Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor have I yet had the chance to play one on TV. What I’m presenting here is not intended to be matter-of-fact medical truth. I am only relating my experiences and discoveries on the journey to living beyond my depression. I’m simply writing in hopes that it will help and inspire you to find your own way. Nothing in this article or anywhere else on this website can be or should be construed as the advice of a licensed medical professional. If you think you’re experiencing depression, contact a your doctor.
It’s no secret that artists and highly creative/talented people appear to be much more susceptible to depression.
What seems to be a secret, though, is the process needed to eliminate these depressive swings without muting their talent and creativity as is the case with most medicines, pills, and other common so-called treatments.
Highly creative people have a tendency towards suffering via the same brain that makes them so amazingly talented. Ironic isn’t it, that the same organ that generates talent is also the same one responsible for stifling it.
But it’s within this seemingly diabolical brain that I unearthed the most powerful and permanent path to freedom.
For well over a decade, I was in the trenches of my own battles of depression. Sometimes it meant I just had a bummer of a day. Other times, it translated into not leaving my bed or house for a long time.
The worst situation I can recall, found me locked inside my house in the middle of the hottest part of the summer, windows and doors shut, ignoring the phone and everyone who came to the door.
I was there for at least two weeks. I had no money to pay the bills, so there also wasn’t any electricity or water. How I didn’t get evicted, I’ll never know.
Over the years, the depression morphed into a constant companion that became a very manic and controlling reality. I would be walking down the street in the happiest of moods, and instantly, my head would drop and I would shuffle the rest of the way home questioning whether life was worth it.
Relationships, family, business…nothing was immune to my depression’s crippling effects. I had no money for doctors, therapists, or psychologists. So for a while, I wondered if this was how the rest of my life would be lived.
Suicide came up a time or two in searching for relief. But each time I concocted a plan, I would be confronted with the knowledge that there was more to my mission that needed completion. So, I decided that if I wasn’t selfish enough to end my life, then I needed to find my way out of this and make it stick.
I spent several years researching, talking, reading, listening, watching, and consuming every piece of information I could find on the mind, how it works, and how to move past the negative spaces that I was so easily allowing myself to settle in to. As a result of this, I began to formulate my own system for recognizing, treating, and subsequently ending my slavery to depression.
What I’m presenting to you below isn’t a cure-all that will work for everyone reading today. I’m not that foolish. All that time spent understanding how my own brain works showed me the immense complexity of pathways, channels, rooms, and secret chambers that exist within anyone’s mind.
What I’m publishing today is the system I refined over two years ago, and still use today. This took many forms as it developed, simply because I had to learn all the nuances necessary for overcoming my own limitations and discovering what me and my subconscious were conspiring so negatively together on.
Acknowledgement and Ownership
It was vital in the beginning to acknowledge my depression as my own thing. It belonged to me and no one else. It wasn’t anyone’s responsibility to get rid of it, other than mine. It took me quite a while to admit this. I was too preoccupied looking for outside solutions to avoid the internal work.
This is one of the most difficult steps in the entire process. The idea of owning this and claiming responsibility, it seems, is something a lot of people are not willing to do.
It means having to put in the time and work of discovering a lot about themselves that a.) they already know to be true and don’t want to admit, or b.) will reveal even more flaws in terms of how they are thinking and that knowledge will mean circling back around to the idea of responsibility.
Once I grabbed hold of my depression and literally said, “This is mine,” I was able to begin the process of understanding it, dealing with it, and moving past it.
These are what I perceived as being the true cause of my depression.
What did I “think” was causing my depression? What outside sources was I willing to blame as being responsible for this massive cloud hanging over me all this time?
I sat down and made a giant list. This list needs to be done in a space and time where you can be alone and honestly admit where you’re placing the blame for your own depression.
I made this list a few times because as the days progressed I kept thinking of more and more potential outside causes. What I didn’t realize was that as I was desperately looking for a definitive source to lay blame upon, I was actually giving away my power and ability to things that truly didn’t have control over me.
