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How I Avoid Depression
#1
I see a lot of people who get depressed over ordinary things, and not just on this board but everywhere. And a lot of these people don't even have it that bad as far as I can see but they're miserable, and I suspect the reason many turn toward cults of fundie religions and ideological purity that messes this world up (and are typically hateful toward gays) in large part because they felt so depressed and without purpose until they filled their emptiness and pain within by embracing the cause "bigger" than themselves (and helps connect with others where they know what to say and do to be accepted), which of course leads to more misery and depression for others (and probably themselves as they don't seem happy to me). I want to help but I really don't know how. I hope this doesn't annoy anyone but I finally spent some time trying to figure out why I'm not depressed while so many others are and I think I may have it figured out, and I'm sharing this in the hopes any of this self-reflection can help others.

First, I laugh, typically at something silly and unexpected. And I remember how I was hooked on South Park after seeing Clubhouses (first one I saw) because even though it reminded me of the powerlessness and sense of not mattering to anyone during my 'rents divorce I was laughing as Stan put up with his parents hypocrisy and divorce drama (and it also helped me to feel less alone). I believe my silliness and love of humor has helped me remain (relatively) sane though the misadventures I've endured in life.

And an ironic thing, when the demands of real life & stress of legitimate worries weighs down on me and makes me depressed, sometimes I think of dark times past. A favorite is to vividly recall as best as possible when I was a kid on the streets sleeping on porches, in parks and abandoned buildings, not eating regularly and worrying about violent people on both sides of the law and the filth & risks I endured and after awhile it's no small thing that I have a roof, a pantry full of food, good clothes, bedding, and even a computer to play on with the free time to do so. I think not only does it remind me not take what I have for granted but it also reminds me of what I survived and that knowledge makes me feel I can survive hardship again and I feel comforted that it's not "all too much." It also helps me not to sweat the small stuff (which is almost everything).

I've noticed that my closest friends all have a good sense of humor as well, and that's no doubt because their ability to make me laugh makes me feel better about myself and life and thus why I gravitate toward them. I value this so much I even financially supported a guy for as long as I could and took care of his sexual needs because he had a natural ability to make me laugh until I cried actual tears (something many people will pay good money for which is why I saw him as pulling his weight even though he didn't help pay the bills). Betty Boop and Jessica Rabbit understand...

And friends of any kind are a boon. For me, I find that when I share my joy my own joy increases (which is why I'd rather see a comedy with someone else because their laughing will make me laugh even harder and enjoy it more) while sharing my sorrows decreases my sorrow. And though I feel their pain (decreasing their sorrow in turn), I stand by them in hard times as well which helps them get back to enjoying life so we can enjoy the trip together. This is no small thing.

While one shouldn't tolerate being taken advantage of on a regular basis, sometimes shit happens. Like my BFF borrowed nearly $500 from me promising to pay it back when she got her tax returns, but she got back less than she expected and ended up working less hours at work so that to keep her head above water she couldn't really pay it back. I suppose some would've ended the friendship over that but we've been friends for like 10 years and we've been through A LOT, and we've done a lot for each other--she for me as well as me for her. She even took a risk once that kept me out of jail and possibly prison. And we have had some real good laughs and just going over the old days can get us to laughing all over again. I saw her guilt at not being able to pay me back and made it very clear that she was worth it, and she is, and told her not to worry about paying me back even a single dollar of it. $500 doesn't even come close to the value I put on her and our friendship. While I was a little disappointed for awhile I overcame it by remembering all we've been through and done for each other and valuing that we were still together, hopefully amigas forever.

I still get depressed from time to time with moments of feeling everything is futile but it quickly passes--and knowing it's just a moment that will pass helps. I think I've dealt with this by decided if it all doesn't matter in the long run, then everything around us can mean anything we want, and most importantly, don't sweat the small stuff. And instead of feeling crushed by the feeling that a day will come when everything I've done won't matter at all and my having existed won't mean anything to anyone, I feel a sense of liberation that allows me to live in the NOW and relative future with an ability to forgive both myself and others (not that this is perfect, and I certainly know better than to let myself get screwed over and over).

And focusing on the moments as gifts that are mine alone (and those I share them with) can be very helpful, like this I recorded right after it happened on December 18, 2005 (which also doubles as trying something new, something many recommend to overcome depression, or even just ennui):

Pix Wrote:I had gotten off the comp this morn when a friend that I had just emailed a few minutes before called (since she knew I was up). She wanted us to go surfing with them. Having just gotten over a flu, I was thinking of saying no, but my roomie really wanted to go, so I agreed.

I am so glad for that.

