For the latest in my human wellbeing series, I’m writing about living with depression. This is really uncomfortable for me as I will be sharing more of myself than ever before on a public platform. I’ll be telling you things that nobody really knows about me and I have to be strong to write this. The reason I’m doing this, is to help anyone who is living with depression. I’m uncomfortable, but I’ve puffed my chest out and been brave, with the hope that maybe you will be inspired to do the same thing.
As a sufferer myself that has more than learned to live with it, by that I mean, found happiness and worth, I feel I’m in a good place to talk about this. If you are suffering, then first you need to hear these words that come straight from my heart:
You are loved
Things can and will get better.
How have I overcome depression to find happiness? I have found myself a purpose, that does good things in the world, helps people and gives them hope, and somehow, after a long hard fight, I have found it. Through the haze inside our minds, the clouds that close us in, we can feel trapped and hopeless, but you know, it us that are keeping ourselves there, and it is only us that can set ourselves free.
We have to have a dream, something good, something giving, something to work towards, and a direction. The first part of that dream, whatever that is for you, is getting better and learning to love yourself.
How to love yourself
When I was depressed, I was my own worst enemy. I felt worthless, like I could do nothing good and I was a complete waste of space. Basically, I hated myself. I’ve overcome this by soul searching, (click here to read about soul searching) by learning who I am inside out, and finding myself a direction that brings good to the world. It’s hard to hate yourself if you do that.
The truth of the matter is however, you cannot do it completely alone. I have chosen friends and a wife who are good for me, they encourage me and want the best for me, I don’t listen to people who aren’t and don’t. I can and do talk to them if I have an issue. You deserve to have friends like this too (click here to read about Friendship). Get rid of the ones that bring you down. If you’re not sure you can talk to a certain person, it’s better to not talk to them, you don’t trust them. Find someone you do trust, someone that loves you, and if you haven’t got that, speak to someone neutral that has no agenda or opinion (click here to find your local helpline). If you don’t, you stay silent, you stay lonely, you sit and you stew, this is what eats us up from the inside out. Reach out, there are people that will listen and people that want to help. It’ll take some bravery, a lot of bravery in fact, but hey, you deserve to feel loved and needed so please talk to someone. It won’t be easy, it’s hard to admit the way we feel because it hurts, it makes us feel like we’re weak. You know what? It isn’t weak, it’s brave, it’s strong and it is the first step on the road. Always remember, a journey of a million miles starts with a single step.
You, and I mean you, reading this, promise me you’ll reach out. You are important to me and when it seems no one cares, at least you should know, that I do.
Your life matters
I lost a friend to suicide when I was 23. My beloved and wonderful friend hung herself. She was smart, funny and the life and soul of any room. I’ll never forget the phone call, telling me what she had done or going with my mate to identify her body. I’ll never forget the fact, I knew she must have felt that no one loved her; I loved her, and I never told her. I’ll feel guilty about that for the rest of my days, even though it wasn’t my fault and I know it. It broke my heart. If you think the world is better off without you, you’re wrong. She must have thought the world was better off without her and now I’ll have a hole in my heart for the rest of my days. My world was not better without her. Please tell those that you love, that you love them, it could make the difference. It could be what they need to hear today.
The world can be better and is better because you existed. Believe it, you are beautiful and the only person you need to convince about that, is you. You are valid, you are someone who makes this planet a better place. Please, and I admit I have, if you have suicidal thoughts, talk to someone (click here to find your local helpline). The answer is never to steal one with such potential away from your family, your friends and the rest of the human family. We need more good humans in the world like you.
The first steps
The first steps are the hardest. You acknowledge you have a problem, now comes to making it better. This is where your guts get ripped out. The biggest fight is now.
Talk, talk and talk about it to people who are willing to listen. It would have been so much easier for me early on but it wasn’t what I did. I stewed, I let my pit of darkness get deeper and deeper until I’d almost convinced myself the world was better off without me. I was wrong and you are wrong. The only way to get better is to talk. If you have an illness, you’d take what the doctor gave you to get better and right now, talking is the pill you need for your mental health.
The key thing to me and I even remember the day it happened was a change in attitude, one day I said: “Screw this,” (in more colourful language,) “I’m not going to be like this anymore,” and all of a sudden, I wasn’t. I don’t mean I was better in an instant, how I wish that was true, I mean, I wanted to get better. I knew I was stuck here on this planet, with this soul, this body and this mind, so what? I had to learn to not only live with it, but also to love it because that is simply, what I am.
