Hi! I’m Bryan Forsythe, and for 38 years I did it all wrong…
Here’s me at 24.
That pic was taken a long time ago. We are at a family get together.
Everyone around me is happy eating, chasing the dog, whatever.
Me? I’m trying to act normal. Behind that icy stare my mind swirls with hopelessness, guilt, and anger. I feel insulated, cut off from life. My emotions don’t seem to be connected, as if a piece of me is missing.
Now after 30 years, as a depression coach and survivor, I know these are classic signs of depression.
If this sounds familiar, if you too are struggling, I want to help.
Here are the three essentials I teach to help people break the cycle of depression or any other mental challenge.
1. Maintain daily progress toward your big goals, or aspirations. Write them down, and no matter how small they seem, celebrate your wins.
2. Be ok with being human. Share your story your challenges, your triumphs, and your, “mistakes”.
3. Own and track your challenges, mental or otherwise.
Back then normal life felt like balancing on a greased floating log…
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Find out the rest of the story, and get a free depression test,
I waited for 30 years. You don’t have to.
While I couldn’t explain it then, today I say living with depression made me feel like I was a toaster on half power, just getting enough current to keep the lights on. Except it wasn’t just physical, it was mental too.
My mind felt slow, unreliable, and suspect. This gave me a bad self image and led to many memorable misteps some of which nearly killed me. With all that mistepping keeping a job was kinda difficult. This why by the time I was 21, I’d had 30 different jobs! Eventually, low income service jobs were my only option.
Money was one thing, but when I really coulda used it, positive support and real friendship was hard to come by. Cause you know, friends expect you to be reliable and participate in their important get togethers, heck maybe tell a joke at their bar mitzvah. That wasn’t me.
In those days, I’d either cancel at the last minute or worse show up not feeling, “right”.
Then feelin like a complete dork, I’d go home alone (again!).
Shoot, before I started tracking my thoughts and emotions,
I let my mind beat me up for stuff like that for weeks!
As I moved through my early thirties, I was on a continual the hunt for something to make me feel “normal”.
Like a drowning man I clung to anyone who seemed friendly as my new best friend, and instantly fell in love with every girl I met. Not surprisingly this mad search for someone to love meant one bad relationship after another. More often than not when they ended I was deeply broken and often near suicidal for weeks after. Through it all I never tried to hurt myself, though I got pretty close.
After awhile though it all caught up to me, and one day I fell apart. 35 years spent pretending and ignoring, led me to being diagnosed with functional depression, and stress induced PTSD. After keeping these secrets, for so long I was scared. Wondering what would happen, heck at first I didn’t even want to talk about all my stuff. I felt silly and weak for admitting my challenges. But my main worry was the doc hearing my “unthinkable” thoughts would try to keep me! If this sounds like you, if these fears have kept you from seeking help, please hear me.
Living through a lifetime of mental challenges has taught me two things. Thing 1, is this “unthinkable thoughts” fear is super common and in most cases, false. See, those kinds of thoughts are automatic, out of your control. Until you decide to focus it on something specific such as adding 2+2 or how to steal pennies from your sister, it’s as if your mind was one of those old timey stock tickers. It just kicks out thoughts. So if you too have
experienced some outrageous thought, be at peace.
Thing 2, is admitting your mental challenges doesn’t mean you are weak or self serving. Rather it means you are strong and responsible, doing what’s best for YOU. Let’s face it, responsibility is WAY harder than ignoring and pretending, so if you are choosing to act for you…YAY freakin you!
Also judging from national statistics depression is much more common than you think. As recently as 2013, there were 38 million people in the US who were diagnosed and treated as clinically depressed. That equates to 1 in 12. So you are not alone in facing this illness. Regardless, the good news is whatever kind of depression you may have it is considered a treatable disease.
In my case, (mid-grade functional depression with mild anxiety) treatment was of the out patient variety. Each week I simply took Zoloft, and had weekly visits with the doc. After awhile though I realized some things. One, taking medicine of this type requires following strict dosing rules. More importantly though was how I felt. Or didn’t feel. See, the medicine didn’t cure me! I still dealt with all the same feelings. The medicine did put more mental, “space” between the depressive thoughts, and what was really going on, but it was not a cure.
Besides taking that pill everyday made me feel like a dependant, powerless victim. To top it off, I was leary of starting the endless chemical merry-go-round as modern medicine tried to figure out which of the other 47(!) different anti-depressants might work better.
But did I immediately stop taking the drugs? No I did not! Remember those strict dosing requirements?
This stuff is no joke! Only after two more weeks of taking half the normal dose, had I weaned myself free! Once I was off the drugs, I made the following three resolutions:
1. Every day I would take a minute to think how lucky I was, how close I’d come to giving up on life. Gratitude changes attitude.
2. I was getting off the Zoloft, and would never ever again depend on medicine for a cure.
3. Rather than ignore, and pretend, I would face my illness, and track it daily.
My time spent in treatment also made me think how keeping my condition a secret- just pushing through, and ignoring had just made me feel like a guiltly, isolated, victim. So I decided to go public with my story, and most importantly to do all I could to help others who struggle succeed whatever their mental challenge may be. To that end I wrote, Crack the Depression Code an experienced based self help book, (Click here for a free download).
A few months later I started blogging and publically sharing my story. I got to admit, after struggling through everything from mild anxiety, to ER level panic attacks, and yes even near suicidal depression, doing all I can to help others understand and succeed despite their challenges, is so awesome!
Here are the three personal truths I share which to me are essential in winning the fight against depression or any other mental illness.
- We must maintain incremental daily progress towards achieving our big impossible dreams.
- Be ok with being human. Share your story, your triumphs, and your “failures”.
- We win by owning and tracking our mental challenges.
Yes, though it’s difficult, I encourage you to keep a journal, in which you track, and monitor your mental states. While we tend to deny all our illnesses (and “weaknesses”), in effect attempting to wish them away, doing the opposite -putting them under a microscope essentially-dramatically lessens their power over you.
Right now, think about a time when things were good, and then without any real reason(no one died, etc), suddenly you didn’t feel like even getting out of bed. It was just one day the sun is shining, birds are sing in, the next your thoughts were swirling, body hurt, you had no energy or motivation. Do you remember one of those times? I sure do! Now, do you remember how you felt the day before you crashed? Or the day before that? Probably not.To you it probaby just seemed like things were great, and then without any idea how it happened, you were down,
This is why daily tracking is so important. See think about it, altered mental states are kinda like wearing tinted glasses. When you are up cycle, it’s like the tint is barely there, everything seems right, and we get used to that “normal” feeling. Then when the down spiral starts, your mind fills with twisting, circular thoughts. The “tint” has turned dark, right? If you are unprepared, the transisition between the two states can seem instant. Like BAM! you are down, and can’t remember why. But do a good job of tracking your state and your inner speech,and you’ll be prepared because the pattern of your mental cycles will be right there in black and white.
This is important and powerful personal knowledge for you. I want to help, so simply click here to download a free daily state tracker.
I know this works.Just do this for one week,
I wish you all the best.
Leave a comment below or email me [email protected] to let me know how things are going.
I can’t wait to hear how much better and in control you feel.