We surfed as normal and the lingering depression and such from fighting off the flu was banished and I really enjoyed myself and the company. The morn was cloudy, but it was still beautiful, with fog in the distant hills, and the ocean itself vanishing off into the distant mists. There was rain, but it was very light--I'm not even sure it counts as rain. And hardly matters when you're in a wetsuit anyway.

And then the wind picked up. Friends had a wonderful idea, to try windsurfing. This was interesting, and I wasn't sure about it, having never done it before. When I finally tried, it took me some minutes just to not fall over, though they said I picked it up really fast. It was difficult because I had to hold my feet differently, and dealing with the harness. But at some point, WHOOSH, the SPEED! I couldn't help it: I screamed with joy, and I was SO glad we had come.

And then the sun broke through.... not direct, but close. The water turned from gray to aqua, and I was suddenly recalling when I was like 6-10, how I'd get up before Mom & Dad (and often before dawn back then) and go outside and explore, play, go to friend's houses.... I felt so free and there was a stark beauty to life that I rarely feel (at least sober) since I guess I became a teen. And then I surpassed even that, and I reached a state that was nothing less than ecstasy, I'd say on par (though distinct and different in its own way) to mind altering dancing or sex, and perhaps even more fulfilling in its own way.

If there was any doubt about fighting to survive the dark times in my life, it was dispelled at this moment of utter beauty in which I lived totally within this miraculous moment, my shout and my heart praising the Goddess of Life and for this moment in Life, one that was worth every horror and ache I had endured just to be here. Tears came down my face (just a few), and I knew that when I die, should my life flash before my eyes, this exact moment will be replayed, and if it affects my body at all, I will smile then, at peace, knowing it was all worth it in part to this one ineffable moment.

What else is there to say? My cold seemed to come back but it went away again, and it was hardly even noted (at least not by me--and we were all wet enough anyway). I found out that the wind was LIGHT (like how fast would I have gone in a HIGH wind???) Because we messed with the boards (including the beginner board I had borrowed), we failed to miss the churches getting out and ended up eating at a Pizza Hut for awhile to give the traffic a chance to die down more.

Now I am home. I've showered, dishes are now washing, warms are washing and hots are drying. Today was awesome, and I'm sharing. If you get a chance to try something new like that, and to be out in nature in a way that helps you to fuse with it, if just for a moment, then avail yourself of the moment. If more people did, psychiatry would be an endangered profession.

As the Wiccans say, Blessed Be (it seems appropriate to now).

That's an example of what I mean by living in the moment. The moment is a gift we'll never get again, nor will anyone else, so use it wisely.

It's also an example of trying something new which can also help break depression (and even ennui). Some people do this with shopping but unless you're filthy rich that can lead to other problems if not properly self-disciplined (and that assumes it genuinely makes you feel better, which for some people it doesn't), but it's relatively easy to change the decor to something you like. Sure it won't matter in a hundred years but it might make a difference NOW (beware of walking in the dark after rearranging furniture, however, and also beware that if you get into a lot of dust that can agitate allergies in some people which can make some people feel really bad emotionally as well as physically). Collecting things (like sea shells) are therapeutic for many people as well as providing some small newness into one's life from time to time. Camping can also break the routine (or even just hiking or fishing). Getting out in nature helps a lot of people, too.

Personally, I find watching the grass, weeds, and trees waving in the wind to be as soothing as the waves of the ocean and can get lost in the moment enjoying some quiet time in the woods by myself or with loved ones, and an activity I used to enjoy was where me and others would go water (and even bring plant food) to a juniper tree in the woods while picking its berries for a variety of purposes. An even more fond memory is picking blueberries (often with a cousin) out in the woods and bringing them to my granny so she could make a blueberry pie with them.

And all kinds of exercise can help because it helps break down the poisons caused by stress (which puts out chemicals that need to be worked out but if you seethe instead of fight/flight then it builds up instead of being flushed out) and also helps in the production of endorphins. Do it long enough and it's not only a habit that can rid your body of chemicals that can cause depression but it can be an addiction because of the pleasure creating chemicals it inspires in the brain.

