I’m just back from France. I’ve spent a bit more than a month there for the summer. It was great, thanks for asking. A bit cold though.
When my friends and family asked me about my job, I talked about this blog instead. So I unexpectedly ended up spending a good amount of time talking about psychological issues, and trying to help.
I’ll repeat myself, but France is not an easy place. My personal experience says it’s harder than in developing places, like Macau where I live for example. Things are slow, things are expensive, the government wants to control everything, taxes are heavy. Choices are limited. Choices seem limited.
So when people started telling me they were depressed, I was not really surprised. The gloomy feeling has always been there. What was missing until now was a bit of awareness and a word to put a label.
But there’s something else to the story.
Below is a nice summary of how all the conversations about depression went:
“Oh, the doctor said I had depression. I didn’t see that coming. I took pills for a year, then I stopped, but I’m still depressed. I am really unlucky.”
What struck me was that people seemed to think that depression is like a common cold: you get sick, you take pills, and it’s gone. Like it’s just some chemical imbalance sickness in the brain and that they can’t do anything about.
But it’s not.
WHAT DEPRESSION IS AND WHAT DEPRESSION ISN’T?
Let’s first remove the weird belief: depression is not weakness. It seems a pretty recurrent belief, but it’s plain wrong.
Depression is not about being weak, it’s not about not being able to suck it up, it’s not about not being manly enough, or strong enough.
So what is it then?
Depression is a call to action. It’s a signal.
It’s a signal telling you that you’re not satisfied with your life, and that you have to do something about it.
It’s a great signal. It’s a signal that will force you to grow. It’s a signal that’s gonna push you to the next level, if you let it do so.
You’ll have to reflect, you’ll have to realize things, you’ll have to take actions, you’ll have to clean your head. You’ll have to change for the better.
BUT WHY DO WE GET DEPRESSED?
Depression happens when there’s a gap between the life we want to have and the life we currently have AND we feel powerless about it.
The problem is not the gap. There’s always gonna be a gap. We will always want more: more money, more happiness, more time, more freedom, more love, more peace, more possessions. Or less possessions (which is more of less). This is normal. If you have nothing to run after you’ll get bored forever.
The real issue is that we feel we cannot do anything about that gap.
But this is just a feeling. We are not powerless. Never. We can think, we can choose, we can decide, we can accept.
What we need is a not a doctor prescribing pills. What we need is ourselves building courage, making decisions, taking responsibilities for these decisions, going forward and learning on the way.
SO HOW DO WE GET RID OF DEPRESSION?
Not just by taking pills. Pills can help, but if your outer world and your inner world are the same than a year ago, well, bad news my friend.
To get out of depression, something has to change. What can you change? Only things you have control over. And this is how:
1. By taking action
This one I talked about it already here and here because it’s important. Take action on all the things you can control: change job, start an organization, write down plans and ideas, travel, watch a movie, read a book, express yourself, make new friends, break old sucky friendships, take a class, talk to your crush, whatever. Really, whatever has to be done that is in your power, do it. How do you know what needs to be done? If you don’t know, sit down, think, and write. What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? What do you care about? Find out. If you don’t know, try anything and get your own feedback. Read my previous articles!
2. By changing your mindset
This one is rather new but is also very important. For all the things you cannot control you will have to change your mindset. You can decide whether everyone is a dick to you or whether everyone is just trying their best to survive. You can decide not to accept the death of someone close or you can decide to accept that it’s life, it’s gonna take time to heal and everything will be ok at the end. You can decide whether your divorce is a failure or whether staying in an unhealthy marriage is a failure. You always have a choice on what things mean to you. You can choose an empowering meaning, or you can choose an disempowering meaning. But you cannot choose what life gives you. So you have to change how you see things.
These are the only 2 things you have power over: YOU taking action and YOU changing your mindset. It’s simple, but not easy. It’s work. It requires courage. It requires awareness and reflection. It requires learning new healthy mindsets, and practicing them.
But like everything, the more you do it the better you become at it, and the easier it gets. It’s simple, but not easy.
Just popping pills is easier, but not simpler.