When people talk about depression other people often start talking about psychology, psychiatry, and medical conditions no one understands the magnitude of who hasn’t experienced them or studied them. Today I’m only going to talk about my experience. If it doesn’t apply to you, I hope you still find something to learn from it. If it does, I’m confident you’ll find something helpful in it.
As far as I know, everyone has the same gamut of emotions. We feel different ones at different times, but if you name any emotion, anyone in the world would know it. A corollary is that everyone feels depressed at times. By depressed I mean unmotivated to do anything, seeing no point in doing anything, feeling like you can’t get out of that state. As Wikipedia states:
Depressed people feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, worried, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, hurt, or restless. They may lose interest in activities that once were pleasurable, experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions, and may contemplate, attempt, or commit suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, loss of energy, or aches, pains, or digestive problems may also be present.
I imagine everyone who reads that description can identify with it.
The most important question to me is what do you do about feeling that way. You know you don’t like it, even if at the time you feel like this way is more “real” or that other ways feel “fake” or similar things leading you to dwell in it, so some part of you knows you benefit from changing it.
Scanning later in Wikipedia’s page on depression, I found a great way to say what I was going to.
Depressed mood may not require any professional treatment, and may be a normal reaction to certain life events, a symptom of some medical conditions, or a side effect of some drugs or medical treatments.
If you have a medical condition or are taking drugs or medical treatments, you’re outside my sphere of knowledge or experience. In my experience, depression, like all other emotions, emerges as a normal reaction to life events. I believe all emotions outside of extreme situations emerge in part from life events—in particular, according to my Model, from your environments, beliefs, and behaviors.
As I said, the big question is what to do about it. First, awareness, which helps me in two ways. One, knowing depression emerged from normal life events makes it not feel so bad to me. Two, it tells me I can create another emotion to relieve the depression by changing my life events.
Next, all I have to do is work on my environment, beliefs, and behavior, as my Method describes, and I can remove the depression. While I describe the process simply here, and I believe the process is simple, especially if you have practice with it, simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. A challenging property about depression is that it discourages you from acting, which you need to do to change your emotional state.
Getting out of depression sometimes requires you to act different than your emotions suggest, which may take willpower.
My recent experience
One day a few months ago I remember coming back from some event that didn’t go well and I felt depressed. I remember feeling as depressed as I had in a long time. Part of feeling depressed is that you feel like no one else could feel as depressed as you. Of course no one can feel someone else’s emotion, so who knows how what I felt compared with any other.
Anyway, I remember feeling like the feeling would never end. Somewhere in the back of my mind I also knew I was still going to do my burpees, brush my teeth, floss, and the rest of my evening routine. In particular, I knew my burpees would get my heart pumping—racing, even. Part of me knew that as depressed as I felt, the activity of the burpees would create feelings of excitement, accomplishment, satisfaction, and so on. Part of me almost felt bad, knowing something seeming so trivial would purge this feeling that felt so real and heavy.
When I got home, before going to sleep I did my usual routine and the burpees vanquished the depression. After it was gone I couldn’t conjure the feeling that much any more.
You might say my experience doesn’t count because serious depression lasts longer than one day, but that’s my point. I do these activities every day. That foundation makes it hard for feelings I don’t want to take root. They both prevent and cure.
Some readers will no doubt say I didn’t really feel depressed, just a mild form of it. Nobody can say for sure. I would counter that I’ve developed skills to change my beliefs and behaviors that are stronger than the feelings of depression could withstand. Not that I have more willpower than anyone, but I’ve practiced how to change beliefs quickly and easily and I’ve been training myself to do behaviors like burpees and cold showers where I act how I intellectually know helps me even if contrary to my emotions.
I’ve found SIDCHAs develop the ability to overcome emotions you don’t like and help you act on that ability. I can’t stress enough the value of being able to create the emotions you want when you want. I don’t think you can prevent any emotion from taking root in you because you can’t prevent outside forces beyond your control from happening, but you can control how you react. I’ve found the theory of the Model, the structure of the Method, and the activity and practice of SIDCHAs allow you to handle situations as well as anything.
People ask why I do burpees and cold showers without seeking to understand what you get from them. This skill is so valuable, I can’t overstate how much they help. Overcoming your mind and body’s creative avoidance to turn on a cold shower or start burpees develops those skills.
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