I was high!
It had been over 72 hours since I had last slept and my brain could be likened to a two week old container of raw fish. Yeah you know the one, that container that you know you need to take out of the fridge but you are too scared to open the lid and see/smell what's inside.
I edged my way closer to the balcony railing and began to lean over as I stared down at 20 stories of free fall. For the first time in my life I considered ending a life. My life. I took one deep breath and made my peace with the world.
But deep within the rotten gray fishy soup that I was calling my brain a voice sparked to life. It was hard to hear at first in my drug fueled state but the voice grew until it took command of my entire being.
"What the F*ck are you doing you selfish Bastard!" Harsh but fair. So I took one step back, collected my clothing from the living room & never looked back.
See Also - Why do we Cheat?
I had been battling depression for several years now, had I told anyone? Of course not! Because that would indicate weakness & showing weakness is bad right? Wrong! But we will get into that later on in this blog.
I had been on another weekend long bender, intermittently working at a bar to keep the bills in check. This cycle had been on going since my recent break up but the depression had been brewing for far longer.
I am lucky that my depression was caused through the build up of stressful life events. For some, depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain which means that depression may be a permanent part of that persons life. In fact there are many reasons why people suffer from depression.
Including; faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems (health.harvard.edu, 2018). Regardless of the cause for your depression it does not have to control you and it definitely does not mean you can't live a fulfilling, rewarding & happy life.
These are the six life lessons that depression has taught me.
001 - Love yourself.
Have you ever heard the saying; In order to love another you must first love yourself? First of all what a corny saying, but this corny saying is bang on the money. During the deepest parts of my depression I had fallen into a deep loathing of myself, in order to make myself feel normal I would bitch, moan & insult bringing those around me down to my level.
I was fishing for significance, hunting for that elusive pat on the back & struggling to come to terms with who I was. I hated myself because I was constantly comparing my accomplishments to those around me. My Ego was driving me deeper and deeper into depression & it was driving a wedge between me and the people I loved.
I grew further apart from my family, I stopped talking to my friends & without knowing I pushed my girlfriend further and further away. In doing so I unwittingly caused those I loved to begin questioning themselves.
We associate a love of ourselves with selfish & self centered behaviour when in fact the opposite is true. By loving ourselves we are able to truly love others for their differences and unique qualities.
By loving the person we are we know longer have to rely on our ego's to provide temporary significance. If you love yourself then you already know you are significant. Depression taught me that in order to truly love anyone I had to fall deeply in love with the unique person I am.
002 - Tell the World your Weaknesses.
Hi there. My name is Jacques Dominic Massie (cool name right?) and I have lied, cheated, stolen & bullied. I have used others in order to get what I wanted at the time. I have lied to many many people in order to make myself feel more significant.
I am short by most peoples standards which generally means I suck at basketball. I suck at listening but it is something I am trying to improve on. I have belittled others in order to be 'one of the cool kids,' & I have talked sh*t about the people I love behind their backs.
Hi there. I am Jacques Massie and I am weak but that is what makes me human. Depression taught me to let go of all the bullsh*t insecurities we have in our ego driven brains. The more I share my weaknesses the stronger I grow and the more people truly respect me.
We all lose... a lot! We all suck at sh*t loads of things that other people are great at, but here's the punch line. Those people that you are constantly trying to impress, the people you try so hard to hide your weaknesses from. They suck to! At heaps of sh*t.
Tell the world your weaknesses and free yourself from the burdens of hiding all your failures and loses. Take that new found energy and throw it all into improving your strengths.
Tell the World your Weaknesses.
003 - Why Worry?
We spend so much of our lives worrying about such mundane and meaningless things. Our worry is triggered by our emotions, when you really think about it our emotions are quite meaningless on a universal scale. They ain't no galaxy destroying black hole.
We worry about why that girl at the bar didn't text us back or why our husbands don't look at us the way they used to. We worry if the dress we are wearing is going to make us seem attractive to the right guys.
We worry if we are f*cking each other right instead of enjoying an incredibly intimate moment between two people. We worry about almost every email that hits our work inbox & worst of all we worry about how we are perceived by others.
