Depression is one of the most common and most serious issues in current mental health.
However, its pervasiveness does lend some fortune to those suffering as it means many others are moving through the same kinds of struggles.
I have personally experienced the heaviness of depression. Beginning in my late teens it transformed me from sociable, humorous and upbeat to an empty husk of a human being. At my worst, I found no purpose in any aspect of living and allowed my life to crumble around me.
I distanced from my family, lost all of my friends and eventually found myself barely able to leave the house or even my bed for that matter. For many years I then abused all kinds of short-lived pleasures to keep myself from taking my own life whilst secretly hoping that one nights 'accident' would end it all.
Since then I have worked extremely hard to step out of such a ruinous place and to transform my life. It has not been easy but I can proudly say that I am so far removed from my former self that I will never return to that same level of suffering.
With that said, depression hasn’t yet disappeared altogether. As I navigate new territory and build an extraordinary life for myself I am still occasionally tested by old poisonous thoughts, limiting beliefs and toxic self-loathing.
But I understand that I am not on a common journey and therefore must expect challenges of this kind.
I welcome them. I am strong enough. And so are you.
If you would like to hear more on this topic check out episode #005 of The Podcast, and please feel free to reach out at any time if this resonates with you.
PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION #005
Hello and welcome to Episode Five of Foxes Collide. I'm Matthew.
And I'm Ellen
How are you today?
I'm great. Thank you. How are you?
I'm Good. So Episode Five, we're going to do something a little bit different today. We're going to do something like an audio journal, where we just talk about what we have been moving through, and what lessons we're facing, it's a bit more personal. Just talking about our trials and tribulations and what we're working through.
And the stuff that we said we'd talk about in the first episode, how we'd move through things and talk about the journey.
Haha! Number one, saying absolutely all the time.
So for this one, we really just want to have a brief talk on resistance, facing resistance, moving through resistance. But also talk about depression. This is something I have experience with, something that I have been living with for about a decade. It's something that I've moved quite well through, especially more recently, in these past few years. It's something that's not quite so life absorbing or destroying. It's definitely not the worst years. I definitely feel that I'm coming through and coming out the other side.
But it's still occasionally present. I feel like the battles now are quite heavy, it's funny I feel like I'm coming out the other side of it but I feel like each time I do face off with it's, it's quite hard. It's almost like it's gotten harder. Well not harder but it's gotten more aggressive. Without trying to see it as a different entity from myself, it's quite aggressive and it's not just that I feel a little lo and I can keep that hidden from everybody and no one notices. That's not how it plays out. It hits very hard, I almost find myself absorbed back into where I am or where I was.
Well how can I talk about it, that's a bit more easy for a listener? Because it's not...
You mean to open them up to being able to see it or to understand?
Yeah, just with this show
I think what you're doing is perfect. You're sharing how you are feeling, how you're seeing it, and it's something that you're struggling with. I don't think you need to try and formulate it in a specific way for people to understand I think they'll be able to understand it perfectly, especially people that are going through it or have gone through it. I'm going through it with you as a support person as well and I've seen your journey, even within the last year. I understand that it's more aggressive sometimes and I think that is because of how quickly and how strongly you are moving towards change. You are changing who you are. You're changing your brain chemistry so quickly and so strongly every day and there's a big part of you that's not used to that, not so big anymore because you've done a lot of work quickly and I've seen it.
I've known you now for nearly a year and how quickly you've moved through things compared to when I first met you, it's amazing, I'm so proud of you. I'm so proud of you for what you've moved through and how you just show up. It might knock you down and its aggressive each time but you show up every time and you face off with yourself, with the demons that you hold and the beliefs that you have about yourself, the old beliefs that you're changing daily and I can see it and I'm seeing how much you're pushing through it and that's why it's coming at you so aggressively. There's that part of you that doesn't want to let go of that comfortable place that it sat in for a while because what we're doing now is going to take more work, more effort, and more self-discipline and there's a big part of you that doesn't want to face that.
That is very true. There's a strange dichotomy to it in the sense that it's not pleasant, it's not a pleasant place to be and yet you could argue that it can take a lot more effort and a lot more from you to shape your life into something extraordinary, as opposed to giving in to that way of thinking and that way of feeling. As someone who's experienced depression for a long time, there's a lot of work there, to move through it and move out of it. I used to see it as ground and with depression you're digging a hole that you're in, and you're just digging further and further and further and so of course, the further you dig down, the more you've got to climb to get back to just surface level, before you then get on the ladder to start to climb.
