Beating Depression (A Case Study)
By Donnie McKinney, c 2005
Do you feel like life isn't worth living? Are your problems overwhelming you? Does your life feel out of control? Do you feel that no one likes you? Do you have trouble even seeing your future? Judging from the emails I get from depressed and suicidal teens, these feelings are far too common. There is hope! Here's a real-life example.
Here are some actual, unedited statements selected from several chats with a recently depressed 19 year-old boy. He was the most self-loathing, depressed and suicical human being I have ever encountered. Maybe you can relate to part of his thinking and learn some things about yourself.
I first met Alex by responding to a post he wrote on a teen-help web site. He emailed me, not expecting me to email him back, “Just to see if you were real.” The next day we started chatting on MSN. After we chatted a few minutes, Alex told me he was sitting on his bed with a kitchen knife getting ready to kill himself.
Somehow, probably with Devine Intervention, I got him to call me on my 800 number at my office. I told him, “I don’t even know where you are, much less who you are, so there is no way I can keep you from killing yourself if you really want to. I just suggest that you wait a couple of days. Let me explain some things about yourself that you may not realize that will possibly change your thinking. If I’m wrong, you can still kill yourself. A couple of days won’t make much difference. But, if I’m right . . . . “
Obviously, he decided to wait a couple of days. Our chats were interesting. He had the worst attitude I have ever encountered in a teen. He hated himself so much that he thought even God couldn’t forgive him. Here are some of his comments from our chats that illustrate the change in thought processes that he underwent.
(All of his comments in this article were copied from actual MSN chats, and are used with his permission in hopes of helping other depressed teens.)
(Alex): you know im probably gonna end up dead right.
(Alex): and now i hate myself.
(Alex): Your wasting your time dude.
(Alex): im so tired of living
(Alex): im so confussed. i dont know what to do
(Alex): im affraid to die but i dont want to live.
(Alex): i justwant to be happy but it seems to impossible
(Alex): life is pointless
(Alex): im just so confussed
(Alex): so many things pulling at me
(Alex): why cant i find any real answers
Are any of these feelings familiar? Thirty years working with teens and studying what makes human-type people happy, successful and fulfilled in life has shown me what someone who is depressed needs to do to get out of the mental pit they are in. It's pretty simply, actually. They just don’t know it.
Swimming Pool Of Life
By Donnie McKinney c 2002, 2005
Sitting here on the porch, looking at our clear and sparkling pool, it's hard to believe that just four short days ago it was such a dark and foreboding hole in the ground. Because of a leak problem, our pool wasn't even uncovered until late June. Green stuff, dead leaves and tadpoles flourished. No one wanted to go near it. The water was so dense it was impossible to even see what lurked on the bottom.
My first instinct was to nuke with enough chlorine to shock five pools. The shock just disappeared. It was still a pond. I whined to Sheila at the pool shop when I took a jar of water to be tested, and she calmly reminded me that I had seemingly forgotten one simple fact. The apparently obvious fix wouldn't even begin to work unless some basic problems were resolved first.
So, I started at the beginning, and worked on total alkalinity, pH and dissolved solids. I have to admit that it was hard to stay optimistic as I vacuumed the "stuff" off the bottom, because it constantly clogged the skimmer basket and filter, but I stuck with it. I knew I had to build a foundation to get to the end result.
Finally, when the foundation was laid, I shocked it, again. This time the pool accepted the shock, and the result was nothing short of miraculous. The green water turned a brown color, and then became clear and sparkling, again. The last step was to turn start the electronic purifier to begin the continual process of keeping the impurities from coming back. I didn't ever want to experience this again.
Swimming pools and people's lives are a lot alike. Sometimes, our lives get dark and murky. We don't want to be in them. As a Christian, my first inclination is to go for the miraculous "shock" treatment when helping teenagers get out of the dark, murky states in which they find themselves. I know from experience what God can do in someone's life. But then, I'm forced to remember that so often when one is depressed and hopeless, they are even unable to accept God's miracle. Their whole foundation missing.
There is a foundation, built on a few simple basic principles upon which very person can build happiness, success and fulfillment in life.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could dump some chemicals in a teenager's mind and vacuum out all the bad "stuff" to make them clear and sparkling in just four days? Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way with us humans. Our conditioning makes us hang onto those dark and murky thought patterns until they are displaced by new positive and happy thought patterns. We have to get our foundation back.
You can learn the basic principles that will allow you to build a foundation for becoming happy, successful and fulfilled in life. Don’t let the sludge keep you from learning them. It’s your choice.
The Real Me
The problem, if you find yourself this deeply depressed, is that weird things happen to you. You start actually believing that your life is pointless. You start actually believing that you'd be better off dead. You aren't interested in hearing what anyone else has to say, even if they "might" be right. All of these thoughts are fictitious and erroneous, but the feel “real” at the time.
Think about some of the following basic truths other people have learned that can change your life:
All of the problems in your life, no matter how horrible you think they are, are temporary.
Nothing you have done, and nothing that has happened to you in the past, defines who you are. You can determine who you become in life, starting right this instant.
