A person who suffers from depression or anxiety can certainly relate to the times when you stare off into space, thinking about past mistakes, or unimaginable future situations. It can consume you. Your mind focuses on these thoughts for hours at a time, until you simply want to crawl into bed to escape and get relief from the feelings.
A person who is depressed, truly believes they are incapable to find a way past these horrific feelings of despair. Though I am here to tell you, that you certainly can. You can come all the way through those feelings and put depression behind you. It’s not easy and it’s not going to happen in the blink of an eye, but you can do it!
Let there be no mistake, the road to a healthy mind will require mental fitness. Just as you can’t learn to swim the first time in the water, you also will not beat depression without putting in the work! You have to adjust your thinking and learn to use some new skills. There is no shortcut or magic pill.
During times of boredom it was especially difficult to take my mind off of the feelings of depression. I would spend my hours watching tv series, playing video games and even engaging in substance abuse. At the time, this helped keep my mind occupied and was an escape. What I focused on, became a massive key to beating my depression.
Without consciously realizing what I was doing, I was changing my focus from my depression to something that made me feel good. However, because I had only focused on something that was immediately gratifying, the minute it was over, the depression came back. My old focus habits, brought me right back to the depression state.
By keeping busy and distracting myself from my depressed thoughts I was able to find some temporary relief. However, what I really needed was lasting change. I needed to focus myself on improving my life and having some things to feel good about. The problem was that I simply didn’t know what to do, or how to start.
Looking back, what I did do, was the most important step in the entire process for me overcoming my depression. I started looking into anything positive. Positive blogs, positive podcasts, and self-development books. I began to fill my spare time with absorbing all of the positive content that I could find. Let’s face it, I was depressed and I was so sick of feeling down and feeling sorry for myself, that I needed to fill my mind with something positive. I simply needed to start!
Just as a person walking into the gym for the first time, it was awkward in the beginning. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, or how it was going to specifically help me. I simply looked into what resonated with me in that moment. I read countless articles and books. I lurked on countless personal development forums. I even filled my mp3 player with only personal development podcasts.
I “fell off the wagon” many times, in the beginning. I found it extremely difficult to implement the tools I was learning about. It wasn’t comfortable for me. I felt that any goals I would possibly set, would be foolish, as I couldn’t see myself having success. I was a master of destructive thinking, so it was far easier for me to see how I could fail or embarrass myself trying.
Just as with any new undertaking, the reality was I simply hadn’t practiced enough to become proficient yet. Still, a small fire had been lit within me. Sometimes I would catch myself off in the land of unwanted thoughts and was able to pull myself back into the current moment. I would then often go for a walk and listen to one of my podcasts. I literally had to fight against my current state and get myself into a new one at all costs.
Again, this was not easy! It was horrifying, embarrassing and I was constantly filled with self-doubt. However, I wanted to stop feeling depressed more than I wanted anything else at that point in my life. It had consumed me for years and I wanted it to end almost as bad as I wanted to breathe. I was pushing back at the weight of depression!
I was finally at a point in which I was practicing mental fitness. Although I was a beginner and struggling to find good technique or consistent results, I was at least practicing regularly. With practice, slowly, came results. With the positive results came improved self-confidence and a desire to push to even higher limits. I was learning that just as our bodies need physical fitness, our minds needed exercise, with mental fitness.