Choose your Story: Depression and the Power to Change.
“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present”
Well I am back again. I do not remember the last time I wrote anything, or what it was even about. It is fair to say that life has gotten in the way of expressing my thoughts via written (typed) word. It is something that I used to do all the time and used to be fun for me. So with that being said, I have recently gotten to a point in my life, in my training, and in my chaotic mental state (F*** you grad school) to put pen (fingers) to pad (keyboard) and scratch something together from the thoughts and experiences of the last damn near six months. Here goes nothing.
So over the last few months I have personally been battling with my own particular type of depression. I am not a doctor, nor did I get diagnosed with depression in the clinical sense, but I felt it. I felt the urge to do the things I love dissipate, and I found myself doing all the things I knew I shouldn’t be doing (excessive drinking, overeating, overall lazy-fat-bastardy activities). I could attribute it to the seasons or that it was cold out or whatever the hell. Hell, I could have attributed it to the fact that I was tackling an internship, four grad school classes, and somehow trying to afford rent (thank you Ebay for selling my junk). You see, I was surrounded by changes and seemed to lack the foundation, the rock, or the grounding that I needed. Though, as I come to the other side of things, with a graduation set in May, and the looming beginning of my “real life” in the work force, I have since discovered exactly what my issue was. I was thinking too much and it was completely my fault.
I am saying it was all my fault in the emo, black eye-shadow, self-deprecating sense. I mean that I was not utilizing the power I had to change my thoughts. Yes, all of the changes that were going on in my life were difficult and any single one of them seems like a full time commitment. Training for Strongman Nationals, focusing on your diet (aka trying to not eat all the pastas and cakes...Gimmie), attending Four Masters Level Classes and the work involved with that, and working several days a week (for free) at a High School, are all time consuming activities. Stress is bound to happen. Slip ups are bound to happen. The thing is though that there was no reason for me to worry, become depressed, and negatively effect my own health. The only thing that did was make it harder to complete all the things that I needed to get done. It was not the fault of the workload, training volume, diet restrictions, or annoying high school kids I had to deal with that was CAUSING me stress. Nothing can MAKE YOU STRESSED. The feelings you are feeling are your own. You choose to feel that way about certain tasks. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you feel better.
It is true, I was stressing MYSELF out. More than I ever have before in my life. I was blaming everything for making me feel like shit. The world was making me depressed and the world was at fault. That is not true though. I have come to find out recently (like 15 minutes before writing this) that I am in control of everything in regards to how I choose to feel about things. I choose my emotions. I choose my reactions and so do you. You get to pick how you see today, this moment, this stretch of trying time in your life. You have the power to feel better. Right now.
Try this as an example. Take your situation you are in right now that stresses you out. Think about the details of it. The who, what, where, when, how of the situation. Now think about what scares you, intimidates you, worries you, and be honest about it to yourself. The more honest you are the quicker you will feel better. If you are worried that you will fail at your job or your school, say that. If you are scared every day at your internship because you have never dealt with kids one and one before and you do not want to say the wrong thing aka swear like a drunken sailor (...totally just an example..) then say it. Find your demons and recognize them. Put a name to the big scary thing in your mind. Examine it from all angles.
Now this part is going to sound a little far out for some of you but bear with me because this is a real thing. I want you to put a name to that fear. If it is fear call it Fear. If it is anxiety call it such. The point is that you need to put a name to the feeling. Next I want you to imagine that that feeling is it’s own being. Think of it as an evil spirit, or a demon, or a monster, or your mother-in-law. Just put a FACE to the feeling. The point is to try to identify as much of your feeling as you can. Then, what you do next is separate it from yourself. Literally imagine it is sitting in a chair across from you, or on the other side of the couch. Again, sounds cooky, but give it a shot. Do whatever you need to do to visualize that you are not the same as your fear. Your fear, anxiety, worry, depression, sadness, is not who YOU are. Think about situations before that feeling ATTACKED you. Think about how good you felt the last time you remember not BEING ASSAULTED by that feeling or having that feeling ATTEMPT to overcome how YOU are feeling. The more you separate yourself from that feeling, the more you realize that you are NOT that feeling, the quicker you can realize how much power you have over your emotions and how you react to things. This is actually known as Narrative Therapy and is a real psychological tool used to help people get over anxieties and stresses in life. It is essentially a therapy that involves changing the narrative (story) of your life. You are currently telling yourself a negative narrative, and this process will help you realize that you can be experiencing a much more positive one that you are in control of. The reason Narrative Therapy works is that you separate your ego and self from that feeling, and you constantly remind yourself of situations that counteract or are opposite of that feeling. For example, if you anxious at work about an upcoming project, you would single out the anxiety as something that is trying to get in your way, and replay times where you were successful and kicked the shit out of the assignments you were given. Seems simple, and crazy, but it is one of the many tools Therapists and psychologists use to help their clients.
Give yourself the respect and power you deserve in your life. It is after all your life to live. You can choose to be negative and depressed, or you can realize that the things you do with your life and the feelings you are feeling are in your control. Never forget that at any single point in your life, you have the power to stop, think about what you are doing, and redirect it. You just need to take the time to do so.
Do not forget that there is always time to be happy and enjoy where you are. Crush some fucking weights at the gym, blast some music, joke, laugh, make someone else smile, be kind and generous, own your negative thoughts and replace them with the thoughts of being happy and soon you will feel that happiness overtake you and everything you do. No matter how smart we think we are we are still stupid animals that need to be trained. Choose happy and understand that you can do it, no matter how dark things are.
Live your Damn Life.