To un-depress yourself is a personal choice

When you are depressed give your depression your fullest attention. Only then will you realize how futile it is to be depressed. 

Depression arises when things don’t go the way you want them to go. And depression does not necessarily mean that you will sulk. Chances are you may, like the way I once was, rave and rant. When I met a psychiatrist, under my wife’s advice, after several bouts of uncontrollable anger, years ago, he told me this: “You have depression. You can take drugs. Or you can heal yourself by practicing yoga or meditation. When you see Life clearly, and understand it, you will not be depressed.” I chose not to take medication for my depressive state and instead practiced mouna (a daily silence period) which helped me awaken to the opportunity and abundance in my Life.
From my own experience this is what I have learnt – it is normal to be depressed. So, don’t fear it. Don’t hide it. Don’t run away from it. Accept it and give it attention. When you do this, it will slink away the same way that it came!
When you understand the cause for your depression, you will realize that you cannot get rid of the cause merely by brooding. You need to act. By sulking and smarting under the burden of your negative thinking, you are going to stay snowed under – forever! To break free and climb out of your dark, black, hole, you must know that while depression cannot be avoided, staying depressed can surely be avoided. I ask myself the following questions when I am depressed: 1. What is causing my depression? 2. Can I eradicate the cause of my depression by continuing to feel depressed? 3. What must I do then to remove the source of my depression? I then go down to work on removing that source. I don’t succeed in immediately getting rid of the source in some cases, but at least, I don’t stay depressed.
Try applying those three questions in your Life contexts too. You are sure to see remarkable results! To break-free from depression is a personal choice. You can un-depress yourself anytime you are depressed – provided you are ready and willing.

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Being depressed for too long is an unevolved response to Life

If you are feeling depressed about Life please know that you are experiencing something normal. Just don’t allow the depression to pin you down and hold you hostage.
Recent media reports suggest that Bollywood star Deepika Padukone has talked about battling anxiety and depression last year. She reportedly felt a ‘strange emptiness’ in her Life and her close friend’s suicide only made matters worse for her. Deepika has said she shot for much of the climax for Happy New Year (2014, Farah Khan) feeling “this way”. Now, this confession by the actor may make some people wonder why she, of all people, has to be depressed. After all, doesn’t she have it all – a glamorous Life, success, money, a fairy-tale relationship with a co-star and what not? But that’s the way depression is – it strikes different people for different reasons. Even so the fundamental cause why people tend to feel depressed is the same – they are depressed when they don’t get what they want. Since people’s wants vary, the reasons for depression vary too. But since everyone out there has unfulfilled wants, depression is inevitable at some time in Life or the other in everyone’s Life.
The way to deal with depression is simple though. First accept that depression is a normal and natural response to not getting what you want in Life. Sometimes your wants may be well defined – money, a car, a vacation, a relationship, a child…whatever. Sometimes your wants may be tangible; you may have all the material wealth but what you may be looking for is something intangible – better understanding from family, inner peace, joy in the work you are doing and such. In either case, know that most often you will not get what you want in Life. So, feeling depressed over a want not being met, or granted, is a juvenile, unevolved response to Life. Now if you learn that the nature of Life is such that all your needs will be fulfilled, but never your wants, then you can rise above your depressed state and move on. But if you allow yourself to be depressed for too long, then suffering isn’t far away. Because depression is like a wave. If you stand there too long, you will be drowned by the high tide. Then depression will hold you hostage. This when you will not find motivation to do anything – to face people, to go to work, to believe in yourself or even to just be alone – by yourself. You will become irritable, you will grieve and you will suffer.
The first wave of depression is natural. But the second one is self-inflicted. You can’t avoid the first one. But you can ensure that you keep the second one away. Be wary of depression. For every second in your Life that you are depressed, you are not living. You are merely existing! A simple truth worth remembering when depression strikes you is that if you are not getting what you want, then perhaps, it is the way it is meant you be. Instead, simply, accept what is and go on with your Life.

A lesson in finding yourself from ‘Finding Fanny’!

