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The Ultimate Guide to Beating Depression25 minute read

Do you ever feel like you’re an actor? Putting on a smile and an act for everyone else? Faking happiness while every day battling an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, unable to get a handle over your anxiety? Being bored with life and tired of life? All while feeling overwhelmed and depressed. Like you’re standing underneath a floor of glass, screaming and beating on it trying to get the rest of the world to acknowledge you. All while they go about their lives without you or even knowing you’re trapped… asking yourself “What’s the point of living?” when you find yourself crying for no reason yet again. Do you struggle with depression?

Or having thoughts like:

  • I have no motivation
  • Nothing makes me happy
  • I feel dead inside
  • Why do I hate myself
  • I feel like shit
  • I hate my life
  • Noone likes me
  • I feel lost
  • I’m not good at anything

This is what depression feels like. This is what depression looks like. But the best description I’ve ever heard was from a friend:

Imagine your life is a computer game that you can’t turn off. It’s a game that you’ve never heard of or even ever wanted to play.

But not only are you forced to play, you’re forced to play on hard mode while everyone else is playing on easy mode.

You don’t have any instructions or even any clue what the game is about.

Other people around you on easy mode find the game to be incredibly fun. There are challenges on each mode but for others it’s easy to complete them.

They’re smiling and laughing and having a great time while you’re just trying to survive.

All while telling you “It’s easy, you just have to…”

But for some reason, even if you put in the same amount of effort as everyone else you can’t do it.

Very quickly you lose your motivation to play because nothing you do works and you can’t figure out why.

You don’t want to play this game anymore, but you’re not allowed to quit playing. You’re forced to keep playing forever.

This isn’t a question of stress vs. depression. This is what depression feels like. I hate my life and everyday I ask myself “why do I hate myself?”. Feeling uncertain and asking “Am I depressed or lazy?” Feeling lost and like I am a failure. I feel like a failure and everyday hearing that I’m a failure.

That’s the first step to beating depression, is getting a handle on what it is and what it feels like.

But what is depression? The American Psychological Association defines it like this:

Depression is more than just sadness. People with depression may experience a lack of interest and pleasure in daily activities, significant weight loss or gain, insomnia or excessive sleeping, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

My Own Experiences With Thinking “I Hate My Life”

As someone who existed with depression for over a decade the way I explain it is that depression saps your spirit and sense of who you are. Your energy, your vitality, your sense of worth for yourself and the world. Nothing is safe from depression, your mind and even your sanity are all food for it. Becoming like a Dementor from Harry Potter; it feeds off of your tragedies, making you relive them over and over until you can’t even believe in yourself anymore or stand up for yourself.

Depression feeds off of these things until there’s nothing left but you wondering how to be happy again. It takes away everything that makes you who you are leaving you feeling hopeless.

After it’s taken all of your emotional vitality it then starts to eat away at you physically. Which is what leaves you feeling like a failure, bored and tired with life and feeling hopeless because you don’t have the energy to do anything. No matter how much sleep you get you never feel rested.

It feels like you’re walking underwater with cinder blocks for shoes. Like you’re drowning while everyone else around you is still breathing. The more you fight it the further you sink. That is what depression feels like. That is what hopelessness is like. And what it’s like to feel overwhelmed and depressed.

Depression is a demon that haunts your very sense of reality, always with you and always gently whispering in your ear. This demon delights in torturing you with these little whispers, especially when you ask ‘why’?

Feeling Overwhelmed and Depressed

That’s what it felt like for me. Every day with brief moments of relief, only to have those taken from me as well. These brief moments of relief were my new life partner’s way of reminding me of how broken I was. To put what I wanted within reach only to snatch it away.

Depression was like a demonic life partner, always there, always whispering.

It was comforting, in a way, to know that at least I had something there with me. Even if it was only a negative manifestation of my own imagination. And part of me didn’t want it to leave. Everyone else kept leaving, but not my life partner. The depression demon was always there. It was the only thing that reminded me I was alive.

When I was a child a lot of people who were close to me kept dying or otherwise abandoning me. Those that stuck around only did so to stick a knife in my back.

This shattered my sense of self worth. I’d tell myself every day that “I’m a failure” and think terrible things like “I feel dead inside” and especially “I feel lost”. Because I was lost.

For those that didn’t abandon me or stab me in the back; I was to be the perfect child for them. I was to remain unseen and unheard through it all. As a child, I was to remain a solid emotional rock. To remain unseen and unheard through it all. People who I thought were my friends started to turn on me and those that I was told to trust had more important things to do than to even listen to me. This caused me to sink down further and ask things like “what’s the point of living when nobody even wants to be around me?” They kept me from becoming the powerful, dominant man that I was supposed to be.

