The suicide of a bright, wonderful young man Colin Wituik, a friend of my kids and an employee in our company made me wish I could have shared with him some of what I learned about depression over the years. I am writing this for my own healing and to maybe help someone out there.
Things that had an impact on me:
– The work of Eckhart Tolle, his books and videos. He wrote something that touched me deeply, he describes being depressed and suicidal and laying awake at night with everything feeling alien and scary he did not want to live anymore. A thought kept running in his head “I can’t live with myself anymore”. Suddenly he wondered about the thought, I – can’t live with – myself. I and self, there are two of us in here?? At that point his ego the story, the thought driven self collapsed. He said instead of killing myself his ego died, his true self behind the noise of the mind survived.
This has been key to me, learning to see the thought in our head and realize they are not real, just made up stories and becoming present to the real self, the awareness behind the thoughts. Another way he says it is: You are the calm deep ocean below the waves and turbulence on top.
When I am deeply upset this helps me create some space between the thought and upset and between my true self, it helps me find some peace. The key learning for me is not to identify with the thoughts, the thoughts are not me.
Some video clips, Eckhart Tolle on the night he wanted to kill himself.
Eckhart Tolle answering a question about suicidal thoughts
For a deep dive into Eckhart Tolle look for his books ‘The Power of Now’ and the book ‘A New Earth’ and look to this wonderful video class series Eckhart Tolle with Oprah http://vimeo.com/14154681
– A small book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Victor Frankl. The part that really hit me was when he was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp trying to help two fellow prisoners that wanted to kill themselves. Both of them stated to him “I have nothing left to expect from life”, Victor Frankl asked them a question, “What does life still have to expect from you?” One suddenly thought of his daughter that was waiting for him in the U.S., he wanted to survive and reunite with her, the other had a series of books he wanted to complete. Their focus shifted to what they had to do for others and they imagined a future where they work towards those visions. They both found meaning and shifted to wanting to live, even in the terrible conditions they were in.
Victor Frankl interview clips
Link to the book
– In my mid forties I took self development courses after being pushed by family to do it, I was real resistant and resentful at being forced to go, so I went in with a huff and a bad attitude. When the course started I was mesmerized a part of me was so hungry for this stuff I came alive. The course deals with how we work, how we think and the stories we create in our head. I continued to take several more of these courses and things in my life shifted forever.
Many, many things happened in the courses but I will give one example. In the the second course someone said something that hurt my feelings, I got hurt and I got into a deep sulky mood. In real life this happened every so often, when I felt hurt and I would get real quiet and upset and in a bad mood, this would last for a day or two and would upset my family. I recognized it as my Dad used to have these ‘bad moods’ and silent treatments that impacted the family many times. I learned in the course that when we are ‘hurt’ we also get something out of it, this sounded ridiculous to me, I am the hurt one I get nothing here, but on deeper examination there is what is called a ‘payoff’ I get to feel right and justified and I got to make others wrong and even though I was hurt I now recognized there was a hidden pleasure I was not aware of, I was being injured and blaming others. Of course there is a cost too, that was clear to me, the sadness, the loss of fun and love.
Now I was experiencing the hurt right in the middle of the course, here was my chance to change the pattern, though I was deep into this hole of feeling hurt and sad I decided to do the opposite of what I want to do. My strong desire was to withdraw and sulk, instead I forced my self to interact with people, this was hard but slowly I felt like I was climbing out of the deep hole and suddenly I was out. My mood shifted and for me this was unbelievable. The beauty of it is this has lasted for years after the course, I no longer have long period of ‘bad mood’ they are now shorter and I get over them.
The course link is here http://www.landmarkworldwide.com/the-landmark-forum
– My Mom attempted suicide and spent several years in hospitals with different treatments. Against the odds she fully recovered, wrote a book and had several happy years. My Mom told me that what finally helped her get out of her depression was her daily exercises to help control her diabetes. This is not very intuitive and not something most depressed people are likely to try but there is a lot of research on physical exercise and it’s relationship to helping with depression. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495
– Gratitude list, when I heard of this I was not interested, sounded silly and forced, but I tried it a couple times and it was surprisingly helpful in shifting things.
There is so much out there,my sister introduced me to some of these:
– Ram Dass great talks and videos http://www.ramdass.org/
– Byron Katie http://www.thework.com/index.php The Work of Byron Katie is a way of identifying and questioning the thoughts that cause all the anger, fear, depression, addiction, and violence in the world. Experience the happiness of undoing those thoughts through The Work, and allow your mind to return to its true, awakened, peaceful, creative nature.
– Wayne Dyer has great talks, very approachable, story telling style. http://www.drwaynedyer.com/
When my car breaks down I take it to the mechanic, when my computer doesn’t work I google the issue and if needed get it repaired, makes sense to me that if my thoughts are just not right, I research for answers and if needed I seek help.
If you have any ideas, please add them in the comments. I love you all and wish you peace and love.