I have a very good friend who likes to wallow in – well, various things. The dark hole of depression, feeling sorry for yourself, mediocrity.. the comfort zone of sabotaging yourself and setting yourself up for failure, receiving all kinds of good advice, nodding and smiling and never taking any of it.
Now I’m a very supportive friend, but there comes a time when between two good friends you have to be honest with each other, and that time came eight months ago. I spoke to this person honestly – and politely – here’s what you need to do to get yourself out of this hole. I know how to get out of these holes, having been in them myself many times.
So, I then shut up and let them get to work – at the end of the conversation I said I wouldn’t bring it up but if they wanted to chat about it they could always raise the topic. Of course, they never did. A couple of months later this person was feeling sorry for themselves again and told me so, and a pattern began to appear. I’d say all the right things – here’s how to get out of this hole. They would nod and smile and promise faithfully that they would try it. A month or two later, it would happen again. The last couple of times, I haven’t been quite so polite about it. In fact I told them they needed to get off their rear end and get to work and I pointed out this pattern which I saw clearly.
Then just a couple of hours ago this person arrived on my Skype and from the moment they said hello I knew the deal – they were down and feeling sorry for themselves, and they were waiting for me to do my usual there there, here’s how to fix it, pump you up with positives, you can do it, ra ra.
There comes a time in any relationship where you have to draw a line. You have to let go. I’ve been propping you up for far too long now. I know you can do it. I can’t do it for you. Nobody can do it for you. I can make positive changes in my own life, and I do it regularly. But I CANNOT WAVE A MAGIC WAND AND FIX YOU – though you know I would if I could. It takes hard work, and you have to do the majority of it yourself.
The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get. – Jim Rohn
I’m a huge goal setter. I’ve spoken before about my depression and the combat strategies I used, some of them were goals that I set for myself. I set goals all the time – even silly stuff like playing a game on my computer – I’ll want to get to a certain score or achievement before I quit the game.
This past couple of weeks, I have set myself a really unusual goal – to drink more water. I mentioned an article I had read in one of my weekly wrap ups and said I was implementing this change – 9 Great Reasons to Drink Water, and How to Form the Water Habit – but what I did not mention is.. I dislike water. I always have. I would prefer to drink soft drinks, coffee or fruit juice. I used to drink one can of real Coke each day with my main meal but there came a time when I really didn’t feel like it, so I would drink fruit juice instead. Before I read that article, I had begun to substitute water every third day, instead of Coke or fruit juice, mainly because the meal I was having didn’t go with either of those drinks.
So with a goal like this, it helps to break it down. The guy who wrote the article (Leo Babauta) actually did that for me – thanks! ;) – by saying – “Best is to form a routine: drink a glass when you wake up, a glass with each meal, a glass in between meals, and be sure to drink before, during and after exercise.” This is my new religion. I have these plastic cups which hold 250ml (just over 8oz) and a chart where I gleefully tick off each cup I drink. I’m up to 8 a day. A huge change from one every 3 days.
Can you believe that after just two weeks, I would rather reach for water than anything else?
So what I know is, anything I want to achieve, I can set a goal, break that down into smaller chunks, and then set out to achieve it. If I can do it, anyone can. Me who is not very good at self discipline and who isn’t the most organised person in the world.
Sometimes it seems easier to stay in your comfort zone, to keep sabotaging yourself to stay there. The fear of the unknown, the fear of what comes next. It is no different to jumping out of a plane for the first time – except you’re basically jumping out of the plane for the first time over and over, heading towards a bigger unknown than you have ever faced before. Yes, it is scary. It can be terrifying. Who will I be without my depression? At the moment that is what defines you. That’s all you know. You’re gripping on to the doors of that plane so tight your knuckles are white.
You have to let go and jump out of that plane.. or else you will stay in that hole of depression forever, and I can’t be your friend if that’s where you want to be. You see, I dug my way out of that hole with my fingernails. When my nails were all gone, I didn’t stop digging. I used my fingertips. I was so desperate to get out of there my fingers were bloody nubs by the time I managed to climb out of there – but I made it. I’m baffled that you *want* to stay there. I can’t imagine why you would want to. It’s a horrible place to be.
If you’re willing to get out, I’ll help you. I’ll do everything I can. Except keep going round in circles like this, it is pointless and useless. I’m not going to keep enabling you to feel better every now and then – I want to enable you to feel better all the time.
Have you ever heard the Meatloaf song “I’ll do anything for love but I won’t do that”? So many people speculate about what the thing he won’t do is. The thing I won’t do is allow myself to be dragged back to that hole and pushed / pulled into it – not by *anyone* – because I know how hard it was to get out of there, how much it cost me, how much effort it took every day. I said in a previous post about depression –
Normal people who have never been depressed will not understand the effort required to do just simple every day tasks when you’re down. Just to get up out of bed and have a shower seems like something impossible. The effort involved, to me it always seemed like someone had tied weights to my arms and legs, and it was difficult to move them. Probably most people who have been down will understand that.
I’m not going back there. It’s not until you get out of there that you realize how bad it was. Please, my friend, *please* let go of thinking your dark damp hole of depression is where you should stay. It’s either that, or let go of me, because you’re dragging me to a place I WILL NOT go.