Life as a Daily Struggle
Much like the myth of Sisyphus, when suffering from depression every day you live is a constant struggle to push yourself through life. Only to find out that during the night you rolled all the way back down. Facing the exact same challenge day after day. Doing everything in our power just to appear normal and function like everyone else – but at the end of the day – things just keep going downhill.
The following article will take you through all the major junctions on the path to depression. Since I couldn’t fully write about all of my episodes individually, I decided to merge them all into a single comprehensive story. Think about this as an average of many different cycles I’ve had over the years. Some were heavier on some stages, and some on others.
By the end of this article, I hope that I can help you feel for a few minutes what depression is like. If it does work, don’t be afraid. It will all be untangled in the end.
The Core Conflicts of Depression
It all begins the life-plan. The life-plan is a detailed plan of all the things we want, or need, our future selves to do. In it, you’d usually find the kind of house we would like to live in, the kind of partner we’d like to be with, the job we’ll be waking up to every morning, and so on… Think about it as a general name for all of our goals, dreams, desires, and aspirations – everything we believe we want and need in our life.
People usually don’t create their our own life plans. As we grow up, our parents slowly hand to us our default life-plan. This default plan is based on various coincidental factors, such as the country we were born in, our parents’ religious views, their social-economic state, and so on. And doesn’t matter what this default life-plan might be, it seems to always come with the same warning: “This is how things are, this is what you have to do, and this is the ONLY way!”
Through our parents, peers, and authority figures, these messages are repeatedly conveyed to us, making sure that we stay on track. Expecting us to be the continuum of the generation before us, and follow their same path.
With such a harsh warning, an ever-growing number of people find themselves stuck on a predetermined course that doesn’t fit them well. A path which fails to balance the modern needs of society with the primal needs of the human body, ignores one’s weaknesses, fails to utilize their strengths, and too often doesn’t even fit the current day and age.
Unfortunately, treating people as if we were machines, and making them stick to plans and actions that hold no emotional meaning to them and fail to represent their true passion and desires comes with a heavy price. As we live our lives by this plan and force ourselves to do things which we don’t feel comfortable with, we slowly become machines, as we lose touch with our emotions and our inner selves. And as we spend more of our time and efforts on things that carry no personal meaning to us, slowly, the world begins to seem dull, bland, and unattractive. Without an emotional connection, reality becomes bleak. As day-to-day life blend together into a gray mixture of meaningless, repetitive, and depressing nothingness.
But what can we do? This is how things are, right? This is what we have to do! We ding the mere idea of changing and doing something else terrifying. We can’t abandon our families, our education, our tradition or religion. We must do this, we must follow the plan and become this person we’re supposed to be. But at the same time, we know it can’t go on like this. Life without emotion is pointless, agonizing, and empty.
Attachment to the Life-Plan
Probably the most significant part of becoming an adult is the ability to make our own decisions, and with it, make changes to our life-plan. As we mature, it is up to us to take over this plan and make it our own. To find ourselves, our own personal path through life, and adjust the plan to better fit the person that we are. Hopefully, ending up with a life-plan that balances both our emotions and our intellect, our desires, as well as our limitations. A plan that represents our full potential, and nothing less.
But, changing our life-plan is not an easy task. In fact, it is probably life’s biggest and most frightening challenge a person has to face. We need our family’s support, we need our society’s support, and these are conditioned on our compliance. To change our plan, we need approval, and back when we were young, this approval was impossible to get.
This conflict is far too stressful to handle. So, as long as we have a choice, and our life isn’t too difficult to bear, we would probably choose to stay with the herd. We do whatever we must to fit in, to belong, and keep the little approval we still have. Trying as hard as we can to be the person we’re expected to be and satisfy our families, friends, and bosses. Continuously struggling to live our lives according to the collective plan, and be productive members of society, just like everyone else. Even if the price is losing our own selves.
So we stick to the plan and refuse change. Avoid the risk of failure, and with it, the humiliation it might bring. But at the same time losing our internal drive. Our motivation to get out of bed in the morning, our pleasure, our love, and our excitement. Feeling ashamed of our desires and at the same time, feeling guilty for not pursuing them, but yet too insecure and too afraid to change anything. This is the internal battle we call depression.
The Comfort Zone
Our emotional-self wants nothing more than to be expressed again. To come out and make us do what excites us, what we enjoy and love. But fun and games aren’t a part of our life-plan, and we have no time for goofing around. We must go to school, find a job, and build a lucrative career. Afterward, we must find a partner, get married, and have a family. And then we have our kids to worry about, to make sure that they would do the same. These things are important, our emotions aren’t.
