Depression is the devil in disguise.
The devil that lures you in with the false promise of comfort, of safety, of escape. Oftentimes, its friends tag along too: drug abuse, self-harm, or doing too much or too little in areas like eating, drinking, and sleeping.
Slowly but surely, it eats you alive.
Once it settles in for good, you spiral into a vortex of nothingness. You perceive yourself as nothing, you feel nothing, you do nothing. And it only gets worse by the day.
Before you know it, entire months can float by with you going through the motions like a robotic corpse. You drift away from your friends, your family, and any activities that once gifted you with pleasure.
Until you get so fucking sick and tired of it that you have to collect the pieces and do something, otherwise, the consequences could be dire.
Today, I want to share the 4 major stages that helped me say a big “fuck you” to depression and get my shit together when I felt like there was no hope left.
As a side note (but a very important one), I’ve come to learn that depression affects each person very, very differently. Every individual has a different timeframe and process for coping, healing, and ultimately overcoming a cycle or episode.
As such, everything below is strictly from my own experience, when the time was right for me.
But, to quote Robert Frost, in my situation, it “has made all the difference”.
I FACED THE UGLY HEAD-ON.
For me, it meant dragging myself to the point in which I made myself face everything I’d been running away from.
The ugly, in its purest form.
Armed with brutal honesty, I sliced through my defence mechanism layer by layer until I reached the crude contents I had been neglecting at all costs.
How I was sabotaging myself. Why I felt the contradicting need to stew in suffering. Who I was hiding from, even if that meant myself. What I—not other people—had done to worsen the situation, with or without my knowledge.
If I hadn’t forced this painful reality check and surge of unwanted self-awareness, I wouldn’t have been able to make it past this stage.
It was and remains the hardest part of this never-ending process for me. However, it’s the critical foundation for everything that follows.
I ZOOMED IN ON WHAT I COULD CONTROL.
It’s so easy to put the blame on external factors. Specifically, the actions of other people, unfavorable conditions, and any elements from an uncontrollable environment.
Yes, a ton of things that weren’t in my power had contributed to my state. Traumatic events that led me here. My mother’s health issues. My own predisposition to mental and emotional decline.
But what could I do about it now?
What I could do, however, was set all of these to the side and place my sole focus on what was in my control.
In my case, a bunch of them could be traced back to jumbled priorities, professional dissatisfaction, social neglect, and the permanent need for challenges and growth.
I MADE HARD DECISIONS.
When you feel like you have nothing left to lose, you’re willing to risk everything.
And that’s what I did.
I made a series of consecutive scary-as-fuck decisions that would affect multiple areas of my life. I risked my career, my relationships, my finances—everything.
The even scarier part was that I didn’t have a solid back-up plan for many of these decisions. I do not recommend doing this whenever you have the option to set an effective plan B in place.
In my situation, I didn’t really a have choice, but I listened to my intuition and trusted that new opportunities would arise. They soon did.
I knew I had to make these huge decisions if I wanted anything to change. Not just for a day or two, but enough to pull me out of the mess I was in and regain the strength to move forward.
I TOOK ACTION.
Over the course of several months, I implemented every one of these terrifying decisions, step by step.
I co-founded the business I had been putting off for ages due to excessive anxiety and lack of confidence.
I knowingly cut off a primary source of income because I had reached the point of stagnation, repetitiveness, and a complete absence of evolution.
Then, I proceeded to do the same with any other professional collaboration that didn’t involve the type of writing I truly enjoyed.
I reorganized all of my priorities so that everything would be strictly aligned with my goals. This included going on an indefinite hiatus with music, in spite of everyone’s repeated encouragements to continue.
I was and am extremely grateful for the love. But I also knew that the real ones would extend that support to other creative endeavours (aka many of you guys reading this right now).
I forced myself to communicate with other people as much as possible. At the time, it meant renting out office space, meeting up with friends more, and making time both for fun nights and for meaningful conversations.
Although face-to-face interaction isn’t an option right now, I continue to nurture my friendships with video calls, phone calls, and texts.
At the same time, I set professional and personal boundaries I never even dreamed of being able to set before.
I learned how to say “no” if I felt I would only be taking on a project for additional income and passed the opportunity to a peer in my network. I temporarily cut off communication with a loved one when I could no longer function on a day to day basis due to the relationship.
Purge after purge, step after step, growth after growth.
NOW, I’M BRAVE IN THE FACE OF DEPRESSION.
By no means is this list exhaustive. There are numerous actions I continue to take, and just as many trial-and-error failures along the way that help me learn.
But I can proudly state that I’ve succeeded in keeping depression at bay for a good few months now, despite having all—trust me when I say all—the conditions that would have sparked and fuelled another gruelling episode.
So, with all due respect, fuck you, depression.
You do not define me. You do not own me. You are not stronger than me.
I’m grateful for your lessons, but that’s where my energy for you comes to an end.
And even though I know you’ll visit me again, I’m ready to face you with bravery.
Soul Searching is a series in which I approach mental, emotional, and spiritual topics through personal stories, essays, and commentaries.