How I’m Beating Depression and Anxiety

Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

I stopped trying to solve my depression and anxiety.

The beginning of my healing came when I asked my mother how she seemed to be so happy, even though she didn’t have a “great” life. She had a distant, angry husband she eventually sent packing; six pain in the neck kids (myself included) that she raised largely on her own; and a dead end job in San Francisco that necessitated her climbing aboard mass transit five days a week for over 25 years.

Life is hard. There is nothing wrong with you. That’s just the way it is. If you expect to be happy every day, you are going to be very disappointed.

My girlfriend, Eileen, was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. We met in sophomore Spanish class. I was the basketball player, she was the cheerleader. We were 15 years old and in love for the first time. She went away the summer between our sophomore and junior years in high school on a family vacation. I knew she was gone for the entire summer, but everyday I would ride my bike by her house, hoping she had come home early. I was ecstatic and so happy. Life seemed magical. The day she got back, she broke up with me. I was devastated.

Most “problems” in life are not solvable, so don’t try and solve them.

If you tell your mind something is important, over and over again, your mind will believe it is important. And, strangely enough, I’ve found that if you tell your mind something is not important, over and over again, your mind thinks it is important. Instead of your mind listening to you tell yourself something isn’t a big deal, your mind reasons, “This guy is spending a lot of time trying to convince me this isn’t a big deal, so it must be a really big deal.”

Focusing on a problem that cannot be solved makes the problem grow, not weaken.

Today, I don’t focus on what bothers me. I don’t try and solve life’s disappointments. I focus on today, and more importantly, I focus on right now. If a distressing thought comes to me during the day, I accept the thought, then refocus myself on what I am currently involved in. Instead of the thought growing secondary to my analysis and problem solving, I let it dissipate. I choose not to think about it.

Life’s difficulties largely can’t be solved. If you want them to go away, you have to allow them to die a slow, neglectful death.

Happiness involves not “letting go” or “coming to peace” with the pains in life. Most of the pains simply need to be ignored so that they fade away, or at least become small annoyances that are easily pushed aside while you live happily.

Mindfulness is the tool I use to deal with most of life’s disappointments.

Eileen ended up meeting a great guy and getting married in her early 20s. He is a terrific businessman, allowing the both of them to retire at a young age and enjoy their lives with their two sons. I see Eileen, talk on the phone with her, or exchange an email with her every few years. My heart still skips a beat when I make contact. The old hurt comes back each time, as if it was yesterday that she left me heart broken. I let myself feel that disappointment for a moment, then I make myself a sandwich and get on with my day.

Just trying to be happy…like everyone else.

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