Depression is like a Flu

March 9, 2015

“Don’t blindly believe what I say.
Find out for yourself what is truth, what is real.”

– Buddha

Last month, I caught the flu.
WTF? This shouldn’t happen.
I haven’t caught the flu in years!

This is the healthiest I’ve been in life.
Clean diet, proper hydration, good sleep, eating vegetables, vitamins & supplements, meditating, exercising, good blood results, blah blah.

All of this did not matter, I got sick.

I tried all the traditional tricks of the trade to get better.
Rest, hydration, light eating, netipot, tea.
Then took Nyquil Severe liquid.
Zinc cough drops (turned out they were homepathic).
Triple strength normal cough drops.
Even 70-80 GRAMS/DAY of Vitamin C (this worked best).

Regardless of how hard I tried, the flu ran its normal course.
Took about a week to fully clear itself.

I think humans are meant to get sick. Then get better.
And as long as we are healthy and take proper care, the flu won’t turn into pneumonia. Ditto for depression & other diseases.

This pattern of getting sick from diseases and then better repeats until it’s our turn to leave for good.

This week I got depressed.
Nobody hurt my feelings. Nothing bad happened.
Yet I became melancholic.

But it’s the healthiest I’ve ever been!
And I take daily precautions to avoid depression.
I take my vitamins & mood supplements, eat a clean diet, hydrate, meditate, blah blah, go to a therapist, bright lightbox, avoid negative people/places/things.

All of this did not matter, I got sick.

I tried all the traditional tricks of the trade to get better.
Cold Showers. Hot saunas. High dose fish oil. Coffee. Higher doses mood supplements. Force myself to go outside and run errands. Eat a stricter diet. Journaling. Therapy. (Couldn’t get self to exercise).

But the more I tried, the worse it was getting.

One evening, as I was feeling terrible, decided to make my 2nd cup of coffee.
While waiting for the kettle to boil, I walked over to a box of books and pulled out my favorites on depression.

I skimmed a few pages and it started to make sense.

Depression is like a Flu for the brain. It comes and goes.
If we think of depression as a lifelong disease (ie: cancer, aids), something that we have to destroy, then it’s going to be a tough road ahead.

If we think of depression like a flu or like a season (winter), then it’s easier to manage. There are some who believe that being melancholic is a normal part of our personality (see 3rd tweet below).

It’s unreasonable to expect everyday to be Spring. Shouldn’t it be unreasonable to expect everyday to be cheerful?

The trouble with melancholy or depression is when we try to resist feeling depressed. That’s what makes it worse (see 5th tweet).

Depression is not life threatening, if you’re a healthy person.

You know the pattern for a cold.
Cold –> Flu –> Pneumonia –> Death

The worse your immune system, the worse you’ll feel and possibly die.
If you are healthy, recovery before it gets too bad.

I think the same is true for depression.
The worse your mental immune system, the worse you’ll feel and possibly die.

If you’re an alcoholic, do tons of drugs, party hard and never sleep, screw over as many people as possible, lie/cheat/steal, eat a poor diet, have low levels of neurotransmitters, and don’t take care of yourself:
Sadness –> Melancholy –> Deep Depression –> Suicide

Depression is only a flu.
It will pass. Take care of yourself as if you had the flu.
Rest, eat well, take your medication/supplements, be nice to yourself, drink something warm, watch something funny.
And wait it out.
DO NOT RESIST.

This is only a theory. I have no facts to back this up.

Anyways, as I was figuring this out a couple of days ago, I decided to tweet.
Maybe it’ll help you out next time you are feeling blue, melancholic, or depressed.

Resources:
1. Full Buddha Quote
2. High dose vitamin c for flu
3. Cold – Flu – Pneumonia
4. “The influenza virus can be very uncomfortable and cause a major disruption in our busy lives. It is important to remember that most healthy people will suffer a mere 3-5 days.” – Dr. Mark Hyman
5. Zen Teacher Cheri Huber talks trying to commit suicide due to depression, then finding zen practice that helped her.