My First Time

The first time that I tried to commit suicide I was eight years old.

The only thoughts running through my head at the time were things like “Why? What did I do to deserve this? What have I done? Why is this happening? How do I stop all of this?”

The thing that used to be my mind always had the answer. The thing that belonged to my new life partner, depression, distorted and molested the answers that my mind tried to give me…

  • Why? You deserve this
  • What did I ever do to deserve this? You were born
  • How do I make this stop?

At first, the only answer I got was silence. But when the pain kept growing the answer finally came to me. It came in the form of a single word… One word that my life partner depression would gently whisper into my ear like a lover…

Death

After that my life became a cycle of pain and self-abuse and I even started seeking out ways to increase my pain. Pain was the only thing that validated my existence. I would feel like shit and feel completely dead inside.

My life partner and the accompanying pain were the only things that proved I was even still alive. Even though they were the reasons that I felt like a failure.

Depression became the only thing able to confirm that I was even alive. Without them, life was like a pitch-black hole. I could hear the dull sounds of the world around me but it sounded so far away that it might not have even been there at all. Just another cruel joke my mind decided to play on me. Like I was drowning in the dark that was my mind that now no longer belonged to me.

I’d find myself crying for no reason asking why does noone like me? Why do I feel like a failure? And why do I feel lost?

But Then Even Depression Left Me

Lyrics from Ivan B's "This Time" that show what it's like to feel lost. To feel overwhelmed and hopeless. It shows you what depression feels like

Eventually, the throbbing pain started to fade away along with everything else. It wasn’t because the things that were causing me pain ceased to exist, but because I had closed myself off from everything. I’d truly become dead inside.

Even my life partner had left me. No longer did I have anyone whispering in my ear. The pain itself even faded. I didn’t feel anything. I was no longer bored with life, I was completely tired of life. Instead, I was tired of living. And every day I’d think “I hate my life”.

For the first time, I was truly alone.

This was the worst of it. A feeling of true isolation, like I was a ghost and not part of the real world. Like my heart was literally breaking. But that’s not what I was allowed to show to the world.

I had to keep wearing my mask.

Nobody could ever know how broken I was. Or it would be better to say that nobody seemed to care if I was broken or whole.

I was in a state where nothing tasted, smelled or felt quite right. I was unable to think clearly or make decisions, yet I was expected to carry on. And so much of the time all I felt were these shackles all over my body weighing me down, not allowing me time to rest.

But carry on I did or at least tried to do. I didn’t have a choice, I had to keep playing the game.

Everything was dull, the world was nothing but shades of grey. Even the people were grey, like a sea of faceless grey silhouettes instead of people. There was no joy, there was no color and there was certainly no life flowing through my veins. I got to a point where I truly hated my life.

My heart was beating and my lungs were still breathing but I wasn’t alive. I was already dead.

This is how I lived for well over a decade.

Yet here I am, and here you are. We’re somehow still alive, even if it doesn’t feel like it at times. But that’s what I want you to experience again. To know that you matter as a human being.

Things are tough right now, and the path forward is petrifying at times but you can get through this. There will be scars, but you will find a strength and a person inside of you that you never would have known existed otherwise. And maybe, you can channel everything to make your life better and to make the lives around you better. You can make a difference.

If that’s something that you want then keep reading, this is going to be a long post because there’s a lot I want to go over. And there’s a lot that I have to give to you.

What To Do When You Feel Overwhelmed

First, I want you to watch this short video:

The most important thing you need to keep moving through the pain is to have the motivation to keep moving forward. Motivation is easiest to acquire externally when you’re thinking “I have no motivation”. It’s the most important thing that helped me and you will need it. You will need it because change is difficult. I believe, and I want you to believe, that what life has given us is not enough. We deserve more.

The only way to get more, however, is to earn it. Earn it by working on yourself. You will find that once you have a little bit of forward momentum you can just keep going out of pure habit and create a warrior’s discipline to achieve your goals. The most important thing to remember, if you want to leave your depression behind, is to acquire the motivation to do so. You have to seek it. Every. Single. Day.

Motivation is like bathing, you have to do it often.

When you wake up in the morning I need you to find it. If you don’t have anything that motivates you in your life then go to Youtube for inspiring videos. Read some quotes or do something that inspires you to dare to reach for more than what you have. And if you think things like “I am a failure” or “I’m not good at anything” then check out these articles, especially when you’re feeling lost:

What Else When You’re Feeling Lost:

One thing that I heard a long time ago that has stuck with me ever since was this:

It takes a thousand ‘atta boy’s’ to erase one single ‘you’re stupid, you don’t matter’.

