How to beat depression

Depression will eat you up and steal your soul.

You feel like you have done everything you can, that you’ve used all your energies, and still, you despair.

Ultimately, I believe depression results when we feel like we have lost control of our lives and are hopeless to make a change. With this feeling of defeat comes the debilitating effects of depression – anger, lethargy, guilt, cynicism, hopelessness.

Depression can result from a myriad of things, as diverse as life itself – health problems, violent traumas, financial problems, aging, loss of faith, career setbacks, relationship troubles, you name it. Common to all, a loss of control, a feeling there is nothing that we can do to change our situation and we give up hope.

To live again, we have to A) have an overwhelming desire or reason to change our life, and B) we have to take control. Realize those two things, you will beat depression. Now, how do we do it?

1) Examine your life. A journal is the best way to do this. Take inventory, list your dreams, list your regrets, try to capture what it was like when you could dream. In doing so you are trying to paint an honest picture of your life, bad and especially the good (depression can overemphasize our bad memories and give us an unbalanced view of our life), and begin to visualize what you wished it looked like now. Ultimately we are trying to look forward using our past as fuel to make a change.

2) After doing this, recognize a couple short term goals. We don’t climb Mount Everest in a day. You first learn to climb hills. Clean the closets, work out twice a week, go on a date with your loved one, whatever. Start small, and make it happen. Make these steps the most important things in your life.

3) As you conquer small goals, begin to focus and clarify on the big ones. Where do you want to live? How do you want to improve where you already live? Do you need a new vocation? Is there a hobby you’ve always wanted to do or learn? Again, whatever thought gets your adrenaline pumping is where you need to focus. Begin to write about this new reality. What does it look like? What will it take to get there?

4) Find someone to share this journey. A friend, a loved one, a group. They need to be supportive of you and of the dreams you are chasing. They must believe that we were meant to make the most of the life we were given. They must be good listeners and able to hold you accountable in a supportive way.

5) Plan and take the first step. Make a plan to reach the mountain top you have identified. Then take the first step. When you fall, get up. When you fall, get up. When you fall, get up. As often as you must. The more you get up, the less often you will fall.

We can overcome depression when we discover something we’d crawl through the dirt for, then with the help of others and a plan we will follow, we make it happen.

A great tool in this journey can be my life skills workbook, The Ladder UPP. Depression led me to the brink of suicide. I wanted to give up, and the only way out seemed to be a gun. But I found a reason to live. First it was a guitar, then it was a motorcycle, then it was an epic journey, then it was finding the love of my life and the family that resulted from our love. Big or small, find something you’d crawl through the dirt for and create a plan to get there, and you can live. The Ladder UPP is based on my own journey and thousands of others from around the country I’ve helped overcome depression. It is easy to follow and while challenging, is a lot of fun.

And if you think your life sucks and you need some inspiration, read my memoir, Who Am I?. Suck would be a good way to describe how I was feeling after a shattered life left me hopeless. But I found a reason to live again.