Depression - The Thinking Addiction: Breaking the Habit
Depression - The Thinking Addiction: Breaking the Habit

Module 1: Depression - The Thinking Addiction: Breaking the Habit

Mental Health is an issue that is increasingly making the headlines in today’s society. It has become a problem that touches all of us either directly or indirectly, particularly as it is escalating at such an alarming rate amongst the younger members of society.

The rising influence of the media and social media in particular, has, in turn, created an increasingly self-centred, ego-centric, unequal culture where reality is losing, or has lost, its grip. With the struggle to straddle between the real worlds and the virtual reality we are expected to live in, it is not surprising that mental health issues are rising at such a rapid pace.

FOMO - the new craze(iness)
Fear Of Missing Out which, along with loneliness and feelings of exclusion, are becoming endemic across all age ranges. FOMO is yet another distraction from the focus of our own path as we increasingly look to others for self-validation whilst we are encouraged to follow their path and leave our own behind. In this virtual world we fear being ourself and living an “ordinary” life for fear of ridicule, yet we all possess a natural craving to be understood and accepted for who and what we are – warts and all. As a consequence it has become all to easy to fall into the downward spiral of Depression - The Thinking Addiction, where our train of thought gets trapped in a merry-go-round of negative, inward focused, self-critical thoughts.

In Breaking the Habit we work on the principle that having experienced depression once does not mean that it is something that we are stuck with for the rest of our life. Experiencing depression does not make a person a “depressive”. It is an experience that will pass, and one that we can learn from.

Breaking the Habit is about picking up the pieces and threads of our life again, putting them in perspective, understanding the purpose of depression, what it is teaching us, and using the information it provides to put us on the path that we are meant to be on.

The 10 Point Plan
The 10 point plan is specifically devised to break the habit of this thinking addiction of which points 1 - 6 are included in this first module. The remaining points are covered in subsequent modules:

  1. No Willpower Required
  2. Claiming Your Identity
  3. Claiming Your Purpose
  4. Walking the Path

What is The Thinking Addiction?

The Pit of Despair

It is estimated that the average person has around 60,000 thoughts per day. If we assume that this is just in waking hours that means an average of 3750 thoughts per hour over a 16 hour period or 62½ per minute, approximately 1 every second. Like a clock, relentlessly ticking away.

In the Thinking Addiction we turn the focus of those thoughts internally, putting ourselves in the spotlight. Every attribute we have or action we have done, past present and future becomes subject to intense criticism, our criticism.

Looking at everything we have or have done with the harsh light of negativity rather than reality, our thinking goes round and round in ever decreasing circles of inwardly focused negative thoughts, getting deeper and deeper into the abyss of depression.

Depression is not merely feeling deeply sad or sorry for ourselves, it is far deeper and stronger than that. The only way to describe it is as highly intense feelings of loneliness, isolation, despair, futility and utter hopelessness - at the bottom of the deepest darkest hole, with no way out and no future. Desolation at the lost future and wasted past. Blaming ourself for our predicament but not knowing what we did to land ourselves there.

Depression to one degree or another seems to be an increasingly common problem. One that is exacerbated by the modern way of life with its unrealistic expectations and media hype combined with a changing model of employment. The mid-life crisis has become more mainstream, with the increasing potential of leading into full-blown depression.

In my experience there are two parts to depression:

  • The Pit of Despair
  • Raw Meat

These, in my experience, are two different emotional states that can occur separately or at the same time. They are triggered by two different aspects, the Pit of Despair relates to environment and circumstances, where as Raw Meat relates to relationships. To describe these two highly intense states of being and the feelings that go with them to someone who has not experienced them is difficult, but below I have attempted to do so, based on my own personal experiences.

The Pit of Despair

Imagine, if you will, being a long way down at the bottom of the deepest, darkest, dankest pit. A pit with no apparent way out, with loneliness, despair, hopelessness and fear your only companions - together with anything else that may lurk in the dark corners of the pit – real or imagined. The distant tantalising glimpse of light of the world far above at the top of the shaft is a constant reminder of the world above us that we feel discarded and isolated from. Knowing that others are happily going about their successful lives, unknowing and uncaring of those in the pits below who have been overcome and overwhelmed by the addictive lure of self-pity. The modern day version of the oubliette of mediaeval torture - albeit self-imposed.

Raw Meat

An odd title, but one that conveys some sense of what it encompasses. Whilst the Pit of Despair encompasses feelings of loneliness, isolation, despair, hopelessness and fear, Raw Meat encompasses sadness – a heavy, intense, raw and oppressive sadness. If you have ever lost a bit of skin through an abrasion or a burn, you will know the pain and sensitivity of that rawness, and the pain and sensitivity of anything that touches it. Imagine what it would be like to have all of the skin flayed off your body, becoming raw meat, with every nerve ending exposed. A state where every movement, every touch is wrought with pain, the slightest breeze excruciating. Translate that physical rawness of the body to the emotions. The raw emotion of that heavy, intense and oppressive and inescapable sadness where the nerve endings are completely vulnerable and exposed, where anything touching them is excruciatingly painful.

