Depression? Don’t. Fucking. Distract. Yourself.

All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

– Blaise Pascal

One of the things you hear all the time when searching for advice regarding depression is “Distract yourself, go out and do stuff, don’t just sit around”.

I’m getting upset just writing this. Sheesh. No. Fucking no. I am not saying this as someone who has never experienced depression. I’ve been there too. And let me tell you: being put under pressure and being told you always need to be doing something, not having the opportunity to rest and really get to the roots of your depression is just the worst. Why? Because most likely, what got you into that state is having done too much and having been brainwashed by society with too much bullshit. You need to do this to be successful, you need to do that or you’ll be worthless. This is what your life should look like and what you should do. Like what the fuck? How would YOU know what I want MY life to be like, huh?

When I was depressed I always had that close relative breathing down my neck. We were living together and I wanted to get away from her, because she was really putting me under pressure, but I had nowhere to go, so I had to stay and deal with the situation. I know she meant well, but she was subconsciously projecting her existential fears onto me, which was not helpful at all. She was like “If you want to continue living here, you have to earn some money”, “When I was depressed I didn’t just sit around and do nothing, I got my shit together and pushed through!”. And to this day she continues to suffer more or less without even realizing it.

Here’s the thing about that mindset: you’re just distracting yourself. The problem with distractions is that your inner state of being might become dependent on some external activity, which then could turn into an addiction. You are not getting to the root cause of your problem. Let’s say you’re depressed and to distract yourself you go out for a run. As you run you start to feel better, you briefly forget about your depression. But towards the end of your run it comes back to you, because in the back of your head, there is still this unresolved uneasiness that you’ve merely been trying to avoid. You remember that now, you will be going back home, back to your familiar depressing environment. Cluelessly you are continuing to search for external solutions, thinking you can run away and cover up your pain with external pleasures, when the answer really lies within you. Some external things might help you to realize this and lead you to the truth within you though.

“What you resist persists.”

– Eckhart Tolle

Don’t try to fight or deny your depression, don’t try to run away from it. Accept it. Don’t do anything about it, just watch it. If you don’t feel like doing something, if the very thought of getting up tears you apart inside, then don’t get up. Stay where you are. Society has already been pressuring you enough, why would you want to do the same thing to yourself? Be aware. If you have the urge to commit suicide, do not do anything about it. It may be hard, but it will pass.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

– Oriah Mountain Dreamer (The Invitation)

Eventually, things will change. You can’t just lie around all day forever, you know? I mean, you could do that, but it would result in a number of health problems and eventually death. So at some point you’ll probably feel the urge to get up and do something. Even if it’s just urinating lol. Okay, sorry. So, what I want to point out is that even if you are generally depressed most of the time, you are not depressed like 24/7, it’s not like you’re depressed every single second of every single day, you know? Think about it, are you worrying about your depression when you’re asleep? Certainly not. Maybe you have noticed that when you’re waking up there’s a time gap between you being completely asleep and completely awake. In that half-asleep half-awake state you are somewhat conscious, but there are no thoughts pestering you, ergo in that state, technically, you “are” not depressed. Only when you slowly start to fully regain consciousness and all those thoughts start popping up in your head again, you “remember” your past and your self-distructing thoughts and identify yourself as a “depressed person” again. This is also the reason people abuse all kinds of drugs (another form of distraction), simply to get rid of those thoughts. Ultimately, you want to be able to not get lost in your thoughts without any external distractions. Thoughts are just thoughts and you are neither your thoughts nor your feelings.

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