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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. Michelle C

    Jennifer: Thanks for sharing your thoughts about my merit as a doctor. To prevent a battle of egos with you, I will not respond directly to your questions or comments. I choose to save my energy for my patients, and pay attention to their feedback about my role in helping them change their lives.

    Some people identify strongly with their disease. For others, their diagnosis, handicap, or limited prognosis is an after-thought. I am inspired by the patient who embraces life despite an unexpected diagnosis of metastatic cancer, by the graduate student who is working on her anxiety and does not complain about her multiple sclerosis, and by the amputee who runs races on his prosthesis instead of suing for the mishaps that led to the amputation. This isn’t a competition about how physical, how severe, or how incapacitating any disease (or life situation for that matter) is – it’s about whether the mind (or maybe more accurately, no-mind, as Jon Kabat-Zinn would say) can modulate our response.

    But what do I know, what does Tina know? Want to hear it from someone with more wisdom and credibility? Take it up with Eckhart Tolle, who said,

    “You cannot be both unhappy and fully present in the Now.”

    Or Dr. Viktor Frankl, who said,

    “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

  2. Santosh

    An amazing article. It was like going back to the basics. Sounds simple than it actually is. I accidently stumbled across this page and it was really worth it. Thanks.

  3. brokenvows

    Thank you for writing this article.It enlightened my clouded judgement on how to deal with things that i’m suffering at present time.I never expected that i will be in this state. Depression is not included in my vocabulary. But then, thank you, i realized, that i’m really depressed and yes, i can overcome this too…I needed time to heal the wounds of betrayal from a man that i did truly love. I believe that things happened for good reasons. But then, accepting the reality and forgiving the person who hurts me are so difficult to do right now…But yes, i’m willing to accept, to forgive and forget in due time…Thanks again.

  4. moni-lisa

    Dear Tina, thank u so much for this wonderful article! I also think feeling sad or weired is a sign which, if u read that sign, shows u that it´s time to change sth in your life. The good thing I always tell myself is: the bad feeling doesn´t last for long, like everything else. This already gives me relief and with a bit of distance to the problem ( like u wrote by meditating) it feels easier to overcome it.

    All the best :)

  5. Monica B.

    This is good advice for people who might be experiencing a mild bout of the “blues”…but it is not helpful for people with severe depression.

    This is a temporary “quick fix” solution at best. I mean no disrespect, Tina. I can see that you mean well. You write beautifully, too. But this seems to be a simplistic solution to a rather serious problem. Major depressive disorders cannot be cured by deep breathing or a trip to Starbucks. I’m happy that it worked for you. But for those of us with severe symptoms of depression, it will take a lot more to improve the quality of life. I hope I don’t sound rude. That isn’t my intention. I respect what you have to say, even if I don’t always agree. :)

    At 27 years old, I’ve battled depression for most of my life. If I could do something about it, I would. But there seems to be very little that I can do. That isn’t an excuse. It’s the truth. Lately I want to drift into a deep sleep and never wake up.

    Michelle C…I find it interesting that your response to Jennifer was so condescending, especially since you claim to be a doctor. Perhaps you are unable to empathize or understand just how debilitating depression can be. Not everyone has the ability to press on with life the way you believe they should. Your attitude reminds me of my last therapist. I stopped seeing her because she was obviously too full of herself to be of any real help to me. I have been suffering mentally and emotionally for years. You claim that you were once hospitalized because of depression. Well, then, you should be able to relate to the pain experienced by people like myself and Jennifer. You know what it’s like…so why do you act as if your credentials are more relevant than somebody else’s feelings? Mindfulness is a wonderful concept but it is not enough to overcome years of mental/emotional anguish.

  6. Monica B.

    BTW, Michelle C…those examples you provided are lovely and inspirational but you know what? Not everyone can be a hero or a martyr. We are only human. Depression is a serious illness, especially if it goes untreated and the people around you don’t notice or care about your mental/emotional state.

    You also failed to mention that unlike cancer and multiple sclerosis, depression still carries a stigma. This is why some people hide their pain. They don’t want to be viewed as “crazy” or out of control because that is how society tends to view people like me. Depression can lead to suicide. It is a real problem.

    Eckhart Tolle and Viktor Frankl were both very wise individuals, but those quotes do not apply in this situation. Depression cannot simply be overcome by the power of the mind in some cases. My former therapist also suggested that it could be…it is clear that she was ill-equipped to help me. Come on, deep breathing techniques when I was wanting to die?! Seriously. If that works for you, fine. But there is no way in the world that a few breathing tricks could ever make things better in my life.

    Please do not invalidate or minimize other people’s pain. Sometimes I barely have the strength to comb my hair, eat a meal, shower, or clean my apartment. Sometimes I have unrelenting thoughts of death. Sometimes I can’t block out painful memories. I am not making excuses or playing the victim, as some people (like my former therapist) have suggested. I am living with an illness caused by a number of factors…heredity, environment, abuse, and trauma.

