If you’re someone who suffers from depression the intent of this article is to help understand what going on. This article doesn’t have the cure for your depression, nor does it claim to be the cure, but if we can find some understanding to why we feel the way we do, we can begin to move forward.
Where do we start? The tiredness? The bad sleeping habits? The feeling of a tone of bricks in your stomach? The list is endless with depression; we know that to well. I mentioned in another article that the thing I always struggled with the way my arms felt. Whenever I’ve been depressed they feel so heavy, impossible to lift like two trees with all the branches and roots still joined. Probably wouldn’t be as bad if I could have seen the beauty in the trees but still, it felt like a weight I could never measure.
I’m not going to sit here and claim I have all the answers, or that I myself still don’t suffer from time to time (That’s the nature of the beast.) One thing I will claim though is that I’ve been there and it’s not going to be easy but we can move through this difficult time together. We have to try and understand. Understanding is the key to what lays ahead.
My First experience with depression.
I’m 18 years old and I’m sitting in a university dorm room trying to study. I have a beautiful girlfriend, what seems like a never-ending student loan and my whole life in front of me…But I’m stuck, frozen in time. My brain hurts and all I can feel is dread, I’m looking at my university books and I can’t read because everything is swirling around my head like some bad fairground ride. I have a pretty nasty pot habit that isn’t helping things and nothing seems right.
My girlfriend enters. I’ll never forget how beautiful she was, she had a good soul and even though we spent a short amount of time together I cherished every moment. She asks me if everything is okay as I stare blankly into my book. A tear runs down my cheek and I simply answer “no”. Follow up questions of “what’s wrong?” and “talk to me?” are asked but nothing get’s through as I’m lost, I just can’t seem to find reality. She holds me in her arms as I begin to weep and squeezes me tight whispering reassurances into my ear. I just keep uttering how nothing makes sense anymore and I don’t know what’s going on. She calls my parents to tell them things aren’t right and several hours later I’m whisked away, hunkered down in my father’s car, clutching my knees and rambling.
Several weeks pass and I’m sitting in a doctor’s office not breaking that blank stare I’ve become so accustomed with. I’m asked questions I’m embarrassed to give the answers to and pray that there going to give me an injection that’s going to turn it all around. After a short time, I’m told I’m depressed, given a box of pills and told to stick with it and “I’ll be okay.”
I haven’t left the house for two months now and this fear of dredd follows me into every room. I lay on the office floor in the darkness and bring myself into a fetal position, I scream. I just scream to try and let every ounce of pain leave my system and then I cry for an eternity.
So I’ve been depressed and not seen the light at the end of the tunnel, more than once. When I look back and read the above I’m not only taken back to that moment in time but I feel every ounce of it. This is where we begin to understand our depressed thoughts.
Understanding our thoughts.
That time I discuss has a lot of mitigating factors involved; life circumstances, insecurities, thought processes, social standings, there was a lot of things going on at that time, but the number one thing was not understanding my thoughts.
Your thoughts aren’t real. There I said it. You can have a thought that is based on fact, in reality, but those thoughts you think every day are just a mental projection that only truly exists in your brain. We have to understand a lot of the things we think are not real, and those depressed ones are only that of our insecurities, anxieties, and failures.
When we sit with ourselves lost in our thoughts we start on a roller coaster journey of imagination that can lead us to some of the darkest corners of our minds. We start to dwell and ruminate on things we don’t consciously want to think of and we become lost. This is an important part of understanding, it’s that gift of consciousness we sometimes forget we have.
Side note: Can your thoughts jump out of your head and hurt you in the real world?
You’re using it right now. You made a choice to read this sentence and by taking it in your using your conscious mind to acknowledge it. Your consciousness is what separates you from the animals, it’s that ability to make choices. An animal acts on instinct and habit, as do humans, but that main difference is making a choice, do I do that, or don’t I do that?
I’m going to ask you to make a choice right now and you can choose to do it, or not do it. I’m asking you to sit back and be comfortable, relax, close your eyes and sit with your thoughts for a moment. Just sit with them objectively, by this I mean see yourself outside your thoughts. Picture yourself in some kind of scenario where your thoughts are on a conveyor belt, just passing you by as you observe them. Watch them closely, what are they saying?