There will be times in Life when you will find yourself lost. Don’t panic or feel frustrated at such times. Know that only when you are lost, can you find your way – and find yourself!
I recently watched this very cute Bollywood English film called Finding Fanny(2014, Homi Adajania, Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia, Pankaj Kapur, Deepika Padukone and Arjun Kapoor). The story revolves around how Ferdie, an old postmaster, goes in search of his lady love, Fanny, who he had lost contact with 46 years ago. Ferdie is supported in his search by Angie, a widow who lost her husband on the day of their wedding six years ago. Tagging along with Angie is her mother-in-law, Rosie, who claims her husband is dead but the truth is he ran away with someone else and Rosie makes up his “lost in the sea” story so that she doesn’t lose face in the village. Then there’s the man who has loaned his car for the search journey, an artist, who has a fixation for “big women” – and Rosie is his latest muse. Driving the car is young Savio, whose inability to profess his love for Angie to her in the first place, led to her wedding and subsequent widowhood! As the story unfolds you discover that while finding Fanny is indeed the context, each of these characters is really searching for something they are missing in their own lives. Each of them has lost something – most importantly, precious years of their Life – and are seeking love and belonging in their own ways. That’s where, subconsciously Finding Fanny, connects to our own real, everyday, lives.
Each of us, at different times in Life, in different, often unique, contexts, will find ourselves lost. Either a job might have become listless or a relationship may have lost its very meaning. Or, sometimes, just raising a family – bringing up kids, attending to parents and in-laws, providing for the spouse – can take its toll. There may also be times when some decisions you took about your Life have misfired and you are swamped with guilt and self-pity. Or someone you deeply love someone who was you anchor, your everything, is suddenly gone – is felled by Life and is dead. Each of these situations – and many more – can happen to anybody. It can happen to you. It can happen to me.
The normal reaction in such times is to feel depressed. You will be deluged with a lot of questions in your mind. Questions for which you will have no immediate answers. What is the meaning of Life? Why am I having to face this problem situation? Why me, now? Is there really a God out there? If there is God, then why do good people like me have go through pain – and suffer? Why should I live any longer? Why is the world full of cynical, scheming, uncaring people? Where can I find love? Where can I find home? Just the vast range of questions, and the lack of answers, can weigh you down even more. And you will end up being more depressed than you already are.
But know and remember this: allowing depression to take over is not the way to respond to Life. In fact, when depression strikes and you sense a ‘lack of meaning’ in your Life, get up, even if you don’t feel like it, and push yourself to keep walking, even if you lack the energy or intent to even take the next step. As much as you may think that Life has been cruel to you by placing you in a certain situation – joblessness, a critical health challenge, a divorce, widowhood, death of a child, a business failure or whatever – the truth really is whatever it is now that you have is really your new Life. Being depressed means continuing to mourn the Life you once had. But think about it. What was once is gone. It is not going to come back. No matter how hard you pine for it. Feeling lost and  feeling depressed are convenient ways of saying you want to delay, you want to postpone living. Fine. But Life will go on. Just as the characters in Finding Fanny discover, your years will simply pass you by. There’s no point waking up later in Life and wailing that you lost such a lot of time just feeling depressed. Instead, when dealt with Life’s twists and turns, learning to accept what is, the way it is, taking it all in your stride and moving on – you will discover, is intelligent living!

You don’t feel lost in Life because Life has been unkind to you. You feel lost because you don’t understand, or often you don’t want to understand, that the Life you have is the onlyLife you have. When you realize that you must live this Life that you have – no matter what circumstances exist – to the fullest, relishing every moment of the experience, you will have found yourself!

“Tomorrow the birds will sing. Get up and face Life!”