    I am not here to be an inspiration to you or share any “feel-good” stories. I, like Jennifer and anyone who has ever suffered from a major depressive disorder, am simply a person who is trying to do the best she can in life. I am trying to survive. I am trying to live a happier, more fulfilling life despite my pain. That is all anyone can ask.

    And Tina did not write in a condescending way, unlike yourself. She simply shared her experience and what worked for her. Although I don’t quite agree, I see that she is a very caring person who tries to help…and her advice is very beneficial to some people.

  7. The nature of life is that we can like it or hate it. If we hate it we have the choice to end it. If we like it we have the choice to explore it. Isn’t that so KISS, keep it simple, stupid!
    What is life?
    Cells replicating, DNA blueprint on every cell being carried day by day. Don’t like the energy? Take a packet of pills to alter the energy frequency of those cells and they will stop vibrating the pulse of life. How cool is that??? Wow, we have a choice. There is ‘however’ attached to the choice. However you choose to alter the frequency of your vibrations here does not absolve the imbalance of frequency carried over to the new order. You see, energy does not die. It only changes form.
    So why not try and work it out whilst here!

  8. mara

    Thank you! I am glad I ran into your site.. I have been battling with depression lately. It is all new & unknown territory to me.. but reading this has helped me remember who I am.
    Love to all ?

  9. Alina

    To those suffering from depression:

    Someone wrote earlier that nothing makes you feel good when you are in a deep black hole, no yoga, no meditation, no piece of cake or starbucks will bring you that sense of security and happiness.. nothing..

    I have been fighting depression for 8 months now… the first 4 months were the worst and all of the above applied. i quite my new job in banking (after only 4 months in the role) and decided to move in with my parents and focus solely on reading Louise L Hay and alike. It was a tough path at the beginning, taking that chose to pursue a holistic healing approach, but can say that TIME HEALS ALL. Just give yourself loads of love and forgiveness and set your mind on a simple desire – I WANT TO BE HEALTHY AND HAPPY. Its a slow start but it worked for me.. Then day after day, try and work on positive affirmations and make sure you are surrounded with love and compassion.. Time will heal it all..

  10. notwithwhatimsharing

    Well…
    I went to prison for basically nothing. I’ve been mislabled in the press. While locked up my partners did some bad stuff and ran my businesses into the ground so I’m now facing millions of dollars in judgements that are about to happen and I can’t declare bankruptcy for two years. My ex who took off on me when I got locked up, hooked up with me when I got out and then decided to screw with my head and is playing mind games with me. One of my brothers did not contact me the entire duration of my incarceration. I have almost no friends(prison does that). I’m living in a halfway house. I met my po last week and she absolutely hates me. She wouldn’t shake my hand in our first meeting and made all sorts of accusations that were untrue. I’ve got five years under her supervision.
    So why am I sharing this. All of that stuff you mentioned sounds nice. But all meditation will do is possibly break for the moment, but all of that stuff doesn’t change. I know about doing this one step at a time, one day at a time, compartmentalizing, etc. But my probs are very long term and there’s really no way out of them. Journaling just reminds me of all the crap I feel horrible about. I excercise regularly, eat right, and all that. It doesn’t make a difference. My issues are real.
    Try telling somebody in a concentration camp to go to starbucks and people watch, or do yoga. Come on.
    I think that stuff works for regular people with regular problems like I don’t make as much as I’d like to, or I owe a couple thousand on my credit cards, or I need to lose a few pounds, or I can’t get rid of this zit, or I didn’t get enough sleep last night. I don’t get enough sleep any night.
    Whatever. My problem is not a chemical imbalance in my body. I was not depressed before I got locked up, I loved my life back then. This new existence is miserable and it’s circumstancial. The circumstances are making it what it is. Those circumstances are not changing.
    So what do you prescribe for me? Yoga and Starbucks?
    Any comments would be appreciated.

  11. Steve

    This was a wonderful read and really cheered me up out of quite a dark mood :)

  12. shruti

    hey tina,
    your posts and blogs are really worth many billions. they are priceless. they can just change one’s mindset without any effort. I know that the change lies within ourselves and also that its us – our mind that should decide to stay happy then only happiness can embrace us. But one important thing is that we tend to depend our happiness so much around the people in our daily life like our friends that we tend to find our happiness in them. If they become angry with us or sad for not acting or behaving as per their whims they start ignoring us, and we remain quite and get depressed day and night that what wrong could have i done. Its like they want us to beg in front of them for forgiveness and we are so light hearted that we do so no matter it was their fault. How to handle such situations where we are in war with our loved ones and with ones who make you and define you?

