From Depressed To Blessed: How I Conquered My Depression And Took Back My Life
Before we get started, I need to inform you that I am not a doctor or medical professional. I speak from years of personal experience battling my depression. The information provided is not a substitute for required medical help.
Hello everyone, my name is Alex and I am the founder of FixMyBrokenMind.
My blog is dedicated to sharing my decade long battle with anxiety and depression in hopes that I can help anyone dealing with similar situations.
Today I am excited to extend my reach and hopefully offer some helpful advice for the wonderful readers at RedPillReviews!
My Depression And History
In order to give some context for the rest of the article, I briefly want to touch on the factors and experiences that led me to the dark corners of my depression…
When my mother was pregnant, my father left the picture. Thankfully my mom provided me with a phenomenal upbringing and growing up without a dad was never a conscious concern of mine.
Shortly after my fourth birthday, I was diagnosed with Leukemia (cancer of the blood).
Due to the daily hospital visits my mother could not hold down a steady job. We managed the next few years on welfare.
For the next 10 years or so things seemed to smooth out for me. The same cannot be said for my mom, who I saw struggle daily with clinical depression.
Genetically speaking, my family is highly prone to depression, anxiety, and alcoholism.
Roughly around my 18th birthday things really started to go downhill for me.
I began to experience some highly notable fatigue and the anxiety I had dealt with for years was only getting worse.
Looking back it was around this time I began to feel depressed. I hated the idea of dealing with depression and so I did my best to ignore it and deny its presence in my life.
My list of symptoms grew exponentially over the next few years. I was anxious, low-spirited, unmotivated, and utterly exhausted. My zest for life was all but gone.
In order to address my issues I wasted 1000’s of dollars on aimless supplements which, in the end, did mostly nothing.
Last but not least, I dealt with two severe injuries that left me dealing with chronic pain for years. This removed me from competitive sports which were likely the only passion I had left.
View more of My Story here.
Who Is This Guide For?
- For the person who deals with depression of any size or origin – situational or psychological.
- To those brave enough to try options beyond taking medication for the rest of their life.
- For the person who doesn’t want to waste money on supplements and e-books with false claims of changing your life.
I have felt depression, situationally and psychologically, from small road blocks in life and questioning my self worth all the way to ideations of suicide.
I know the ins and outs of depression and I am going to give you the real formula I used to take back my happiness.
Step 1: I Had To Banish All Self Pity
It is my opinion that self pity is the single greatest obstacle in overcoming any depression.
I am not turning a blind eye to the very real neurotransmitter deficiencies and hormonal imbalances that leave everyday people with feelings of depression. I am simply stating that the person who sulks in self pity will never recover as fast as someone busy doing everything they can to get well.
Feeling sorry for ourselves is admitting defeat and further feeding depression.
Unfortunately, many of us become so focused on the ‘why me?’ that we turn a blind eye to the key question: ‘What can I do about it?’.
What Can I do About It?:
There was a point in my life where the three greatest obstacles I have ever faced intertwined:
Anxiety, Chronic Fatigue, and Depression.
Admittedly, this was an extremely difficult time in my life and one I never wish to revisit.
I would look at people, both on social media and in real life, with extreme envy. I would loathe in self pity feeling as though I was dealt a crappy hand.
My solution to this problem was to ‘reward’ myself. For all the struggles I was going through I felt as though I deserved it.
This manifested as:
- a poor diet which further crushed my energy
- excessive amounts of garbage TV to distract my mind
- smoking marijuana as an escape which highly elevated my anxiety and consequently lowered my energy even further
My self pity and desire for comfort was making my life and my depression much more uncomfortable than it already was.
I am sure many of you, whether you realize it or not, end up in this same cycle.
The day I stopped feeling sorry for myself is the day my depression began to improve.
All of a sudden I was replacing television with activities like meditation, poor food with exercise and proper nutrition, and making a serious effort to hangout with the people that added quality to my life.
Banishing self pity was the first step to opening the doors to a better life. Once you remove self pity everything begins to fall into place.
We have to accept the fact that this is the only life we get. We can do something to change it or watch as it passes us by.
Note: I highly recommend reading No Excuses by Kyle Maynard.
I have never read something so inspiring and he will very likely change the way you approach self pity for the rest of your life.
For some quick inspiration check out Kyle Maynard on youtube here.
Simple Technique To Banish Self Pity
While some people keep a ‘swear jar’, I like to keep a ‘sorry for myself jar’.
Every time I caught myself sulking over something that I could be working to change, I made myself put $1 in the jar.
It may not sound like a whole lot but parting with $1 on a daily basis or even multiple times a day quickly becomes a huge annoyance.