There’s a chance your thoughts are that of catastrophe, insecurity, fear, disturbing mental images, failures and relentless chatter of an undernourished mind. If it’s insecurity, anxiety, and fear this is something I have discussed in a previous post and will discuss in future. But first things first, you made a choice to see your thoughts for what they really are. Just mental projections in your mind. But where do they come from?
Your thoughts are brought together by numbers of different factors but the basis for them lay in our subconscious minds. Our subconscious minds are like a tape recorder that is constantly recording information around us. This starts from day one, as soon as you enter the world. When we’re children we observe and the world around us and take information in that forms our version of the world. The good and the bad.
If you were brought up in an environment that is hostile and full of stress, chances are our thoughts will lean towards that direction, past, present, and future. The world you have built around you is a product of that tape recorder that picked up all those bad experiences, it plays on a loop all day every day and you can’t find the pause button.
So now we know our subconscious mind is responsible for the way we think. The basis of our thought processes are fueled by our experiences. We use this to make judgments, choices and tackle the everyday processes of life. Not only do we do this on the outside world, but we do it on the inside as well. Your subconscious is on autopilot all day every day.
We have briefly explored the idea of the subconscious mind and the conscious one. Just to refresh ourselves here’s an example of how they work.
I’m driving along, I choose to turn left or right.
The driving is the subconscious on autopilot doing what it does, the conscious mind makes the choice to turn left or right.
The choice we have now is to challenge our subconscious minds. Here lies the root of our depression. It’s playing away on that tape recorder right now. We need to stop the tape, pull it out and start a new one, one we want to hear. Not only is your subconscious mind ruling your subconscious actions (driving), but it’s playing over all the bad memories, fuck-ups, failures, heartbreak, mistakes and we are living in them. Let’s change the tape!
Subconscious tendencies soon turn into habits. Again like driving, we are not really thinking about the actions we take because it’s something we have learned and just let sink in over time. It’s time to make that choice to challenge our subconscious. We can do this by observing our thoughts, our thoughts towards certain things in our lives and ask ourselves…”Is this what I really think? Or Is it what I’ve picked up subconsciously? The next stage is coming down to what you believe.
What do you believe?
After observing what our subconscious thoughts are, watching them on that conveyor belt and asking ourselves if that’s what we really think?…Try another question. I’m sorry to turn this article into homework, but just stick with me, you may have a revelation. Ask yourself “Is that what I believe about myself?”
Our belief systems are what power our ego’s our egos are our sense of self, it’s who we identify with. It’s the metal projection of ourselves inside. For example:
“I’m a manly man, I must do manly things, to appear that way, so I can receive validation from my peers!” (That’s called measuring up, something we will discuss another time)
Back to the point. Our beliefs about ourselves fuel the fire in our ego’s. If we only believe negative things about ourselves, guess what? Our egos take that on board, we feel hurt, we feel ashamed, our egos have been threatened and worst of all by ourselves.
To change that tape in the recorder we need to not only challenge our thoughts, we need to start changing some of our core beliefs. Do you remember a time you have ever felt insulted? Do you remember years down the line thinking that way about yourself? For example, someone’s called you fat, or ugly or says you’re not good enough! Funny how someone said that years ago someone, now you’re thinking it… Strange.
Insult taken by conscious mind + time taken to settle into subconscious mind (Played on repeat by tape player) = subconscious belief now.
Strange isn’t it? How something so passing from the past can come back and haunt you and make you feel the way you do now. It’s because it’s embedded in your core, held onto by your subconscious. Let me say this now, the terrible things you say about yourself are not true, just something you have come to believe.
The only way we can change our subconscious beliefs is by understanding we were programmed to believe things about ourselves that are completely subjective. Identify where your belief comes from, the source. Then we need to instill a new belief about ourselves, a good one! plant the seed. Now that belief has to become a habit, like driving, learn your new belief. A good way to learn your new belief is with mantras and buzz words. Also practicing positive/progressive tasks to see change happening in front of your eyes.
Side note: A mantra doesn’t have to be some kind of outlandish hippy exercise, just simply start it with “I believe…” and fill in the blanks.
Thoughts and feelings.
