Lessons I’ve Learned From Depression

Sometimes I feel more like the Fake Death Disconnection Wannabe-Coach than the Real Life Connection Coach.

Sometimes I want to curl up into a ball, fall asleep and never wake up. Sometimes I’ll spend days or even weeks at a time dipping in and out of self-destructive and suicidal thoughts, hopelessness, and purposelessness.

Depression takes me down, down, down, so deep into an abyss. When I’m in it, it feels like nothing really matters. It can be sunshiny and beautiful outside, but all I see is gray.

So I’d like to share a few lessons I’ve learned and tools that have personally helped me through it.

#1: Asking the question: What really matters to me?

This question brings me back to my heart. What do I CARE about? Sometimes it seems like there is breathtakingly little I still care about, but I search and search because I know that if I’m still alive then there must be SOMETHING keeping me here.

This is super, super important, because it gets me in touch with my heart. What we care about lives in our hearts. The words care and core are practically the same word. The latin root word cor means heart (as in the word courage), and although it might not be scientifically etymologically correct, for me these words are close enough to make a connection.

I get depressed when I’m out of touch with what I care about (what’s in my HEART)–when I’m not prioritizing what I care about. For better or worse, when I’m not acting on what is most important to me, I feel sad, depressed, angry, and overall just “down.”

For the past few weeks I have not been prioritizing going out to meetups and networking and meeting people to talk to about my coaching business! My coaching business and, more deeply, helping people feel more ALIVE, energized and WHOLE is one of my deepest passions right now, and, thankfully, my heart won’t let me quit on this.

This leads me to the second thing that’s helped me out a LOT:

#2: Allowing myself to feel depressed/down/angry/sad and sharing it with close, trusted friends, life coaches and healers.

It feels a little risky to me posting this blog and video because I’m admitting I sometimes feel deeply, hopelessly depressed. What if some government organization uses this as evidence that they need to forcibly medicate me (against my will) and inject chemicals into me that numb my mind and spirit?!? That’s a genuine fear for me, probably the biggest one. I’m also afraid I’ll be misunderstood, or that people will run away from me, or that I’ll be shunned and isolated because I have problems.

Here’s the deal with that though. Depression, sadness, being “down” is NOT a problem, it’s a GIFT.

I imagine someone reading this might be thinking “How can depression possibly be a fucking gift, man? I mean, COME ON!!!”

See, if I never got depressed and sad and down, then I would be fine doing the things I’ve always done, not ever getting closer to growing my life coaching business. I would be ok to let my health and friendships and finances decay, because after all, if I’m feeling AWESOME ABOUT EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME, why would I want anything different?!?

What’s important to understand is that the “down” emotions are your friends.

They don’t feel like our friends when we’re emotionally unskillful, but they ARE our friends.

Working with our emotions is a SKILL. It’s a skill I’ve gotten better and better at, by practicing and practicing and practicing, and being patient and meditating…

The basic skill is to BE WITH our emotions.

We often spend MASSIVE energy avoiding, fighting, minimizing or rationalizing our emotions, instead of just being with them.

When we become more skillful at this, we can often allow our emotions to move through us much more quickly.

Now, “quickly” is relative, because sometimes it feels like FOREVER when we’re in the thick of it.

For me, what helps me “let it go” (which translated into more practical terms is: allow it to move) is spending time feeling it, and, especially, feeling it and becoming intimate with that emotion in the presence of someone I love who loves me/cares about me, and who is skillful enough to simply listen to me and ask curious, compassionate, patient questions until I can “go over the edge” and feel the depth, the pain, the tormented part of myself I’d been freezing in my body.

That’s what we’re habituated to, by the way. We’re habituated to FREEZING the emotions in our system, generally speaking. And that’s what creates more fear and more pain, is this contracting, this wall, this blockade we create, often automatically, because we don’t feel safe to actually feel the depth of what we’re feeling.

When we fight with reality, it takes a massive amount of energy, and in the end, reality still wins.

Here’s another helpful principle: The emotion is NOT telling the whole story. It’s telling part of the story.

In the moment, the emotion can often feel so fucking painful that it feels like it IS everything, that the emotion is the only thing that has ever or will ever exist.

The emotion can feel like it will suffocate us, drown us, kill us and leave our body to hang out to die.

That’s why we run. We’re not ready to die.

But what is amazing, and so fucking rewarding is that we don’t die. In fact, a little part of our ego dies (our ego being who we think we are vs who we actually are), and we get to discover a greater depth and width and height of Being we never previously knew.

And we learn how to have these “little deaths” over and over again.

We get better at dying these little deaths, which ironically, counter-intuitively, and with so much pleasurable surprise allows us to be MORE FULLY ALIVE THAN WE EVER IMAGINED POSSIBLE.

Being fully ALIVE is just a little bit more nuanced than it might appear to be on the surface because being fully ALIVE means feeling the UP and the DOWN. We don’t get one without the other.

LIFE includes DEATH, and when we celebrate ALL THAT IS, we discover reality and we begin to align with the Infinite Soul.

Being fully ALIVE is worth dying for.

And I’m here to listen if you’d like to talk.

I believe that the world is dying to be ALIVE, and being ALIVE starts by discovering the great mystery of who we really are and what we really care about.

I’d love to be a part of your discovery, so drop me a line if you’re open to chat about your life, to get fucking REAL, drop the bullshit, and experience MORE.

Let’s be more fully ALIVE!

Love,

Aaron