Letting the Light Through After a Decade Long Battle With Depression
December 05, 2018
Guest Post written by Nathan Gell, Founder of eSkate Hub, a website devoted to helping people find the perfect electric skateboard for their needs. Nate battled depression for a significant part of his life, however, today he lives to the fullest and is happier than he has ever been. Nate has taken complete control of his life and now has his own business and travels the world with his partner. His newfound gratitude has given him the perspective that everyone has the ability to create the life they truly desire.
It’s been ten years since my very first encounter with anxiety and depression.
It’s also been 11 months since the day I was awoken to the idea that I had the power to change my own life.
Everyone needs an awakening moment to jump-start their own realisation that the way they are currently living their life doesn’t have to be the way they need to live it forever.
The awakening experience could be anything.
The loss of a loved one is a strong force to open your eyes to reality. The act of an irreversible, shameful mistake is more than enough for you to take a good hard look at yourself.
But I hope that none of you is required to experience such events. I hope that for at least some of you here, this very story will be what it takes to set your life on a brand new course.
The Beginning of My Fears
The very first instance of my mental insecurity was born from fear. I was 17 years old at the time when I uncovered the root of what would eventually lead to my depression and anxiety.
I was young and didn’t quite understand what was happening to me. I began to feel rushes of dread pass through my body at completely random times, seemingly unrelated to anything that was going on in the world. And I’d be left with painful thoughts swirling around my mind, heart pumping in my throat, feeling completely dazed and lost for any sensible reasoning for my existence.
These episodes were happening multiple times a day. So much so that I couldn’t give you any ballpark figure of their frequency. To me, it felt constant.
This is how it was for years.
I made futile attempts to seek help from family and friends. I could never bring myself to tell anyone the deepest of my concerns becauseI feared that by telling them, I would open their eyes to something they had not yet realised and they too would be thrown into this dark pit I was living in.
I made an appointment to see a psychologist, but the moment he mentioned he would like to explore my fears in more depth, I headed for the door and didn’t return.
So, I went it alone.
Every time I began to feel the slightest inkling of anxiety or when I felt a negative thought coming on, I would quickly distract myself.
I would use whatever I had at my disposal at the time to make sure I didn’t have to think. Facebook, Netflix, making phone calls, messaging, work, alcohol, sex, computer games.
Eventually, I began to get anxiety in anticipation of events that required my presence in the absence of distraction.
Getting into bed and falling asleep was a daily dose of terror. I had to lay in the darkness with nothing but my thoughts. So I would grab my laptop and watch downloaded TV shows and movies until I fell asleep.
Wedding ceremonies are meant to be a joyous occasion, but I simply could not focus because I was too busy trying tonot think about my negative thoughts. Same goes for theatre plays, music concerts, christenings and anything that I could not be extremely engaged in.
One day, I realised something that nearly made me burst out into tears if it weren’t for where I was.
I was at a friends house. All of my oldest friends were there, my girlfriend and a few other people I knew as acquaintances. Jokes were being made and everyone was laughing, myself included. Then, with less warning than a crash of thunder, I realised I had no idea why I was laughing. I didn’t think anything was funny, I wasn’t enjoying myself and I wasn’t happy.
I became so confused. “How can I not be feeling happy right now?”
My life began to float past as if I had no control over it. Things just happened around me while I tried my very best to conceal my inability to feel anything from the people around me.
It’s hard to look back on this time of my life. Knowing what I know now, it all seems very dramatic. But I also remember the deep feelings of loss and dread so clearly.
The reason I am sharing this story with you is because I want you to know that what you’re dealing with, as unique as it may seem to you, is an experience shared by many.
I also want to show you that no matter how impossible escape may seem, there is still a great deal of hope. I have risen from the darkest parts of my mind and so can you.
It’s not an easy journey. In fact, it has been the single hardest thing I have ever had to endure. But that only makes the fruits of your labour at the end of it all so much sweeter.
So, what was it that I did to change my life so radically?
There are many tools I used, but I want to tell you about those that made the most impact on my life and which you can implement right now to change your life.
Opening Up and Facing Fears
The first is opening up and letting someone in. This takes a great deal of courage. By doing this, there is the risk of judgement and being seen as a freak. But let me assure you, people are more than willing to offer their help to those in need.
They will feel honoured and special that you opened up to them. And It will build a stronger and lasting relationship between them and yourself.
The moment you tell them about something that is bothering you, you will feel a great sense of relief.
But more importantly, you will have taken a huge step towards facing your fears. Simply by talking about your fears reduces them to something that seems more manageable.
Sometimes after I tell someone about a fear I am having, I instantly hear how silly my words are.
Finally Finding Happiness
The second biggest weapon in defeating my anxiety was understanding where happiness is found.
I spent a significant amount of time searching for happiness in things and experiences. I thought that if I could run a marathon, I would feel accomplished. If I climbed a mountain, I would feel like a warrior. If I learned a new skill I would feel valued. If I did all of these things, I would be happy.
In any other circumstance, this would be true. However, the problem was that I was seeking out these experiences with the belief that the success of these feats would single-handedly bring me the happiness I was so desperately craving.
But they didn’t.
I learned that things and experiences will bring you joy. But those initial feelings are a spike of pleasure that wanes over time and therefore causes you to go hunting to find that feeling again, and again.
I believe happiness is more attuned to a feeling of contentment. A feeling of balance and calm.
A lot of it comes down to acceptance of who you are, where you are and simply that things just are the way that they are.
It’s a difficult concept to grasp at first, but the more you practise ‘letting go’ of your worries, the more you begin to understand.
The best thing you can do to begin learning about yourself is meditation.
Get a good meditation app like Headpsace that will guide you through the journey and teach you how to be with yourself.
Start off slow with only 5 minutes a day. And work your way up to a longer period of time.
Keep in mind, that longer is not always better. 15-20 minutes seems to be the sweet spot.
You will be surprised at how simple the answer to happiness and contentment is once you start meditating.
I Gave Myself Permission To Live
My last tool for beating depression and anxiety is somewhat of a cliche these days.
It’s finding your purpose. Or your WHY.
I’d prefer to use the phrasegiving yourself a purpose because finding something implies having to search for it.
Your purpose doesn’t need to be grandiose. It doesn’t need to be larger than life.
It can be small. So long as it’s important to you, it will be of great importance.
The reason I live is to provide the person I love the most in this world with the life in which they deserve.
It’s simple, I know. But it’s special to me and it’s something I truly believe in.
Now, every decision I make, every action I take, I have a compass that points me in the right direction.
I started a business,eskate hub, to be our raft into a future where my partner and I can work, travel and live our lives together in freedom.
All of a sudden, my life doesn’t feel adrift. I have complete visibility of the path that lays ahead of me. And I’m incredibly excited to have control over everything that I do.
Like I said earlier, none of this is easy. It will be your greatest challenge. But I promise you that it will be the most worthwhile journey you ever embark on.
At the end of it, when you’re on the other side looking back on your life, you will be completely inspired by the person you have become. You will be surprised by what you were capable of achieving all this time.
Trust me, I know how hard it is, but I also know how worthwhile it is.