I’ll put it this way for you. I lost everything, including my mind.
After a life of accomplishments, I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing.
I feel like every day is the last day of my life.
My past feels like a bear trap.
Yet somehow, I lead a life of hope and growth. Most mornings, I try to get up early, meditate, learn, walk the dog, practice tai chi. I look around my life and feel gratitude for the gifts they have given me and the relationship I’m in.
I have days when my creativity pours out of me, new songs, new essays, new stories, videos, ideas, entrepreneurial energy.
Then there are those other days when I sit drained, motionless, hopeless, overwhelmed, with no energy, and a feeling that begins in my gut and overwhelms me in a deep depression.
Anyone who thinks depression is not a real, tangible thing, has never experienced the teeth depression can have. I used to be one of those people. I’ll be blunt. I thought depressed people were selfish people, people who just needed to get things together, stop wallowing, get on with it. I felt that all the way until I fought off deep, deflating bouts of depression, days where I could barely put one foot in front of another. I had to learn to how to get out of the bleak valley, how to let it go, and somehow find my forward.
Writing about it is like a post-it note to my brain: Dear Chris, be ready for the demons and be ready to beat them down.
Here’s THE #1 THING that helps me. Maybe it’ll help you.
My # 1 Thing: When the demons rise, drop out of your mind into your body.
The demons from your past want to take over your brain. They want to control you. Eckhart Tolle said, “The ego is the part of your mind that controls your thoughts and mind without you noticing.”
To me, it’s a perfect description of how depression creeps up on you. You never see it coming, until you reach this tipping point where your mind wheezes, then convulse, and the demons eat you. There’s no escape. Some turn to drugs, or just shut down completely, but I’ve found another way.
As soon as I feel the triggers, fear, questioning, haunting, that crawl through my gut, I drop out of mind and concentrate on my body, how I’m breathing, how I’m standing, my posture, how my body feels. I make adjustments to make my body feel better, function better. If I’m walking, I walk better. If I’m talking to someone who’s triggered me, I start silently practicing my tai chi. Focus on that. I let everything pour into where my body is in that moment.
This simple technique becomes magic to me. It empowers me. It has additional benefits.
I’ve become a better listener, because when I drop out of my mind into my body, I also suspend judgement. Judgement is a subtle trigger toward depression, because it’s based your judgement on bias and past experience. From the center of my body, I’m content to let things just present themselves. It slows down my thinking and my response. Makes for an all-round better conversation.
Your ego-mind, the part of your mind that writes your memory, remembers negative things first. Your body is just there, present. It always needs attention, but we so rarely give it the love required. We get caught in the bear traps of our mind.
Resistance is futile against the deep shadows that can haunt you, but resistance is also unnecessary. By dropping out of your mind into your body, you starve the demons of the fuels they need to survive—fear, regret, doubt. Your body is a refuge from all the ego nonsense. Drop into your body as soon as the demons appear.