How I Cured My Depression: Part 1

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“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For many years I didn’t think I was going to make it.

I woke up each morning (or afternoon) with a feeling of unexplainable dread. Everything I did felt wrong. Every time I was in public I felt like jumping into the nearest dark corner and hiding.

I made a decision very early on that life was horrible, that my life specifically was doomed and that if there was a God he or she hated me and was punishing me 24 hours a day.

I’m Not Kidding

Even as a small boy in grade school I remember feeling incredibly sad inside. And I had a few things to be sad about, like everyone does… But there was also something else, something inside my brain, something…chemical.

I tried to act like I was normal. And I put on a pretty good show.

Social situations were rough. For a while I handled them by using other personalities. I had a mental rolodex of people I thought were cool – they ranged from musicians to actors to superheroes.

When I was out in public I would choose a character who fit the situation and do my best to become them.

“How would Jim Morrison act at this party full of people I don’t know? Okay… Enter room.”

If the alter-egos weren’t working – I drank.

Alcohol was always good at calming me down. I was rarely calm naturally. You see, I lived with a deep, dark depression that haunted me every hour of the day.

It woke me up in the morning and it stared at me in the mirror. It was everywhere, all the time – and my only escape was to drink until my brain turned off.

But that also caused problems. Because when my mind turned off my body stayed on – and I would totally lose control.

For a long time that was an acceptable trade-off. I accepted the risk of potential disaster in exchange for some peace of mind.

“I drink to stay warm, and to kill selected memories…” Conor Oberst

But after many years, and many bad nights my luck finally ran out with the drink. And I had to come up with a new way to deal with my depression problem.

And after six years of trying – I’m happy to report that it’s working very well.

Are You With Me?

I’m writing this series because I think there are a lot more people like me out there than my head would like me to think. Maybe you feel like I do sometimes and don’t know the problem is – or what you can do about it.

Well – that makes you a friend of mine, you see – some of my favorite people and best friends are depressed, nearly insane, creative and wonderful people just like you.

You’re in good company. When you learn to master your depression and use it in a creative manner you will be tapping into the same energy source used by almost all of history’s greatest composers, poets, artists and musicians. All you have to do is take control.

Recreate Yourself

I’ve slowly pieced myself back together. But it was by no means a quick fix. I live by a daily schedule that allows me to cure my depression every day – but it only lasts one day. The next day I have to it all again. If I don’t – I can slip back into an uncomfortable place.

The truth is – I don’t want it to leave me completely. I think when used correctly Depression is a super power. I use it when I need it – take songwriting for example.

While I am writing music I will allow myself to slip away into that place. I let it happen. Then, when the writing session is over I do what I have to do to shake it.

I’m getting pretty good at it.

Most people I know now, that didn’t know me before –  have a hard time believing I haven’t always been a well-mannered, healthy, respectful guy who wakes up with the sunrise, weighs his food and lives by a rigid schedule.

It feels good.

I no longer have to deal with the side-effects that come with an alcohol based solution to life’s problems. There are a few side-effects to my new methods but as you can see below they’re not so bad.

Old Method Side Effects:

  • Hangovers
  • Vomiting
  • Huge bar tabs
  • Bodily injuries
  • Public embarrassment

New Method Side Effects:

  • Suntan
  • Muscles
  • Cash
  • Cooking skills
  • Self Respect

Join my newsletter and I’ll send you a Free copy of my eBook ’10 Decisions That Probably Saved My Life‘ where I talk more about the changes I made.

My Hope for You

I hope this series of posts can help you deal with your Depression – whether it’s for an hour, a week or for the rest of your life. It’s not that hard to do – and it’s more fun than you think.

The Hardest Part is The Beginning

When you’re depressed you don’t want to do ANYTHING. Even if it means you’d feel better. I get it. But that is the evil circle that you have to break.

Remember – most great stories begin with a less than perfect situation. So whatever your circumstance is now – think of it as the end of an old story and the beginning of a new one.

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” – Lao Tzu

You are Not Alone

Although your head is probably telling you otherwise – you’re not alone. Hundreds of millions of people are dealing with depression worldwide.

Globally, more than 350 million people have depression, a mental disorder that prevents people from functioning well. (source)

There are many treatments available and many prescriptions being filled. If you’re on meds right now and it’s working – that’s great. I don’t take anything and have gone with a more natural approach for maintenance.