My determination to save myself from parting with my money helped trick me into having a positive mindset!
When overcoming my depression it was critical to implement techniques like this to trick my mind into success.
Step 2: I Gave My Lifestyle An Honest Evaluation
Lifestyle is something that I talk about over and over again.
This is not because I enjoy it, in fact far from it. I hate lecturing people on their lifestyle, but the truth is, it is often so overlooked.
Even for those of us aware of the mistakes we are making, many times we make excuses and intentionally ignore them.
For myself, growing up as a cancer survivor, I always took my health seriously.
I never smoked cigarettes, I only drank for highly special social occasions, and besides moderate cannabis usage, I avoided recreational drug use entirely.
Furthermore, fitness was my passion and I was highly active.
My friends, on the other hand, recklessly abused their bodies and minds with alcohol and narcotics seemingly every weekend.
In my mind, since I was avoiding this scene, I was being very kind to my body and there was no reason my lifestyle could be harming my well being.
Eventually reality taught me otherwise. It turns out there were key lifestyle factors I was abusing which were only making my depression worse.
My Sleep Schedule
Throughout my youth I was able to function on six hours of sleep.
As I got into my 20’s and transitioned from school to the work force, this seemed to become more of a super power than reality.
Of course, being me, I would still push the limits and try to get away with six hours of sleep.
Walking around feeling like a zombie everyday did not provide any benefits for my mental health. If you can think back to the last night you did not sleep well, I am sure you can relate.
I was willingly putting myself through this torture day in and day out and then feeling sorry for myself for being tired all the time…
I would compensate with a surplus of caffeine, which highly elevated my anxiety. Living with anxiety dramatically exaggerated my depression and consequently I had created a living hell for myself.
Perhaps my arch nemesis… My diet was far from perfect.
Where my peers were abusing their bodies with alcohol, I substituted the booze for fast food.
Both a gift and a curse, my metabolism was fast enough to let me get away with this.
As an avid weightlifter with a fast metabolism I still looked great. In fact, I began eating fast food regularly in order to maintain the mass I had gained in the gym.
Since I could get away with a horrendous diet on the outside, I neglected the negative effects it was having on my energy and my depression.
The more I ate fast food the more addicted I became. Laziness coupled with self pity began a nasty cycle that seriously began to take a toll on both my depression and energy.
Not only was I addicted to fast food, but I was equally repulsed by vegetables.
My diet was loaded with MSG and other preservatives and lacking in nutrients my body and mind desperately needed.
Upon serious evaluation it became evident to me that I wasn’t living the healthy life I thought I was.
Just because I was living better than a lot of my friends does not mean I was treating my body and mind with the respect they required.
I was feeling depressed about my fatigue and my anxiety yet I was ignoring the essentials to good health.
It was like trying to drive a car with no gas or putting diesel in a petrol engine.
Sometimes we need to put our ego aside and do a serious self evaluation of what is most important to our well being.
While I only spoke of diet and sleep, there are many more lifestyle factors that may be harming you.
Exercise, sobriety, and stress management are three fundamentals which I simply cannot cram into this article, but are highly important nonetheless.
You know your lifestyle better than I do. Only through realistic self evaluation can you better yourself and your future.
For anyone who is self medicating with drugs or alcohol, you must remember the golden rule:
What Goes Up, Must Come Down
Step 3: I Took Things One Day At A Time
At the peak of my depression I looked at everything that needed changing in my life.
The obstacles I had to overcome seemed overwhelming and insurmountable. Furthermore, as someone who suffered from anxiety, I exaggerated these issues.
One fateful day I came across the book How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie.
For the price of lunch, this book absolutely revolutionized the way I viewed my problems. Personally, I was able to take about 1001 lessons from this book.
I could not afford to see a therapist about my issues and thanks to this book, I no longer needed to.
Day Tight Compartments
Dale Carnegie opened my eyes to a fundamental fact of conquering depression and anxiety: If a problem I am facing today is not going to bother me in 1 year from now then it is not worth giving any further attention to.
Initially this was much easier said than done. As time went on and I continued to practice this, I found it becoming automatic.
It became clear to me that I was focusing far too much on the future. The power to change my life was lying right in front of me in the present moment.
I was allowing the beauty of day to day life to pass me by, keenly waiting for a day where everything would be just right.
I told myself once I got a raise at work, hit my fitness goals, or got over my anxiety that I would happy.
This way of thinking only made my depression worse. I could not live up to my own expectations.
Every day has 1000s of opportunities to make you smile; If you struggle with depression I suggest you open your eyes to them.
