Depression is a real pain in the ass. Especially when there’s no real call for it. Having neither rhyme nor reason makes it especially hard to defeat depression, but there are ways.
For example, out of the blue, I found myself in the slums yesterday. Out of the blue – or at least for no good reason.
At least … I think I know the reason. I ate off of my diet – just one small date! – and the good mood I’d established for the day before with my regular Thursday fast crumbled into dust.
To make things worse, I ate an apple, another known offender. Soon, all the motivation with which I’d awoke was shattered, and I found myself cowering in worry, fear and zero energy for anything.
Being punished so heavily for eating foods that are so healthy for the masses. An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but in my case, it brings on the straightjacket.
The question is, how do I cope with my depression symptoms when I make these mistakes around food and crash into the darkness? Here are a few that I think will help anyone with depression issues:
1. Guzzle A Ton Of Water And Then Sip Systematically
There’s something reassuring about water. You can carry it everywhere and it provides a means of making your present.
The guzzling is to help dilute and clear sugars from the system. To tell you the truth, I’m not a nutritionist or food scientist so don’t know if it works, but it seems to help.
The sipping comes from something I learned from one of Vladimir Vasiliev’s Systema books, which now seems to be out of print. It’s the idea of holding just enough water in your mouth to make it wet and letting your true thirst dictate consumption.
I’ve extended this concept to helping extend physical awareness and presence to help get myself out of my head. By deliberately sipping just a little water and holding it, it slows my mind and makes me more aware.
Plus, I’m almost always using my Soul Bottle to drink from. I need it to help combat my psoriatic arthritis symptoms.
Plus, my Soul Bottle reminds me that I’m on a mission to be present and I carry it by hand almost everywhere. Plus, I’ve chosen the design with both water and the word “soul” on the glass as reminders of the power of water.
2. Get Off The Machine Or Procrastinate Deliberately
Nothing irritates a depression worse than combining it with multi-tasking loops. The mind gets confused. You lose track of priorities. And whatever seemed so possible just minutes before the depression landed booms with the certainty of impossibility.
There’s no point in working in a mental environment like that. You need to close the lid on your laptop, or at least deliberately do something non-work related and resign yourself to enjoying it.
Seriously. As Eckhart Tolle points out in The Power Of Now, procrastination isn’t the problem. It’s the punishment we put ourselves through for procrastinating, something that’s going to happen no matter what. The ultimate discipline is to shut off the Megaphone Of Guilt in your mind enjoy procrastination when it happens.
I like to watch magic videos on YouTube or movies. Movies make it easy to shut off the Megaphone of Guilt for me because I still work on my former Film Studies career from time to time. I can always claim I’m doing research no matter what kind of movie I watch.
3. March To The Beat Of Your Own Drummer
I’m a huge fan of what Gary Halbert called Roadwork.
He has a pretty straight-up definition, but I’ve added writing to the mix. I walk, sometimes with no particular directional aim, with the precise purpose of walking until I find a place I can work. Then I stay until nature calls or concentration breaks and then move on to the next place.
Sometimes it’s the same cafes I go to, other times I wind up in a park or a part of town I’ve never seen before. But the result is always the same. As Halbert promises, Roadwork clears the mind and the exercise releases endorphins at just about the 40-minute mark as he says.
I’ve actually timed this. When I make Factory Girl my destination, there’s a particular spot where the unhappiness starts clearing up. By the time I complete the journey about 20-minutes later, I’m back to conquering the world.
Music really helps during these journeys and I’m a fan of associating albums with goals. Rhythm and speed make a big difference, so consider making a reliable music companion your friend. It might not be your cup of tea, but Nevermore’s Narcosynthesis was my constant Roadwork companion for the winter, spring and summer of 2016.
LINK TO VIDEO
Things are different now with April in my life, but I’ve come to enjoy Roadwork with conversation or just silence.
In sum, it’s hard to stay depressed for long when you’re constantly on the move.
4. Don’t Take It So Seriously
This tip is the hardest of all because it is in the nature of depression to inject everything with mounds of Dark Gravitas. It’s a temporary eclipse of the sun, but operates like complete and permanent blindness.
If you’ve suffered from it, you know how destructive taking things so seriously can be. Making decisions can be excruciating, and when you do make decisions, you cower in fear that they’re the wrong ones.
I think being able to stop taking it so seriously is a skill that involves above all developing a personal philosophy. Having crystal clear goals and purpose and all that jazz is fine, but things change a lot and we’ve got to be flexible to that.
The chemicals that change in your brain when you meet a new love interest, for example, can change all your plans in an instant, no matter how often you’ve written them down in your journal. But when you put time into developing a philosophy based on understanding the history of ideas, there are concepts that are true and permanent.
No, the ideas might not be true and permanent in and of themselves. But there are only so many ways to interpret Plato, for example, that you can narrow in on a few clear statements and hold them in mind. You can come back to them and use those ideas for stability whenever you need them.
I know you’ve spotted a paradox here: I’m suggesting you not take things seriously by reading the most serious literature on the planet! Well, you’ll just have to trust me on this one, and Plato is not a bad place to start. You’ll encounter a lot of cool ideas delivered in an entertaining way that will make you laugh.
And you’ll be astonished by how the ancients were thinking through so many of the same problems we still face today. That in itself makes it harder to take your own issues so seriously.
5. Always Be Reading, Always Be Writing
On the matter of philosophy, always be reading. It’s the best way to keep your mind agile. A new influx of ideas and constant review of the old ones is like mental juggling. It might not keep depression at bay, but it will keep you nimble for when your biology sends you a depression curve ball.
When it comes to writing, putting words down on paper is a great coping mechanism. It doesn’t have to be anything any other person reads. It doesn’t even have to be anything you ever read again. All that matters is that you keep your thoughts fluid and moving.
Starting a blog is an excellent way to do that if you want to share your journey, but I also recommend keeping a simple journal just to get started.
Depression Can Be Beat
In my case, depression seems almost entirely tied to food. Although I’m a man of discipline, there’s no way I’m going to go through life without the heavenly taste of an apple going through my mouth from time to time.
These coping mechanisms have really helped me, but I think they’ll help anyone with any kind of depression. These tips are useful even against your garden variety blues.
Give them all a try, but here’s the thing:
Don’t wait for the next time depression strikes. Dig your wells before you get thirsty. That way, you have habits and patterns to fall back on when things get tough. Cradle your life with reliable routines and you’ll suffer far less and bounce back in record time. Every time.