How to beat depression?

It was April 2018. I was working a dead beat job in Gurugram to support myself financially. I was a published author, and a handful of folks loved my writing, yet writing never paid the bills. I always had to secure a paying gig to keep the water running.

I was living alone on the 5th floor of a shabby apartment. My pay was meager, and as usual, I hated what I did. Though I was working for a global giant, all in all, it was a mundane job. What made the situation worse was a prevalent culture of lying to paying customers. Instead of focussing on problem-solving, we were encouraged to make false promises. Promises which were never fulfilled.

I always had an issue with lying. It complicates life unnecessarily in ways we can’t comprehend. Once you start telling lies, you are sucked into a vacuum of insecurity. The idea is to win the trust of the other person by the assistance of a well-formed lie. You see the irony here!

Honesty untangles life. You do not need to keep track of your past statements. Your soul remains pure and untarnished. That’s why children are considered innocent. They haven’t learned the art of deceiving yet. In the coming years, they will ape the people around them, slowly pushing their divine consciousness into a bottomless pit filled with pitch-black darkness.

Lying kills!

That guy who coined – honesty is the best policy – he was an embodiment of the god himself. It’s truly profound. If you imbibe honesty into the fabric of your being, you will be unstoppable.

Try being totally honest with yourself and the people around you. It will change your life. You will witness an awakening as you slowly rise miraculously from the depth of the abyss, hurling towards a glowing ball of light.

Honesty isn’t limited to speech.

Your thoughts need to be honest.

Your deeds need to be honest.

So, there I was, lonely and broken, in a tiny room, crying myself to sleep every night. I was caught in an endless loop.

Every morning I broke my promise to myself.

Each night before passing out, I made the same promise to myself.

I pledged to wake up early, and prepare my breakfast, give my day a healthy start.

Each morning I failed. I found myself struggling to open my eyes. The courage to kick off a splendid day wasn’t inside me. I struggled, only to give up, adding a ton of pain to my misery.

Now, at this moment, you need to understand that there was nothing really wrong with me. Apart from underlying mental health issues, I had everything in control. However, due to my personal failures, I was sliding into the dungeon of depression.

Ideally, I had everything one could ask for.

I had a place to live in.

I had a job.

I had books.

I had a TV.

I had utensils to cook food.

I had a few friends too.

People listened to me.

I was getting laid also.

All was going well!

Yet, I wasn’t living up to my potential. This unfulfilled sensation inside me got heavier with each lie. I was dying. It was a painfully slow death.

I could have easily quit my job, but the kind of person I am, I prefer giving things a little time. After all, I am just a chimpanzee in clothes, what the fuck do I know about what’s right and what’s not working!

Every morning I woke up late, marking the beginning of an average day. Chocolate bars became a lifesaver. They were my breakfast and my dinner.

At work, I peddled lies, surviving on processed junk.

I had a few friends. We were a small support group. We used to listen to each other complain while getting high. I was aware that all this accomplished was added misery. Yet, I continued!

What else could I have done? A little weed, made the day bearable! I couldn’t let it go.

After work, upon reaching my den, all I was capable of doing was binge-watch some random brain dead TV show, waiting for sleep to overwhelm me.

I had no strength to cook. I cursed myself every night while munching a chocolate bar.

I badly wanted to write but couldn’t gear myself up to such a demanding task. With each passing day, my loathing for myself intensified exponentially. I had no self-esteem left. I was totally broken.

The turmoil within me was no longer in my control. The voices in my head grew louder. They had me convinced to jump from the top of my building.

I casually shared my suicidal thoughts with a dear friend. He’s a sensible guy. He gets me. We have shared a bond for the past 15 years. He patiently explained to me the downside of jumping from a 5 storey building. The chances of getting crippled were extremely high. There was barely a possibility of me ending up dead.

I could have ended up being a cripple, not dead!

Well, that’s not a desirable outcome.

To increase possibilities of instant death, one must throw themselves from at least the 12th floor. Anything lower than that will break your back but won’t kill you.

This fact alarmed me even more. I simply wanted to put a stop to my life, not complicate it further. Jumping from the 5th floor wouldn’t have been ideal!

At this point, I had completely given up on life. I was more excited to end it than bear a never-ending ordeal.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2010. Living with such a terrible disease is exhausting. There are constant highs and lows. Even the tiniest moment of pain or happiness appeared as an event. I endured it for 10 long years. I wanted to give up now. I had no bravery or courage left in me anymore.

Now, to a lot many folks, ending your own life might sound easy. However, it is more complicated than killing someone. If you have to kill someone, all you need is a time, a place, and a method. But, when you are trying to kill yourself, you must devise a result-oriented painless strategy.