Some of us are lucky. Some received a default life-plan that makes room for some emotional expressions. A little pleasure, a bit of love, and occasional excitements – Little things which bring balance to life. But too many just weren’t that lucky.
Even today, so many of us are trying to live life without any emotions. Without taking even a second to listen to this inner voice of our emotional self. Believing that emotions are some kind of a primitive remains that has no room in modern life, or an obstacle that’s keeping us from doing our job and achieving our goals. Convinced that our emotions should be kept to ourselves, that emotional trauma should be repressed until death, and that emotional triggers should be avoided at all costs.
The belief that our own emotions are attacking us, or trying to harm us in some way, leads to a fixed mindset. A constant defensive state of mind that is focused on maintaining stability and avoiding risk. Causing us to distance ourselves from the world around us and avoid anything that might trigger an unwanted emotional response. Sticking with what’s planned, familiar, and known – the comfort zone.
At this point, the life-plan becomes a trap and the comfort zone becomes our gilded cage. Keeping us far away from any possible emotional triggers – where everything is known, everything is expected, and everything is the same, for better or worse.
The Emotional Thinking Patterns of Depression
Keeping ourselves in the comfort zone is a constant battle. Somehow, things just never go as planned, and as hard as we try, something always goes wrong. All we want is to be productive and happy at the same time. Love doing the things we have to do, and not feel bad…ever! Why is this so difficult? Why can’t depression just leave us alone and let us be the way we should be?
This is how the battle begins, the battle of depression, a battle between our emotion and our intellect. A battle that can never be won, but until we find that out, we fight as hard as we possibly can.
Torn by Conflicting Shame & Guilt
The first thing to know about depression is that nothing can ever be good for us, simply because every choice we make is only to get the lesser of two evils. On one hand, feeling guilty for not being true to ourselves, and on the other, feeling ashamed for not being the person we’re expected to be. Not being happy or not being productive, not doing what we want or not doing what we should. Every decision is a conflict, and there’s never a good outcome.
All we want is to be the person who wakes up every day at the exact same time, goes to the exact same place, and does the exact same thing while feeling good about it. Living up to expectations, do as we should, and be happy with it, just like everyone else. But whatever we do, our emotional side and our rational side don’t go hand in hand, and we must always leave a part of us behind. Never capable of being in anything fully.
Constant Regret & Sadness
Everything we do, and everything we don’t do, is all bad in some way. So needless to say that we spend a lot of time regretting things. And how can we not? It’s obvious that we’re just not making the right decisions. Regretting the decisions we made, as well as the ones we didn’t make. Living in a constant state of conflict in which nothing is ever good enough, or even good at all.
We spend a lot of time blaming ourselves and taunting ourselves for not doing a better job. Feeling sad about the situation we’re stuck in and the mistakes we did, about all the people who try to care for us and got nothing in return, and for just about everything else really. When stuck in depression, regret and sadness are an inseparable part of just about every day.
Resorting to Apathy
But when depressed, sadness isn’t temporary. Since we never succeed in ridding ourselves of these harmful behaviors, our sadness never goes away. And since we can’t seem to separate between our positive and negative emotions, to function, we must block them all. Until we’ll be good enough to separate the good from the bad and manage them properly, they must all be avoided. And due to that, we end up feeling apathetic and disconnected from the world around us, as well as from ourselves.
Consequently feeling Loneliness, Helplessness, & Abandonment
We reach out to family, friends, and professionals, but when stuck with these patterns, it all ends up making us feel worse. We try, and we try, and we try once again, but we keep failing. Nothing seems to work, and nothing makes us feel any better. Feeling trapped in this condition without any chance to escape, completely helpless against it.
To better comply with expert advice, we try our best to shut ourselves out. We try to weaken our internal urges by abandoning our innate resistant emotional side. Pushing it to the back of our minds, where it’s unable to express itself and cause more damage, but neither can it connect with the outside world. Causing our emotional self to feel abandoned and lonely. Loneliness that at first confuses us. There are people all around us, how is it possible that we feel so lonely?! But our sense of loneliness is not rational, but emotional, and our emotional self is indeed all alone.
Repression as Coping Method
This is when the loop is closed with the self-fulfilling prophecy, and this destructive process begins to cause collateral damage. Blocking our negative emotions and pushing them away doesn’t mean that they’re now gone. All of the emotions we refuse to accept are being repressed into the unconscious mind, and from now on they’ll be managed by it alone. From this point on, we won’t consciously experience them anymore. Causing us to be unaware of our rejected emotions, and at the same time, lose all control over them.
