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How to Get out of a Depressive Spiral

People often assume that, because I write about having a “mind of steel”, I am the most disciplined and strong-minded person they will ever meet. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

When I started this thing, I was a kid in my early 20s. Most of the ten years since were filled with all kinds of steep hills, sharp turns, and endless cliffs.

Most of the advice I share is based on my own mistakes or shortcomings. If you’ve ever thought, “it’s like this guy is describing exactly how I feel”, that’s because I’ve been in the same situation as you. I’ve made the same mistakes. I’ve dealt with the same problems.

So just like you, every now and then, I get absolutely demolished by life.

DISCLAIMER: When talking about depression in this article, I am referring to periods of intense sadness and hopelessness all of us go through at times. If you’re struggling with clinical depression, please consult a medical professional.

I’ve fallen and I can’t get up

At various points in my life, I’ve had “episodes” where I’d feel a sudden rush of extreme depression and sadness. Nothing particularly bad happened. Nothing triggered this depressive spiral. Like everybody who ever dealt with depression in one form or another will tell you, it doesn’t always require a reason. It just happens.

But when it hits, it hits deep.

You feel like someone is sitting on your chest and you can’t breathe. Like you’re a puppet whose strings are being pulled by invisible masters. Like nanobots have somehow entered your body and are fucking up your every square inch from the inside, detaching you from the world, and mixing up your emotions like cocktails.

It’s a horrible feeling and you don’t need me to tell you that. If you ever felt it, you know.

Once it hits, it drains you of all of your energy and motivation to the point where getting up off the couch feels like running a marathon. You lose appetite. You stop drinking fluids. Even worse, you may end up chugging down copious amounts of alcohol because, fuck it, nothing matters anyway.

If these feelings were brought on by stress regarding something specific, like relationship problems or your financial situation, it becomes that much harder to get off your ass and solve them.

If you feel like this for no apparent reason, you don’t even know what the first step out of this hellhole looks like.

It’s just… nothingness. Loss of all meaning and purpose.

What now?

How to stop spiraling

First off, things aren’t as bad as you think.

Since you’re reading this right now, it means you’ve already taken the first step and are at least ready to start changing your mindset. It means you’ve recognized that these feelings are not the true nature of life, but an ugly facade you need to get rid of.

In a way, you’ve already started moving your ass off that couch.

Making plans or following complicated rules right now is pointless. So don’t worry, I am not going to tell you to “go to the gym” or “just meditate, bro”. Instead, I want to give you a few pointers that will help you start making small changes, that will hopefully snowball into bigger changes over time.

Let me warn you, they are pretty basic. But basic is exactly what you need right now.

1. Take care of the essentials

Sleep, exercise, and diet. In most cases, neglecting your body makes you feel like shit. Who would’ve thought being sleep-deprived, staying inside all day, and eating junk food would make you feel worse?

Oh, that’s right. Literally everybody.

Luckily, this is easy enough to fix:

  • Start eating better. Grab a banana. Eat an apple. Lay off the candy, snacks, or pizza.
  • Drink water. Seriously, it’s like an elixir of youth for you right now.
  • Shower. If that seems too much, splash some cold water on your face.
  • Sleep. You’re already feeling tired, why not?

2. Do something small

Procrastination or a lack of structure in your life often makes things seem hopeless. You don’t need extreme discipline to avoid feeling this way. However, if you’re living in an unkempt house, wearing the same shirt for three days, and just doing nothing all day, of course you’ll feel like there’s nothing to live for.

So here’s what you’re going to do:

  • Do something productive. Anything, no matter how small. Take out the trash. Walk to the store. Clean your desk. Trust me, you will instantly feel better.

That’s it. Just one item on the list. If it doesn’t help, you can always go back to lying down and staring out the window like before.

Might as well give it a shot, right?

3. Let your emotions out

The worst thing you can do right now is pretend like everything is okay.

Look, I get it. You don’t like feeling this way. You think it’s embarrassing and that something is wrong with you. You don’t want to burden others with your problems. You don’t think anybody else will understand or be supportive.

But I have a secret… shhh… come

Come close…

Closer…

You ready?

Here it goes…

Everybody feels this way, even if they don’t talk about it.

Surprised? Why? It makes perfect sense. Everybody else feels the same as you do. They feel embarrassed, like something is wrong with them, and they fear nobody will understand. So what do they do?

Nothing. They don’t tell anyone. They hide it and pretend things are great. In turn, when other people feel the same way, they also don’t tell anybody. And on, and on, and on, and on. It’s like the whole world is hiding the same secret but think they’re the only one.

Hiding your feelings makes no sense and only makes you feel worse.

The deeper you push your emotions, the more violent they are when they finally come out. The more you mask your pain, the more power it has over you, and the harder it is to break free from it.

You don’t have to broadcast your emotions to everybody. When your boss asks you if you’re doing good, you’re not going to reply “Well, actually…” and go on a 20-minute rant about how you feel lazy and depressed.

But find someone close to you, who you trust—a friend, family member, or a spouse—and open up to them. Tell them how you’re feeling. They won’t be able to solve your problems or do anything about them. That’s okay.

They will listen and you will feel heard. And sometimes, that’s enough.

However, before you do that, you need to get yourself in the right mindset. So here are things you can do right now to start moving in the right direction:

  • Forgive yourself. What you’re going through is normal. It’s okay to feel this way. You’re okay. Know this.
  • Remember: you are not alone. As explained by Tim Ferriss: “There are thousands, probably millions of people in the world at this exact same moment, fighting the exact same battle”. They’re probably just silent about it, like you.
  • Find a healthy way to let out your frustrations. Listen to music. Cry it out. Run it off.

If these feelings don’t get better over the next few weeks or months, please consider therapy. Clinical depression is sadly becoming more common and is often caused, at least partially, by a physical imbalance, so just “thinking your way through” isn’t enough.

Here are some other articles that may help:

Lastly, remember that your mind is more powerful than you think. In almost every situation, the power to make changes to your life already exists within you. You just need to access it.

You don’t even need that Limitless pill to do it. Just a little push.

Change your mindset, change your life. Never give up.

I’m rooting for you.

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