Defeating the depression monster: How I won my battle against depression and how you can too
Every month Millennial Thoughts will feature a book that you need to read to help you improve your life, reach your goals and become a better person.
Our book of the month is Rewire: Change Your Brain to Break Bad Habits, Overcome Addictions, Conquer Self-Destructive Behavior by Richard O’Connor, PhD.
In today’s day and age, most of us are fortunate enough to live a peaceful life. A life wherein we can eat more than three times a day, binge-watch our favorite shows, have a well-paying job, a happy family and so on. Meanwhile, some people suffer from depression. These people have a war going on inside their head, a battle against the depression monster. You never know when the person beside you is suffering from depression. He/She might pretend to be happy, but deep inside he/she is being dragged down into a state of perceived nothingness.
Depression is real and often misunderstood.
Let me be honest with you; I suffered from depression for the past few years. “Suffered” as in past tense because now I finally defeated that dream-killer monster. When I was still suffering from depression, I didn’t know what to do anymore. There were times when I just want to end everything.
On the outside, I look all right. People don’t know that I’m depressed or battling against a monster inside my head. When I won the battle against the depression monster, I felt awakened and enlightened. It gave me a feeling that my body is regularly seeking throughout these years.
So what about you? I’m sure you’re suffering from depression and anxiety now and then. Well, you’re in great luck today. I’ll tell you some of my tips and tricks on how I won my battle against depression.
Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
When was the last time you were an observer of your thoughts? When was the last time you became still and focused on your breathing? Have you ever told your mind to stay quiet and say “Shh.”?
Before I got depressed, I never practiced meditation. I wasn’t a huge believer of its effects. When I was still a teenager, I thought meditation was some mumbo-jumbo that I saw on television. Being raised in a Catholic family, we never reflection as part of our daily life.
Then here comes the depression monster, f*cking up my mind like never before. There’s this voice that whispers, a voice that can end my dreams. This voice got me worried about my future and my past. It didn’t allow me to live in the present moment. It just filled my mind with these delusions.
So one day, I decided to try out this app called “Headspace” - mindfulness and guided meditation app. This was my first time trying meditation. It didn’t quiet my mind, BUT meditation allowed me to live in the present moment, to be an observer of my thoughts and to identify what’s real and what’s not. So right now, meditation is part of my daily routine. I meditate 20-30 minutes every morning before I start my day.
Meditation can help you too, for starters do this for 3-5 minutes every day and start increasing your time week by week. There are tons of mindfulness apps right now, I recommend “Headspace,” or you can listen to guided meditations on YouTube.
If you don’t have a routine, I urge you to have one and then add meditation to help you start your day.
Keep in mind that stillness is power!
Accept Life The Way It Is
Bruce Lee once said, “Be like water, my friend.” That saying means that we should be formless, adaptable in life. We should accept that life is made up of good and evil. The light and dark completes it.
When it comes to accepting life to battle depression, we must consider the harsh reality that we can’t have everything we want. We can’t control other people’s emotions, perception and thoughts about us, what we can only control is our own thoughts, actions, feelings, and emotions. We must accept the reality of everything we do matters. Our efforts will always have good and bad consequences.
Life is unfair. Life is complete with the good and the bad, so accept it and get your act together!
Exercise a Lot
How often do you exercise? Alternatively, do you even exercise? Exercise is an excellent way of defeating depression. Our body releases chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals interact with the receptors in our brain that reduces the perception of pain. Exercise benefits our mental and physical health. If you aren’t busy, try doing simple activities like swimming, jogging, running, and play team sports.
When I was battling with depression, I used boxing and martial arts as my form of exercise to pour out all my negative thoughts and energy inside my head and body. It was a challenging experience at first, but with constant training, my body got used to it, I improved my conditioning level, learned self-defense, and expanded my social circle. Talk about a win-win situation!
Have a Social Media Detox
Social media makes us depressed. For the past few years, researchers have shown that the way we use social media is causing depression especially when we start comparing ourselves with other people and when we are addicted to it. We love to take photos of our food and vacations to show the world how happy we are but are we pleased with what we're doing? On the other hand, we just want to show off to get likes, followers, and shares.
I definitely miss those days when you don’t have to take a photo or video to show your value to the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love how social media connects each one of us. I even use this to promote my blog and other projects.
Social media is an ally of the depression monster because it exposes us. It shows how sad and incomplete we really are in our life.
When was the last time you took a social media break? Everyone in our society right now keeps looking down, tied to their phones. If you’re just using social media for "social comparisons" and to waste your time you definitely need to take a break. Uninstalling these apps from your phone won’t destroy your life. Don't worry it's not a crime to leave social media once in a while.
Change your Food Intake. Eat Healthily
Who would’ve thought that our food intake affects our mental health? Before I got rid of my depression, my food intake was awful. I was a certified meat eater during those years. I never used alcohol or cigarette as an escape to my reality like most people would do because I know it would damage my health in the future. I used to love sweets as well and of course stress eating.
Then one day I’ve had enough, I want to become a better person and improve my overall health. So I decided to change my diet from meat-based into a plant-based diet. I watched some documentaries and read some articles on how people transformed their lives by eating a plant-based diet. It was difficult during the first few weeks because my body had to adjust but as my body got used to it, I felt great. My whole body improved, mentally and physically.
It was a great awakening experience for me.
To win your battle against depression you should consider changing your diet.
Surround Yourself with Positivity
Our environment plays a huge part when it comes to our mental health. We must learn how to stand up and disregard the noise or the critics. A lot of us are afraid to create space for these negative people. It’s a worse scenario when you are depressed then the people around you are full of negativity.
To win your battle against the depression monster you need to surround yourself with positivity by having a mentor, listen to educational or motivational Podcasts, watch YouTube videos that give you value.
Start Doing what You Love.
What is your passion? What is it that you love to do? Young adults or teens these days suffer from depression because they don’t like what they’re doing. They are just doing it for the money.
The harsh reality of life is our parents have their own expectations for us. If we don’t reach that level or follow it, we are considered failure. So what happens is: you have these young adults waking up every day “sheep walking” working on a job that they hate in exchange for money to buy what they want.
Here’s a reality that not everyone agrees with: money can’t buy happiness. The rich get depressed because of having too many problems caused by money. This is where self-awareness plays a part. When you are self-aware, you know what you want and not following the standards set by our consumerist society. When you start doing what you love you’ll notice how beautiful your life can be and you’ll reach your full potential.
Find your “Why.”
What is your purpose in life? Why are you here? We tend to suffer from depression because we lack purpose. We don’t know our “Why.”
I got depressed because I didn’t know my purpose. I used to believe the advice “follow your passion” works, but it turns out that information is wrong. Following your passion is dangerous because it won’t set you on a straight path while finding your purpose gives you a way that has reason and a goal.
As best selling author Ryan Holiday wrote in his book Ego is the Enemy, Passion is about. (I am so passionate about ______.) Purpose is to and for. (I must do ______. I was put here to accomplish ______. I am willing to endure ______ for the sake of this.)
Once you identify your purpose, I guarantee you that you’ll win your battle against the deadly depression monster.
These are the tips on how to battle the depression monster. Keep in mind that you’re not alone experiencing depression. However, you must realize to suppress depression it all comes down to you.
In life, there are no superheroes, princess or prince charming that will save you from this.
Nobody will save you but yourself. I hope to hear from you in the next few weeks, months or years on how this helped you win your battle against depression.