Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The road to recovery from a depression or burn-out

Yesterday evening I had a 97.57 minute phone call with a friend who doesn’t want to live anymore. It’s not my first phone call with him on this topic. I used all the lessons learned from my own burn-out (depression) on him. Earlier, others have also asked me how to escape from a depression. Several of my blogs deal with partial remedies. This will be a comprehensive one.

Let’s start with trying. There is no such thing as trying when it comes to escaping a depression or burn-out. Either you do it or you don’t. Escaping requires huge amounts of will power. You must have the will to survive rather than to remain in your comfortable victim role and accept the pity and attention from others. That pity and attention will end once they realise that you don’t want to recover and survive. It will then turn against you.

Once you’re determined to survive from your depression, the road to recovery follows 3 basic – and non-sequential – steps: Eat, Pray, and Love. Looks simple right? Each of these 3 steps have their own hurdles and relapses. The importance of these 3 steps is to recognise there is a path out of darkness.

Eating isn’t that easy once you’re in a burn-out or depression. Most of us lose weight as we don’t really care for our well-being. The underlying cause is that we don’t love ourselves anymore (see next paragraphs). Some people will tell you to start exercising (e.g., running, walking). Perhaps it works for others. Enjoying food again is a challenge. Yet, food is important for human survival and not only for people with a depression.

Praying is rather confrontational as it requires you to talk about your (lost) hopes and fears, your shattered dreams and illusions, your lack of self esteem, and admitting your very darkest thoughts. Most of us are masters in (self) deception and thus such conversations cannot be held with other humans, even professionals. In fact, the only human who can help you, is you. Deep down you do know how to escape and survive but you lack the strength – and perhaps even will power – to execute. Faith is an amazing source of energy. Once you let faith return to your life then things really start to move. The final step is a hard one though.

Loving others is only possible once you love yourself. I had never realised this. Receiving love from others does not compensate for the lack of loving yourself. Loving yourself is far from easy however. Nowadays, I have come to realise that many people do not love themselves. Often this ultimately explains certain behaviour despite many layers of (self) deception.

The ultimate question to ask yourself is a very hard one: am I worth it? Am I worth to be loved? Am I worth to be alive? These questions should not be answered light-heartedly. It takes many hours of introspection (e.g., praying) before you can come up with an answer.

After completing this process you’re a different person. I have never felt this strong before in my life. Yes, there are still relapses after new disappointments but they don’t hit me like before. Once you have seen rock bottom and recovered, there’s no way that you want to return there.

I aim to avoid negativity in my life and yesterday’s phone call was clearly hard. My compassion for others and also the opportunity for adding value to the lives of others, are however more important than a temporary load of negativity. Helping others allows me to realise the added value of my own existence. And making a difference in life and lives, definitely feels worthwhile. Indeed I’m worth it. My former gf and BFF was right in saying that to me for so many months. For the first time in my adult life I love who I am. Not what I am. Who I am.


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