I have important lessons to teach from my experience with depression. Humor me, would you?
|First of all, "Self Help" is an entire genre of writing based on lies. The only person you are helping by doing business with the charlatans who write such nonsense is the writer himself. That sure got your attention, didn't it? Stick around, and I will tell you a bit about my experience with depression and what coping strategies worked and didn't work. Those of you who do not have depression may still find my experience useful, because by necessity I had to figure out simple, easy ways to improve my mood. All the empty promises and honeyed words in the world are worthless compared to bitter, practical experience; disregard anyone who tells you otherwise.
What those scam artists, as well as so many "helpful" acquaintances, love to tell people is that it's all in your head, that if you simply do the right thing and have a positive attitude, you too can be living on starlight and crapping rainbows. That really could not be further from the truth. That did not work for me, and you are deceiving yourself if you think it could work for you. Truthfully, your feelings, depression or even passing sadness included, always have a cause grounded in concrete reality. If you did not have a good reason to be unhappy, you would never have bothered reading this far. Before anything, take a deep breath and calmly evaluate your life situation. Prioritize ruthlessly and spare no details. Write down every little thing bothering you on paper, but keep that paper, because ignoring these things will only prolong your suffering. With all your troubles firmly in hand, I will begin to help you figure out how to survive and perhaps even overcome them. All problems ultimately have a material basis in reality, so all problems may be solved or lessened by using the right tactic at the right time.
Always remember that you have a limited budget of time and energy to spend doing just about anything you do, or put up with. That budget may vary depending on your mental state or the demands placed on you by others, but this principle still applies. The more time and energy you have to spare, the more you can devote to solving problems. The easiest thing you can do is to look critically at your schedule, crossing out anything that is not absolutely necessary. If you can, ask for help with whatever problems or activities you, for whatever reason, cannot do without, to lighten the burden on your own shoulders. You can still do the things you had scheduled if you really want to, but the point is that you are no longer obligated to do them. Life is too short to let people twist your arm into wasting yours. As an added bonus, the time that you save can be devoted to sleep, greatly improving your quality of life and energy levels. Sometimes, what you really need is a good nap and a drink, so why deny yourself these things? What some call "laziness" I call necessary self-maintenance. After removing pointless busywork from your schedule, you may find that you have already eliminated some of your problems. Friends, that is exactly the kind of efficiency you will come to expect from my writing!
Next I will get into a topic that goes sadly ignored these days, leisure. Work may be important, but to live only for work is no kind of life at all. I would advise using all or most of your spare time in the pursuit of leisure if possible. For me, this takes the form of reading, writing, games, and gaming content on YouTube, but it doesn't matter what kind of leisure it is as long as it is enjoyable to you. Just like time for rest and relaxation, leisure will help you enjoy life and make you more effective at the work that you must do. Ask yourself, don't you deserve a break? Don't answer that. You absolutely do.
If I was like one of those hacks who write self help, I might end it here. I have already explained the basics, after all. However, because I am a scientific man, I will not be satisfied with partial solutions, and neither should you. The last and arguably most important element of this strategy is other people, as troublesome as they can be at times. Humans are a social species by nature. Embrace it! You should do your best to include people you enjoy being with in your leisurely activities. For that matter, cut off selfish people who make your life worse, because frankly, they can find someone else if they give so little appreciation to you. If possible, you should join whatever communities exist surrounding your chosen interests. Together you could watch movies, play games of all kinds, play sports, eat out, etc. It hardly even matters what activity you do together, as long as you have good company and no other worries on your mind. In my experience, even during the darkest times, playing alone can help you cope, but playing or working with someone who appreciates you and is fun to be around will make you feel like the sun is shining down on you once again, striking a powerful blow against the oppressive darkness of life.
Lastly, there is something that may go against contemporary wisdom but is no less important. When you are able to do so, help people. I don't mean to donate to or otherwise work with charities, because nonprofits largely exist to line the pockets of the opportunistic CEOs who run them. I mean that you should personally reach out to people you know and even people you don't know, just to lend a helping hand. Give a homeless person shelter, give food to the hungry, lend your strength to the weak and vulnerable, and comfort the grieving, the tired, and the lonely. Whenever you have something in abundance that someone else needs, give freely and generously. By doing all this, you will form lasting bonds with people, and you may find that people you help today may have something you need later on down the line, even if it is something as simple as being there for you when you need someone to talk to. Remember that if you have the opportunity to rescue someone from drowning and refuse to do so, you have their blood on your hands just as much as if you had pushed them under the water yourself.
If you found this work helpful, then I have proudly accomplished my purpose for writing it. I encourage you to please show this page to anyone who may benefit from it. Although I may have a vested interest in people seeing my work, this is far bigger than my own self interest as a writer, because there are lessons here that are sorely needed by the teeming masses of people in western industrialized nations who have lost their way and allowed profit to become more important than the simple enjoyment of life.