So it's just a long journey there but certainly one that you could argue is more rewarding in the long run because you know you've come even further. It's a part of my history but can be part of my victory, it can be part of my success and my healing and it can be a testament to myself. It is funny how a lot of the self doubts that you can have about yourself, I recognise that the ones I have, and by moving through this and eradicating it from my life I will become the person that I wanted to be and those self-doubts will be alleviated.
They'll be non-existent.
Because I will have had to develop those character traits to be able to heal this. It's strange to put the label on it, but it is a gift wrapped in barbed wire. So the way it sort of shows up is occasional but as you said it's aggressive so it puts me into an old mindset and it is fascinating because the thoughts and the feelings there are never new. It's never new, it's never fresh. It's never really bringing up anything different, it's the same old stuff same old beliefs and it feels like that has a lot of weight to it as if there's history in it. It is as if there's truth in those words but the fact is because it's an old thought of what you had a few years ago, you recognise that that is a part of your past self. It's not now, it's not me, It's not the current me that feels this way truly, it's not the current me that's actually thinking these things its an old me. As you said it's a pattern and it's very much where it forms into something that sticks with you. I think a lot of people have self-depreciating thoughts and feelings and of course low moments and low moods and all these sorts of things, and really depression is just when that becomes a cycle it's when it becomes patterned and practised and forms into something that you stay in and can't move yourself out of.
People have had it were it obviously just lasts all the time. Others have mood swings, but it is practised in that sense so it's something that you slip into, your brain is running an old pattern and it's probably gotten very good at doing that and so the work that you do in the now is just becoming really conscious of it, really aware so that when you start to slip into those patterns, you can start to see that they are a pattern.
And it's not necessarily something that's happened. You'll base it on something new. You'll think "this person did this, or they said this, or I forgot to do this, I messed this thing up" and that sends you on the spiral and then all the old thoughts come back. It's usually something to do with not being good enough, and all those sorts of things. You'll bring up all these examples from your past life of why you're not good enough and your brain or your mind or whatever it is, is doing a really good job at trying to prove that that thought and that feeling is gospel. That's true, that is me, I'm not good enough and here's a hundred reasons why and don't ever forget these hundred reasons why... and yet it's not the truth.
It's not the truth.
And it arguably never was the truth. Even back when maybe these things happened, it's not. You've had that perspective, you've taken something that's an event, an unbiased event... and I believe that every single thing that happens is unbiased until we put that label on it. Until we say this is bad, this is good, this is right, this is wrong. Things just happen, it's life but we turn something that we believe to be a mistake of our doing and we make it into the worst mistake of our lives, we make it the biggest regrets of our life. It really is how we take things and what label we put on them, what box we put them in, the consistency of course with people with depression is that they put it in a not so nice box.
So the more you can do (day to day), where you're putting things preferably not into any box. You're seeing things with gratitude, you're seeing things with joy and excitement, looking for the good. I remember noticing nature. This is probably a couple of years ago. Just noticing nature again as if I hadn't seen it. It was really crazy and just feeling the breeze on my face as if I hadn't felt that for years. It was really a testament to the fact that you see what you focus on. If you see the world as the worst thing ever, you see yourself as the worst thing ever, same with other people, then that's what you'll see, that's what you will experience. But I challenged that, I challenged it. I thought there's beauty in the world, there is beauty in me, there is beauty in other people and I began to see it and experience it.
Thank you. Thank you for sharing this with me.
Having never really been a part of somebody's life that had depression, never being a support person for someone that's had depression it's very hard for me to understand how you're thinking and how you're feeling and to say the right things or know what to do and what to say. I realise that having to deal with my own emotions at those times and also helping you through yours is quite challenging and it does bring up that level of uncomfortableness for me because I haven't experienced it before and I'm moving through that as best I can each time. Moving through my emotions separately, as best I can when we are around each other twenty four seven and we live together and we work together. So I think it's important for me to maybe move through my emotions separately and then come to you with a very open heart and an open mind to then support you and allow you to move through what you need to. Because I've noticed that when I do experience my emotions then, it doesn't help the situation. It doesn't help you.
