Staying depressed is a complete waste of precious time

Dealing with depression requires a deeper understanding of what’s making you angry and unhappy. The moment you understand what is disturbing you, you can either let it go or fix it.  
A recent issue of India Today ran a cover story on depression. The statistics are alarming. One in every four women, and one in every 10 men, in India is depressed. That’s about 120 million people – enough to fill a state the size of Maharashtra! From death to divorce to health to stagnating careers, these people are battling unmet expectations and struggling to cope with the psychological impact of their challenged state of mind.
I know what it means and feels like to be depressed. About 10 years ago, I was depressed too – except that I didn’t even know I was depressed! I had gone to meet a renowned psychiatrist Dr.Vijay Nagaswami; I was reporting irrational bouts of anger. Dr.Nagaswami heard me out for an hour and told me that I was depressed. He said I had two ways in front of me to deal with my depression – medication or meditation. And he staunchly advocated the latter. Thanks to Dr.Nagaswami, for me, meditation worked.
I learnt to practice silence periods daily – a method called shubha mouna yoga. It required me to be silent for an hour each morning. That investment of an hour up front in the day helped me gain control over the remaining 23 hours! As my practice of mouna deepened, over time, I began to go to the root of my anger and my depression. Through that process, I understood myself and Life better.
Let me share my learnings here. You become depressed because something you expect has not happened. You wanted someone to love you, but she is not interested. You become depressed. You wanted a raise but it’s not happening. Again, you are depressed. The only person who understood you in the whole world is dead. You are depressed. You are accused of something you did not do. Depressed! You have a health situation that has crippled your functioning. You are depressed, to the point of losing interest in Life! So, in effect, whenever an expectation goes unmet, you are depressed.
Now, depression can manifest itself in two ways. As anger. As it happened to me. But that anger is not always there. A certain listlessness, a self-pity governs your daily Life. When someone or something interferes with it, you explode with anger. The other way depression happens is with sadness. Sadness is nothing but dormant, passive anger. You conclude you are helpless and lonely and that no one understands you. You brood all the time and keep pitying yourself.  Now, in either context – anger or sadness – the mind is not allowing you the opportunity to understand the futility of your being depressed. Which is why meditation – which helps you still your mind – is very useful in understanding what’s going on and choosing an intelligent response, and not a depressive one, to the situation.
Let us say you are angry, hurt, upset – and are therefore depressed – with the way someone has treated you. You can sulk for as long as you want, but that person is never going to realize that she or he has done something wrong, until you walk up and speak your mind. When you do this, that person can either accept your point of view or reject it. Now, you can never control another person’s attitudes or actions. You can only do what you can. When you realize that you have done the best you can, you learn to let go and move on. Now, you are not depressed anymore – because you are not suppressing your anger against that person nor are you sad that you have been treated shabbily.

Surely, this approach works in all contexts. The simplest way to snap out of a depressive spiral is to know that, in Life, it is always what it is. People and events are just the way they are. Your wanting them to be different is of no use. Unless people and things change, of their own accord, it is what it is. Period. So, don’t punish yourself trying to bemoan your fate. Get up and move on. Every moment that you are angry, sad and depressed, is a moment you have not lived your Life fully! Think about it. Staying depressed is a complete waste of precious time. And you don’t have much time either!!! As the famous Persian philosopher and poet, Omar Khayyam (1048 ~ 1131) says in his classic, Rubaiyat, “The wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop; the leaves of Life keep falling one by one.”
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Walk the line of lunacy, follow your bliss!

