Most depression stems from the perception of what I call a “grey horizon.” This is the feeling that a purpose or deeper meaning is lacking- it creates an enervating force in our lives that drains our vitality and replaces it with a hollow “who cares?”
This is a widespread and increasingly common issue among people young and old, all over the world, as they struggle to find their place and meaning in a world seemingly devoid of authentic experience and honest expression. After I put out THIS VIDEO on the topic of combating depression, I was inundated with messages thanking me and asking for more information and advice on the subject- what follows is my own personal method and belief on how the black dog is to be fought and defeated.
We must begin with the understanding that this struggle is an ongoing one. Most of us do not simply fight one battle and conquer depression, stress, anxiety. It is a continuous warfare, but one in which, once we understand our enemy and the weapons with which it can be fought, we will consistently achieve victory.
The greatest weapon against depression is a meaningful life. This sounds vague and amorphous, but I promise you, it is the goal that must be sought out constantly in order to stave off feelings of worthlessness, pointlessness and futility. Discovering our purpose through acts of self-creation is the key to a fulfilling existence. Yours and mine will not be the same, but our methods of discovery can be. I cannot tell you what yours will be, but I can tell you how I discovered mine.
It starts with exploration. The search in and of itself for meaning and purpose and an honestly expressed existence is a glorious undertaking, and should never be seen as anything other than a legendary journey for self actualization. Discovering our purpose, for an indeterminate amount of time, is our purpose. By looking for who we are, and searching the depths of our being, and transforming ourselves in the primal forge of ordeal, we will discover not only who we are, but who we wish to be.
During this time it is crucial that we evaluate ourselves fairly and honestly, clinically, but with mercy, not brutality. We must see ourselves as we are, in order to ascertain where we need to go. As we make our evaluation, we will be forgiving, not self-destructive, but we will be firm and truthful about our shortcomings.
As we work to eliminate those aspects of ourselves that we do not wish to hold any longer, we also bolster our strengths. Improving ourselves in the realms of calmness, generosity, physical strength, loyalty, creativity and so on. As we do this, we realize that what we are taking part in is a preparatory ritual- perhaps our purpose has not made itself clear to us because we are not ready to face it, and we are being given time to make ourselves worthy of it. Our work then takes on a holiness, a ritual aspect of cleansing and empowering our beings for the coming Work, that which we call the Great Work, which is knowing and carrying out our higher function.
This very understanding led me to my current place in the world, and as I focused on letting go of that which I had bound myself to, strengthening myself physically, developing my creative abilities, practicing my writing, studying martial arts, traveling more often, and so on, I began to understand the alchemy of consonance. How all this could be woven together with one thread, and how I could make myself of service to a higher concept.
Often, our purpose will find us when we lose ourselves in the seeking.
For now, here are a few of the tactics I employed in my war against meaningless existence:
-Wake up earlier and adhere to a schedule.
Sleeping all day is both a cause and effect of depression. Choose an early hour in which to arise and conquer, and do so. In the dark hours of the morning, much is made clear to us in the silence of our early routine.
-Move! Whether you choose weightlifting, martial arts, swimming, running, or some combination of the above, you must exercise! This is perhaps one of the most important factors in conquering depression. If you feel the stirrings of that great enemy rising within you like a serpent, exorcise your demons through exercise. Immediately run, do pushups, burpees, find a body of water and swim, especially if you can go to the ocean and experience its vast example of being, becoming, returning.
You will never defeat depression until you can develop the discipline of a rigorous physical training routine.
Choose any routine off the internet and start today.
-Eliminate chatter. Turn off the internet for awhile. Filling the mind with idle chatter and useless data makes us distracted and ultimately hollows us out, taking away our vital energy and focus. Ditto for television and so on. Read an interesting book, pick up a new skill, draw, write or run.
-Work to create meaningful interaction with other human beings. As someone who walks a fine and strange line between philanthropy and misanthropy, I find it increasingly important to discover meaningful connection with other living humans. The internet is a pretty incredible way to make connections, but these often times are artificed and very shallow. Meet people by following the above protocols. Speak to someone at your school, dojo, gym, library, whatever. Combat your shyness or social awkwardness by realizing that people are often more than happy to converse with strangers, and probably feel isolated often, just like you might. Just say hello and introduce yourself and let go of overthinking it.
-Stop self medicating. Often, when I was feeling depressed, I would drink excessively. This would simply lead to a vicious cycle of feeling worse, drinking more, self loathing, drinking more, feeling worse. One of the biggest mistakes we can make when combating depression is using recreational drugs to mask the feeling. This kind of escapism is like “painting over dirt,” and ultimately will make our infection fester in the darkness while it slowly ends our lives. Addiction is another hydra head of depression, and we will possibly address it in a future transmission. For now, do whatever possible to eliminate the use of these crutches.
At day’s end, many of us are at constant war with these feelings, but like any other opponent, this one can, and will be defeated if you remain steadfast.
I’m pulling for you.
“The joy of life consists in the exercise of one’s energies, continual growth, constant change, the enjoyment of every new experience. To stop means simply to die. The eternal mistake of mankind is to set up an attainable ideal.” -AC