After watching last nights’ BBC 2 documentary on Male suicide, I was amazed that 56% of the men they interviewed had contemplated ending their life. I can’t comment on their issues or causes, but I can share with you my experience and a few things that helped me get my life back on track. The first and only question I’ll propose today is...
What is your purpose?
Not the obvious thing people think of when battling with depression and looking for answers. However, it was a question that at the time made absolutely no sense to me. Yet, over time it made perfect sense.
Understanding what my purpose entailed was a significant part of my own personal discovery as to what was causing my issues with mental health. I spent so much time looking at external factors which, on face value, I had absolutely no control over.
Depression often connects to one of three factors
Notice that I said ‘connects’ depression and not ‘causes’ depression. Because there is a significant difference.
Firstly, connection doesn't equate to cause. That said, there is a parallel between the two. Perception comes from within. It is driven primarily by an internal force and belief system - often based on past experiences. If we have been brought up believing something is bad, then we will perceive it to be bad, until we learn otherwise.
Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world
Take religion, for example, it brings hope and comfort to some yet, to others, it can evoke a feeling of dread and despair. The outcome is solely based on your internal dialogue and belief system. Whilst it might not appear so initially, more often or not, negative emotions are coming from a place of uncertainty. It’s human nature to think of the worst possible scenario. Especially when we are feeling down about life.
It’s often a lack of direction that confuses and deludes us. We are confused because we fail to ask ourselves basic, but important, questions.
Why do I work in the job I do?
Why do I continue to be in this relationship/s?
What are my goals in life?
It’s only when you know your WHY that you’ll have some direction in life. A sense of purpose and understanding as to why you are doing what you are currently doing, and why you feel the way you do. Working a shitty job you hate, because you simply need to eat and pay the bills to survive, can be a pretty shitty existence. That alone has the potential to cause a feeling of low worth and low self-esteem because it’s a dead end job with no prospects. But, working the exact same job because you are looking to save enough money to travel the world, or until you finish university and go on to become a highly paid professional, is a different scenario altogether.
Understanding your WHY allows you to change your inner dialogue which can change your outlook on life.
As soon as you start asking yourself better questions you are taking control of the situation. You might not know the answers straight away, but at least you're asking questions and that, in itself, is progress. Progress in life is what we should be striving for when working towards overcoming depression. To move towards something with purpose, as opposed to simply ending up somewhere, indicates you have taken control of the situation. And, taking control of your life is the first step in overcoming mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.
A significant factor and cause of my own depression and consequent contemplation of suicide was a lack of purpose. I lacked intent and would spend weeks, if not months, simply existing rather than living. Each day heaping unwarranted pressure on my already heavy shoulders. Why? Because I felt helpless and lacked purpose. I may have been alive, but I was dead on the inside.
If i can turn things around so you can you
I wasn’t asking myself the right questions, and that became apparent with my outlook on life, the opportunities I created and the environment I lived in.
Mental health is a complex beast which is why I highly recommend you seek your own answers. Investigate and draw your own conclusions. But more importantly, make sure you speak out and seek help.