Last month I celebrated 49 years that I’ve been traveling this earth, carrying the weight of something deep and foreboding. For as long as I can remember I’ve been followed, accompanied, and swallowed whole by something strong and overwhelming. It’s pushed me, pursued me, and piled on, yet I’m still here defiantly stronger than the darkness of depression.
If you find yourself wrestling with this as well, I’m here to tell you, you are stronger than the darkness too.
Sharing My Journey
A few months ago I shared the struggles I’ve had on social media. I have often kept parts of it to myself for various reasons, but I decided it was time to put it all out there regardless of how exposed it made me feel. It was very raw and very real. I left myself completely open.
The responses were scattered. Most people were very supportive. Several people contacted me directly. A few were reluctant to support me with some even being defiantly opposed, worrying that I left myself too exposed or covered with a stigma I couldn’t erase.
But it was the other responses that let me know I did the right thing. Several people approached me letting me know that they too struggled or knew someone who struggled. I was able to connect with people, commune with people, and show people that depression didn’t define them, but was simply a part of their journey they had to contend with.
In one big act of vulnerability I was able to provide one-on-one comfort, encouragement, and support to a surprising number of people.
The Stigma of Depression
The reason I put this post out there was simple: I wanted to remove the stigma for both me and the people like me who suffer. I have struggles. I have problems. I am at times enshrouded in depression.
But I am never stopped. I am never defeated. I am never ended. Depression may grab hold of my feet to trip me up, but I will drag that jackhole as I continue on, because I am stronger than the darkness.
So are you. Depression may be a weight. It may be a chore. It may be a pain. But it is not in charge. No matter how much it lies to you and tells you it is, you are in charge, and I have found some ways to kick its ass which I will share with you in my next post.
For now, let’s understand what depression is, because many people suffer from it and don’t even know that they are. After all, you may be stronger than the darkness, but it’s hard to feel that way when you don’t even know you’re in it.
There are several different thoughts that people have when talking about depression. The most common is the most incorrect: it’s sadness. Unfortunately this leaves many people dealing with depression unaware of what’s affecting them.
Many people suffer from depression and never know it because they don’t have the “symptom” of sadness. This can lead to poor performance at work, alcoholism, drug abuse, and broken relationships with a bewilderment and anger because they have no idea what’s going on.
Depression hits different people differently. Mine takes many forms. Sometimes it’s an unstoppable barrage of self-inflicted insults. Other times it’s watching the clock tick by for minutes if not hours just looking for a reason – any reason – to move. It’s the ennui of life after all purpose has been plucked out.
It’s feeling that even if I am stronger than the darkness, it doesn’t matter because nothing matters. It’s doing things completely by blind faith because that’s all that’s left.
It’s a void lacking hope and meaning where time ticks on endlessly and pointlessly toward no goal and a future more bleak and gray than if you lost the ability to feel temperature and pressure, comprehend time, and see color all at once.
In short, it’s a trick of your mind where all sense of truth is lost and the only hope you have is to be stronger than the darkness and carry on like an emotionless, empty zombie with the hope that one day all your senses will reboot again as if they simply shorted out and the jostling of life will bring them back online.
This is my life: the intermittent shutdown of all hope, joy, and emotion while soldiering on, waiting for it all to kick back in.
If this sounds like you, it doesn’t have to stop you. You are stronger than the darkness, and in my next post I’m going to show you three techniques I’ve used to drag that jackhole far and wide.
Stronger Than the Darkness
Despite depression, I have gone from about 240 pounds to a lean 170 pounds. I have changed my diet to be healthy and have covered over 10,000 miles and burned 120,000 active calories over the last 5 years.
I have read over 500 books, and written 5 of my own. I have finished over a hundred training courses and spoken publicly hundreds of times including on Fortune 500 and university campuses. I have written three quarters of a million words and created over 1,200 posts.
I have created my own business, developed a highly-rated app, and put thousands of hours into the guitar in the last 8 years.
Depression hasn’t stopped me. I have found the tools to make progress despite it. Regardless of what it tells me, I am stronger than the darkness.
What Does this Have to Do with Me?
You may be asking yourself why I’m saying all this. It’s quite simple: if a twice-divorced, middle-aged, clinically-obese man who recently survived an abusive relationship only to be $20k in the hole without a place to live, transportation, connections, or family support can accomplish all this, so can you.
Depression doesn’t have to define you. It doesn’t have to stop you. It’s simply another of life’s challenges that you can overcome. You are stronger than the darkness, and in my next post I’m going to reveal my secrets and show you three simple steps for overcoming the darkness and accomplishing your goals despite it.
You are valuable, capable, and not alone. If you struggle with depression or know someone who does, come back for my next post on overcoming the darkness to find techniques to become who you really are regardless of the darkness.
Photography by Candidly Beth