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Ways to Overcome Depression: The Path of Light

By Andrew Burgon / phoenix@projectfellowship.com
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October 26, 2013

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Ways to Overcome Depression

Here I present some ways to overcome depression based on my personal and traumatic bout of depression many years ago. I’ll briefly touch on my story of circumstance-related depression and then elaborate on what made the difference for me.

They say one in ten Americans fall into depression at some point in their lives. My descent into hell was due to how I felt about the friendships in my life. I won’t go into details but eventually I lost all hope of finding true and close friends and embarked on a fairly solitary life for a year. That unfortunately only made things much worse.

My mental health was deteriorating. Dark thoughts that were gradually getting worse assailed me daily. I knew something had to be done urgently. I was really close to making that needed appointment with a psychologist when something happened that would transform my life.

I think of this episode of my life where I not only came out of depression but healed my mind of it’s aftermath as the path of light. I wish to somehow deconstruct this path so that others who are in a similar boat can construct their own.

Seek Out Inspiration

A flash of inspiration was the catalyst I needed for change. It came when I watched Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. The scene where the riders of Rohan charged the giant elephants.

For some reason I saw the elephants as the apathy, indifference and carelessness of others that so troubled me. The depicted courage in the scene of going up against impossible odds lit my own torch of courage in regards to my friendship endeavors. It was an intense and eye-brow raising few moments.

A gritty and fierce determination took hold of me. From that time on I flew open the doors of my life and became very active socially hosting many events and attending others. My attitude went from, “Nobody cares so why bother,” to ,”I will find friends who care.” Courage is a great reframer of dis-empowering thinking.

This inspiration took me by surprise. There have been a number of times since where I’ve deliberately gone in search for inspiration and found it. So, seek out inspiration deliberately. You might find it in music, biographies, in the people you know, in places or even things. If it empowers you to take positive action then you know you have found the right kind.

I think of inspiration as courage’s kin. If you lack courage inspiration can fill you with it.

Take Action

Don’t wait for a ‘savior’ riding on a white horse to come and pluck you out of the jaws of depression. I feel this is especially so for people suffering from depression. Why? Because we are misunderstood and a lot of people don’t seek to understand. For example, if you behave a certain way because you are in great mental pain others may criticize you for being rude. They might even make a mental note to avoid you. It doesn’t even cross their mind to take a moment and understand why.

My first action was to invite two co-workers I liked to my home for a Christmas meal. Other initial actions included making lists of people I knew who I was interested in befriending. Coming up with a list of social events I wanted to host. Expanding the circle of people I knew considerably. Buying extra seats. Inviting a lot of people to my events.

Consider, “How Am I Responsible?”

One of the most powerful questions I have ever asked myself is, “How am I responsible for my friendship situation?” I dwelled on this question a lot and made many changes in my life as a result. For example, one of the things that had exasperated me friendship-wise was the fact that I was a long-term expatriate that had friends coming and going all the time. I started to befriend other long-term expatriates instead of short-term ones. That definitely was helpful.

They say ignorance is bliss. Well, it can also cause a great deal of pain, bewilderment, exasperation and regret. Introspection and making changes based on what I discovered played a very important part in my recovery.

Deep introspection dispels ignorance and reveals things in your life that need to change and important ideas that need to be embraced. It is here that you become aware of liabilities in your habits, attitudes, beliefs and lifestyle.

The Power of Many Distinctions: Seek to Learn

Another question I dwelled on was, “How can I live on a higher strata of satisfying and rewarding friendships? How can I draw good friends into my life?” I dwelled on that for ages. I think Anthony Robbins has it right. Questions are the answer.

We sometimes find ourselves in a dark labyrinth of sorts and the way out is not so clear. My personal experience is that forging questions and dwelling on them a lot is like lighting a torch and getting a sense of which way is out.

Become More Discerning and Learn to Let Go

I was the kind of person who had all the friendship slots in my life filled with superglue. The one who sat at the back of the room with the people he socialized with feeling lonely. Bewildered by my inability to fit in and strike up some good friendships.

My need to become more discerning in friendships was highlighted and underscored by my previous experiences. I learnt to become more discerning in my friendships. To be more observant of people’s behavior especially in relation to my extended hand of friendship,  initiative towards them and generosity.  I finally figured it out that the friendship slots in my life should be teflon coated.

In hindsight, other things I note about ascending out of the abyss of depression was a  rock-solid commitment, gritty determination and sheer perseverance. How did I come in possession of these qualities?

If only these things could be summoned in a moment! Alas, many people only change dramatically when they reach the threshold of pain. In my case, it was a gunpowder keg of severe depression and experiences I was unhappy with that caused me to do a hard reset in my life. The flash of inspiration and enduring courage I mentioned lit the kegs fuse. BANG!

My harsh experience with depression told me that there was no turning back. I now knew from my solitary lifestyle experiment that it wasn’t an option.  That it was an all out effort to make the kind of friends I desired. By hook or by crook I was going to find the ways to make it happen. Project Fellowship was born.

Transformative Power

This path of light had a transformative power on me as it no doubt will with you. For a starters, I became far more outgoing, charismatic, discerning and knowledgeable in the arena of friendship. I was reaching out to others on a scale that I had never even come close to achieving before. I lived my life in  a way that was far more congruent and supportive of achieving a result I deeply desired.

The path has the ability to heal as well. In my case over a period of a year it dispelled depression, healed me from emotional ‘hemorrhaging’ and uncluttered my psyche of negative debri. This was partly due to simply spending lots of time with groups of people.

Don’t allow yourself to languish in despair. Neither allow yourself to suffer unnecessarily due to a lack of action and understanding Pick yourself up, dust yourself off as I did and begin the journey you need to take.

Do you have anything beneficial to add to ways to overcome depression? Would love to hear it.

—————-

“Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

– Thomas Wayne, Batman Begins.

 
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