I have a bit of an unusual view on depression. Whilst I am not a Psychologist, Psychotherapist or Psychoanalyst and I am not qualified to give any advice relating to Psychological problems, I have been through this.
The reason for writing this post is that I think that it is very important to the subject.
I believe that if you are in a good state of mind, it is fairly easy to lose weight once you know what to do
I know, this might sound wacky, I expect that you have been told many times how difficult it is to lose weight and keep it off. This is part of the reason why you have been unsuccessful in the past.
You decide that know up front that it is difficult, that most fail. Most fail repeatedly.
This means that the small weak voice in the back of your mind…. The one that tells you that it’s your genes, or that you will eat the cake then start the diet again next Monday… This voice is louder because you think that losing weight is hard. Then when you fail it is easy to justify and rationalize.
You don’t feel like a failure in failing in something that is really hard … right?
To shake off this kind of rationalization, and years of conditioning and “stinking thinking”, you need to have more control over your own mind. I am not talking about hypnotherapy or some ‘new age’ technique. Do you ever ‘catch yourself’ thinking in a negative way, then revert to rationality?
For example, you might be in a meeting at work, your boss might talk down to you or belittle you. Suddenly your mind is wandering, you are leaving the company, imagining working somewhere else, maybe you have your bosses head in the toilet bowl demanding an apology!
Then suddenly you ‘catch yourself’ you remember that overall you are happy in your work and company and realize there will be a guy like this wherever you work. You smile to yourself and come back to reality. What has happened is that the emotional lizard part of your brain took over for a little while, and you could have acted impulsively against your own best interests…
You didn’t because you ‘caught yourself’
While designing, and creating a new life for yourself it is the same thing that occurs. You are making good decisions, you buy more fruits and vegetables at the supermarket, you pack your gym clothes into your bag in the morning, you drink your tea or coffee without sugar, you avoid the snack machine…
…Then by mid-afternoon you feel a little tired, the gym seems like a hassle, and your work colleagues invite you to go with them to the pizza restaurant straight out of work. Normally you always would, it’s a habit, it’s fun…
…You feel a little too tired to go to the gym, you think to yourself that at least you have ‘been good’ for most of the day…
… You tell yourself that you can always just eat a few slices then go to bed early so that you can definitely go to the gym tomorrow….
My point here is that if you are depressed you will go and get that pizza, the easy route and the force of habit, along with peer pressure will make it impossible to resist.
If you are not depressed, then you are likely to have the easy choice of not letting your good progress go to waste, you will firmly tell everyone that you already have a previous appointment then get a deep sense of satisfaction and self-worth from being in control of your life.
Feelings of deep satisfaction and self-worth do not happen when you are depressed. You are more likely to binge in the pizza restaurant then wallow in guilt and self-hatred.
So, getting control of your mind and avoiding / overcoming depression is critical not just to weight loss, but to totally revolutionizing your life. I have experience with depression, on a personal basis and through friends and family. Maybe the view that I have on it might seem strange to you.
I believe that depression isn’t a random affliction that could strike anyone and I don’t believe its a chemical imbalance caused by some faulty bio-mechanics in the body or brain. I strongly believe that we create it in ourselves.
Is it not strange that in countries that have the most mental health practitioners and associated pharmaceutical drugs, the numbers of people suffering from stress, depression or anxiety seems to be constantly on the rise?
I have met people in poor countries that despite having little material wealth or financial security are very optimistic
I realize that this isn’t evidence of my theory but my point is, its not the money worries, bad life experiences, or bad luck that cases depression, it is all about our dominant thoughts.
At some point in everyone’s life there is an awareness of depression, that it exists as a psychological state. I think that you can catch it. It is not a virus, or a type of bacteria, it is an idea, a seed can be planted in the mind.
This seed can be fed and nurtured by your dominant thoughts, these thoughts become stronger in the mind as the neural pathways get stronger and your neural networks keep firing in a way that create more negative thoughts.
I have read about a study that shows areas of flare ups of teenage pregnancies or teen suicides that often occur in clusters. People can see others situations as reinforcement for their own. Others actions as extra justification for their own.
As children, most of us are sheltered from reality and even lied to, in order to create a more positive view on reality. As young children, we live in our imaginations, it is easy to believe the lies about Santa Claus. That ‘God is watching us and will protect the good and punish the evil’. You might have originally believed that there is “one true love waiting for each one of us’.
At some point each of us gets a few reality checks. When we see the reality of war, poverty, racism and other similar evil it can come as a shock.
Likewise, we are taught to not ask awkward questions to our elders. We are told to follow the rules and work hard, keep our heads down at school. Then get a job and work hard and eventually we will have a house, car and a retirement. When at some point, this plan goes off-course through unemployment, career stagnation, or being hurt by someone we trusted, reality bites.
It is at these times in our lives that we are susceptible to the slippery slope of stinking thinking and depression. At these times when our “bubble bursts” and we realize that life is not always how we imagined or expected it, we can become negative, fearful of cynical.
This is how depression starts, it is not some faulty circuit in the brain that needs the latest pharmaceutical miracle pill
So we start thinking negative things, we see the world in a more cynical way. The world hasn’t suddenly changed. We have. The process feeds itself, and is gradual. Like weight gain, it is often too gradual to notice.
