit anyone looking for greater peace of mind.

    A very thoughtful post, Tina. Thanks for baring and sharing.

    Christopher

  7. Why Stress?

    I really enjoyed reading your article on stress. Personally I just over came one in almost a year now. Ever since I found out that the person I was with was not who I thought they were things just went on a down hill spiral. What could go wrong went wrong. I end up having to choose from either dropping school or quitting my job. I chose school so I had no job and lost my apartment.
    I fell into a deep depression without realizing i was even stressing. At times blood would just come from my nose and after going to the emergency room and all they could give me was sleeping pills. I wanted stressed pills because i did not want to think anymore. No matter how much i tried to avoid thinking it just seem to come on stronger.
    Glancing over at my book shelve i decided to look for something to read ( i enjoy reading a lot). I picked a book by Dr.Phil that i have not read which was just collecting dust on my shelf. I forgot the title of the book, but it was something of preparing yourself for the seven life tragedies that’s bound to happen. What struck me in the book was where he stated that
    ” Its OK to grieve a lost of a loved one, whether its through death or separation. Allow yourself to grieve but don’t trap yourself fro the world and stop living.”

    Those words (may not have quoted correctly) struck me and from then on I told myself that It will get better and that I needed to snap out of the way I was living because I was no good to no one being cooped up for six months in my apartment just me and my thoughts. I was failing school by now and even when I was in class, I was just there and my mind was in space.
    I later went on to speak to a counselor and after a couple sessions I just quit. Today I am free from letting stress sit and overwhelm me. And you are right stress will always be there, It’s a process in how you deal with it and it will not go away in a day, sometimes even years if it ever goes away. You have to dig deep and find that inner strength and pull yourself through. Having support would help tremendously, so never turn it down like I did. I never wanted to leave the house.
    Furthermore why stress? what does it accomplish? but by just being a mechanism that holds you down and suck life out of you. I know life is full of bumps and bruises and sometimes we cant see stress when it creeps, but in the event that you do, don’t give it life by letting it sit and dwell on you but kick it out of your mind and find something to do and keep busy. It’s more interesting than stress.

  8. Isn’t it crazy how we get to feel so ashamed about it? For my part, I feel weak, and mostly because of what people will think or say about me! These last few days I managed to stop ”thinking” and start a little more ”living”…your article comes just at the right time ! Thanks for that.

  9. Jeannette

    Thank You Tina for being so honest and willing to share your story. It is a very important story to share because many of us have been there (I have!) and think in part to the pressures of societal expectations. In addition to everything you shared two things helped me move forward and out of my own depression. One, letting go of any regrets I had over choices I made long ago and accepting that in that moment I made the best choice I could have. Two, practicing loving kindness to others, meaning be more compassionate towards the life experiences of others which allowed me to have more compassion for myself. It was practice I had to nurture and cultivate daily but it was worth every up and down :)

  10. Wonderful !!!!! I fully agree to every word that I have read just now. Thank you so much for gathering all your thoughts together and writing the article. Hope you find the same reflection in my articles. Thank you once again…… Mohua Gupta

  11. Keith

    Thank you Tina – I love your openness.

    As for myself, I’m in a place of aloneness in my life. It’s lasting until I find a new way forward for myself.

    When I first lived alone it was wonderful just to have a healthy space to myself after trauma, and be my own man. In the 15 years I’ve grown stronger and probably peaceful, but if I think I’ve almost lost a purpose in being with people then that thought scares me, and I’m being very unfair to myself because it’s not true. I go through ups and downs, particularly since I retired my job last year, but a daughter of mine hints that I must be ‘depressed’.

    I’m often aware of the power of labels, and generally avoid them since we our products of our own thinking, & I also felt that ‘depression’ lost it’s power over me when I got that it’s mostly a case of hating our own thoughts.

    My Dad passed away 3 weeks ago – peacefully, thankfully, with nothing unresolved. I need to be kind to myself and have faith in our amazing world.
    I love following you on twitter X

  12. canali

    some of this article is useful and other parts (the universe being a mom and we’re here to learn from pain) is nothing more than quasi pseudo psycho-babble….life is just what is is sometimes…there are not necessarily ”any lessons to be learned” (puh lease)….and life is sometimes not very ‘beautiful’ either…try giving this feel good pablum to a mother who’s daughter (17) was just killed last week when walking in the woods and some person (not yet caught) bludgeoned her to death with a baseball bat…or a gorgeous 4 yr old girl plowed down by a drunk driver…acts of violence or random deaths and injuries happen all the flippin’ time…just antecedents coming together with no great ”lessons” to be learned….instead just heartache and pain to get through.

  13. Dear Tina
    Thank you for this beautiful article. Depression is hard but like you so rightly said, we can choose our reactions to situations and we can choose not be victims. The power of choice is great isn’t it. Viktor Frankl in Mankinds search for meaning said that the greatest or last human freedom is the ability to choose one’s reaction to a situation.

    As I struggle with the unknown striking me down, I know there is wisdom here I cannot see, I trust even though this is hard, where I am.I send gratitude and a prayer to the skies, and I know, all will be well.

    God bless you for sharing your words and journey with us. It does make it easier when we travel together.