Whatever you believe in, let it take over your Life. Simply be led by your bliss. And then watch the road unfold and doors open for you!
Satyen Das: Picture Courtesy – TOI/Internet
This morning’s Times of India (TOI) had this inspiring story of a rickshaw puller from Kolkata, Satyen Das, 40, who has embarked, this past weekend, on a 2,500-km adventure to Leh, Ladakh. Das will go through Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, before reaching Leh – on his rickety, old cycle-rickshaw. He says it’s his desire to explore the country that drives him. Eight years ago, he kept his word to his wife and son, and took them to Puri in Odisha in his rickshaw. He says that trip opened his eyes, and his heart, and ever since he has been wanting to do a longer, and more arduous, trip. Das makes a living, earning just about Rs.200/- a day, ferrying passengers to and from the Gitanjali Metro station in Naktala, in Kolkata. But when he shared his dream with people around him, everyone got together and soon a sum of Rs.5,000/- was collected helping Das set off on this incredible journey. Members of a local Kolkata club have promised to keep collecting funds for him and have given him an ATM card which will help him draw those funds anywhere on his four-month-long journey. Debashish, the local club official who is raising money for him, told TOI’s Prithvijit Mitra, that Das’ an exceptionally brave adventurer: “He is quiet and unassuming but he has a streak of madness, a penchant for taking risks and exploring the unknown. He is a dreamer.”
I found Das’ story fascinating. A school drop-out and a daily wage earner goes on to follow his bliss and pursue his dream, while many of us struggle with earning-a-living and complain incessantly that we don’t have the Life that we want. I think the critical difference between us and Das is what Debashish has pointed out – we don’t follow the streak of madness within us, so we don’t take the plunge – the risk! To be sure, we are also dreamers, we also have the urge to explore the unknown. But we suppress our urge, and our practical sense of what we think is “secure living” – a fixed income per month, the education of our children and retirement funds being planned – keeps our feet nailed to the ground. So we are risk-averse. And wallow in self-pity that we have been unable to do what we want in Life.
None of us is growing any younger.  As the Persian poet Omar Khayyam (1048 AD ~1131 AD) has said: “The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop; the Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.” So, postponing living, postponing what gives us joy, is hardly an intelligent thing to do. I think the biggest risk in Life is not taking a risk – in not walking the line of lunacy, in not doing what you really want to do. When you don’t follow your bliss, the risk is simply that you may never get to follow it!

This whole Life is but a dream

This whole lifetime is an illusion, a dream – to struggle with it is simply an unintelligent thing to do. If you really want to snap out of ‘your’ dream – just awaken!  

Last evening, I watched an Italian movie, La Grande Bellaza (The Great Beauty), made by the brilliant Paolo Sorrentino. The film deals with a man’s discovery, as he turns 65, that the whole Life he has led is a ‘trick’, an illusion. His Life, for decades, has been spent in the extravagant social and literary circles of Rome. Now, in the evening of his Life, he finds how hollow the lives of the people he knows are, how shallow their thoughts are and how they desperately try to hide their despair and shroud their darker sides. He realizes that somewhere along the way he has lost a lot of ‘his’ time too, ‘doing what he really does not like doing’ and so he decides, in one brilliant awakening moment, as the movie ends, to write his second book – something he had been postponing for years!
You need not watch the movie to get its message. You don’t need to wait until you are past 60 to wake up. If you realize that your Life is running out and you are speeding towards your death, just as everyone else is, you will awaken! As Omar Khayyam, the 11th Century Persian poet, has said so beautifully: “The wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop and the leaves of Life keep falling one by one.” Soon your Life too will end. Just as mine will. And this entire lifetime we have experienced may simply appear to have been a dream. What’s the point then in clinging on to characters in the dream, to events in the dream and to memories of the dream?
Really, if you think about Life deeply, there is nothing to attain in Life. There’s nothing to abstain from or give up

or renounce in Life either. When you watch a three hour movie, you don’t cling on to it as it ends, do you? You just get up and walk away. The movie was an experience. Simple. It was make believe. That is what Life is too. So everything you have now – and you cling on to – is make believe too. You think it is ‘yours’. You think all of what you are experiencing is real. But the truth is different – and the only reality! Your family, your children, your business, your assets, your money, your nationality, your religion, your name – all this is make believe. None of this is either the real you nor is it yours. When an entire lifetime is like a dream, at the end of it, how can you even stake a claim to anyone or anything that was part of this illusion?

So, stop struggling with your Life. Let go! Live Life fully – do only what gives you joy! And, yes, please enjoy the dream, this experience, as long as it lasts!