In any tough situation, never ever give up!  
Last evening, I was watching Charlie Chaplin’s iconic City Lights (1931). In one scene, an eccentric millionaire wants to end his Life. And the Tramps tells him: “Tomorrow the birds will sing. Get up and face Life!”.
That is the way it is. Life is something which has to be faced – no matter what. Our entire expectation that we must not face difficult times or tough situations is wrong. The most important education we must all carry with us is the awareness that Life is just a series of experiences. Some of them may be easy to handle. And some will be tough. Just because the going gets tough, it doesn’t mean we must sulk, brood, feel depressed and eventually give up. What we must remember is that no matter how difficult a situation is, what doesn’t kill us, only makes us stronger!
Many of us are victims of flawed thinking. When faced with a challenge or confronted with tragedy, we imagine that everything about our world is wrong. We feel alone in the wake of Life’s challenges. So we bemoan our situations and lament that we are cursed and doomed. This thinking pushes us into a depressive spiral. Now we have two problems – one is the challenging situation itself and the second is the depression we have invited into our Life. But, with a little awareness and some support from friends or family, if we pause to look around we will be surprised – everybody around us is challenged. Someone’s dealing with a health setback, someone’s coping with the death of a loved one, someone’s struggling in business, another’s trying to salvage a sinking career and someone is trying in vain to rebuild a dead relationship. Everyone’s dealing with pain – only the degrees and the contexts vary, that’s all.
For all the challenges that people face, this then must be a very, very depressive world that we live in! But it is not. And that’s because not everyone who has been felled by Life, lies there ruing their fate. People get up, dust themselves and move on. You must do so too. The best way to pull yourself out of a rut is to accept that your Life is what it is, the way it is. And what you have to do in any given situation – no matter how daunting it may be – is to simply face it. No amount of your wishing that things were different from the way they are, no amount of your crying, no amount of your kicking around in anger and frustration, can change your current reality. Irrespective of how you feel about Life, every long, dark night will soon become a bright day, and as the Tramp said so wisely, tomorrow the birds will sing – again. So, you might as well get along and enjoy the beauty and magic of the Life that you still have than fret over what has happened to you. Whatever is – is what you were ordained to experience. What is not – was never meant to be. If you get these two perspectives deeply embedded in your understanding of Life, you too will live happily ever after!

Asking ‘oh-god-why-am-I-depressed’ is never helpful!

When things don’t go the way you want them to, and you are depressed, don’t hate that feeling. Accept it as your current reality. That’s the only way to be at peace with yourself.
No one likes to be depressed. And no one likes a depressed person around them. But depression is a natural human response to certain Life situations. You can’t get rid of it by fighting it.
The term depression is widely used to describe a state in which a person is unable to express himself or herself emotionally to the point that his or her Life is impaired or dysfunctional. Anything you don’t expect, but which happens to you, can push you into a depressive spiral – a job loss, a break-up, death of a loved one, a business or career set back, a health challenge or a show-down with a best friend. Common responses under depression range from rabid anger shown against rank strangers in unconnected situations to becoming totally reclusive. Suicidal tendencies may be evident in extremely depressive states.
Someone going through depression will normally dislike being so – yet will find it difficult snapping out of it. It is normally a cyclical feeling. You are feeling low because things didn’t go the way you wanted them to. Then you start feeling miserable that you are feeling low. You soon begin to hate that miserable feeling. But more than that you hate that everyone else – but you – is having a good time. Then everyone notices that you are feeling low. And they start advising you to get out of it. That’s the last thing you want. You know you have to get of that lousy mood. Because you don’t want it yourself. But because you hate being advised something that you already know, you resist, sometimes very subconsciously, climbing out of that rut. And whatever you resist, persists. So, your depression drags along.  
Some years back, I went to a close friend, who is also an eminent psychiatrist. Over several months, I was noticing that I was behaving rather irrationally at most times. I was getting angry with insipid things and picking up fights with anyone who even remotely said anything that I did not want to hear. One day I got into a brawl with an auto-rickshaw driver at the Madras Central Station. When I got back home, I felt stupid. I realized I needed help. So, I met my friend, this psychiatrist, who (after thoroughly reviewing my overall Life situation prevailing around then) said that I could be going through a mild, yet unique, form of depression. He said he could prescribe anti-depressants or he said I could employ my own “awareness” to reign in my emotions and “make peace with myself”. I chose the latter, obviously, and it worked well for me.
I still do encounter depressive moods time and again. But I have learnt that it is normal to feel and face depression. The key is to be awake and aware when depression strikes. When you are aware of what’s happening to you, you respond better. One good way to deal with depression is to accept it as a fact, as a reality, of your Life. To be depressed is not a bad thing. It is not a stigma. If you allow yourself to think deeply about your depressive state, you will soon realize that being that way is of no use. So, when you are depressed, just let it be. Face the reality that this is how you are feeling. Don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t feel reprehensive about it.
Depression cannot be countered. It cannot be got rid of by denying it. It cannot be met with more depression – asking ‘oh-god-why-am-I-depressed’ is never helpful! The best way (per my experience, and this view may not be subscribed to by others) to deal with depression is be aware that it is there and to just let it be – and to know that it will go, just the same way it came!