And looking at the big picture not only helps me focus on the moment I have right now, but also makes me forgiving of others. I know many hate their parents and I think I have good reason to loathe mine. But I don't. I remember good times as well as bad, I've come to understand them a bit (like Granny told me of the horrible mistake she made with Mom that led to her being horribly abused, and Mom has never forgiven Granny for it as Mom has told me herself, and I can see how it inspired her to make some really bad decisions she made as an adult, some of which did me harm), I've come to believe that Dad can't stand to be around me because he feels some guilt (or at least fear of retribution) over how he treated me and maybe also some regret of decisions he made while young (which I serve as a reminder of) that he's tried to forget. And I in learning to stand on my own feet as I was forced to do and forcing me to do chores (that Mom was too lazy to do herself but dad insisted be done) I learned a lot more about how to stand on my own in the world without a sense of entitlement (to get bent out of shape over when the world doesn't present me with what I think it owes me or provides me trifling difficulties in which I think I should not be subjected to) and as a result I take care of trivial tasks without any thought about how much it sucks, and seeing how others can't do the same I must say I'm grudgingly grateful (even if I realize there are more healthy ways to impart such a sense of responsibility into a child than was done with me). I see the 'rents as flawed, but I think we're all flawed (and I do realize I wasn't an easy child to live with), and if they're more flawed than many than that's more pitiable than contemptible (obviously, danger should not be ignored or continuing abuse tolerated, and I've emphatically advised some people to get far away from their evil or psychotically deranged parents before).

Not that I think one should feel obligated to be as forgiving as I have, but I do believe that in forgiving them I keep myself from hating what happened to me and thus ruminating over past wrongs until I feel miserable and hateful and thus depressed about things I cannot change. That is, forgiving them has helped me while my forgiveness or lack thereof probably doesn't affect them at all (as any contact is fleeting). Granted, I've been sad at moments because of how mom and especially dad keep me at a distance but I just ultimately shrug it off and focus on what I do get from others who know and love me and see it as more their loss than mine. The lyrics of Hurt by Christina Aguilera really speak to me and I never want to feel that pain myself.

The most important part is to realize we're all flawed, and that means not only everyone around you (including those who willfully or accidentally hurt you) but also yourself. If you can accept this forgiveness then inner peace is so much easier. I know it's not always so easy, there are grudges I still hold that I wish I could let go of and I can really beat myself up over stupid things I've done when I should just let it go, but that's part of being flawed, and MOST of the time I seem able to do it, and that ability keeps me from being in bondage to depression over things I cannot change. I also take some comfort in that those events that I find hard to put behind me serve as learning experiences to keep me from repeating similar mistakes in the future.

To be continued...
#2
Of course if there's a good reason to be depressed then taking some corrective action may be required. In some cases it's just waiting it out and focusing on the good stuff in the meantime, and though I've learned some emotional scars never fully heal, it does get easier to live with. But other times you need to think of what you can do to overcome drug dependency or recover from injuries or get in better shape or learn to survive fear after an attack or get away from abusive partners or family or away from a toxic neighborhood or job and other things. Whenever it feels overwhelming I try to break down a plan of action into steps and focus on the steps instead of the goal as that's easier. I also don't forget hackneyed but true sayings like "soonest begun is soonest done" and remember that in taking control of my own life is a powerful cure against the despair I've felt in the past when I was at the mercy of those who (at best) did not hold my best interests at heart.

Also, be really sure that what you're trying to achieve is really what you want and not something you think you're SUPPOSED to want. Plenty of people have much higher paying jobs than you but also have expensive therapy and/or drug use (legal and otherwise) to deal with the horror of their "success" and plenty kill themselves while people who make a lot less but enjoy what they're doing are much happier and freer. And need I go into things like postpartum depression where the baby that was supposed to bring such joy and purpose instead destroys any hope and happiness of those now responsible for their new bundle of "joy"? Obviously, trying to live up to religious principles that are just wrong (like trying not to be gay when you are, or even thinking of masturbation as "cheating" on a spouse you haven't even met yet!) is just a sure recipe to make sure life is a veil of tears when it doesn't have to be.

Of course even if you decide you'd rather be a bohemian, join the circus, or live in an alternative community rather than trying to score the highest paying job and get the most toys can easily lead to others who don't understand, judge you by the money you make (which can include cops and the legal system) or heretical choices you make, and you can wind up around dysfunctional people just as easily if you worked in a soul crushing office or family church, but that's when you look for individual steps to overcome or ameliorate those problems as well as enjoying true friends and to the stuff you value until the rest of the world doesn't quite matter so much.

There was a Russian duo called tATu that basically (IMO) exploited lesbians for straight men but I've always forgiven them that for one video they did that was so beautiful to me that it brought tears to my eyes when I first saw it: Two girls describes in painful detail falling in love with each other and how they try to suppress it and pretend they're not in love because others don't understand, not even their parents, but they simply can't ignore what they're feeling. And in the vid it shows them locked behind a prison fence as freezing snow and rain comes down on them while those outside the prison under umbrellas look at them in condemnation and disgust until her lover points out those other people don't matter and then there's a brilliant reversal where the 2 walk off into the sun free to love each other while those who judged them were the ones behind the prison fence of their own xenophobia and hate. I'm glad that many antigay groups around the world tried (and failed) to have this video banned (and I knew the REAL reason was the same for why I found it beautiful rather than the reasons they made up, especially as they were silent on vids they could come down on for the very same reason they claimed about All The Things She Said but didn't feature a gay relationship) as I may not have seen it otherwise:



And that attitude makes all the difference: focus on the bad and do what others want (or accept their condemnation when you don't or fail) can be hellish and cause for despair, but if you focus on following your heart and on what's GOOD and on the people good for you then those toxic people are locked up with their own toxicity rather than you.