The next several posts of this series will cover some of them and will include advice and instructions on how you can get started with each one. You don’t have to do what I do – just be sure you’re doing something.

*Try This Now

This is a simple trick I use to snap myself out of a depressed state.

You know the feeling – when you’re sitting on the couch or in bed and you feel the weight of the world physically pressing down on you. You’re regretting things from the past and scared to death of the future.

The next time you realize that is happening – do this. For practice, I want you to try it right now.

  • Stand up (really, stand up right now and do it)
  • Take a deep breath and hold it
  • Clap your hands as hard as you can (make it hurt)
  • Exhale

Feel different?

We’re just getting started.

Continue to Part 2: “Constructing a Future”

 

  • sasha2599

    Kudos to you for turning things around! I discovered about 8 years ago that the constant circular feeling (not sure how else to describe it) I always had going on in my brain was anxiety. It sounds crazy, but in stressful situations, for as long as I can remember, I always got this picture of a beautiful piece of satin material slowly getting picked until it was ruined. I’ve been on Lexapro, at varying dosages, for a while and it’s working well. Looking forward to reading your series.

    • Rachel Cain

      I know that constant circular feeling!!! I never had the words to describe it! Thank you!!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      sasha – yes anxiety is a big one for me too. sometimes it seems i’ll forget to breathe for an hour. i’m trying to focus on thinking and moving slower. and breathing through everything i do. I breathe through folding laundry, washing dishes, red lights, etc. really seems to help.

  • Angelo

    I’m glad you were able to turn it around Malan. Great share!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      thanks angelo – glad you stopped by to check it out. much more coming.

  • http://www.withjay.com/ Jay Palmer

    Recreating yourself is such a good way of phrasing it. I feel like I am constantly recreating myself, setting new standards, trying to create new habits and change who I am. Always striving to be more productive, do harder things and create more. Awesome post Malan

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      I agree. One of my favorite parts about human life is that every night we get to go to sleep and wake up the next and start again. Sometimes it seems I’m recreating myself on a daily basis.

  • Rachel Cain

    Malan, I feel like this was written for me. I know too well exactly what you mean, and I haven’t been positive in what seems like years. Thank you, my wonderful brother. You helped me today!!!!! Oh! And I stood up and took a deep breath and clapped really hard in my office! Totally worked! I’m going to remember this.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      glad it worked. I do it all the time. It seems that a sharp physical action like that can snap your brain out of whatever rabbit-hole it’s going down. It’s a little brutish – but it works.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Glad it worked – I’ve been doing it for a long time. Seems that a physical jolt to the system like that can really snap your head into the moment. which seems to be the key. just being in the moment.

  • Beth Sarey

    Malan, thanks for talking about your story. Sometimes all it takes for someone to get help is to have someone they respect share their journey and that they have struggled too. That’s certainly what happened for me when I went through a season of depression. I work with youth and have walked beside several of them through their suicide attempts, drug use, cutting and other distractive behavior. They all think they are alone and that it will never get better. Stories like yours give hope. Keep sharing!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Beth – in my experience the only time a person will listen is when they speak 1-on-1 with someone who has also gone through it. There’s a magic that occurs when to two lunatics talk to each other.

      I went into a rehab unit a few times and talked to teens. At first they didn’t trust me at all – but after they heard a few of my stories they were my best friends and loyal followers.

      • http://www.andrewgrosman.com Andrew Grosman

        “There’s a magic that occurs when to two lunatics talk to each other.”
        That’s Gold. And accurate.