Added responsibility, you see!

I couldn’t shoot myself. (Didn’t have a gun)

I couldn’t stab myself. (Not enough strength)

I couldn’t jump. (My building wasn’t tall enough)

I couldn’t light myself on fire. (Too brutal)

I didn’t want to drown. (Tough to execute)

I didn’t want a chance street accident. (Low success rate)

How about poisoning, I asked? It seemed like a good idea at that point in time!

At this point, I need to skip a few details to protect my sources. Just understand that I am a highly resourceful person. If I am motivated to get something, I get it!

So, a few days later, I have in my possession a highly potent poison.

A day later, I decide – today is the day!

I write a detailed suicide note mentioning how much my parents loved me, repeatedly pleading the world not to judge me.

I follow the guidelines and ingest the recommended dose.

30 minutes later, the poison gets to work.

I experience stomach cramps.

I vomit all over my bed.

I hallucinate for more than an hour while shitting and puking myself.

Liquid was oozing out of every hole in my body.

There was a moment when I almost felt dead. I had an out of body experience. I saw myself leaving my body. This could have merely been a hallucination, but it seemed real.

While my soul was roaming my room in the middle of tons of puke and shit, I posed a question to myself – am I dead?

And the next moment, I see myself back in my feeble body. I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I wouldn’t die.

Every fabric of my physical being resisted death.

Now, this is a fact which a lot many goal-oriented aspiring suiciders aren’t aware of. Irrespective of how firm your resolve might be, you won’t achieve your desired outcome because your mind and body aren’t in sync.

You, in your thought, want to die. However, your physical being and your primitive brain are programmed with survival as a primary directive. Their job is to protect you from danger. And, when it comes to their primary task, they do a perfect job. This is an area they won’t disappoint you.

I drank a lot of liquid and continued with my experience.

An hour down the line, I was almost dead but not dead.

I gathered whatever strength I had left, cleaned myself and my room, hid the suicide note, and sat in the middle of my stinking bed with a renewed understanding that I won’t succeed in killing myself until it’s my time to die.

The next day, I emailed a resignation to my boss, called an Uber, informed my landlord that I need to leave, and headed to my parents in Vasundhara.

I took a break for a week. Ate healthy and worked out.

A week later, I was hunting for a co-working space to start my own content marketing firm.

I am not sure how many of you have experienced depression and suicidal tendencies, but I know its quite prevalent.

A lot of advice is floating around ways to deal with depression, yet there is no credible resource. I am not a health professional, and you probably shouldn’t listen to me either, yet my battle of more than 10 years of managing highs and lows has taught me a lot. I will love to share it with you all. That’s my goal for the day.

First of all, depression isn’t bad. It is a crucial phase. When our psyche realizes that our current self isn’t our desired self, we experience depression. It is a wake-up call to make necessary changes for building the base of a fulfilled life. When you tackle your depression the right way, you come out as a winner.

The question remains, what’s the right way?

In my experience, there are five central axis which we need to work on during depression.

1. Physical Fitness

2. Healthy Eating

3. Productive Activity

4. Relationships

5. Thought Process

We will discuss all of these in detail –

Physical Fitness

Morning Routine – If you are feeling depressed, the first thing you must do is establish a routine. Our biological processes depend a lot on circadian rhythm. The moment things are not working your way, make sure you start waking up and sleeping at the same time. And that doesn’t mean sleeping at 2 am and waking up at 1 pm. We need to respect the nature. You should wake up with the sun and sleep around the sunset.

I am not asking you to wake up at 4 am and sleep by 9 pm. However, you should wake up before 7 am and sleep before 10 pm. This is elemental to your recovery.

Exercise – You cannot be stuck in a state of inertia. You must move. Whether a walk in the park or regular strength training, your body needs to burn energy. The easiest way would be to go for a morning run the moment you wake up. 

Begin with keeping your sneakers at the side of your bed. The moment your alarm yells, charge forward, out of the house.

Get A Job – Unemployment clubbed with depression can be a deadly combo. Whether you enjoy your job or not, your mental wellbeing depends heavily on your daily work output. Trust me, you might feel you are better off at home, yet you should go to work. Working daily will make you feel a little better, even if your mind tells you otherwise.

If you are jobless, eat a healthy breakfast and go out daily for job-hunting.

Healthy Eating

Food – Your mood is defined by your diet. Eating healthy is essential even on regular days; however, during the depression, you must be extra cautious of what you consume. Do not consume sugar or high carbs diet. You should eat a protein-rich diet and ensure the intake of essential fatty acids. Protein and omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for a healthy mind. Depression makes life unbearable. Healthy eating can change that.