Fix As You Go
If you are facing multiple problems, try adopting a fix-as-you-go mentality. Just like a boxer can’t fight five opponents at the same time, you cannot overcome five problems at once.
Find the main source of your unhappiness and do something everyday to conquer it. We would be better off investing our days into our well being than wasting them in self pity and worry.
Once we conquer oppressor #1, we can begin to shift our focus onto the next obstacle.
When I was facing depression, fatigue, and anxiety all at the same time I felt like I was going around in circles.
Eventually I was able to identify anxiety as my #1 source of discomfort. I began taking measures to overcome it and soon enough I felt calmer.
Finding a sense of peace was a huge relief and eased my depression while additionally easing my fatigue.
When I moved on to addressing my fatigue I was already one step ahead seeing as the constant anxiety was running my energy into the ground.
By the time I had my anxiety and fatigue under wraps, depression was at a fraction of its initial strength. It no longer had the high ground and I was able to move right through it.
Step 4: I Traveled… Again
A trip to Thailand in 2013 changed my life almost instantly.
From the moment I landed abroad I knew that travelling was something I needed more of in my life.
Upon returning home a few months later feeling like a new man, I relentlessly pursued my next journey.
Unfortunately, between my career as a welder and dating a girl who did not want to travel, my boots were stuck on Canadian soil.
Every day at work I dreamed of travel. On the toughest of days I would allow my mind to wander and dream of my experiences in Thailand or some made up adventure I was one day sure to take.
Even though my life didn’t allow it, in my mind all the money I was making at work was going to fund a trip sooner or later.
In November of 2015, my girlfriend of five years and myself split up.
I would love to tell you that I laughed it off and realized how much my relationship held me back in life, but the reality of it was that I screwed up.
I let the girl of my dreams get away from me.
It was an extremely rough winter and coupled with my chronic fatigue and being stuck at a job that sucked the life out me, my mind was a hospitable place.
The following February I got laid off from my job and saw an opportunity for an escape.
I immediately bought a one way plane ticket to Mexico and three days later I was sipping a Corona in Cancun.
A Much Needed Change Of Scenery
A massive weight lifted off my chest as I felt the humidity of the Mexican air hit me as I exited the plane.
Travelling provides a sense of freedom and adventure you simply cannot experience by any other means.
One week prior, I was locking myself in my room overwhelmed by feelings of despair and the next I was scuba diving through coral reefs.
I was meeting new people and making friends from all over the world.
To keep myself busy, I got involved volunteering at a hostel and I lived in a traveler house with eight other people. Never in my life will I forget those experiences.
Imagine waking up every day to birds chirping and the sun shining. All of your time is free time, and your work life is 1000’s of kilometers away from you.
While I still dealt with some personal issues whilst travelling, I was too overwhelmed by positive experiences to notice all that much.
I flushed out my depression with constant adventure and excitement.
As I look back a year later, a smile immediately strikes my face.
Travelling Provides New Perspective
If you spend all of your time in a first world nation, you never have the opportunity to feel grateful for the little things in life.
Something as simple as having dinner every night is a luxury many people do not know.
Everyday things in life such as hot showers, a comfortable bed, or going to the mall were so ingrained in my daily life that I never took the time to truly appreciate them.
My life could look so much different.
Had I been born in Mexico, there is a high chance I could have died from cancer. Instead, thanks to Canadian healthcare, I live to talk about it.
If I was born in Thailand I’d likely have to work 12 hours a day to support my family.
With the fatigue I’ve faced, eight hours a day feels excessive. Additionally I have access to modern medicine to help with the health problems I have faced.
Last But Not Least, You See The True Meaning Of Happiness.
Despite all the poverty I saw, people were happy.
In Mexico happiness does not revolve around the newest iPhone or fastest car.
Western culture places so much emphasis on materials. It is no wonder rates of depression have never been higher.
People assume their self worth is directly related to the assets they own.
Travelling opened my eyes to the three things I needed in life:
- Good Friends And Relationships
Upon reading The Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris, I came across a story that forever cemented this idea into my brain.
If you wish to read the story you can find it here: Fables And Fortune Hunters
Best Of All
I was spending less money travelling than I was living at home.
Staying in hostels can cut your trip expenses in half. If you are looking to meet new people, hostels are the only way to go.
I still love to take as many mini-vacations as I possibly can. With websites like Hotwire, it is easy to snag last minute hotels at nearly half price.
Nothing can cheer me up and crush my depression faster than a spontaneous vacation!
You Still With Me?
I hope you enjoyed the tips/reflections provided in this article, however we are just scratching the surface.
There is a lot more to talk about and since this article is getting quite in depth, we are going to split it up into a two part series.
Catch part 2 here!