What Your Depression is Trying to Tell You

January 26, 2014

buddhistmonk

Summary:
First things first.

If depressed, look at your diet, thought pattern, friends, & where you’re living/working.

Whether those things are in control or not, your depressive feelings are trying to tell you something.

I was feeling depressed the past couple days. Took a break by reading a zen book.

Mind told me it’s overworked. I’m bombarding it with too much media/learning. As soon as I figured this out, depression lifted.

Your answer also lies within, not without.


 

There are many factors to your depressive feelings.

1. Poor diet (bad food, lack of minerals, vit d, fish oil)
2. Poor mental thinking (negative thought loop)
3. Poor company (bad friends, family, coworkers)
4. Poor environment (winter sad)

The easiest things to fix should be eating right & taking the right supplements.

Next, you should be questioning your beliefs. Don’t trust em. Think on paper. Journaling out your thoughts will bring relief.

Next, you should be pumping your brain full of positive thoughts, as much as possible. This can be in the form of positive motivational talks, music, movies, positive affirmations, talking to yourself like you are your own success coach, etc.

Obviously, we need to stay away from people who bring us down. This is often harder. We are attached to family for life. We have little choice over negative coworkers. The easiest to get rid of are downer friends.

The hardest is to move to a warmer place if your whole life exists in a depressing winter town. Also doable but tougher.

Let’s assume you are taking care of all of the above, to the best of your ability.

And you still feel depressive thoughts?

I was feeling just that the past couple of days. Just that dampened feeling where everything feels like its a black & white movie. Just no excitement. Lethargy. Blah feeling. Nothing too serious but just dullness.

I’ve experienced this feeling most of my life, so it was not a surprise to end up here.

Reason 1:

I know I’m feeling this way because I have not been taking fish oil for two weeks. Not out of neglect. I’m on the HCG Diet round 2 and it’s pretty strict. Fish oil is not allowed (due to fat & calories).

So I know I can just wait it out. After 40 days of this diet, I’ll be about -35lbs lighter & I can restart chugging that nectar of the fishes.

Reason 2:

In Buddhism, depression is seen as a sign of growth. We’re leaving a part of our old self behind & moving forward.

The depressive feelings also bring some important lessons that we need to learn from.

I’ve known this for a while but didn’t know how to learn.

As synchronicity would have it, I had ordered The Depression Book by zen teacher Cheri Huber. I buy so many books these days that I had forgotten ordering this.

Coincidence, I happened to open the package to find this book at the same time I’m battling these dull feelings.

Anyways, I highly recommend this book. It’s the weirdest book I’ve ever seen. It’s 100% handwritten. On purpose. Cheri wisely recognizes that by having to read a book that’s handwritten, we’ll be forced to slow down, become aware & pay attention.

It worked.

I decided to make some tea, sit on my recliner & read this book. I mention this because I never do this.

Most of the time, I’m listening to audiobooks while surfing with multiple tabs open. And looking at twitter. Checking my email.

You get what I mean. I’m horribly multitasking as I read/listen to books.

This time, I just felt so blah that I decided to read the old-fashioned way, with no distractions.

About halfway thru the book, my depression cleared. The answer came to me. The lightbulb lit up.

Cheri mentions that if we are expanding our inner self faster than our system can handle, our body/mind will shut down. Short circuit.

This made 100% sense to me.

Since 2007, I’ve been consuming books as if the cure is hidden in there somewhere.

All of 2007-2008, I played audiobooks 24/7. While sleeping, I had headphones on with ipod. I had waterproof shower speakers. During my commute, more audiobooks. While at work, headphones on.

Life sucked so much that I decided to learn as much as possible. This was after a rich relative showed me his secret room full of audiotapes. He said that’s his secret to being rich.

That habit has kept up without me being aware of it. I’m constantly listening to speeches, audiobooks, podcasts, reading ebooks, blogs, whatever. Nonstop.

I’m not saying this to brag. It’s actually a sickness.

And I kinda had a mental breakdown in 2008. Where I couldn’t bear to listen to another word anymore.

My system short-circuited.

But as soon as I got better, I repeated the process.

I never learned my lesson.

So fast forward to January 24, 2014. I had another short-circuit from bombarding my brain with info.

This time, thankfully I read The Depression Book.