And it’s true, the brain processes negative outcomes much more potently than positive ones. There’s a study that was talked about in one of my psychology classes. And it references the Negativity Bias. Which basically means is this: the brain is wired to focus more intensely on the negative than the positive. It’s also easier to remember negative situations than positive ones. And it makes sense if you think about it. Humans used to live in a dangerous environment. And the guy that didn’t pay attention to his surroundings usually got eaten.

Therefore, we have to force ourselves to focus on the positive things in order to get the changes that we want. Even more so when the only thought running through our minds is something like “I feel lost”.

For me, I had a lot of negative affirmations to erase. And even now I still have new ones that I’m discovering every day that I need to work on and am in the process of working on, like getting and keeping powerful body posture as an example. One of the things that I’ve worked on, using the same process that I will go into in just a moment, was the fact that I never thought anyone would ever love me. I never believed that a woman would ever be attracted to and want me.

It took me a lot of time to get over that as it was so deeply entrenched in my beliefs.

But now I’m at a place where I know deep down that I am attractive. That I am worthy of love. As are you.

The Wave Technique

Think of your negative beliefs like a cliff of depression overlooking the ocean. An ocean, and waves that will be all of the positive thoughts and habits that you want in your life. The water is what will flow through your veins and activate the new you. One simple step at a time. Slowly, steadily and patiently the waves will erode the cliff washing through you with everything that you’re supposed to be. Just like building a new habit, or changing your body language to stand like a powerful man.

If you want to beat thoughts like "I hate my life" then think of it like the waves eroding a cliff. And then dive in

That’s how I want you to think about it. Your new positive mindsets will be constantly hammering on your negative ones until there’s nothing left but the awe-inspiring and crushing pressure of your new beliefs.

So now that you have the theory in mind, what do we actually do to get the changes we want?

Simple, you’re going to interrupt yourself and that pattern every time you have a negative thought like one of these:

  • People will never accept me
  • I feel lost
  • I’m a failure
  • Noone likes me
  • I feel lost
  • I hate my life

Ultimately, the brain is a machine built for patterns and routines. These patterns allow us to shortcut a lot of things and they’re easy. Interrupting a pattern and changing it is simple, though it can be difficult. Once you do it though, it’s worth it once you have your new pattern. But to actually change the neural pathways we first have to catch the negative thoughts as they pass through our minds.

That’s the first step. When you have a negative thought you need to seize on it with the ferocity of a crocodile biting down on a zebra.

You can use this technique for anything, but I discovered this technique while focusing on women. So that’s the main example I’ll use: “I’m not good enough for women”. But it also works for things like “I am a failure” and “I hate my life”. It just takes a small tweak in what you focus on and what you ultimately want in your life (which we’ll cover in a second).

As soon as something like this passes through your mind you need to catch it. After you catch that thought passing through your head then you need to pause and tell yourself that you’re right, that you’re not yet at a place where women are as attracted to you as you want them to be, or you’re not as successful as you want to be or even at a place where you love yourself yet.

BUT YOU WILL GET THERE.

That last part is extremely important.

The brain is extremely reliant on examples. Which is why stories stick with us better than anything else, they’re great examples. This is also why people can’t just tell themselves that they’re a babe magnet when they know that they’re not. The brain is going to fight against that and whoever tries to lie to themselves will fail. Therefore, we are not going to lie to ourselves, we’re going to accept where we are at the moment. Where we are is not where we want to be, but we will get there.

But That Isn’t The Final Step

After a negative thought creeps through your mind you need to hold onto it. Then you need to tell yourself that you’re not where you want to be, YET. Then you tell yourself that you’re not there yet but you will get there.

And for this next part, you need to find some proof for your brain otherwise it’s going to reject you and go back to depression and feeling like a failure with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.

The brain, as silly as it sounds, doesn’t want you to be happy. It wants you to be comfortable. And change is very uncomfortable even if it’s going to make you more comfortable and happier later on down the road. The brain doesn’t understand that as it’s all about the short term. So, we have to recognize that we’re fighting against our own brain.

But luckily there’s a brain hack that we can exploit; the brain loves proof almost as much as it loves answering questions.

Finding Proof to Learn How to Be Happy Again

After catching your thought, recognize the truth in it that we’re not where we want to be, however, we will get there. We just need to show it some proof to learn how to be happy again.

I’ll use myself as an example again; I had never been on a single date or even been kissed by a girl when I started working on this myself. And every time I got rejected I’d feel like such a failure and wonder “why I’m not good at anything”. So what I would do is learn about a few things and get some stories from other people. At first, they were the only proof I had, so that’s what I would use.