But this was still a necessary step because I believe it opened the doors to unveiling the root causes.
These are what were actually causing my depression.
After compiling a rather massive list of surface causes, I sat down and read them. One by one, each of these so-called causes began to trigger something deeper. My mind began to see past the outside sources, and started revealing how they arrived in the first place as things I wanted to blame. In other words, I was starting to see the root causes.
These were hard to spot at first, because they all pointed back to me and my brain. And, let’s face it, that’s not exactly a scenario I wanted to be in.
- Anger at myself and others
- Lack of purpose
- Unfulfilled goals and desires
- Unresolved pain
Uncovering these meant a whole new level of understanding and responsibility. I finally saw the flaws in my attempts to blame anything other than myself. If I owned this depression, then I also owned it’s original creation. Therefore, I also owned the responsibility to move out of it.
So, I threw the original list of “surface causes” in the trash and wrote the true root causes that were coming to mind.
It’s very tempting to never even get to this point. But I urge you, don’t stop here. You must confront what’s really at work inside your mind and your current belief systems. It’s uncomfortable and sometimes disturbing work to reveal flawed thinking and habits, but I assure you, the other side of this process is a new sense of freedom and liberation.
Acceptance & Neutrality
Once I uncovered the root causes I began to view the depression as a “thing.” Like its separate from me yet still existing within me. It’s now its own entity.
This fairly neutral stance gave me a whole new perspective on the existence of depression and took a great deal of power away from it. No longer was it the product of outside conditions to which I was giving away my personal power. Now, my depression was a form sitting in the living room of my brain.
So, I decided to give it a distinct visual appearance. It was wearing a nice pair of dress slacks, blazer, and turtleneck sweater. It sat there smoking and sipping on a martini. It began to resemble a Bond villain of sorts.
Now, I had a very keen awareness of Mr. Depression. He was present, well-dressed, and spoke with a slight German accent.
Before you dismiss this as boder-line schizophrenia, let me say that this step was vital in understanding my depression. To step back and give it a personality and distinct image freed me mentally and emotionally to examine it closer. It put a small amount of distance between us, and set the stage for the next activity.
Analysis & Conversation
This is where things get interesting. Now that I had altered my perspective on the depression, I began to really analyze it.
I asked myself questions in regards to why I let it in in the first place and why I’d parked on it for so long. Then I started having conversations with the depression itself. I would ask Mr. Depression why he’d chose to stay for over a decade. What did he hope to accomplish? Was there a particular reason he hadn’t seen fit to leave?
I would have these conversations all throughout the day. I can assume Mr. Depression had a very active night life since our conversations were most acute right before bed.
I have to admit, I did wonder if I was a little bit crazy, but I figured it was better to be off my rocker just a tad, then to be miserable.
Some astonishing things were discovered as a result of being open to communicating with this part of myself.
My honest subconscious began revealing a lot about me that it knew, but surface me hadn’t fully realized or admitted. Each question I presented was just another opportunity to learn more about why I’d allowed depression to set in. Asking “why” is vital.
Again, I’ve previously established it as a separate entity, so why not talk to it?
Trust me when I say, doing this out loud is a fantastic way to get people to leave you alone when you don’t want to be bothered.
Observation & Understanding
Now that I’d had some lengthy conversations with depression, I was very ready to begin existing without it.
I discovered that it’s important to record my conversations with depression. More accurately, it’s eye-opening to sit down and write out everything I observed and learned about the depression thus far.
Sometimes I would write as I had my conversations. Other times I recorded it all later in reflection. The important thing is to make notes. Get these interactions down on paper somewhere so that you can go back and with an even more neutral position, analyze their content.
This takes the internal and brings it out even further into the external. It provides raw data and covert intelligence into how you’re thinking, what you’re believing, and the ways you’re acting on all of those thoughts and beliefs. In other words, it’s revealing the context from which you’re operating your life.
It’s amazing what happened to my perspective during this process. I became my own therapist of sorts. I would sit and read through all of this collected data and compare it against information I’d gathered in researching the initial problem.