I know you wake up and you don’t want to do anything. The problem is you have to. No matter how lethargic, how down, how alone, we have to do day to day things. That is the only way to survive each day. Don’t get intimidated by the task before you, break it down. See each thing as a challenge instead of looking off into the distance, seeing the bad day ahead. Get out of bed and get ready, then congratulate yourself. Get to work, then congratulate yourself again, you made it champ! I mean congratulate yourself for making a nice cup of coffee. Sounds silly but all of this will build your confidence one thing at a time. You can’t afford to stare into a pit of nothing about how useless you are, I mean, you just made the best cup of coffee, you can’t be that useless after all. I know it sounds trivial, but it isn’t. The big picture of the things ahead can be daunting but getting on the bus is not nearly so. Be grateful, remember the good things, remember your friends and your family, the ones that love you, and the things you love to do in life and guess what? Do them. You are someone who is getting stronger, you are getting better every day, fighting your battle and you’re the one that’s winning. The beast inside will always lurk but we can keep it in its cage.
Making it happen
So, you’ve been fighting your internal war for a while now and you’re feeling better because you never gave up. You speak to someone when you have a bad day, instead of letting it crush your spirit. Now you can think bigger. What do you want to do in your life? I mean, what do you really want to do? How can you make a contribution to the human family? This can sound daunting too, to make big plans that may not work, but it really is as simple as this: All you have to do is dream. Learn the things you need to learn, to do the things you want to do, get them in place and then start the next part of the battle, doing them. Each step on the journey builds momentum, each achievement validates you more and more.
I know it sounds stupid but when I say something nice to someone on Twitter when they have a bad day and they say: “Thanks, I needed that today.” I feel great! I can’t hate myself when I’m making things like that happen. Use your experience in getting through the early days, to help others just starting on their journey and in age old tradition, we can pass our knowledge on and help others. Again, this will give us a sense of worth and that is what we need most of all.
Down the road
This is me, right where I am and where you will get too. I write books, even though I left school with very little education, they’re damn good too. I’m an entrepreneur, I do the things I love, the things I’m good at and the things that give back to the world. I live in a dream location with a woman I love dearly. Everything I’ve learned has given me a sense of achievement and each achievement makes me stronger and better and getting better every day. I used to hate myself, now I love myself completely and am proud of what I am and excited to see what I can become.
I’m not saying I don’t have bad days, we are never cured, but a bad day is just that, a bad day. Will I let that stop me? Are you kidding? From where I’ve come from, a bad day is nothing. I laugh in its face.
Sometimes now, I sit on the beach and think: ‘My life is pretty great.’ I don’t even remember the empty shell that I was. I’m a great person, doing great things, full of life, zest and energy and I’m just getting started, so watch out!
My intention for this article is to help, to offer hope, even when things seem hopeless. You can sit there and think that it’s fate, you can say: “This is my life. This is me.” Or you can get up and fight. Be selfish, this is your life and I don’t care what you believe, we’re only here for a visit. You are amazing, you are literally made of stardust (click here to check the science) and some of us manage to become stars and with strength, time and patience, you will too.
Will the light come flooding in?
Will the hopeful stop the rain?
Will the beast that taunts my soul,
Ever show its face again?
Will this journey last forever?
Will the sorrow ever fade?
I’m waving goodbye to the tears,
And blowing kisses to my pain.
Will this distant dream come true?
Will this feeling keep me sane?
Will this forgotten, broken promise,
Go dripping down the drain?
Does the sunlight warm my soul?
In the moonlight will I sway?
Am I floating on the ocean?
Am I cold or am I grey?
I’m waving goodbye to my tears,
And blowing kisses to my pain.
Will the silence ever find me?
Will my last nerve end up frayed?
Will I walk out to tomorrow,
Or forget about today?
Will the wounds that mark my body,
These scars that mark my brain,
Take me rolling on forever,
Or drag me down again?
I’m waving goodbye to my tears,
And blowing kisses to my pain.
Barry Brunswick is an author. You can buy his books on Amazon, The War of The Turnips, The Secret Tale of the Cupboard Gnome, the short story collection Barry S. Brunswick’s Tall Tales and the new adventure of a generation – Dreamland Part 1 The Fabric of Dreams.