How to be untouched by the “D” Word

Life is a mind game. How you play it depends on what you are thinking and how you are feeling!
Jayaditya Gupta, the executive editor of ESPNcricinfo, recently wrote a piece for mint, the business paper from the Hindustan Times Group, titled “Losing the Mental Game”, which explored the causes of depression and its aftermath among famous and successful sportspeople. Gupta spoke to former New Zealand cricketer Martin Crowe, among the best players of his time, who has been battling cancer since his retirement from the sport in 1996. Crowe, 51, told Gupta that his cancer, which struck him twice, was directly linked both times to extremely negative emotions. Gupta’s research on Crowe’s health revealed that: “… his (Crowe’s) first battle with lymphatic cancer was due to the “toxic suppression of negative events” throughout his Life. That battle, Crowe wrote in a recent article, had been successfully fought without chemotherapy. But then a controversy in New Zealand cricket—the demotion of captain Ross Taylor—affected him so deeply, he said, that the cancer reappeared. “Within three weeks they found a 6-inch tumour in a completely new place to the original cancer, for which I (Crowe) had to have chemo. It came out of nowhere because of the anger.”” Gupta’s reasons in his piece that the loss of stardom, post retirement, and their inability to cope with the vicissitudes of Life, often drives sportspeople to despair, depression and suicides. He analyses the stories of other cricketers Jonathan Trott, Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Flintoff and Richard Hadlee who have faced depression, and of German footballer and goalkeeper Robert Enke who committed suicide, and of Bobby Charlton, the Manchester United player, who survived the “Munich” disaster (a plane crash that killed 8 Manchester United teammates and caused severe physical and mental injuries to others on the team) and a depressive phase afterward. Gupta concludes that clarity of thought and brutal self-honesty are critical to overcome depression and avoid suicidal tendencies.
While celebrities find it harder to deal with the “D” word, the truth is that even you_and I_are, and in fact anyone is, prone to depression. We may not have been under the arclights, and so we may not crave for them, but what we always seek is that Life be fair, kind and compassionate towards us. Life offers no such guarantees though. It has made us no promise to be this way or that. So, death will come calling in your family, relationships will turn sour, you will out of job and out of favor, you will be struck by a health problem – anything can happen to you. Each time something that you don’t want happens, you will be drawn into a depressive spiral. When you are in grief, depression is a “comfortable” state. People around you will pamper you, will do things for you and will continuously be at your beck and call. A sense of importance surrounds you. Over time, the people go away – because they have their lives to lead, you see. But you stay in that depressive state – wallowing in self-pity. I am sure there are several other conditions for depression to set in and take control of your Life – doctors and professionals involved in its study and management will be better qualified to talk about this state than me. But, to put it simply, you get depressed when you don’t get what you expect or when what you don’t want comes to you.

The only way to deal with depression is to accept your reality – whatever it is. When you accept Life for what it is, you see it more clearly. That way, there’s no confusion. When you don’t accept reality, you are in a state of continuous conflict within you – why is this happening to me, why now, what if I lose everything I have gained, what if I die, what’s the point in living this Life that I don’t want…these and a zillion others thoughts will arise in you. The mind will go on reminding you to grieve, to pine and to hate what it is. But the moment you accept that this is it – it is what it is – none of those questions or feelings is relevant anymore. Accepting what is, really means being present in the now and knowing that you have everything that you need and deserve. There’s nothing missing or amiss. Everything – be it loss, failure, death, disease, pain, whatever – is just the way it should be. In this state of acceptance, in the now, in the present, the mind is powerless. It cannot take you into the future with worry nor can it hold you hostage in the past with guilt and grief. Which is why Life is really a mind game. If you can get your mind to be powerless, and learn to live with what is, then no loss, no failure, no depression can ever touch you. To be sure, they will all happen in your Life, depending on the events that occur through your lifetime. But you will be untouched!

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