One of the reasons I was able to beat my depression is I stayed away from depression support groups.
Sounds kind of odd, right?
Shouldn’t depression support groups, well, help?
Don’t get me wrong, you should get as much support as you possibly can.
However, depression support groups often will keep you depressed rather than actually help you fix the problem.
Depression Groups Keep You Stuck
One time I felt like giving back, so I logged into a depression support group on Facebook.
I posted about how I had beaten depression and I wanted to help others. I posted for them to ask me any question they wanted.
I didn’t mention I had a website and I didn’t mention anything promotional. All I said was that I had overcome depression and I wanted to answer people’s questions.
My post got deleted.
What the hell?
Here I am, trying to simply help everyone, and my post got deleted.
I went through the group some more and everyone was just complaining.
Here is an example:
“U know what really annoying? When ur hubby comes back from being on the road. And all he does is on the phone text and more texts. Am I really that boring ? Maybe u should just not come home at all !!!Ahhhhhh ok end rant. No wonder I’m so dam depressed half of the time.”
“Why don’t you just ask him ‘Am I so boring that you have to play with your phone instead of talking to me?’!”“That’s rude I would plain ask him what’s so much more important on there then me!!??”
As you can see, I doubt those strategies will build a connection between the two people.
Here is another example of trying to help someone:
Everyone else was commenting and telling her how unfortunate she must be, how her partners and friends must be all assholes, and how the world sucks and it is horrible that we live in it.
This kind of group keeps people depressed because it reinforces the payoffs for being depressed. Payoffs can be anything from attention, sympathy, company, feeling of being right or justified, etc.
If people are coming on there and getting benefits from being depressed and not moving forwards the group will keep them stuck.
It can also be the blind leading the blind. Would you join a group about how to learn to become a millionaire and the only people in it were people that were broke and in debt?
Focusing On Depression Keeps You Depressed
I never really got much benefit from going to depression support groups. It was a bit similar to the Facebook groups and online communities except, just a little less extreme. A lot of them were also based on using medication, and after having my experience with Celexa and having a hell of a time to get off antidepressants, the advice wasn’t helpful either.
The problem with these groups is they focus on the depression like it is a disease and something to just be managed. People go on there and simply vent (which can be relieving in healthy forms) and get validation for staying stuck.
This creates a constant loop and the same people are probably still depressed a year or two later.
It would be like going to a support group for a nail being stuck in your finger and everyone sitting there talking about what painkiller to take and how it sucks instead of how to actually fix the wound.
Chris Kresser likes to describe fixing anxiety or depression as if you have a rock in your shoe and it hurts. You can take a strong painkiller like Advil to reduce the pain, which can help in the short-term. Or you can take your shoe off and dump the rock out, and that is what we are really after when we want to fix depression.
The Best Support Groups Are The Ones That Focus On Your Root Causes
I understand why depression groups exist and are the way they are. It is because there is massive confusion in our society about what depression actually really is. People think depression is a disease and can’t be fixed, instead of realizing that depression is a symptom of something else. People think that having depression means that there is something wrong with them. In reality, you have to find your root causes for depression and then fix those. When you do, the depression fades.
For example, when I was living in Thailand and Vietnam I got severe food poisoning and it completely wrecked my gut, and I probably had a parasite also (do NOT just eat all the street food you want over there).
All a sudden, after having already fixed my depression, I started feeling depressed and had severe brain fog, confusion, and anxiety. All the same symptoms came back, but this time it was from a completely different root cause.
I went onto a few gut health support groups to fix the problem and the experience was completely different.
When I was in the depression group, only there to help others, people would say things like, “TJ you couldn’t be any MORE wrong!” and it was hard to have any sort of open minded discussion about the real problem. People didn’t actually want help.
In the gut health group, people were focusing on the solution. There was some honest venting, but it was almost always like this, “Damn, I woke up this morning and felt extreme nausea. I can barely get out of bed. Anyone else experience this? What should I do?” People then thanked others when they gave advice and reported back after trying it to let us know if it worked.
With depression, everyone is so confused as to what it is that I think people forget that the whole objective is to figure out what is going on with you and then fix it. Depression, by its definition, causes negative and hopeless thoughts, which keeps people in the trap. Depression will cause people to think, “This cannot be solved!” or “There is only two types of depression, circumstantial and that which cannot be cured!” Depression itself feeds these hindering beliefs.
Depression Causes You To Think Money Is Evil
I fell victim to the idea that money was bad, and that paying someone to help me fix my depression was wrong. I just wasn’t able to identify the limiting beliefs I had about investing money into fixing my problem, probably because I was, well, depressed.
It kept me from reading books, trying out therapy, going for the doctor and paying for tests, and anything else that could have helped me escape my misery.
I’m not saying that there are honest money difficulties (I was extremely broke and almost homeless at one point), but we are all spending money one way or another. You have to find a way to redirect that to getting your depression fixed. That’s actually the best investment you could ever make, because not only will you be able to live, but you’ll make more money when you can actually think straight and get out of bed.
People in the gut health support group realized they might need to buy a few supplements or see a doctor to get their issue fixed. The owner of the group created a book to help people that took him a long time to create, and people bought it.
When you are depressed, you tend to think that anything that has a paid option is similar to the devil. Which makes sense, because again, depression itself causes the fear and doubt.
For example, I built a program that helps people diagnose their root causes and then shows you how to fix it. People tell me all the time that I should charge $200-$300 dollars for it, but I just keep it at $97 so that the site can keep functioning and it is enough so that people actually feel focused when they do it (I’ve given it away for free before, and the ones that got it for free didn’t take any action).
I even have a 60 day guarantee on there so that if you do it and there is no improvement you get your money back. This means that you either fix your depression for $97 or you simply get your money back and pay $0.00. Yet people see it as extremely risky.
Even though I have a bunch of posts and emails to help people figure out how to feel better for free, just by having a program that costs money on the site every now and then I will get a hate email from someone even after emailing them for 3-4 weeks helping them for free.
Trust me, there isn’t a lot of money to be made by creating a depression site. I do this to give back and because I’m passionate about it.
How To Move Forwards And Actually Beat Depression
The crazy thing about all this, is I used to have all those same negative thoughts. Because I was depressed. That’s why I am writing this post. It’s because I am writing it to my previous self.
And I know how hard it would be to get into the mind of my previous self and actually change the thought patterns. I know how hard it would be to shed light through the brain fog.
I used to think that therapists were messed up for charging money for their time and I never would spend anything on healthy food or any help.
The only thing that changed was my best friend (who was like a family member) died suddenly while I was already in a depression and I was sitting there by myself and just finally said screw it, I’m either going to fix my depression in one year or kill myself.
If that wouldn’t have happened, I might not have been shocked out of the mental trap that I was stuck in.
What I Wish I Would Have Known (And What Support Groups Should Promote)
I wish I would have known that I would make mistakes on the way to beating depression. It is a trial-and-error process. Nobody can tell you with 100% certainty that this or that will do it for you. You have to try it and see.
You don’t know everything about depression. If you are still depressed, then you simply haven’t figured out your depression yet. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be depressed. I fell into this same trap. I immediately would dismiss anything that sounded out of the ordinary or weird. It wasn’t until that moment I told myself that I would either fix my depression in one year or kill myself that I finally had an open mind.
Be solution oriented. Constantly remind yourself that the belief that depression cannot be cured is a symptom of depression itself. There is a way out, but when you are in the depths of depression, it certainly won’t feel like there is. You have to keep going. What other choice do you have?
Get as much support as you possibly can! Just be careful in any group that seems to be a constant cycle of people staying depressed and not being focused on the solution. Aim to figure out what your root causes are, and then work towards fixing those so that you can get out of your depression instead.
Realize that a lot of this is simply because your brain is depressed. By definition, that means that you will have a lot of thoughts that aren’t true and based in reality. Learn to identify that depression can be beat, be willing to do whatever it takes to figure out your own unique root causes, and finally break free of your depression once and for all.