Someone who hasn’t seen us for a while might be surprised to see our dark drab clothes, our flabby faces with darkness under the eyes. They ask how you are doing and you feel embarrassed. Because you spend your time reading all the bad news in the media, or reading sad or violent books, or hang out with other depressed people who feed your darkness.
What is the normal solution? Getting help? Seeing a specialist? You end up talking to a Psychotherapist, Doctor and/or Counselor. What do you do there? Go over all of your sad stories repeatedly, reassuring yourself that you are definitely depressed, wallowing in the hurt and reinforcing it.
You also get prescribed different pharmaceutical drugs which all cause side effects and possible addiction. At this point you really do have chemical imbalances in your brain!
I must repeat again that I am not qualified to give advice on mental health problems. I am merely discussing my own opinions and experiences.
Do not think that I am ‘blaming the victim’ when I say that we cause our own depression. I mean it in the same way as we cause our own obesity. Through our own actions and decisions based on our own minds and thoughts.
I think that at some point in everyone’s life there are times where we have to take a step back and reassess
Whether you call it a mid-life crisis, teenage angst, or depression, these are times where we are having spiritual or philosophical problems. When our bubble bursts it should be a time for discovery and search for wisdom. It is a time of change where we can grow as people.
As a teenager when the reality of the bad sides of life knocks our rose-colored glasses to the floor, this is not the time to be packed off to therapy, to wallow in our past problems and disappointments then to be given mind-bending chemicals to take.
This should be a time when we ask questions such as why am I here? What is my purpose in life? What is life all about?
You can use your pain as a motivator and catalyst to learn about life, the World and our place in it. These are existential and spiritual questions. The answers can be found by standing on the shoulders of giants.
Every problem that you have ever had has been experienced countless times by other people throughout history. Every feeling you have has been felt a million times before.
A common feeling amongst depressed people is that no-one understands. Go to the library, go on the internet and find out that you are very much mistaken.
I can’t cover the whole subject of depression, but I hope that my opinions have given you some ideas for further study.
I do have a few practical suggestions that have worked for me, however
- Just as you have gradually replaced your happy, positive activities with negative ones, you can start to substitute back. Did you used to read romance novels but now read murder mystery? Go back to the romance ones. Did you used to have a hobby that made you happy but now spend too much time on the internet? Maybe you used to go fishing every Sunday but now you spend time looking at internet porn. Cancel your porn memberships and go fishing again. Did you previously listen to classical music but now listen to death metal? Dust off your classical CD’s. You might not feel like going back to your old ways, you might find romance novels, fishing or classical music boring now. Persevere and find you old happy self, stop feeding the monster.
- Are you getting support or the answers that you need now? Have close family or friends just recommended that you get therapy? Does your religious adviser just tell you to pray or talk about ‘mysterious ways?’ This period of darkness is an opportunity for you to learn about your true self and your place in the world. I recommend looking for answers in new places. Try exploring spirituality in a new way, I recommend any books by Deepak Chopra, Eckert Tolle or the Dalai Lama. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Methodist, Mormon or Hindu, just start searching. Reading a book by someone from a different school of thought might give you a whole new view of yourself. I have read much of the bible, as well as books written by Buddhists or Hindus. Forget the labels and pigeon holes and look for the new knowledge. If you don’t want to start with spirituality, then how about philosophy? I would start with a general book where all the most important thinkers are mentioned. Something like philosophy for dummies, then the ideas that interest you can be explored by finding additional information by your favorite Philosophers. I like writing by Aristotle, Socrates, Rand, Aurelius and Seneca but that’s me, you must explore your own journey. Lastly, if you think spirituality or philosophy is not right for you then go for personal growth. Try Anthony Robbins or Brian Tracy, learn about goals, values and life’s purpose. Ironically I have found that whether I read a book by a Philosopher, spiritual guide, or self-help guru, I keep seeing the same truth shining through. It is wonderful and inspiring.
- Consider a 6 month or 12-month sabbatical or mini-retirement. Do you know anyone who has ‘found themselves’ in India, Europe or Australia? Do you know anyone who has come back with a new warmth, calmness and zest for life after experiencing more of what life has to offer? If you meet small children living in poverty who greet you with massive smiles. Or see kindness and love amongst people who were part of a religion or had the same color skin as people you had been wary or even afraid of back home. Just the chance to be free of constant stress and pressure, a chance to be calm, reflect and get to know yourself. You will be thankful for the life and opportunity that you have had and more likely to be grateful rather than ungrateful and grasping.
That is, it. Just three ideas.
Replace negativity for positivism. Expand your knowledge. Change your environment.
These three solutions are age-old. Before pharmaceutical drugs like antidepressants and so on, and before the massive growth in the therapy business this is what proactive people used to do. They would travel and learn. It is not rocket science.
The chances are that you already know all about your own difficulties. Do you want to wallow in them whilst taking different types of medicine every day? It is better to focus on solutions and forgiveness and personal growth.
I don’t know if what I have written comes across as pseudo-science. You might think that I am a Hippie. Maybe this whole section makes no sense to you? If so then that is fine, I hope there are other posts that you will find of value.
From a disclaimer point of view, if you are already on pharmaceutical drugs and therapy don’t suddenly stop because of me. I am NOT GIVING PERSONALIZED ADVICE. Please use this information as a starting point for further research. Maybe you could discuss some of these points with your therapist.
Please don’t suddenly stop taking any drugs then blame me if your life doesn’t get better. I don’t know you, your life’s journey is your own, I just hope that my ideas can help people.