I think the hardest part in opening up about depression is that it brings up a lot of shame for me. I’m ashamed that I let it happen again, I know that I’m responsible for it, and I feel like I should have “figured it out” by now. Even more frustrating is the fact that it’s so simple too, all I have to do is just do the things…
My depression can be defined as the gap between who I think I am and who I think I should be. It’s basically that internalized as a feeling. As Tom Bilyeu would put it, it’s “how I feel about myself when I am BY MYSELF.” The answers become pretty obvious once I get clear on the problem, but it hurts to admit I’m the problem so I’m not always eager to clean my mirror.
About one month into the first part of COVID lockdown – in April of 2020 – the thoughts started to creep in. I began disliking myself for my laziness, lack of discipline, and lack of any meaningful progress. I brushed those feelings aside for a long time, drowning them out with dopamine, and becoming a complete dopamine addict in the process.
A few months later, I finally started trying to address the problem. I decided one night that I was getting intoxicated so that I could bare to look at myself honestly and I was going to do something about this growing demon inside of me.
Step 1 was recognizing that I was pregnant with a demon, and step 2 was deciding that I was ready to face him. That brought me to step 3, actually looking at the demon. So out came the mirror. Not an actual mirror, a notebook actually. A mirror for my mind, I suppose.
In that note I learned about how I had become a dopamine addict, because I needed something to look forward to. That’s how I gained a bunch of weight, always looking for the next good bite of food, good show to watch, fun game to play, and so on. It’s then that I decided to define my depression as I did above, and I decided I wanted to work on it from both ends, inside and out. I wanted to work on loving myself as a way to alleviate some of the pressure I put on myself for who I think I should be. But I also wanted to work on progressing towards who I think I should be. That meant I had to define exactly who that is, so I could get an idea of how to get there.
I had run into a wall at that point many, many times in the past. I’ve known I need a new path for years now, but I had always failed to come up with a satisfactory, concrete answer. It was around this time I bought Jordan Peterson’s Self-Authoring course, in which you basically author your past, present and future. In the Past Authoring part of the course, I had to walk through every significant event in my life, which was surprisingly difficult to do, it took me over a week to get through it. It was crazy to look at everything I’ve been through, all the good times and the bad, and realizing how many memories I have buried just because they were so painful to look at. Part way through the Present Authoring part of the course, I brainstormed one night and finally came up with a decision on a new career path that I was happy with and excited about. That decision has been pretty important for me lately because as I now understand a little better, I need something to look forward to, something to progress towards.
Over the course of multiple nights, I built a holistic plan of attack. I defined some concrete goals and developed some certainty about the direction I am headed. I can’t pretend like I’m crushing it every day now, but it definitely feels better to have some direction and desire.
In order for me to do the things, I first had to define the things…
PS. I have a free copy of the Jordan Peterson Self-Authoring course that came with the purchase of mine, and I will happily gift it to anyone who wants it.