We live in a society of worry, made substantially worse by the influence of social media. Depression taught me to stop giving so much of a sh*t about the meaningless things in life. Depression taught me to focus my energy on solutions instead of pointless stress and worry.
Next time you are worried about something try this;
Do you have a problem in your life? - No - Then Why Worry?
Do you have a problem in your life? - Yes - Can you do something about it? - Yes - Then Why Worry?
Do you have a problem in your life? - Yes - Can you do something about it? - No - Then Why Worry? (sourced from the teachings of Gaur Gopal Prabhu)
Depression made me realise how much brain energy I waste on worrying about things that really don't matter. Even the things that do matter to us in life should not be faced with worry. They should be faced with solutions, hard work & a faith in ourselves.
004 - Be Empathetic not Sympathetic.
When I was deep in my depression I would continuously hunt out sympathy and recognition. My ego was searching for validation, a reason to be depressed when really I had no reason at all. People would be sympathetic to me and my meaningless moaning, 'It will be ok...' & 'Oh, It's not your fault....' were common validations.
Since battling through my depression I have realised that sympathy is pointless. Just to clarify; Empathy is to put yourself in the shoes of others & too understand the root cause of their problems. Sympathy is to show compassion, sorrow or pity toward a persons hardships.
I am far more empathetic to people now, I understand that people are in the situations they are in because of the needs they are trying to fulfill. I understand that most people don't understand why they get stuck in the situations they do and end up in a damaging downward spiral.
I will gladly help others get through their problems by offering them solutions and supporting them in anyway I can. What I will no longer do is show sympathy. Not because I am an asshole but because sympathy only reassures a person of their problems or misleads them into thinking it is not their responsibility to deal with the issue/s at hand.
Sympathy can fuel entitlement and destroy a persons opportunity to learn from their failings and become a better human being. Depression has taught me that to help others who are in unfortunate situations we need to show empathy & guide them towards helping themselves.
Sympathy is only a temporary fix. Be Empathetic not Sympathetic.
005 - Contribution & Growth will give you purpose.
Depression, especially for those who live with the illness for life, can be a cruel mistress. I discovered two things above all else made me forget about my depressive thoughts; Positive Contribution & Growth will give you more drive and happiness than anything else.
I found a passion and decided to relentlessly pursue it, this gave me growth & growth made me feel as if I had purpose. In order to 'kill two birds with one stone' (terrible saying, I know), I decided to channel my growth towards movements that focused around positive contribution. Paulo & I founded Massie Bros a company built around contribution.
Paulo & I aim to build a brand and multiple companies that will inspire others, positively change the world & contribute towards creative development. I contribute to charities in ways that inspire others to do the same. I contribute my learning so that others can avoid making the mistakes I have.
I do this for two reasons; it makes me feel as if I have a purpose & I know in my heart that it is the right thing to do. I ask for no praise I just hope that others who benefit from our contributions will pass on their new learnings to others. Creating an endless chain of positivity & contribution.
Depression taught me that contribution and growth will give you purpose and purpose provides you with fulfilment.
Contribution & Growth will give you Purpose.
006 - Choose Gratitude not Attitude.
Gratitude! Gratitude is like Red Bull after a gram of cocaine except better. I have more energy now than ever before and it is all down to gratitude. The more I convince myself of how damn lucky I am the more energy and drive floods through my veins.
Attitude and moaning were my go to's while I was depressed. These emotions gave me temporary reassurance but they drained me of any energy to live & to chase my dreams and desires.
My advice to anyone who suffers from depression is to get yourself a gratitude journal. Take 5 minutes every morning & 5 minutes every night to list out all of the things you should be grateful for in life.
Your family, your friends, your dog, the roof over your head, the food in your belly, the running water in your kitchen, the job you have. Actively practicing gratitude will start giving you back the energy that depression took from you.
Choose Gratitude not Attitude.
Now do it! Take complete and total responsibility for your situation because no one else will. Regardless of what ailments you have & what limitations have been placed upon you, it is your responsibility to make the most of the life you have.
For starters you are alive! That in itself is reason to celebrate.
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Life is Great. Travel is Better.
Paulo & Jacques