In closing I'd like to say I wish I could condense this, but I'm not sure what above is the most important and potentially most helpful (and it probably depends on the person) but I believe the above is why I'm not depressed while so many others are, and I sincerely hope it can inspire the great many others who are depressed to maybe find some realization in the above that improves their own lives. I realize that plenty probably won't find this helpful, but if even one person finds something useful in what I shared then I won't regret the time and effort it took me to make this.
#3
thank you very much for this. It was a good read and has some very good points to it. I find myself getting down about silly little things in life. But I'v found my own little way out. I just tell myself 'it is what it is'. And yes being outside and doing things whit friends is best. Having fun without being over crowded in the city. I myself enjoy tramping and going camping. Simple things are the best.
#4
I can definitely relate as I get pangs of depression and indeed humor helps a lot. Often when you can see the funny side of things, it can prevent something upsetting from getting you depressed. That's why I think I'm rarely depressed when I'm with my boyfriend, he's light-hearted and has the best sense of humor.
However I try very hard not to let him now if I'm depressed, I just don't want to bring misery into his life. Besides no one wants to be with a sad person.

Thanks so much for sharing, it makes me feel less alone.
#5
Hey Pix, I still remember your post regarding to what type of job you do. You did so many things to keep on moving and survive. I still find your determination and will power to be amazing. You didn't give up. You didn't allow depression to haunt you. You just kept on moving and moving.

I salute you, Pix.
#6
Jay Wrote:your post regarding to what type of job you do.

Plenty of people don't understand why I do what I do, so thank you so much! Happy

In case anyone is curious:

http://gayspeak.com/showthread.php?p=132214#post132214

Now I've gotta go make breakfast. Confusedmile:
#7
Thank you for your wonderful insight and story. I struggle with depression from time to time and what you said is very inspirational.
#8
Welcome back, Inchante! Confusedmile:

And looking at my "making a living" post again I remembered that I DID have a car for a few short months. I paid $830 for it, IIRC, and it was an old, beat up Dodge Omni made in the 80s (it was 2001 when I got it), and it had a lot of mechanical problems. A few months later I considered it scrap because I couldn't even get it to start and got rid of it and I never got another car again (I also found I hated driving).

But I didn't get upset over it because I thought of the good I got out of it: months of transportation, including in helping me move from San Francisco to Venice, and that saved U-Haul fees (IIRC, a roomie would later pay about $250 to rent a U-Haul to move in with), so that knocks it down to about $580 (plus, a car is easier to drive than a U-Haul, though good thing I didn't have any furniture or much to pack back then!). When wondering how to get rid of it I found I could sell it to a scrap yard who'd even tow it away for me, and they not only paid me a little over $200 for it (thus down to $380), but towed it away for free (saving me another hundred at least).

And on top of that I learned a lot about car maintenance that I've since found helpful (like I was able to recognize by smell when a friend's car was leaking braking fluid while she was driving me around, no small thing for both of us!). Back when I had a car I always had people getting me to drive them places and I no longer had to deal with that, and it also taught me to appreciate when others give me a ride and thus show gratitude and compensate them appropriately. I also took some comfort in losing that Dodge Omni after I heard how terrible they (and those in them) survive wrecks. Even for a beat up car about 20-years-old I definitely got my money's worth out of it, and thinking of the things I just mentioned I not only found it possible to avoid being upset I no longer had a car, but even find it a sense of relief and feel like I'd gotten a good deal out of it. That's just another example of how focusing on the positives and not the negatives works for me.
#9
being bullied and harassed in my town for being neo republican leads to depression /poverty i guess

plus my neurological stuff is worse

st johns wort helps
#10
Thanks Pix, your post is always so inspirational.

I have been struggling with depression and what not for years, and I have become much better now, thanks to my dog.

My dog has taught me that animals usually just express their feelings, whether they are happy, sad, angry worried etc.
Watching him live in the moment inspires me to do the same, and that has made me a much more relaxed, laid back person.

Its so hard to find people and tings that can remind you of these simple basic stuff about life Smile


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