Identification & Recognition
This is the deeper understanding that arrived as a result of all my analysis.
Now that I was very well acquainted with depression and had taken the time to learn why it’s here, I could identify the neuro-path that brought it and me together. Like retracing the steps and events that came together to slowly let it in.
I saw the causes, and was experiencing the present realities, so now I needed to become aware of the patterns. It’s like a tracker retracing the steps of the animal being pursued. Every few feet there’s a print in the ground, broken twig, or tuft of hair that reveals a particular action, decision, or direction change that the animal made.
This is a major key. Revealing my reactions, mental habits, and default responses would bring my awareness to a whole new level. To this day, thanks to this step alone, I am able to see these things forming before they become entrenched.
I admittedly have more work to do in other areas of my life that still have limiting beliefs and habits, but now I have the history of success with this stage and the confidence to apply it to these other places.
Awareness Rather Than Avoidance
One of the most valuable actions I adopted during this whole adventure, was to stop avoiding depression. Trying to take my mind off of it, telling myself to get over it, or worse yet, to snap out of it, was actually causing the depression to root further and further down into my existence.
In my case, avoiding depression was giving it more and more power. Why? Because I thought ignoring it was a solution, rather than taking the time to craft the solution while ignoring it.
Once I accepted it’s presence, and committed to uncovering it’s root, then the power began to shift back to me. Awareness of depression and why it was there in the first place was the huge momentum boost I needed to move out of it and into a new mindset.
The end result of this entire process is that now, I am fully aware of depression as it’s attempting to settle in. This leaves me open to choose whether or not it stays or goes.
Ultimately I believe that’s what everyone does with it, really. They simply allow it to come in and sit, or to go away.
Believe me, this doesn’t mean I never get depressed anymore. But these days, depression has been reduced to a fleeting moment, or a simple thought.
Like you, I still have things in my mind that are weak points vulnerable to attack. Now I have the knowledge and personal responsibility to never dwell in the depression ever again. Now I can see it coming a mile away.
Over the last year, I’ve refined the process even further. Lately, instead of all of these above steps, it’s come down to a simple combination of identifying the root causes, a quick analysis, and then recognition. That’s usually what it takes to continually prevent it and move through it. It’s now become a process of an hour of reflection, tops.
In my experience calling depression a disease, treating it with medication, and attempting to avoid personal responsibility just means you’ve trimmed away the part of it that’s visible. However, the root still exists and that’s the most dangerous part.
Until you uncover the root, and extract it completely you’ll never be free. And that freedom is vital to creating your best work at your highest level. The kind that resonates deep within the souls of all humanity. Isn’t that what true art meant to accomplish?
Like anything worth obtaining, freedom from depression means real work. It means getting your hands in the mental dirt that covers the root of the problem. In doing so you’ll be faced with many layers of yourself that stand in the way, but trust me that’s a good thing.
What I’ve shared with you today is merely an introduction into how it all works for me. There’s indeed a lot more going on than what I’ve explained. The brain is a very complex thing, and worthy of studying.
So is the way in which your own brain works. It’s a very complex system that deserves your time and dedication to observing, learning, and understanding. In doing so, I truly believe you can uncover your ideal process for overcoming anything that stands between you and your highest level of being.
Once again, it’s my desire that by sharing this, some of you will find the ray of hope you’ve been so desperately searching for. Perhaps you’ve given up, and don’t know where to turn. Maybe you’re wondering if you’ll have to reserve yourself to simply living in a constant state of depression, and think that’s just how life goes.
If you can take anything away from today, then let it be this – You have the means to decide. Do you want to be depressed, or do you want to be truly happy?
It’s really a simple matter of choice. If you decide you’re too addicted to the emotional responses of your depressive state, then stay there. But if you’re like me, and you know there’s so much more to life than constant suffering, then I hope you’ll take what I’ve laid out here and be inspired to begin the process of owning your path to freedom.
One last note: If you know someone who’s searching for a way out too, please send them this essay. Give them the ray of light to keep going.
Some introductory resources I highly suggest: