Your alarm goes off.
As you try to wake up, you can’t shake the feeling that the day is going to be hard.
Then the thoughts start coming in, like a river of self-hatred.
“Why can’t I beat this depression?”
“I’m worthless, everyone around me thinks I’m a drag.”
“What’s wrong with me?”
“If I was stronger I could just feel better.”
“Is this actually real or am I just imagining things?”
“Maybe I need to fix my thoughts. I just haven’t mastered changing my thoughts yet. Damn, there was another negative thought… Mentally I must be weak.”
“I’m a bad person.”
Notice a common theme here?
The Run Down Car Analogy
Before we dive into all those thoughts and what’s going on at a deeper level, let me introduce you to Tim.
Tim comes over to pick you up in his run-down car.
As you get in, he tries to start it. All you hear is that quick clicking sound, signaling the battery might be dead.
All a sudden Tim hits the steering wheel and says, “Why can’t I just start this thing! What’s wrong with me!” You look over at him and you can see his self-esteem plummeting.
Finally the car starts, and as you are driving it hiccups, lunges forward, and every bump feels like you’re on a rollercoaster ride. Tim then starts assuring you, “Sorry, I’m such a horrible driver. I just can’t seem to drive straight at all.”
You look at him a little perplexed, wondering why he’s blaming himself for all this.
Seeing the look on your face, Tim says, “Sorry it’s hot in here, I suck at working the air conditioner. If I could just push the buttons right it would probably be cold in here.”
Then suddenly after 10 minutes the car dies in the middle of the road, and its hot outside. As you both get out of the car to check it out, instead of looking under the hood and diagnosing a mechanical issue, he proclaims, “Look, I’ve been trying to think positively about getting to our destination and failed! It’s all my fault. If I was just stronger we would have made it. I’m such a shitty and mentally weak person.”
Finally you look at him and slowly say, “Tim… What does this have to do with you? Don’t you just need to get your car fixed?”
Depression Isn’t Your Fault
When you read the story about Tim and his car, what was your impression of him? Did you wonder why he was being so hard on himself, when all he needed to do was get a new battery, put coolant in his radiator, and fix his car’s suspension?
The problem with depression, is a lot of people just don’t understand what it actually is. Depression is the state you find yourself in when your brain and body aren’t functioning properly. Simply trying to think positive won’t work.
For most people, they use the word “depressed” when they are in reality just “sad”. That’s why they can go for a jog and the “depression” just goes away, and why they tell you to just snap out of it. For them, they actually can snap out of it, because it is just sadness.
This becomes dangerous when you start to believe the same thing and you are actually depressed. When you believe that the depression itself means there is something wrong with you, that you should be able to shake it off, and just keep going, is when you get trapped in a downward spiral of despair.
The key is to realize that depression isn’t “you” and it doesn’t mean you are in anyway a bad human being. It doesn’t mean that you are mentally weak and you just haven’t had the strength to fix your thoughts. That’s like telling Tim he’s a bad person and to just think positive and his car should run better. It won’t run better until he fixes the root causes of what’s wrong with it mechanically in the first place.
There Is Nothing Wrong With You If You’re Depressed
There is absolutely nothing wrong with you if you are experiencing depression. Something is just off.
The depression isn’t you. There is a root cause. Something happened physiologically and it is now affecting your mental state, like your body is sounding off an alarm.
This alarm could be that you’ve been working 18 hours a day for too long and now your cortisol can’t keep pushing you forward. This alarm could be that you’re deficient in magnesium, need more vitamin d, and are allergic to gluten and you eat bread every morning for breakfast.
When you are bombarded by these negative, maybe even suicidal thoughts, realize that these are not your thoughts, there is something going on chemically that is producing those thoughts.
Once you are able to separate yourself, accept yourself exactly as you are, and see that a fact is a fact, that something is run down and needs fixing, then you can get rid of all the stress of beating yourself up.
This correct perspective allows you to deal with the depression without being overwhelmed.
Depression Isn’t Your Fault, But It Is Your Responsibility
Now that you know that depression isn’t you, it’s time to actually fix it. It’s time to actually take the car to the shop and replace some parts and change some oil.
There’s a fine line between acknowledging that depression isn’t your fault and being a victim.
You don’t want to sit back, accept that it isn’t your fault, and do nothing about it.
You also don’t want to hope that someday someone will magically fix it for you.
Nobody is coming to save you.
People can give you directions and guide you, but you have to actually do it. Tim has to get out his tools and go under his car and start troubleshooting what’s wrong with his vehicle.
You have to take an active role in doing whatever it takes to fix your depression. You have to accept that yes, being depressed means nothing about who I am or what I am capable of, but I do have to do whatever it takes to fix it now.
The reason I was able to fix my depression is I made a commitment that I would do whatever it takes to fix it no matter what.
This meant I could now read any book. My mind was open to any approach. I realized that I should place value on investing my money into getting tests done, seeing the right people and paying for their time, buying healthy food and trying out different supplements, and going at it until the problem was fixed.
I had to look under the hood, try out different things and keep going, until I figured out what was wrong and what could fix it, until the engine started firing on all cylinders.
That same year that I made that decision to do whatever it takes was the same year that I started to finally glimpse what life was like on the other side, of not being depressed and wanting to blow my head off every single day, and what mental clarity was like after living with brain fog for so long. I was able to get off Celexa and learned how to properly get off of antidepressants.
Every car is different, just like every person is different. There can’t be any one single supplement that cures everyone, because depression is caused by so many different things. You have to find out what your own root causes are. There are a thousand different reasons why a car won’t start, you just have to figure out which ones are causing your car not to start.
The depression was never actually “me”. My body was just out of balance. I was trying to force a run down car to drive somewhere, and I never stopped to realize maybe the car just had some broken parts.