Another part of my mental health program was to read books of people overcoming depression. One book I read was “A Season in Hell” by Percy Knauth, who had everything but feared growing old. He described becoming depressed as his “descent into hell”, which he likened to a snake swallowing its tail. Knauth detailed three basic rules that he discovered to help him overcome his depression. I follow his basic rules even today, since they remind me to take care of myself.
The first rule is to get out of your bed. Depression tells you that nothing good will come of leaving your bed. By getting up, you are declaring victory over depression. By leaving your bed, you are greater than your depression.
Rule number two is to make your bed. Depression creates chaos in everyone’s life. The chaos can overwhelm you, and keep you stuck in the mire and debris of your wrecked life. By making your bed, you are creating order out of chaos. Since you can do that, you can rise above your depression.
The third rule is to make yourself a hot drink. This simple act of ministering demonstrates that you still care about yourself. Depression tells you that you are worthless. By feeding yourself something that you have cooked, you demonstrate your self-worth. You are re-enforcing your desire to live.
Doing these three simple things every day becomes building blocks to a good life. Some days when you feel useless, you can point to accomplishing these three things. Each is fundamental in creating your future, since each propels you away from your nihilism.
What depression has taught me is that all feelings need to be expressed and felt. For example, grief can be love that has no place to go. Instead of constructing a tomb to live in, you build a shrine to visit. By releasing the grief, you open yourself up to more love.
Breaking out of the prison of despair and hopelessness takes action. By following Knauth’s rules, we can become unstuck and move on. Employing a program of mental hygiene helps us to give up our old stories of despondency and grief. Depression does not need to be the black hole sucking us in. We can see it as a time of learning about our strength and reclaiming our personal power. We can use this new found power to fill the black abyss up with flowers.
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