Occasional Fits of Anger & Rage
This is it! Our emotional-self has had enough. Every now and then it refuses to remain suppressed and bursts out in a crazy expression of aggression and rage. The emotional mind has been here from the moment of birth, years before the conscious mind developed, and it will fight for its right to exist. Even without our permission, it will express itself.
Letting us know that it’s here to stay, whether we like it or not. Hijacking the rational mind, assuming full control over the body, and unleashing its full power with a devastating and explosive demonstration of aggression, unstoppable anger, or even rage. Exploding in every direction, making sure we know who’s the boss, and showing us that it can express itself even without our consent.
Collapsing into Insecurities & Powerlessness
The longer this fight lasts, the more obvious it becomes – We aren’t winning! We give all we have to just get through the day, and the next day we must fight the exact same battle all over again. Against this enemy we are powerless, nothing we do seems to bring the change we desire and get our lives back on track.
The permanence of the situation begins to weigh us down. We’re living in a constant state of fatigue, struggling just to get out of bed, unable to work or concentrate on anything we do. Everything becomes increasingly difficult, and we feel weak and weary. The long battle has taken its toll, a feeling of powerlessness rushes over us, insecurities begin to rise, and our sense of self-esteem suffers greatly.
Piling up Frustration
Some accept this daily fight and keep defending themselves against the ruthless enemy from within. But living life in a constant daily battle is not for everyone. Our lives have gone off track, and it’s time to face it. We gave it our best shot and fell short. Things are never going to be as they were before, and nothing we do seems to change that. Depression is too strong and too persistent, it is here to stay. Frustration rushes over, and we begin to think about giving up.
Uncertain, Lacking Confidence, and Full of Self-doubt
This internal conflict and inability to stick to a positive course of action make us lose confidence in ourselves, our will, and our mind. How is it possible that we want to stop fighting? Everybody knows that this is a bad decision. A person must never let their emotions run their lives, and never allow depression to win. We doubt our own mind, because if we can’t even stick to the decision to get better and feel good, then we must not be fit to make any decisions at all.
Confusion & Anxiety to Finish Things Up
We can’t take it anymore, and all we want is for this ordeal to finally end. This is not working! The continuous struggle, the meds, the therapy, none of it is working. It has been going on for too long now, and no matter what we do, depression is not backing off. Maybe it’s time for us to let go, give up and surrender to it. We want so badly to just crawl into bed and never come out again, but we mustn’t! We must be strong, we must fight, and we must become normal again. And as we try to chase our own thoughts away, confusion and anxiety have officially joined the fight.
Giving Up. Finally, Facing My Opponent
“That is it, I can take no more!” “This is the end of the line. Resistance is futile!”
I gave it all I had, but depression fought back just as vigorously. Exhausted from the long battle, I begin to let go.
This war cannot be won, and it’s time for me to accept that. I find no point in continuing to live like this. I don’t care what others think, I find no reason for doing this any longer. Being the person I should be just isn’t working for me. I gave it all I had, but these urges are far too strong for me to hold back.
Let’s face it, I’ve failed. It’s time to give up and let the darkness have its way with me.
But as I slowly cease fighting and let go, something unexpected happens. There I stand, waiting for depression to sweep over and take me into the everlasting sleep, but depression does not advance. For some reason, once I surrendered to it, it backed off as well. As I no longer fight it, it no longer fights me. I don’t win any more battles, but don’t suffer any losses either.
Was all my effort redirected against me?!
Only then it suddenly hits me. Only after the fog of war has dissipated I could finally see depression for what it really was – Internal. On this battlefield stands no one else, no one but me.
Then it occurred to me why depression was so difficult to overcome. My enemy was exactly as strong, exactly as hard, and exactly as stubborn as I was.
It wasn’t some cruel punishment or some evil force. It wasn’t a disease or some kind of imbalance. It was just me, divided in two, fighting against myself.
The True Meaning of Depression
Our emotional mind has been with us from the second we were born, a good few years before our conscious and intelligent mind even began to function. Constantly taking care of us, making sure our needs are met, and keeping us from harm’s way. But yet, the one we spend every second of our lives with is the one we know the absolute least about.