KEEP IN MIND THAT THIS IS NOT IDEAL BUT IT IS A GREAT PLACE TO START TO LEARN HOW TO BE HAPPY AGAIN.

Use their stories and their proof to help get you started if you are at a place that is similar to the place I was at. It’s one of the first things you’ll need to beat that thought of “I feel dead inside” and “I’m not good at anything”

Then, just like with learning how to be more charismatic, you just go for it.

I used their stories and finally scored a date for myself! First date ever! It was bloody awful but it was my first ever date and it was a push forward in the right direction!

After Making Progress

Going back to the full example again: first thought is “No woman will ever want me, noone likes me.”

That’s the negative pattern that I wanted to clean up, among others like “I hate my life”. After that I had to accept where I was, truthfully and honestly with the second thought:

Wait, it’s true that I’m not where I want to be just yet and I do kind of hate my life right now but I know that I can get to a better place so long as I keep working on myself. In fact, just yesterday I went on my very first date! Sure, it was a complete disaster and I accidentally yelled at her when I was trying to compliment her but she must have been at least a little attracted to me at first to go on that date. In fact, there are other people out there that started out exactly where I was, some even worse than me and look where they are now! There is absolutely no reason that I can’t get there too, they’re not better than me they’re just further along in their journey.

I used the first date example because it was irrefutable proof that I was moving forward. It was one chunk of experience to help me beat that overwhelming feeling of hopelessness I felt every day. The brain can try all it wants to fight against that, depression will try to fight against. Eventually, it will win if you let it, but if we keep moving forward then depression, and even your brain, is going to lose. And you’re going to win.

A little while after that I went on my second ever date. It, also, was completely awful for different reasons but hey, more proof.

First thought: “That first date was just a fluke, no woman could ever be attracted to me so what’s the point of living”

Second thought: “What are you talking about brain? I went on a second date just the other day! Again, I’m not where I want to be at right now and that sucks. But I’m getting better! I’m moving forward! Eventually, I’m going to get where I want to go!”

The more actions you take, the more successes you’re going to have. The law of averages demands it until finally you’ve overcome that intense sadness and to stop feeling lost.

So, take heart in your victories, no matter how little you think they are. You have to hold onto them because those small victories are what will build you into a better and stronger person.

Beating Depression Takes Work

It’s going to take a lot of work.

As long as you keep moving forward you’re going to keep getting better and better results, no matter what you’re working on. Using myself as an example again:

  • Woman 1 checks me out; brain says it’s a fluke
  • Then woman number 2 checks me out; brain says it’s a coincidence
  • Then numbers 3-40 check me out. Am I wrong? Am I actually a stud?

That’s the power of a wave washing away a cliff. It takes time and consistent effort, but it’s literally impossible to not work in the long run! As long as you keep at it. You’re going to get there and I’m going to do my damnedest to help you get there. I can give you the tools to help you succeed and I will give you all of the tools that I can think of to get you there.

I just need you to promise me that you’re going to use them.

Because I can give you the tools but it’s up to you to use them. Ultimately, this is a journey of self-improvement and nobody else can do it for you. And I’m asking you to do it. I want you to succeed and I want you to get what you want out of life. So please do keep moving forward and don’t forget, I’m here to help you.

Follow-Up To The Wave Technique

To overcome that lost feeling you have then you have to keep moving forward in your life. To eradicate thoughts like "I hate my life" then ask yourself "what do I want"?After that, you'll have an answer that will help you beat depression

I want you to acknowledge that there is no longer any room for your dark passenger, no room left for depression or thoughts like “I’m not good at anything” or “I hate my life”. Nor is there room for the old you. There is only room for the new you. There’s only room for someone who commands respect, even if it’s still a work in progress.

You are a beautiful human being. You are not a mistake. You’re not where you want to be right now, but you will get there.

You deserve the right to live the life of your dreams.

Put in the effort and you will achieve that amazing life of your dreams. An amazing life free of depression. I’m going to help you get there.

You’re going to stumble on your new life path, you’re going to get hurt and you will want to quit. You will even want to fall back into depressions chaotic grasp.

Because of that, I need you to do something else for me before you start on your new path. I need you to ask yourself “If my life were amazing, what would it look like?” The brain can’t help but answer questions because questions literally hijack the brain! And if you ask it the right questions you can get the answer on how to get that life that you want.

When you want to quit, don’t. Stop for a moment and ask yourself what would an amazing life look like for you? What do you want?

Go get some motivation, go get some rest.

Then come back the next day and work on yourself some more. After you start, it’s like a train. The momentum will carry you along the way, if you let it.