I immediately decided to erase my twitter apps (off my phone/ipad). No more reading nonstop articles.

Completely reformatted my iphone (got rid of all audio & apps).

I had a realiztion of my family.

My mother is a workaholic. Never takes days off entire life. Relatives on her side are also workaholics. No vacations. No sick days. No breaks.

So, this sickness runs in my family. And even though physically I’m super lazy, mentally I’m overworked.

I have four huge boxes full of books sitting on my living room floor that I’ve bought in the past few months. I don’t think I could finish reading them even if I had an entire lifetime.

What am I searching for?

I never learn anything life altering from any of the books.

Buddhists, on the other hand, spend most of their time doing nothing. They meditate. They get lessons from their own mind/higher self.

No one calls them lazy for it!

So this was a big breakthru for me. I’m embarrassed to say even though I pretend to be smart & read all these books, it took me this long to figure out my pattern.

The pattern only emerged when I sat down, in the quiet, with a zen depression book.

And in that quiet awareness, I gave myself my own advice.

So what next?

My first reaction was to never read books again. To donate all my books and just meditate.

That’s unlikely. I like learning.

Next rational reaction:
I set my calendar to remind me to take saturdays & sundays off, fully. No more bombarding my brain 24/7.

Work-life balance.

Only things allowed on weekends are fun things.

I honestly don’t know how to have fun. My fun is learning. I feel lazy watching a tv show if I’m not reading at the same time. So weird.

So, no more of doing that. No more listening to audiobooks while sleeping.

When sleeping, sleep.
When showering, shower.
When driving, drive.
When learning, learn.

I spent all of saturday watching fun lighthearted shows on amazon prime.
Betas. Julia Child cooking. The Wizard of Oz. I also used the float tank.

I’m happy. Life is in color again.

Maybe your depressive mood is trying to tell you something?

###
Photo courtesy of echiner1

sim September 3, 2015 at 9:43 pm

Dear Deepak, I was searching online and came across your post….
I was recently diagnosed with depression and it just feels stupid saying it out loud or even typing it…. That you are a stranger who’s judgement probably won’t matter helps..
What do you do when you look around and you want to feel better (and at times you do) and you read inspiring posts like the one you have written but feel empty…?
Just wondering how to push myself to get there… To be able to see the positive on a positive way and feel happy about it for more than a few seconds…
Just wondering…
Feel free to ignore..
– Sim

Deepak September 4, 2015 at 11:56 am

Hi Sim

I 100% feel you. I’ve been there so many times in my life. So there’s no judgement.
Each situation of depression is different but I’ll tell you what I do when I’m in the slumps.
Maybe it will help you out.

For now, tell yourself that depression is like the weather.
This too shall pass.

I had partially written an ebook (never finished) on what to do when depressed. It has all the tools I use when I find myself at the bottom. I’ve uploaded it and you can read it here: DEPRESSION BOOK. I haven’t proofread it or anything, it’s raw, but it may help you out.

Also check out my depression page with tools and tricks to get out.

I will point you towards some resources:
Check out their books on amazon, search on google, or videos on youtube

1. Cheri Huber – Depression Book (do not resist depression, go with it and it will pass)
2. Byron Katie – The Work (questioning your thoughts will make you feel better)
3. Eckhart Tolle – (Depression is caused by overthinking. you are not your thoughts, you don’t have to listen. Try to be present in the now moment)
4. Cold showers help clear your mind of depression
5. Hot saunas will help you feel better because skin will produce serotonin
6. The Mood Cure Book – has supplements you can take to get out of depression (5htp, tyrosine, dlpa, gaba), which you can find at most stores (walgreens, vitamin shoppe, target). And they work within 20-40mins. Please be careful if you’re already on prescription medication.
7. Louise Hay – Loving yourself is the ultimate cure to every disease
8. David Burns, MD – talks about doing cognitive behavior therapy to feel better. All it takes is pen and paper and writing, similar to Byron Katie. He wrote “Feeling Good” book.

There are other tools but this should help you out in the present moment.

And remember that some of the great men & women in our history have had depression and did well.
Winston Churchill
Abraham Lincoln
David Letterman
Conan O’Brien
Stephen Fry
Jim Carrey
Byron Katie
Eckhart Tolle

Good luck Sim!