  13. Mox

    Hi Tina,

    While your advice is pretty cheesy, I’m at a point of self destruction to where as gay as meditation and yoga are I’m willing to give it a go. It can’t be worse than my own remedies. Thank you for sharing what works for you.

  14. lystia

    I sat in my office feeling terrible – like my world was imploding.. I read this article and somehow I started to feel a little better. Better enough not to spiral into an abysmal depression.

  15. Like Lystia, I read Tina’s article and somehow began to feel better. I’d never come upon this site before and it made me feel much better to know that I wasn’t alone. It wasn’t so much what Tina and different folks wrote, there are some amazing insights written here, but this sharing of the struggle is healing also..

    One of the things that I’ve come across consistently in looking at “Depression as disease” is the fact that no scientist/psychiatrist/neurologist has ever come across the actual physiological evidence or proof of a biochemical basis for depression. This biomedical model has made our prescription drug industry the richest in the history of commerce. The revenues of our drug industry surpass the oil and defense industries combined. And now there does seem to be evidence that antidepressants can cause homicidal and suicidal impulses.

    I’ve noticed within myself the huge amount of anger that is usually present in depression and this anger won’t allow any positive feelings inside, and then healing isn’t possible.

    The idea of a biomedical basis for depression can rob the experience of any meaning! There is so search within the soul or spirit to find what can liberate and empower us.

  16. knows it

    hi i would like to state that one can do brahma vidya,omkaar and eat fish oil tablets to get out of defpression.

  17. sm

    Hi Tina,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m struggling with depression and intense emotions (I fear negative ones are more intense than positive) and I was wondering how you came about dealing with it in specific moments of hurt, and consequent anger.

  18. Eric

    Hey Tina,
    Great article. I’m happy that I read this and that other people are going through the same thing I am. Hope ur advice works. Thanks!!

  19. Natasha

    I have found myself reading your article this afternoon and im sorry to say that is was the light weight title ‘How I Stopped Feeling Depressed’ that caught my attention.
    However i found reading the comments really interesting. I am someone who has supported my mother through manic depression and i have myself been through and overcome depression. I have a strong belief on the importance and positive viewpoint of using medication. It is a means to bringing a depressed person back to state of functioning so that they are emotionally strong enough to make changes themselves- it surprises me how controversial this issue is, mental illness should be given as much regard as physical illness. Although sadly there is still a stigma around mental illness in general, your article is a start in getting peoples reactions/opinions and i see this as a positive step in the right direction. The more openly discussed mental illness is, the more people will understand how it affects a persons life. An experience that is debilitating to say the least and i believe can not be simply corrected by ones favourite coffee or reading an inspirational quote. Nice if that were the case, but this life, slightly more complex.
    Thank you for your article however. You have some interesting points.

  20. I have been having break downs for a long while and I know were you are coming from.I would just like to tell you this is the greatest site I have been lucky enough to stumble on.I have been looking for months for a site like this as I have found myself in a dark place for about a year.Thank you so much for finding the time and not charging for you infinet wisdom.I will let you know how things go.I started meditating for about a week now and I have found a calmness that I cant explain but i know its doing me good.THANKS AGAIN. DAVID PEACE BE WITH YOU.x.

  21. I would like to tell you also that I eat chocolate every night and not just a bit I wonder if its that that makes me feel the way I do anxous and my stomache turns like if I am going to have a fight with some one.Chocolate I feel has helped me cope with my depression as I dont feel so lonely when I am consuming it.

  22. Last week I couldnt of felt any more depressed with my health not up to scratch.The last couple of days though my thoughts seem more clear even though I have only a couple of hundred left in the bank and my hoover just blown i do feel a bit better.I still havent shaved or bathed this last week.My sons board is on saterday I am worried about that as the government wants to cut peoples benefits and we are struggling to live now.We my son and I are freezing most days and that can waigh heavy on ones mind.I want myself back but its going to take ime like you said.I cut down on eating so much chocolate but with christmas here that will be hard as I bought a box of chocolates ready.I just cleaaned my house I cant believe I left it go so much.My mother is having a couple of good few weeks as she just had chemo.I have got to make time to meditate as it is easy to to pass when you have things to do.O well more washing to put in the machine I hope that doesnt break down

  23. Cassie

    I exposed myself once….. got arrested. i would remove that as advice to get over depression.

  24. hi
    Am nadja i want to share something that is happening to me . I don’t know if am right or wrong but i want an idea to get out of this. am facing a difficult life and i can’t survive it anymore i feel am on the border line . all that i know they are using and abusing my help. they are like a cheap family can do anything to hurt you. i can’t move out of it , but i should if not i will bury myself.

  25. English Carmouche

    How do you make something negative into positive energy. When your mind won’t allow you to think any other way but on what’s going on in front of you. When you don’t have the positive answer and you wait for some spiritual response when in fact there’s no voice you can compherhed.

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