I’ve spoken about this a few times before but it’s always something important to remember. It’s something fundamental about depression that we tend to overlook in ourselves… not today! Our thoughts and feelings are connected. We can’t feel emotions without our thoughts, we can’t think without feeling emotions.
Don’t believe me? Try it. Try and think about something that makes you feel uneasy; a past memory would be the best example whilst doing this. Sit there with your thought and see how it makes your body feel.
Did you notice anything? If it was a sad memory there’s a chance you were there for that moment, swimming in all the negativity of it. If you choose to think of something good, chances are you were bathing in all the glory of it. Odds point towards the negative if your reading this article, but there is a bigger chance you were not only in that moment, you were feeling all the emotions you felt when it happened.
Thought + Feeling = Emotional response NOW!
Living in the past.
Our past actions sometimes dictate how we make decisions now and in the future, Like a habit. When we get depressed we let out subconscious minds make all the decisions and play out all our worst memories to coincide. We are living in the past, with a past version of ourselves that doesn’t need to take the steering wheel anymore. Living in those past memories, living in those broken belief systems and living in this cycle of negativity will not serve you at this moment in time.
If we’re looking back wishing we could change what has been, I’m sorry, you have to accept you can’t do that. Unless you have a time machine, nothings going to happen or change. You should not want to go back either, everything happens for a reason it truly does.
The only time we should ever access our pasts is when we are making informed choices here and now. We should only ever access old tapes to learn from them, so in the present, we can make the right choices. Someone treated you like garbage in the past, feel like it’s happening again? Use the warning signs from your past to inform your present choices.
After I told you my story of depression, I ended the segment with“When I look back and read the above I’m not only taken back to that moment in time, but I feel every ounce of it.” I was living in the past when, I bought my past forward to me present. My present is my Now, the moment I am living in, I was living in the past.
Depressing Past thoughts + Present Now = Negative now.
Let’s do the math and work it all out.
This article was never designed to cure you, I said that at the beginning, it was about understanding. Understanding ourselves is the most important part about learning, learning we have the tools to make a change. Let’s go over what we’ve discussed so we can link it all and understand.
Understanding our thoughts: Our thoughts are the mental projections of our minds create. They are not real. Some thoughts are based on fact but what we think is just pictures and words that don’t exist.
Your consciousness: Your conscious is what separates you from the animals. It’s your ability to make a choice, it’s your gift.
Your subconscious: Your subconscious is the tape recorder in your mind that has picked up every experience you have ever been in, the good and the bad. If we can use our conscious mind to challenge our subconscious, we can begin to make a change.
Your choice: Now we know the difference between consciousness and the subconscious and that we have that choice. Our subconscious is a tape recorder, change the tape using your conscious.
What do you believe? When we start to observe our subconscious on the conveyor belt of our minds we can see patterns and habits, not only that we can see our beliefs system at play which coincides with our egos. We can start to challenge our beliefs and figure out where they came from by asking questions. We can plant a seed for new beliefs. We can begin change. You are what you believe you are.
Living in the past: Living in the past can affect our present. When we look back, dwell and over think on negative things, we feel the pain of those situations now. We can’t change the past, only take what we need from it and learn as we move forward.
So that brings us to the final point.
It’s all we really have. This moment in time, which is now…and the next moment and the one after that. Time is constant, it’s the only thing in the universe that is a certainty. Time in our society is measured by a clock, a clock that was embedded into you from birth.
If we can learn to be in the now, we don’t have to be depressed, we can be fully conscious and see the world around us. It won’t always be good, it won’t always be bad, but when we are present we can tackle everyday life assertively and act now. To be present we have to learn to reprogram ourselves and bring our conscious mind to the present.
We can bring ourselves to the present by simply looking around, acknowledging our surroundings, concentrating on them, seeing them for what they are. They are now and so are you. This article wasn’t designed to cure you; it was designed to give you some understanding. The next thing I want you to understand is that you are the cure, you have that choice to get better and bring yourself from the lowest depths of your mind. I believe in you, you have the power.
Personal note: This article doesn’t have it all, there is more to learn. It’s a start to understanding. Thank you very much for reading, please feel free to leave a comment and add anything else you might think is relevant to becoming a better version of ourselves.