Depression with weight is different to other forms of depression because it can often make weight its focus. This kind of depression is so focused on self-image that it becomes relentless in its ability to self-sustain. It may not have begun because of the weight, but that is what has been chosen to keep a hold of it. Anything we unconsciously choose to keep such as weight or depression, we do so because we need it even if we don’t want it. And to find the reason behind that need, we need to change how we see things.
What if, instead of seeing depression as a state that needs to be fought and controlled, we see it as something natural, useful and necessary? Depression in its basic form is a withdrawal from the world, a process of looking inward when the answers we need are not in the world outside of us. The mind knows best and it knows that what it needs is to be found inside you, not outside. Its method of creating that internal focus is depression. Our thoughts create the emotions that drive us down to extricate us from the world, so we can begin to search the mind itself for answers. What if, instead of seeing a fixed state of depression, we see a pause from life where we can temporarily withdraw from the day to day to find the answers we need for the next phase of our lives. It need only be a short journey, but it is a lone one and, if we let it, it can help us make the changes we need to find a way out and back to an even better place.
The path out
I don’t claim this is the solution to all depression because everyone is different, but after 20 years of my own fruitless search for answers, this was what finally worked for me. I have used this process with clients who have found relief and eventually a way out, some after decades of anti-depressant medication:
1. Re-diagnose yourself
First of all, forget the term ‘depression’. Remove any labels you’ve been given and instead choose to see your current place as your mind’s desire for change. Depression is your mind withdrawing so you can work with it to find the best way forward. It is not medical or complicated, it is just your clever brain finding a way of letting you know that where you are or how you are living cannot continue in the same way.
2. Stop fighting
Stop wanting it to go away. Stop begging and wishing you could feel differently and just let it in and let yourself withdraw without thought. Commit to learning about your mind instead of battling it. Let things come through and observe them. Why are you most sad at certain times of the day, or why do you cry when you do? Let the reactions come and then question them.
3. Get into the detail
Begin to work through your life as an investigator. Go through all the areas of your life and give them a state. Work, money, health, family, relationships, body, social and personal time, decide if each one is okay, good, bad or terrible. By breaking down your life like this, it lets you see what is actually pretty good and what is crying out for improvement. Depression is self-sustaining; focusing on a lack of something in one area can make our whole life seem bad when in reality it may only be a couple of things we don’t like. Get honest about what is working and what isn’t. You’re not looking for perfection, just a life that doesn’t hurt. Now, starting in the really bad areas, write down a few sentences on how they currently look and feel to you and then a few sentences on what you would like them to look and feel like. This is important; you can’t change anything unless you have an idea of how you want it to look and feel first. Imagination begins everything we do.
4. Forget the bad and focus on the good
Now you have identified the areas of your life that are less than great, forget them. They are no longer your priority. If you could have easily changed them, you would have done by now, so there is no point going over them again and again, that is what has kept you stuck where you are. You’ve identified them, made a mental image of what you want, and now leave them. Instead, you are going to focus on what is good in your life. Doing this has one simple result; it makes you feel better. When we look at the good we feel good, just as if we focus on the bad we feel bad. It is gradual, and it will feel less emotional than depression, but repetitive focus on what is good leaves space in the mind. As you begin to feel better, you can go back to look at the bad areas again and you will see them differently because your mind has changed from general sadness to general hope. Your mind is helping you see what you need to, but first you need to remove the dark veil that is covering everything.
People who have experienced the darkness of depression and weight can see and feel things most people will never know. Going through it creates huge compassion, understanding, honesty, openness and caring. You can’t learn these things, only when you have felt the overwhelming need for it yourself are you able to show it to others easily. Only people who know what real darkness feels like can appreciate real light. Once you see it, it’s always there, to be reached for in all parts of your life. Most people never feel that. They never strive for light; they never feel a burning desire for change because there is nothing pushing them. I spent 20 years hating my weight and depression, now I know how much of a blessing it all was. It created the person I am now and am happy to be.
Extract from “Still Overweight? The 6-week course that changes your weight and relationship to food forever”