  • Sonja Born

    Malan, I have observed how well you’ve been doing ever since you moved to LA. I remember you in the days when you were drinking, and it was fun until you became a different person. The person I knew and liked had vanished, and it was kind of scary. I don’t know if you know my whole story, but I was diagnosed with bipolar after a manic and psychotic split from reality in 2004. Every day was a party in my head. It took some friends with experience with the illness to recognize the warning signs and get me admitted to the hospital. When they were finally able to get me grounded with medication, I could feel the difference in my physical body as well as my mind. I had lost control of both, and my life was an absolute mess. I alienated my friends and family by my wild and unpredictable behavior when I was manic, and all were relieved to have a name for my oddness. Never wanting to lose it like I was I was obviously prone to, I knew the medical route the first step to my recovery. From there, I was able deal with the crippling depression that was life-long but had devolved into a year of not being able to get out of bed, despite the coaxing of friends and family. At its worst, I was suicidal. I also realized that the swirling feeling I was feeling on an almost constant basis when I was manic were actually anxiety attacks, but I was too far gone to recognize that the feeling for what it was. I didn’t find my way out of the darkness until we tried Abilify. I didn’t sleep until we tried Seroquel, a mood stabilizer and anti-psychotic that also knocks you out for a good 8 hours. With my moods and sleep stabilized, I followed my therapist’s advice and focused on the “3 S’s” of living with bipolar: sleep, social, and stability. I think you can relate to how important these 3 factors are in living a balanced life, inside and out. It’s been nearly 10 years since my diagnosis, and I have to say that life has never been better. I am no longer drudging through life with an unbearable heaviness, emptiness, and loneliness, trying anything and everything to free myself from the suffering. For me, the medication has leveled the playing field. I’ve also learned about supplements, which I take on a daily basis. The best thing, by far, has been juicing vegetables. For the first time since I could remember, from the very first juice, I could source joy and motivation. Yes, it’s true, juicing vegetables can make you happy! I’m happy for YOU, Malan. I see how far you’ve come, and to think that you have found your happy zone naturally and creatively. I know it’s a daily process.

  • Debra

    Your honesty is amazing and you have a way of helping things make sense. At time we get bogged down by the “this must be wrong” ideas. You have a way of helping others see that maybe it’s quite normal. Learning to accept ourselves and getting beyond our past mistakes is so important. Nobody said life would be easy but we have been promised joy….it’s everywhere when we take the effort to look.

  • http://www.lb-lifestyle.com LB_Lifestyle

    I love your blog man, im just getting into marketing myself among following my other dreams such as training people in fitness part time. But what you wrote here stands outs for me because I am too dealing with some hardships, though I wouldn’t call it depression its more of like being in a hole. but nonetheless its really helped. especially “Remember – most great stories begin with a less than perfect situation. So whatever your circumstance is now – think of it as the end of an old story and the beginning of a new one.” I’m going to definitely turn my downfalls into one hell of a story. Thanks for the inspiration and motivation

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      You bet man, glad it helped.

  • natalie

    I can’t deal with life anymore the pain I carry around all the time is so heavy I sleep with a razor blade and rubbing it across my skin on my wrists actually calms me down I literally am a prisoner in my own mindnan

    • Cheryl

      People closest to me have let me down yet complete strangers have been there for me. Sometimes I think using something sharp is symbolic in a hope to cut the portions of our problems away. Strange suggestion: have you tried buying a puppy? They help you focus on something good and are great companions for long walks. Long walks are the best. Or another rather strange suggestion: touchtyping It is relaxing and frustrating but a great way to measure your levels. Cooking is another great way to combat depression especially home made pizza. Most of our depressions steams from bad relationships with our parents; boyfriends turn fiance turn worst nightmare. Have you noticed your only ready for the day when the day is over? You are not a prisoner in your body you are telling your body in a drastic way you want to change or else. You and your body are one not two. Communicate with your body in different ways: exercise, food, music. Change the senses. Make a list and write down your biggest weakness and google and find a short course appreciate the benefit of resitting and learn from your mistakes. If you meet people who put you down keep away from them. Remember if you could make 5 friends from all over the world would the person you don’t like be one them? If you take the razor stick in a hazard bag then the bin you should know your mind and your body want the same thing the RIGHT change.

      • cheryl

        homemade not home made see the power of learning from a mistake. Taking an Effective Business Communication course this year 2016. I love making mistakes; I more so love learning from them. Natalie make the RIGHT change this year.

  • Elléni

    Hi Malan, your article resonated intensly with me and most importantly it gave me a sprankle of hope, which I havent felt in a long time. The way you described how you put on a good show, thats me. I am 32 years old now and I cant live another day like that anymore. Its soo painful, I have no idea who I am. However its never too late to recreate mysef right? Thank you for this beautiful and honest article. I will be following you! 😘

  • Troy Stamps

    Awesome article post Malan. You said it like a pro. I’m inspire to write about this illness from experience and share my results with you. Look out for my blog post “How I cured depression, cycling?”.