Go Easy On Yourself; This is A Hard War

Dale Carnegie quote that strikes at the heart of feeling complete and utter hopelessness is like and how to beat it. It's that of inaction and inaction is what feeds depression

You have to be gentle and develop patience with yourself. It took me a long time to finally fight my way out of depression, and even longer to get to where I am now. Even now I still have days where I relapse into depression’s dysfunctional embrace. That’s the bad news, that I don’t believe these feelings will ever truly fade away completely. Just like a cancer of the soul.

The good news, however, is that they become scars reminding you of your past so you don’t fall back into it. They can heal, you just have to be careful about not letting those wounds reopen.

As the river of time flows by it will gradually take more of the old you with it. Washing away the pain and the hurt.

It will leave only a brilliant shining soul where once nothing but a cracked and cold husk stood. You will not see immediate results. Don’t lose heart though. I need you to take another step forward. Just one step. One step a day is all it takes. The bad news is that as you keep slowly moving you probably won’t even notice the difference.

The good news?

You can force yourself to see the difference.

As you’re moving forward on your path take the time to look behind you and see how far you’ve already come. After so many years of slowly improving and moving forward there are times even recently where life truly doesn’t seem worth it and I ask myself “what’s the point of living?” Even now I’ve had some things happen that have reopened old wounds while creating new ones. It’s honestly hard to understand why I’m even here sometimes. “Why am I still alive?” is something that I’ve asked myself more than once.

I still don’t have much of an answer. But what I do have is my journey.

When I’m in those moments, I can sometimes hear a little voice whispering to me “Look how far you’ve come“. When I’m in the moment of pure despair, pain and depression it doesn’t make much sense. Not until I think about it. In the moment it never makes sense. But when I do think about it, it’s right. Because the progress I make is so slow I always had time to adapt to my new way of life as it was happening. The same is true of you. You won’t notice the changes unless you force yourself to. You will adapt to the changes you make to the point where you won’t even feel a difference.

So when you need to know what to do when you feel overwhelmed and depressed that’s one of the answers. Look back and see how far you’ve come.

You won’t feel a difference unless you look back.

Always concentrate on how far you've come, rather than how far you have left to go. It will help you beat depression

When you look back, that’s when it hits you the hardest. It’s something that I don’t honestly know how to describe to you. This is something that you will have to feel for yourself.

Stop Talking Down to Yourself

While not part of the wave technique, this part is equally important. Stop invalidating yourself. Your pain is real, your pain is valid, your life is valid and your feelings matter. Depression and even other people might try to tell you otherwise but you need to fight against it. As I discussed in the wave technique you have to feel your pain when it comes up. Just because we’re trying to change doesn’t mean that you suddenly no longer feel any which way.

You still have pain and the only way to let it heal is to let it flow through you. That’s the river of time flowing around you and taking your pain with it. Gradually, slowly it will take it all. But only if you let it.

When you repress your pain, or try to stop from feeling it you’re hanging onto it.

The river of time is gentle and only takes what we allow it to take. It doesn’t try to force us to let go, it only gently prods.

I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve stayed up at night crying my eyes out more times than I even care to count. Even somewhat recently of writing this.

It helps because I have to let it go, and the only way to let it go is to feel it.

Would you tell someone to stop feeling the pain if somebody cut their leg off?

No?

So stop doing it to yourself. Your pain is real. Your depression is real.

The brain cannot distinguish between physical and emotional pain. To it, pain is pain. 

Last Thing to Beating Depression and “I hate my life”

Finally, if you know someone that is depressed and want to help them, just listen to them. Allow them to feel whatever it is that they’re feeling, don’t dismiss them. They might not make sense to you but don’t interrupt them, don’t try to correct them because there’s nothing to be corrected. I’ve lived through a lot of tragedies in my life. When I’ve shared them people are honestly surprised that I’m even still alive. Even members of my own family have said that I never had a chance in this world and yet here I am.

I know that I could have had it worse, though it’s hard to see how sometimes. I know that there are others out there with more inspiring stories than mine.

So what?

That doesn’t invalidate my own journey, my own hell that I’ve lived through. It doesn’t invalidate my battle with depression. The same goes for you, whatever your struggles are or even somebody that you want to help. Struggles are viscerally real for people. Do not ever forget that when talking to someone you want to help. Just listen. That’s all they really need.

It sounds too simple, but it’s all I ever wanted as a kid. It’s probably why I became so attached to animals. They always listened when nobody else ever wanted to.

And that’s what hurt the most.

Try to listen, try to understand and try to empathize. That’s how you help someone with depression.

And most importantly, keep moving forward.
-Alexander

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