Keeping Track of My Depression in Self-Actualization Journals Posted April 21, 2019 Simplifying Life Stress is important for growth, but most people are overstressed. Here’s what I want for my life in order to simplify it: a rewarding but not draining job, no kids and pets, and a simple house. We live in a very special moment where it’s relatively easy to have a peaceful life. Never in the history of humankind was it so easy to have food, shelter, and safety. Success and money is important, but after a certain point it doesn’t change any aspect of happiness. That being said, if depression is too high, functioning in society is challenging. But I feel I am understanding how this monster operates. It’s not easy to deal with it, but learning its mechanisms allows me to have better coping strategies. I notice that I often swing from anxiety to depression. The practice is to find the Middle Path. Doubting Psychiatry Yesterday I read about Thomas Szasz, who was a big critic of pyschiatry. And it got me thinking about how I blindly believe in science. I was like, “What if mental illnesses are not a biological thing, but purely emotional?” A meditation teacher I really like, Jack Kornfield, once said, Quote “We don’t talk to people, we medicate them.” When I am talking with a person who’s going through an emotional struggle, I do not put him or her on a label. Instead, I see him as a human being. Ultimately, I do think mental illnesses exist, but there are many cases that could be solved with heart-to-heart conversation. Medication may play a big role, but alone it won’t change much, I suppose. My Psychiatrist I think my psychiatrist is very anxious about seeing results, he doesn’t really have empathy, and he uses way too much masculine advice (such as take more action, fix your sleep schedule, etc.) I started taking an anti-depressant, and after a month I was feeling better (even though I don’t know if it was placebo effect), but I wasn’t 100%. Then, he prescribed me a one more to take. I do think it's too much. Gaining Weight That’s definitely not a fun thing to go through, but it can teach you a lot. When that happens, self-esteem drops. It's perfectly healthy to want to look myself in the mirror, and like what I see. In the past, I lost weight by being very strict/fasting. But that doesn’t work in the long-term. But now, I am pretty confident that I can turn this around in a more solid way. I am going to the gym in a good way. I’m not obsessive about it, nor am I forcing myself to go there. I genuinely enjoy lifting weights. It’s very therapeutic. My guess is that by exercising, I will naturally want to eat more healthy. I just have to pay attention if I am not getting into “extreme discipline mode”. That's a big red flag. Mantra: True change takes time. (Sure there are exceptions, but as a rule of thumb I shouldn’t expect to change overnight.) Listening and Observing Others I can learn a lot from simply being in the presence of others. Sometimes when a person shares their story, I get immediate insights into my life. When I see someone behave both positively and negatively, I can self-reflect in order to improve my own self. Social Anxiety When social anxiety is present, socializing is definitely a tiresome thing to do. But the more I genuinely love myself, the less I care about the approval of others. And when I turn on the “fuck it” button, resistance melts away. It’s similar to taking alcohol. One moment I’m super nervous, then almost magically, social anxiety is no longer present. It feels really empowering to release anxiety by myself. Clinging to Roles One thing that’s really important to become aware of is, clinging to an identification as a “socially anxious” person. It’s really twisted how “being the quiet, insecure, and depressed person” becomes a role I subconsciously play. Being brought up in a society that overvalues extroversion, I was often told, “Oh, you’re so quiet.”, “Oh, has the cat got your tongue?”, etc. And I internalized those judgments, and they became beliefs. And unconsciously I use these masks to protect a false sense of identity. I used to compare myself a lot with my sister. She has always been the extroverted type of person. I thought that others would only like me if I was like her. That belief blocked me for a very long time. I also did not really like my friends, because they weren't high-status, so to speak. Another thing that’s really key is to have a handful of people who accept me as I am. With that, my self-confidence increases and the need for everybody liking me drops. Other people won’t make me happy. First, I have to be happy with myself. Then, with my close friends. That’s what’s really important. I used to believe I could be totally happy by myself. Even though others can’t make me happy, happiness and joy can be multiplied in the presence of others. After I realized living only in my own universe was not the way, I got into a phase of thinking that I should find the “perfect” support network. But that doesn’t really exist. Supposedly developed people are sometimes the most problematic. Nowadays, I feel I am getting more skillful socially. Two years ago, I was very underdeveloped in this area. I am still not perfect at it, but I sure got at least 60% better (in my good days). In my bad days, I sometimes struggle a lot and it feels like I got back to square zero, but that's just an illusion. Not Clinging to Moods I sometimes feel normal; irritable; euphoric; or depressed. Sometimes there are obvious causes for an emotion. At other times there aren’t. But what I have noticed is how important it is to reach out to someone who is trustworthy. Developing real trust is so important. This way, through sharing my presence with someone I like, it’s easier to find a solution. Keeping problems to myself will not help. Sharing them with the wrong people is just as bad. Talking with the right people can cause a “chemical reaction”, a trans-mutation. Then, after spending some time by myself, I am able to integrate and digest the conversation. Being very simplistic: Irritablity = lack of sleep and/or stress. Depression = lack of meaning and connection Social anxiety = unease in the body, low self-worth, and lack of bond. Btw - my soccer team lost the final today I may write more about that on another post, because it's enough for today.