“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.
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:
- Huge bar tabs
- Bodily injuries
- Public embarrassment
New Method Side Effects:
- 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)
We’re just getting started.