If you have depression, you’re not going to like what I’m about to say…
Stop looking outside yourself for an answer!
In other words, don’t look to others to validate you or to solve your problems.
You can look for support when you need it – and you should definitely do this – but don’t look elsewhere for the solution to your depression. Support holds you up; a solution sets you free.
There’s only one source that can truly validate you and bring a solution: YOU. Like Gandhi said, you must be the change you wish to see.
I told you you wouldn’t like it. I didn’t like being told it, either. Because it seems so difficult and out of reach. But resistance to this idea is caused by conditioned depressive thinking.
It’s not that the idea is bad. In fact, it’s absolutely right. Deep down, we know it’s right. We just have trouble facing what must be done, because it’s scary as hell and feels impossible.
One day, along comes a choice
At some point, after a long time of feeling weighed down and stuck, we depression sufferers reach a choice: either we give up (meaning we stay down or, in some cases, cause harm to ourselves and others) or we take action to change.
I’m at the point where I’m doing the latter. I’m fed up with depression and know there’s a better life for me. I have to go get that life. The hard truth is that nobody else can do it.
The search for validation
When I see online depression support groups or attend face-to-face groups, I see a lot of good going on. But in every group, I also see people dumping their complaints and saying how shitty they feel. They’re looking for sympathy, asking for pain relief, searching for likes and comments, and needing to be validated by others. Some have even become very skilled at manipulating other people by playing the depression card, haven’t they? (That’s not a criticism, just an observation. I’ve certainly manipulated people this way.) Looking for validation from others this way is nothing more than a holding pattern.
Support is good, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. Support can be the thing that gets you back on your feet. But it won’t solve the problem. It addresses symptoms, not the cause.
What we all have to do is find a way to validate ourselves. From within.
The search for pain relief
We just want the misery of depression to end. We want it lifted off our shoulders. We want the pain to stop. Even a brief respite would be welcome.
Maybe we turn to alcohol, drugs, smoking, gambling, pornography, whatever. Just know that any destructive habit is a mask for pain. It won’t help. It will only hinder. The thing that causes the pain will be undiminished.
So stop looking outside yourself on this front, too.
When therapy fails
We’ve all been to a therapist and come away thinking it was a waste of time and that the therapist sucked. Well, maybe that’s true, and maybe not.
The first thing we want from therapy is for our pain to be taken away. But that means we’re looking outside ourselves for an answer. We’re hoping the therapist will produce a solution for us. Nope. Won’t happen. Taking a pill for an injury merely treats a symptom; it doesn’t heal anything. We might take medication for depression, but it also treats the symptom instead of the cause. (Don’t get me wrong. If you are prescribed medication for your depression, do as your doctor says and take it. Searching for the real answer to depression is more manageable if you’re more stable.)
The real reason therapy failed is that we weren’t open to it. We weren’t willing to face the shit at the core of our problem.
How do we validate ourselves?
The first thing we have to do is lay the groundwork. Saying positive mantras is good, but it’s scratching the surface. Instead, we have to dig deep down into the roots of why we have depression in the first place. There’s a cause. And it’s not just bad luck or the genetic lottery. Something happened that tipped us into depression, and we’ll stay stuck there until we dig out those roots and finish grieving.
The only way we’ll do that is to rip off the bandage, examine the exposed wound, and be brutally honest.
It’s hard to do this. Really hard. We don’t want to face it, because it’s extremely painful. But if we don’t, depression will continue.
You and I know that it does bugger all to just say how bad we feel and wallow in it. We also know how goddamned hard it is to get up when we’re suffering most. But we must have a plan. We have to take action.
Nobody is coming to cure us. Some might come to help us, but nobody else can heal us. Only we can.
You still need help and support
Don’t misunderstand this blog. I’m not saying to ditch the support people around you and tackle everything yourself. You need loads of help. Nobody conquers depression alone.
I’m just saying that ultimately it’s up to you to decide to like yourself, to love yourself, to validate yourself. As soon as you do, as soon as you take a step or two in that direction, better opportunities will open up and you’ll get better help and support from people around you.
An occasional outside boost
Sure, I understand that sometimes we need a lift from an outside source. For example, I’m looking for work and it’s a certainty that I’ll feel a boost when somebody takes me on and employs me. But overall, I’m the one who must make the changes. It’s up to me to clear out the old shit in my life and set a new course. It’s up to me to create the conditions whereby the right opportunity will come along.
The same goes for all of us. Until we tackle the core issues and start believing good things about ourselves – and I mean believing, not just wishing – we have no chance of having a better life. As I said in another blog, the quality of our life mirrors the quality of our beliefs.
Looking outside ourselves for pain relief and validation will guarantee we stay in the same patterns with the same old beliefs.
Give your depression exactly what it doesn’t want: love for yourself. It will fight back hard against it. Keep at it. Remember the choice: either you give up or you take action and change things.
May the love and light within you shine forth for all to see. The world needs it.