It is like taking a drug that amplifies our emotional sensitivity 1000 fold - our emotional sensitivity to sadness. When the trigger to this feeling is activated, the feelings flood us like a tidal wave, one that just keeps coming and washing over us relentlessly, buffeting us uncontrollably with its sheer force. A tidal wave of utter sadness – that just keeps on coming. Trapped within its embrace we gasp for air, with the occasional distraction of an action of necessity providing occasional respite, tinged with the irony of wanting to cry a flood of tears, but unable to.

Eventually, the tidal wave subsides and we are left amongst the wreckage and we have to pick ourselves up, re-orient us back into life and deal with the residue around us.

These two elements of depression are bad enough on their own, but when combined together can be devastating. With the Pit of Despair triggered by environmental and circumstantial issues, and Raw Meat being triggered by relationship issues, together they encompass all important aspects of our life, by experiencing them together, any potential avenue of escape and surcease is denied to us.

Depression: The Thinking Addiction – Breaking the Habit looks at how to deal with what is increasingly becoming an inevitable part of life for far too many people.

Why Me?

The Pit of Despair

The more we use our mind in daily life; the more creative we are; the better we are at problem solving; and the more we think about and analyse things - then the more powerful the analytical spotlight is that we turn in on ourselves and every detail of our life past and present.

It is precisely those same powerful positive, creative, analytical, problem solving attributes that become our own worst enemy when we turn them against ourselves. The stronger the attributes, the tighter the grip of depression and the deeper the abyss we can take ourselves into.

Winston Churchill, one of the famous depressives, referred to his depression as his “black dog”, and he like all of us who suffer or have suffered from depression are in good company. Below is a list of other famous members of this “club”:

Buzz Aldrin
Woody Allen
Hans Christian Andersen
Charles Baudelaire
Ingmar Bergman
William Blake
Agatha Christie
Winston Churchill
Calvin Coolidge
Oliver Cromwell
Charles Darwin
Edgar Degas
Charles Dickens
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Harrison Ford
Stephen Fry
Paul Gauguin
Paul Getty
Vincent van Gogh
Francisco de Goya
Graham Greene
Ernest Hemingway
Samuel Johnson
John Keats
John Lennon
Abraham Lincoln
Martin Luther
Gustav Mahler
Henri Matisse
Spike Milligan
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Isaac Newton
Friedrich Nietzsche
Robert Oppenheimer
Edgar Allan Poe
Sergei Rachmaninoff
John D. Rockefeller
Siegfried Sassoon
Rod Steiger
James Taylor
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Leo Tolstoy
Mark Twain
Evelyn Waugh
Tennessee Williams
Virginia Woolf

If you are depressed, you are living in the past.
If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.
- Lao Tzu

How Did We Get Here?

About Depression

There we were quite happily walking along the path of life and then all of a sudden something trips us up and we find ourselves catapulted into this alternate reality we call depression.

What was it that tripped us up? What was the trigger? Like an allergic response or phobic reaction we have suddenly become disabled, both physically and mentally.

The triggers are different for each and every one of us, but the process is much the same. A limiting belief that has been lying low, deep within us, has been stimulated and is now demanding our attention, taking over every waking moment demanding resolution. Like a child crying, demanding attention until it gets what it needs. The problem is that it is alien to us, and we don't know how to deal with it, so we go round and round in our thoughts puzzling out how to stop the incessant crying inside of ourselves.

Beliefs & States

Beliefs & States

The world of each and every one of us is governed, controlled and formed through our beliefs - positive, empowering ones and negative, limiting ones. Our beliefs create our own individual reality, our "truth". Our beliefs are the filters through which we interpret, perceive, interact with, and respond to, the world. By changing our beliefs we can change that interpretation, perception of, and interaction with, the world and our response to it, and the states of our health, wealth and happiness.

Limiting beliefs are like bugs in the operating system of a computer. They may lie unnoticed for most of the time until one day we run a new process which accesses that bug. Depending on the severity of the bug it may cause a problem that is just a minor irritation or one where all hell breaks loose causing major problems and possibly even causing the computer to crash. Due to that bug, a simple process that we thought we were running has triggered a cascade failure resulting in the "blue screen of death".

So too with depression, whilst we normally take life’s problems in our stride, some trigger has stumbled onto a limiting belief we have, setting off a cascade failure causing our own system to crash.

More on Depression

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