Once you understand some basic principles of living life abundantly, as God intended you to do, you will be able to look back at the current temporary problems in your life and understand how you have worked out for the best. You can actually learn to be thankful even for the bad things in life.
There IS hope for getting out of severe depression. You can't see this in your currently confused mental state, but maybe you can learn from someone else's real-life experience. Keep that tiny glimmer of hope in the back of your mind. It will pull you through the really bad times when you can't see any hope.
The key that I learned in this particular real-life experience is that all the intellectual discussions we had were inadequate to permanently eliminate the depression. This boy was able to pull out of depression for a time, but he would fall right back into it. That's fairly common. The "rest of the story" is that his experience is also a great case study in the supernatural power of God, as you can see in some more unedited comments from our chats. His feelings are similar to a lot of depressed teens:
(Alex): the bible is just a book full of the writtings of mad men. its not real.
(Alex): religion and god are things people made up so they wouldnt be affraid of death.
(Alex): thats why im not affraid of suicide anymore
(Alex): there is no god or satan
(Alex): i have done so many bad things in my life
(Alex): God must hate me
(Alex): if he ven exsists
(Alex): i dont believe in god
(Alex): he doesnt exsist.
This brings up another batch of basic truths that a depressed and confused mind won't let you believe.
No matter what you have done in the past - you certainly can't have done anything worse than this boy - God will forgive you, and you can forgive yourself.
It doesn't matter whether you believe God exists. Your simply thinking something can't change reality. So, just in case you are wrong . . . don't totally write God off, yet.
An interesting thing happened to Alex a few weeks after we started working together:
(Alex): i said the prayr of salvation yesterday after some motivation from a few friends
(Alex): its great
(Alex): and it was my idea
(Alex): some friends just helped me understand. thats all.
(Alex): thats what i was told he would do
(Alex): first time i have been in a good mood in months
God can do things therapists can't. He has the power to change your life instantly. All you have to do is accept this power.
That's an awesome power that is available simply for the asking.
Once he was rational, again, it was easier to understand the confused and incorrect thoughts that his depressed mind created. Keep in mind that you will be able to understand the same things after you get out of the bottomless pit that you can find yourself in. Listen to what he said:
(Alex): the hardest part for me was really accepting i could be helped.
(Alex): i guess i hated and loathed myself so much that i didnt feel like i could or hsould be helped.
(Alex): i guess it was just i needed to accept that i could be forgiven.
(Alex): i just hated myself so much
(Alex): and then (name) came into my life as well as you and some others
(Alex): and they all seemed to not care about my past
(Alex): i would tell them all everything about me in the hopes they would say im bad and worthless to sort of justify my feelings for myself but instead they would forgive me.
Is that all there is to it? Unfortunately, no. It's not quite that simple. That is the starting point, however, in learning to live life abundantly. Not understanding what life's all about is what got you into such a depressed state in the first place. You’ve been living your live based on thought processes and attitudes and reactions you learned from “other people.” These fictitious and erroneous thought patterns aren’t going to go away easily. They are ingrained in your subconscious memory banks. They have to be changed to healthy thought patterns and reactions and emotions through effort on your part. Simply being a rational person again isn't going to fix your problems or make you happy forever.
There are a few basic principles which, when put to work to work in your life, allow you to become happy, successful and fulfilled.
One of the most important basic principles for living life abundantly is understanding that each of us was created with natural, unique God-given talents and abilities. No two people are exactly the same. Studying hundreds of highly successful people has shown me that they all have similar traits. They weren't born with them. They simply put a few of these basic principles to work in their lives.
These highly successful people all figured out what they loved to do, and used their natural talents and abilities. They didn't worry about money. They all failed several times. They didn't give up. They developed a burning desire for what they wanted. That's just one of the keys to living life abundantly.
The first step to changing your life is simply accepting yourself exactly as you are right this instant - imperfect, but changing and growing, worthwhile human being. That's exactly what you and I are. This self-acceptance is the basis of healthy self-esteem, and with healthy self-esteem you can develop a healthy self-image. You can set huge goals around that all-important self-image and expect to achieve them. And then, somewhere along your way in pursuit of your goals, you will look up one day and realized that you are happy. That’s a neat feeling.
The basic principles that will propel you to happiness, success and fulfillment in your own life are fairly simple. All you have to do is take one small step in the right direction today, and then take another one tomorrow. You can become whoever you want to be in life, and you can do whatever you want to do. The only thing that will stop you is if you decide to quit before you get there.
You can't change your life overnight, but you can change the direction of your life overnight.
The rest is up to you. The tools you need are all available in the study series on this web site. Get to work and change your life by starting on the articles in that series TODAY.
Oh, yeah, what happened to Alex? When I first met him, Alex told me that in his computer class he was voted the one most likely to bring a gun to school and shoot everybody. Once he got rid of the fictitions and erroneous thought patterns controlling his life he started actually studying in school. His professor recommended him for a job with Microsoft designing X-Box games, which is his natural, unique God-given talent. Sure, he's had problems in his life in the meantime, but he's a long way from the depressed and suicical boy he was.
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