Substance – Any sort of substance – alcohol, weed, or cocaine – will make your depression worse. Indulging in substance abuse seems like a great idea during the depression, yet using substances will delay your recovery. Avoid any sort of intoxicating agent, including nicotine. They will make you foggy, further deteriorating your already flawed thought process.

Do What You Love

Hobbies – Dancing, singing, painting, gardening…. Whatever lights up your mood, invest at least 30 minutes daily doing that. Even if you are in a dead beat job, these few moments of delight can give you the hope that not all is lost.

Journaling – Daily journals are an intimate dialogue with ourselves. Depression messes up our thought process badly. We experience low self-esteem and barely think straight. Daily journals can act as a helpful tool. Writing down your plan for the day and reviewing yesterday, gives a sense of accomplishment, presenting you with a real-life picture rather than a monstrous morphed image, your brain is hell-bent on producing.

Don’t give up on your dreams – My dreams kept me alive. Our aspirations push us forward. Never ever give up on your dreams. If you enjoy doing something, do it daily. 

Get better at it. 

Make realistic plans.

Track your progress. 

Work on your dreams. Dreams are important. 

Don’t let the world steal your dreams away!

Relationship

Don’t plug out – Human beings are social animals. I am not referring to a herd mentality. I am not asking you to fit in. I am not asking you to behave like others. However, you cannot deny the underlying need for affection and love.

You might have experienced a rough childhood, had your share of heartbreaks and backstabbing, resulting in a negative outlook towards people. Yet, you have good friends, you have family, you have that special someone – reach out to them. It is hard to reach others during depression, yet you must do so. 

Send at least 5 texts, make 3 calls, and speak to a person face to face daily. 

Human contact matters!

With Yourself – Someone must have chuckled in the last para, claiming they have none. No family, no friends, no special someone, no neighbors, no pets either. Well, buddy, you still got yourself!

Our relationship with ourselves matters the most. There are two people inside you. 

Oh, please don’t panic, you don’t suffer from multiple personality disorder! All I mean is there is the logical side and the emotional side. Make them talk to each other. Find common ground.

There’s one who says you are awful, good for nothing! 

Question him. 

Talk to him, understand him, plan with him. 

Talk to yourself. Don’t overdo. Don’t go deranged. But fix your relationship with yourself. Love and respect yourself. 

Find your strengths and weaknesses. Find what you love and hate. Improve. Be a better version of yourself.

Thought Process

Once you start talking to yourself, you will identify flaws in your thinking. Either you will see yourself being a victim or being irrational. You would be right many times also. 

Depression messes up your thought process. You need to reclaim your control. 

Always be mindful of your inner dialogue. Don’t let it misguide you. The world owes you nothing, and you owe yourself a lot. That’s the base you need to begin on. Further, nurture your self by consuming the right content. 

Listen to Dr. Jordan Peterson, Robin Sharma, Joe Rogan, and other sensible people. Learn from them. Stay away from religious cult leaders. They are always on the lookout to recruit depressed individuals as they are easy to convince.

Depression is more than a disease. It is a phase of your life. The way you deal with your depression will determine the person you will become in the future. Do not take it casually. Neither let it engulf you. You are way stronger than you think.

In the end, everyone beats depression and comes out a winner.

You will too!

Finally, two golden rules –

Never hesitate to see a doctor!

When things go out of hand, you need an expert. There is no shame in visiting a specialist. Medicines are a necessity to manage chronic depression. If society has worked so hard to develop medications that will ease your pain, you shouldn’t avoid them. 

Don’t waste time listening to Johnny Cash!

“I hurt myself today

To see if I still feel

I focus on the pain

The only thing that’s real!”

Yes, pain is real.

Yes, pain is potent.

Yes, pain is profound.

Pain alone can give you enough push to transform your life.

Yet, you don’t need to be in pain 24/7.

It is another form of self-abuse if you intentionally allow yourself to be in pain for more than the period it is needed. 

Don’t turn into a pain addict.

Seek help!

Never attempt suicide!

Buddy, you do not have free will when it comes to choosing the time of your birth and death. These are independent events that occur beyond the control of us petty humans. Instead of wasting time on well-laid plans around ending your life, spend your time wisely on restructuring your life in an orderly manner. 

Believe me, death isn’t the end of your misery. Death is a curse. 

Life is a chance to be happy. And you only get one shot at it. 

Don’t waste this golden opportunity!

Remember, the sun shines the brightest once the dark night ends. 

The dark night always ends.

The sun rises daily!

Hope this helped.

Tell me about your depression. I would love to know.