  14. canali

    and tina, while you do put down some good ideas ie meditation, journalling, exercise etc…don’t forget that depression can have very real biological determinants too…and researchers are coming close to a ‘depression’ gene too (or maybe have already)…and those hormones after having a kid or such can cause a real up/down spike so take care of yourself..did’t mean to be ‘too hard’ in my last post, but my point is: sometimes shit happens (wrong place wrong time) and there are no lessons to be learned other than to adapt as best we can…in the sagacious words of stress researcher Hans Seyle, those who are the most adaptable to life’s punches are the most happy…too bad many of us didn’t have great role models of such.

  15. Hi Tina,

    As always, you share so much with all of us and I will always be grateful for what you have given. Your stories are a great source of strength and inspiration for me because of your courage in sharing with sincerity.

    I too dealt with my fair share of depression in life. The way I cope nowadays is exactly like you said; I just sum it up into one nice mantra. “Focus on the solutions, not the problem.”

    It also helps that I have created purpose and meaning in my life. So every waking moment is dedicated towards pursuing my goals. I may face lots of obstacles and difficulties in the process, but because my purpose is so strong, I don’t have time to feel too depressed. I just have to find a way around the obstacle.

  16. Melissa

    Absolutely fantastic post! It seems that whatever I may be going through in life the posts that end up in my inbox end up being there just at the right time. I truley think that things happen for a reason and if it was just meant to reach even one person know that it reached me and made me really sit down and think about how I have made the past into my victim story. Allowing my victim story to become my future. My past, something that no longer even exists.

    Thank you so much for sharing with us. I look forward to your posts and I hope that everything goes smoothly for you from this point on. We do get to choose how we get to handle the situations that we are dealt. Why choose to be depressed, learn and really try to move on. There is so much happy life to live that doesn’t have time for looking back, only forward.

  17. Danny

    Thank you for this beautiful article. Depression is hard but like you so rightly said, we can choose our reactions to situations and we can choose not be victims. The power of choice is great isn’t it. Viktor Frankl in Mankinds search for meaning said that the greatest or last human freedom is the ability to choose one’s reaction to a situation.

    As I struggle with the unknown striking me down, I know there is wisdom here I cannot see, I trust even though this is hard, where I am.I send gratitude and a prayer to the skies, and I know, all will be well.

    God bless you for sharing your words and journey with us. It does make it easier when we travel together.

  18. Tina,

    The probing questions you outline under step 1 are extremely powerful. That’s exactly the kind of “scarcity thinking” that is very, very good for us.

    I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about using memory as a positive anchor, as you mention under step 2. Tony Robbins advocates this technique repeatedly throughout Unlimited Power, a book I just re-read and enjoyed. Although I had some initial resistance to the idea in favor of a “focus on the now, don’t dwell on the past” mentality, I sincerely believe that positive memory anchors can improve our mood and performance in the present.

    Finally, the phrase “refill your consciousness tank” is awesome. Like, really awesome.

    What an honest and beautiful post.

  19. Another John

    Tina – It is so hard to admit depression. I applaud you. It is so misunderstood. And I agree with you that much of the answer lies in the teachings of our religious masters, to wit, focus on the positive, stay in the moment, do the task in front of you, don’t be concerned about what is next. Someone who called themselves Onna wrote that if the personal experience of depression can be so severe it can overshadow personal attempts at being positive. You, Onna, are correct. It can. I know. But Tina is also correct. That is the very hard lesson. I turn the corner, there is a new hole in the street, I walk around the hole instead of falling in, that is the trick, that is the lesson. As you think you will become. Repeatedly remembering this is what works for me. :)

  20. Ama

    Hi Tina,

    yes, we all fall and get up again, even when we feel we reach a stable life (and then it’s soooo hard to feel down again … miserable)
    But it’s only for the best, to become more aware of us, of everything.
    I discovered “You can heal your life” in very harsh times and it did miracles for me. Among the tools you told, mindful practice also did a very good job, replacing me in the present moment.
    If you can’t be surrounded by positive people, surround yourself by positive thoughts and positive books. Philosophy works very well when you feel bad. Makes me feel I am a capable person.
    And also moving your body avoids to lock yourself in mental paralysis.

    Love from France,

    #A~

  21. Just to be clear–there is a big difference between “feeling down” and depression. Your title to the post alone is dangerous.

    One is a temporary state of being, and one is an illness–like MS, bi-polar disorder and having a heart condition. Yes, one can do the work to find a way to LIVE with depression, but I think the “heal thy self” mentality is short sighted and destructive for some.

    A wonderful book and resource for people who are ACTUALLY dealing with depression–I would commend Dr. Emmons book “The Chemistry of Joy.” This depression illness–for some, its real, and debilitating. This book is a wonderful help.

    Lastly, your “parting words on feeling depressed”:
    How about adding Mett? – loving-kindness to the mix. In fact, when we focus only on ourselves and look inward, it can be a dark and devastating rabbit-hole. Go back and read your words. You you you, it all depends on doing nice things for you/yourself. The healing that can come from having compassion, opening oneself to the hurts of others is a viable possibility towards healing and WHOLEness.

    I have been a subscriber to your blog for a very very long time, and while I appreciate your vulnerability and the time and thought you must have put into this post, you have lost a reader.

    Peace to you.

  22. This is a wonderful honest post filled with hope for others. The one thing you didn’t mention is medication. I know that doesn’t sound holistic and so many people are ashamed to take anything. As a psychologist I believe there are people that can’t climb out of depression without it. I feel we need to give them permission to check into medication and if it works take it without shame.

    Many people who are against it drink or smoke pot and don’t see that as self-medicating.

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