That lack of knowledge and our inability to understand our own mind make us fear and reject the most fundamental part of ourselves. Rejection so strong that can cause people to take their own lives, just to avoid surrendering to it and become who they really are. And fear so strong that some would stop at nothing to maintain their so-called ‘control’ over themselves, so they could obey others rather than their own internal self.
This is exactly what depression is about. Depression is the clearest sign that it’s time to make some fundamental changes in our lives and minds. This excruciating emotional turbulence is designed to push us to deal with things that we’re too scared to deal with; makes us let go of the things we believe we can’t live without, and do the things we believe could not be done. Forcing the person to step outside of their comfort zone – Into the unknown. Seek different paths, make different plans, and change the things which so desperately require change.
Depression is like a woman in black. If she turns up, don’t shoo her away. Invite her in, offer her a seat, treat her like a guest and listen to what she wants to say.
Even though it is deeply dreaded, depression isn’t a disease! It is simply a collection of defective mental patterns. Patterns in the form of habits and beliefs which make people turn on themselves, distrust themselves, and even punish, hurt, and abuse themselves – physically or mentally. Depression is the external representation of an internal conflict between the two major parts of the self.
The Reason You Can’t Heal From Depression.
The problem of depression isn’t the negative feelings or the lack of energy, but it is the way in which a person perceives their reality.
Depression is not a disease, a mental malfunction, or some cruel punishment. It is simply a collection of maladaptive thinking patterns which we fight to keep. These automatic thought patterns… these things you keep telling yourself… your beliefs about others and about yourself. These things are depression.
This thing we call depression is the core of the person’s mental structure – the foundation of their perception. And you can’t heal from perception.
The depressive mental patterns are a part of everything you think and everything you do. It is the way you see the world and yourself in it. How you interpret your reality, analyze your interaction, and most importantly – how you make deductions and come to conclusions. When operating with a set of faulty patterns and beliefs, it doesn’t matter what you do – everything is depressing, and depression is everything.
People can’t heal from a depressive perception – but they can change to a different perception.
If a person were to stop having depression, they would think differently, believe differently, and act differently. Meaning that they would no longer be themselves. These differences are so fundamental, that for a person to stop being depressed, they would have to become a completely different person. Thankfully, our brain’s neuroplasticity allows us just that.
To escape depression, we must leave most of ourselves behind.
This is the true challenge that people suffering from depression have to face. The challenge of leaving oneself – all of what we believe we can’t do without, all that we think is true, and everything that makes us who we are. The only way to stop being depressed is to let go of ourselves. Allowing ourselves, our personalities, and our plans to die, and be born anew. This time, a little better, a little more flexible, and a little happier.
This time, try to forget about being who you should be and try being who you are. Be a person who expresses what they feel, without blocking or judging it. A person who’s nice to themselves, supportive, and understanding. A person who doesn’t hurt, punish, or scare themselves just to induce a little more motivation. A self-honest person.
Be one of those people who understand that they have to accept their selves no matter what they do, and that the self loves them no matter what they do.
Not everyone feels every aspect of what written here, but this is a very accurate depiction of Depression through the mind of one who suffers it. I, myself, didn’t experience the rage aspect of Depression, but that’s only my experience. Everyone’s experience is slightly different, but no matter who is experiencing it, it can be improved. Like it says above, the first step of improvement is acceptance. With acceptance, you cannot get better. That is where the concept of mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is acknowledging the fact that we have emotions and struggles, accepting that, then taking a step back. It is then that we realize that our emotions and internal struggles are not physical- they cannot physically harm us in any way. It is ourselves and how we respond and address these emotions and internal struggles that may harm us; only we can hurt ourselves, emotions can’t. Realizing this allows us to finally be able to address them in a way that is beneficial- to learn from them. To first discover the reasons behind these emotions and struggles, allowing us to come to terms with them and do something about them. Through this we learn about ourselves and how to handle our stress, struggles, and emotions in the future, putting us in a position to where we can help others do the same.
Thank you for your comment and wise words.
Indeed, not every person must go through all stages, and I as well find mindfulness to be a most powerful tool.
Hopefully at some point we’ll have a section here for such meditation and mindfulness exercises.
Indeed! That could be quite beneficial. I found another article that was helpful for understanding where “disorders” such as Depression and Anxiety come from, which I thought you might find interesting (https://vajrablue.com/2015/11/15/trauma-unlearning-the-past-to-regain-the-future/). The first step to overcoming something is believing that it’s possible, the second, is coming to understand what you’re trying to overcome- how and why it’s affecting you; where it might’ve stemmed from.