Alexandra Massey from her latest book Beat Depression Fast
Being in the depths of depression can seem like you’re being pulled into a black, stinking swamp. I should know – I suffered from chronic depression for years. I know how debilitating it can be. And also deceiving because even though it looks like there’s nothing wrong with you on the outside, you’re dying inside. Depression robs you of motivation to do anything positive until you eventually give up on yourself, and all you can feel is hopelessness.
But you can beat depression, believe me. I was able to, and here I am – recovered, healed and sorted. Well most of the time. But here’s the thing, when you’ve been that far down, and you’ve come back up, you know exactly how to get yourself out of the black hole, quicker, because you know what works.
I know if I’m sinking back into the swamp there are 3 things I can do within the next hour to beat depression:
Accept, Stop Thinking and Refocus.
1) Accept the depression
It’s very normal to fight the feelings of depression because it’s what we’re taught: think your way out of a problem, develop positive mental attitude etc. This works fine for many things, but not depression. I spent hours, days, no WEEKS going over and over what I should do to try and pull myself out of the depression yet I ended up simply diving deeper into it. That was until a voice in my head said: accept it. And so I did. After all, I had no other choice.
The irony is that the more you fight the depression, the worse it gets and the stronger it has you in its grip. So begin to let go of trying to control it. Instead say OK, I’m depressed so what, now what? This simple approach will be turning point and you may instantly feel better. Fighting it is futile, exhausting, and whipping yourself for being depressed will make it ten times worse. Accepting it creates an opening and releases energy you’ve used to fight it. Fighting it creates more inner conflict. Letting it go creates a cease fire.
Beat depression now – Accept the depression and let go of the inner conflict
2) Stop Thinking
Now I know what you’re thinking ‘Why stop thinking? Surely it’s OK to think, in fact, I get paid to think!’ But when we’re depressed we think far too much. And it’s not just any old thinking; this is real hard-core thinking. At frightening speed. Going over and over and over stuff by constantly playing back different scenarios with different outcomes of what could have been or might be. I never saw this as a problem until I accepted I was depressed. I noticed this speeding racing car in my head spinning around so fast it made me dizzy. It was a major energy drain, keeping me from being in the present moment, and it kept my depression constantly in the forefront of my mind.
So, the second tip is to train yourself to stop thinking. Sounds easy right? Boy is it hard! The key is to recognise how much you’re thinking. This helps to get a little distance from the ‘mind racing’. Begin to watch your thoughts like they are on a go kart track. Start to see those thoughts as being separate from you, the person inside. They are simply thoughts and you can choose to act on them, or simply watch them. Do this for a few seconds then expand the few seconds into a minute. This will create an opening inside another part of you and you will feel a sense of peace. The key is to practice.
Beat depression now – Watch your thoughts as if they are separate from you; try for a few seconds at a time then expand it to a minute.
3) Refocus your attention into your body
Once my thoughts started to slow down I could experience this opening whenever I wanted. It was a gap without my mind incessantly talking at me. I began to feel different; more alive, calmer and more present. This dissolved the depression – within minutes. I began to feel more serene and peaceful. It’s a ‘thing’ of beauty but which has no name. It’s an expanding stillness or presence in which real love flows; love for others and myself. The depression became irrelevant because it had dissolved. Peace had replaced it.
Bring your attention into your stomach. Hold it there for a few seconds. Imagine a tiny spot of light just behind your naval and expand it to the size of a melon. Pay attention to the shape, the edges and luminosity. Notice how light and airy it feels. Whenever your attention wanders back into your mind, escort it back to your stomach. Practice this whenever you remember. The calmness you experience may only last for a nano-second but, the more you do it, the more it will expand into seconds and then minutes until you can summon it at will.
Beat depression now – Bring your attention into your stomach and hold it there for one minute. When your mind wanders, which it will, simply escort it back to your stomach and feel the peace.
Practise these three steps whenever you remember to keep a hold on your depression. If you’re waiting in a queue, sitting in the car or need to take a break from your screen, simply Accept, Stop Thinking and Re-Focus. When you wake up or before you go to sleep, take a few minutes and make this your meditation. Make it part of your life. Depression is often the result of over thinking. Apply these steps and feel the difference.
Beat Depression Fast is a ten step programme designed to defeat depression and stay on top of negative thoughts. It’s available now, and you can buy the book here.
Do you have any tried and tested ways to beat depression? Please share them below!