So it's also I guess you could say learning curve for me, in better controlling, understanding, moving through my emotions and seeing where they're coming from and why, then moving it away from myself and taking the focus off myself, and being selfless and remembering you through the process. Remembering how much I do love you, remembering how much I do want to help you through it and instead of getting flustered or annoyed or angry about things not moving at a pace that I'm comfortable with, really turning my focus on to, You are the most important thing, not time, not the tasks we've got to do, nothing about that. What's most important is you. I really want to honour that in those moments. Yeah, it is a big learning thing for me.
I can't ask for anything else.
And I think that we're both seeing that it's something I used to shield from most people if I could, obviously, it used to bleed out sometimes but I've never had anyone that's been supportive through any of this. But I do recognise that when you are with your things, with your reactions to it, you obviously move through them very quickly and then you come in as an open ear, an open heart, that tends to allow me to move actually very quickly its as if something's been opened there.
Now that we talk about it there's probably some judgement on myself around having depression. I definitely used to judge myself as if I was a burden to people because of it. So if that's then demonstrated by people and the environment around me, then of course that just fuels it. Because it's like, "Ah, there we go, you see". It is the inner critic voice, it just adds fuel to the fire.
I remember you said to me once that the voice said, "You see? You do drive people away, this is you, you push people away." That was really good for me to hear because I was let in a little bit to what your mind was doing at the time, and although it might be scary sometimes to tell me about the thoughts you're thinking in those moments sometimes it allows me that little glimpse. To help to serve you better and to understand what you might need in those moments, instead of not having anything to go by and then I don't really know what you need from me in those times.
Yeah, I think it's a widespread issue. It's one of the biggest issues in mental health in the world at the moment [depression] and yet the struggle is normally fought alone, especially because it is in the head essentially. It's your perspective and it's the cloud over how you see everything. It uses your voice, twists your memories and your feelings and thoughts and all those sorts of things. I can see there's obviously a lot of value in letting others in on your struggles so that they have a sense of understanding.
I think it's a huge testament to you to not only be sharing it with me but with anyone else who listens. You trust that this will help people to understand and also trust people to see you.
Yeah, I have found in the last year and a half that there's a lot of power in transparency and in being open and being seen and heard, sharing areas of shame and guilt and regret and all these things. We hold something so much bigger than what it is and when we share it out, it's amazing. Some of the responses you get, some people are brought to tears. Other people go, "Oh yeah, I know that, I've got that, I deal with this." It's fascinating. There's so much variety in the responses but everyone's going through similar things.
Yeah. Once you open up it opens everybody else up to being able to share and being able to relate.
Yeah, that's exactly what I found.
And you feel so much more love, as well, when you're completely open and laid bare.
I predict that it's part of my healing. And I like to see that there's meaning in everything so even just doing this recording now is a step in a different direction. It's an aspect of healing. It's taking the power away. That's really what happens when you're transparent and you share something, maybe a shame that you have, you take the power away from it. It's shameful because you've put it in the dark, you've hidden it away. But once you share these things that you're dealing with or these things that you hold, they lose
hold on you.
They have no more power over you.
So that was a little audio journal. Just to say that the reason this one's come up is obviously this past week there was a couple of days there where things hit me. Looking at my life situation right now there's a lot of change happening. There's also a hell of a lot of forward momentum. Things are really working for us, things are going really well and so it's not a coincidence to me that it's come up because I've put myself in such a different position in a different life and there's also a lot of prospective things about to happen, which would also change me and change my identity and take me further and further away from the depressed person I used to be. It is almost like it's grasping. It's trying to pull me back. It's trying to say, hey.
It's trying to hold on. It's trying to hold on to keep you in that space, and you're pulling away from it.
So I think with some different things we were doing it just reared its head.
But you showed up.
Yeah, when you show up and you face off with it and you work through it that's another success and you just stack them up. You stack them up, and that builds your self-esteem, that builds your shield, that builds whatever you want to call it, but it's what you can use.
It builds your self-confidence.
It just has less power over you.
We'll leave that one there but we'll do some more journal type, open chats about things that we're moving through because it's important. Everyone's moving through different things, everyone's human, but it's good to share and for anyone listening to maybe find something that they relate to to see that they're not alone.
And to reach out if they'd like to talk about any of this. We are more than welcoming and we have open ears and open hearts.
So thank you for listening.
Yeah, thanks for listening. We hope you have a wonderful week ahead and we look forward to the next episode.