“You might have a chemical imbalance.”
“Perhaps you should go and see a doctor. They’ll give you something for it.”
These were the words of advice offered to me by my parents. Although spoken with loving intention, they represented a surface-level solution for a much deeper malaise. I wasn’t depressed. I was just totally uninspired by life and the options The System presented for my future.
Sure, I exhibited a lot of the symptoms — lack of sleep, very low on energy, disinterest in life — and a psychiatrist may well have classified me as being so, but I knew my problem wasn’t a chemical imbalance. In fact, it had nothing to do with anything physical.
Before we go any further, I just need to make it clear that I’m not denying the existence of depression. However, it is my belief, and that of James Davies (psychotherapist and author of the controversial book, Cracked: Why psychiatry is doing more harm than good), that most of what psychiatrists diagnose as depression has nothing to do with a medical condition. As Davies says,
“as people struggle to cope with emotions and problems — unemployment, divorce, bereavement, the insecurities of adolescents — that have no basis in any mental disorder, psychiatry wades in and seeks to ‘medicalise’ the situation. New syndromes, not based on any scientific evidence, are invented. Patients are misled into believing they suffer a condition that only exists in textbooks.”
So, what does this mean and why is it relevant to your life?
Well, it’s important because The System has got it wrong. You may not be depressed. In fact, you might actually be suffering from an entirely different condition that needs a completely unique form of treatment.
To explain this, we turn to a source outside the realms of conventional wisdom: Tyler Durden. His centerpiece speech in Fight Club, given to a group of frustrated, disillusioned, and maybe even depressed, men, exposes the cultural malaise that all but the most robotic members of the human race experience. His immortal words are as follows,
“We are the middle children of history. No purpose, no place. We have no great war, no great depression. Our great war is a spiritual war; our great depression is our lives.”
If you follow this explanation, you’ll realize that it’s not a chemical imbalance you’re experiencing, but a life imbalance. And it’s no surprise.
- Our spirits crushed as we’re influenced to pursue money over our passions.
- A growing sense of emptiness as we’re led away from our natural community-dwelling state into overpopulated isolation.
All of the factors, and many more, make depression almost unavoidable. It’s ironic, but you’re probably saner and more alive if you are feeling depressed.
3 Steps to Freedom
If, like me, you’ve felt the dark clouds of system-induced depression influencing your outlook, then you’ll want to be free. So, I’ve put together a radical three-point plan to help you understand and use this emotion.
Step 1: Rejoice.
Congratulations, you are alive. What’s more, there’s nothing wrong with you for not fitting in or feeling depressed. In fact, in some ways, it’s the key to a much greater and richer life. Your internal guidance system (feelings) are working, and now it’s just a case of using them to find an avenue that inspires.
Feel good about your depression. Don’t see yourself as a victim to something beyond your control. In fact, reframe your experience so that it becomes a calling to something greater. You weren’t built for a mediocre life, and that low-energy feeling is just a reminder that you need to set your sights higher.
Step 2: Just say No!
In all but the most extreme cases, I would advise not taking any form of medication. Your feelings are there for a reason, and to have them medicated away masks the underlying problem.
Some of the most brilliant people have suffered from depression. Winston Churchill is a one example. Fortunately for him, though, he lived in a time before medication. Would he have been the same force in World War II if he was constantly popping pills that numbed and dulled his senses? It’s unlikely, and that is why you need your feelings. As well as sometimes dragging you down, they contain the keys to your brilliance.
Step 3: Think Big.
I hope my message has hit home. It’s my fervent belief that most cases of depression occur because people simply aren’t living. The opportunities that The System presents are so dull that they will fulfill only the most robotic of personality types. You are going to need something bigger.
The moment I committed myself to pursuing my dreams, my depression began to lift. You will need to find something similarly grand. It might be a goal, mission or journey, but the most important thing is that you look beyond the confines of conventional life. In this space, you’ll find what your heart desires, and the energy this provides will make those dark days a distant memory.
Joe Barnes is an author, speaker and coach who helps people achieve authentic success. He runs Screw The System, and is the author of Escape the System: The ultimate guide to a life of freedom and greatness. He’s also worked for over 10 years as a hypnotherapist and tennis coach. To get his free course, How to Escape The System, and learn how to break free from the 9 to 5 and make a living from your passion, click here.
This content was originally published here.