Have you ever stopped to think, just for a moment, how powerful your brain actually is?
It has control over your body in ways that we don’t really think about and yet we should, because it’s an important thing to realise and understand.
A few years ago, I suffered severe depression and was suicidal, however, during the healing process, I discovered that when I don’t have answers I become a bit (read that as ‘a lot’) like a dog with a bone, I won’t let it go. I’ll dig and dig until I find an answer. Or dig and dig until I have a number of answers and go with the one that feels like a fit for me and the situation that I’m in. I’ll research and read and do some more until I feel that I can make a decision not based on emotion but practicality.
I really need to have an understanding of why something has happened. Sure, I’ll react just like everyone else does but then the ‘why’s’ start kicking in: why did this action of someone else’s affect me so badly?
And during that healing process, after lots of digging and research about a lot of things, I started to put in place a number of different strategies to be able to work through my depression.I personally, didn’t want to take tablets. I’m not against them and some people do need to take them to help through depression, so please if that’s you, follow your doctor’s advice.
But I wanted to work out the whys? and then how I could change my thinking to dig my way out of that horrible place that depression and being suicidal takes you.
This is when I really discovered just how formidable the brain really is
I realised that when I become highly stressed, I don’t eat, in fact, my body constantly fights nausea. There was nothing physically wrong with my stomach, my brain was so highly stressed, that it was physically making me nauseous. Some people when stressed or depressed comfort eat, they constantly feel hungry. They aren’t actually hungry, it’s their brain telling them to eat.
Think about when you have to do something that’s really scary, whether that’s public speaking or doing some bungee jumping, your heart will start to race, you’ll start to sweat, you may even feel like throwing up, but none of these things are actually caused by a physical issue, it’s all in your mind. Your brain is focusing on the fear and then making your body have a physical reaction to that fear.
So, how did this amazing revelation help with my depression?
I’m glad you asked, you see I realised this:
When you tell yourself something often enough, you’ll start to believe it.
When you constantly tell a small child they are stupid, they’ll start to believe it and grow into an adult that thinks they are stupid, so much so they may never reach their full potential because, what’s the point of trying? When you are constantly looking at other people’s lives and feeling that you’re missing out, even if you’re not, you’ll start to believe it. Have you ever heard the saying about someone famous that ‘they believe their own publicity?’ It’s the same thing. They have heard it said so many times how awesome they are, that they think they’re better than anyone else.
When I realised this, not that I was awesome or stupid but that the brain has so much control over our entire bodies, I decided to change the way that I thought. Every day, 100 times a day (I didn’t really count, I’m just throwing that number because it sounds good) but every time I had a negative thought, I would tell myself I was happy. I was engaging in a constant dialogue going on in my mind but I wasn’t going to give up on me.
Every time, and I mean Every. Single. Time. I had a negative thought, I’d think ‘I’m happy’. Even when I wanted to end my life, I’d say ‘I’m happy’ or ‘I’m happy, it’s OK I’ve got this’.
You can’t do this once and think it will work, you have to change your thought habits, this was a process of a couple of years, first learning about it and implementing it. Constantly telling my brain that it was, in fact, wrong. That I was, in fact, happy even though I was 100 per cent miserable.
And then, one day I was sitting on the lounge and a negative thought came and I replied ‘I’m happy’ and you know what? I realised it was working. That while I wasn’t ecstatically happy, I was actually feeling better than I had been. That those negative thoughts, weren’t bombarding me as often.
I was actually starting to be happy
And now? Nearly five years on, while it was a horrible experience and one I never want to deal with again, I can honestly say that depression was the best thing that happened to me because it taught me so much about myself.
I am happy.
And I want you to be happy too, so please, just start telling yourself that you are, even when you’re not, don’t give up on yourself, because you’re worth it.
If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide, seek help immediately. Call Lifeline (13 11 14), the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or see your family doctor.
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