Alright look, a lot of us are not strangers to depression. Chances are if you’re reading this blog you’ve either been there or know someone who has been. I think we can all agree that it sucks (understatement of the century) and the unfortunate truth is that there’s no magic cure. I can’t give you an instant spell or some kind of divine potion to “fix” depression.
As one of the only people I know that has successfully escaped this demon, I wish I could. I want to help; hell, I want to wave a fucking wand and make it all go away for everyone. Four years ago today I was in the middle of the desert in Utah against my will. I was at a therapeutic wilderness program and in the very infant stages of taking the road for recovery.
The unfortunate truth to my overcoming of depression was that initially I did not choose to start. I was booted out of my home by my parents and sent/forced into a place where I had to face myself. I hold absolutely no grudge with my parents for this because it was completely warranted and if I’m being completely honest; that decision saved my life.
This wilderness program locked me out in the desert (supervised obviously) with nothing but a backpack and a sleeping bag. We hiked for miles upon miles every day and it left me with nothing except my mind for most of the time. When I got there, my mind was a terrifying place; I hated myself, I hated being alone because my thoughts tore me apart. This is what happened…but what most people don’t expect is that being torn apart was what I needed.
The thing about depression is that it distorts; color becomes gray, light becomes dull, emotion becomes emptiness, happiness becomes pain. It morphs your view of the world and your mind becomes a dark and vicious place. You effectively lose control of your own mind (as I like to put it) because your thoughts turn against you. But in that desert; alone, terrified, and distraught I had to face myself. I had no choice, there was nothing there to distract me or shield me from my own mind. There wasn’t an escape; there was me and only me.
This is why depression is so god damn elusive to help. I’ve used this quote before and I’m certain I’ll use it again, but no one can walk your road for you. They can walk with you, they can hold your hand, but they cannot walk the road for you. No one can “save” each other from depression. It can’t be done, I’m sorry. In my mind there is only one way to non-chemically (I’d like to avoid debate here, I am taking no stance on this) overcome depression; Face yourself. Make the choice to face this demon and fight it head on.
Depression distorts. It feels like your thoughts aren’t your own. It feels like you can’t control your actions. It feels like the universe hates you and no matter what you do, nothing works out the way it should. But those are not your feelings. You let depression have control of your mind and all of those seem true but you have to remember that it is your mind and you are in control. No matter how much it seems like you aren’t.
Now making this decision does not make overcoming depression a fucking prance through a field of cake and flowers. It’s shitty feels like you’re trying to climb a mountain in a hurricane with a boulder on your back and I will not promise you it will be easy.
But what I can absolutely promise is that it’ll be worth it. Four years ago I was in the desert in Utah and an infant in the steps to recovery. Today I am living a few hundred miles south of there by pure happenstance but I am the happiest I have ever been. Life is…reassuringly normal in a sense. I have relationship drama, I have days where I’m sad over something and I have days where I’m feeling great, but the main difference now is that I am alive. My mind is clean; clear for the first time in my life really. I can make stupid mistakes and look like an idiot and laugh about it because it doesn’t hurt anymore. Beyond all that my outlook on the world is more mature than most people in their early twenties; things that most people agonize over (such as looking stupid, making mistakes, etc.) I just laugh about because in the end I know they don’t matter. What matters is me and that I’m living as best I can with as few regrets as possible.
So I’m sorry; there is no magic cure. This is the best advice I have for depression. How you go about facing yourself is your choice; distractions are everywhere (from phones to drugs to a million other things) and you have to choose to ignore them and take back control of your mind. When those painful thoughts flow through – let them. Let them come and then dismiss them and push them out because it’s your mind. You shape it and if you work at it…someday you could be looking back at depression as an achievement and not a demon.