Depression

Steve's Story of Depression

This time last year I was depressed. I’d been in the depths of despair for months. When I look back, it had been building up for years. I’d lost my wife. I’d lost my dream home. I’d lost my business. I hadn’t worked for months. I had nothing to live for. 

I’d battled under this black, dense cloud for ages. I kept telling myself to shake out of it. I knew I’d brought it all on myself. I could list all the things I could and should have done better, that would have prevented me being where I found myself right now. I kept telling myself to think positive, that if I did, I would be able to get back on with my life. I kept telling myself that if I just picked my socks up, then tomorrow I would wake up and feel better. But it never happened.  The cloud got darker and denser and blacker. 

I’d got to the point where I couldn’t handle it anymore. 

I knew that if I didn’t do something I would cave into the darkest of my thoughts. The one that was getting more compelling every day. The thought that it would be so much simpler if I just didn’t exist anymore.  

Read more – What if your worst fears are just stories? 

Today I remembered a day when I was on my way to the Doctor’s surgery. I’d swallowed my pride and made an appointment. I’d finally admitted to myself that I needed help. The phone rang in my hand. I looked at the screen and saw that it was my best friend, John.  

“Oh no.” I said.  

He was the last person I needed to speak to. I’d parked the car in the hospital car park, a good ten-minute walk away because the surgery car park was always full. I watched the grey concrete move under my feet like a treadmill. My shoulders were hunched over, my head hung down, my chin on my chest. There could have been a million people around me, I didn’t see a soul. I was engulfed in the shadows of my mind. I wore black from head to toe. Black jeans. Black coat. Black boots. The day was grey. Winter wasn’t quite ready to succumb to Spring. Storm clouds threatened rain but for now it was dry. The phone was still ringing.  

“Hi John!” I said. John was and still is the most positive person I know. As soon as he opened his mouth, he had me in stitches. For the next ten minutes I laughed so much I thought I would crack a rib. Tears ran down my cheeks. The muscles in my face ached as they got all pulled out of shape. I don’t remember what we talked about. I guess just the normal stuff that peppers our conversations. It would have been something to do with the antics and escapades that he gets himself into. He sees the funny side in any and every situation and I couldn’t help but join in the fun. “So, what you up to?” John said when he’d run out of steam.  

By this time, I was in the doorway to the surgery. I had a couple of minutes before my appointment. “I gotta go.” I said. “I’m at the Doctors.” 

I stood there for a minute wondering what to do. I’d come here because I was depressed, but now I didn’t feel it. I was in good spirits. I was happy. Life was good. But I’d got an appointment. Should I cancel it? What if I got depressed again? I decided to see the Doctor anyway.  

When I look back at that situation now, I laugh so hard. I watch myself hunching my shoulders, hanging my head, rearranging my face to make sure that I looked depressed. I saw the Doctor and continued with the charade. I told him all about the anxiety, the fear, the sadness, the grief but I didn’t mention that it had all disappeared. I must have put on a good show of being a broken man, because he prescribed anti-depressants.  

I laugh now, not at the pretense, but at my misunderstanding. I didn’t pay attention to the fact that for those ten minutes I was not broken. I was not depressed. All my negative thinking had dissipated like morning mist on a sunny day. I thought that was the illusion. 

I understand more now. That thoughts come and go. That thoughts create my feeling. That I don’t have to believe all my thinking. That I had perfect mental health beyond the thinking that made me feel like I was mentally ill.  

Read more – What if beyond your negative thinking you have innate wellbeing? 

The thoughts came back later, and because I didn’t understand that, I felt depressed. I felt broken. I felt like I was mentally ill. And it was real. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not dissing how I felt. I just see life differently now.

What I see now, is that I ignored those moments of perfect mental health and focused all my attention on the times when I felt mentally ill. At the time I would have told you that I was depressed 100% of the time. Now I see that was not true. The moments of mental health were there all the time, sporadic, but there none the less. 

They are the moments I focus on now and over time I’ve found that I experience them more and more. I do still get dark thoughts, but they don’t affect me in the same way. Now I see myself as mentally healthy, with moments of unhealth, rather than the other way around. 

I am pleased that I can recall this incident and laugh about it, but it’s not a harsh laugh. My laugh is filled with kindness and compassion for myself, thinking that I had to believe every thought in my head. It made perfect sense to do that then. It doesn’t anymore.

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Steve told us this story during one of our Live More Stress Less events. He had attended a number of workshops with us and quite literally what he had seen has changed his life. 


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