Perception is one of the greatest tools I have learned to use, if not the greatest. I have spent a lot of my life in a dark space, really for no great reason. I’ve had a very privileged and charmed life, so from an outside perspective, it may not make sense that I’ve struggled the way I have.
I don’t want to oversimplify depression and mental illnesses. I am no expert and only want to speak from personal experience. There are many factors that have contributed to varying degrees of depression in my life, from physiology, situations, feelings of shame and so on, but one of the biggest factors for my experience with depression….? Perception.
I’ve been given the gift of recognizing the power of perception on two different occasions in my life, and it was immediately life changing both times. The first time, I had no idea of the “concept of perception” and how it can be a driver for our experience of reality, but as soon as a therapist pointed it out, my life situation was transformed even though none of the circumstances were different. I realized, if I felt like it was the end of the world, then for me, it was. That’s how I was perceiving my experience to be and so everything that got my attention supported that idea.
As soon as I became aware, I changed what I put my attention on. I began to look for silver linings and also to ask how I can change things for the better. The way I experienced reality shifted overnight. This new reality lasted for a solid ten years, but my awareness of how perception shaped my reality started fading in potency after around nine years and after a couple more years of diminished focus, I had completely forgotten about monitoring how I perceive my life situation.
I had once again found myself in a deep, dark, emotional abyss. I hated myself for squandering past opportunities, I hated myself for having what I perceived as being a menial occupation and I hated myself for feeling depressed. I told myself my life was wasted and beyond salvageable and that was exactly the way I experienced it. I didn’t see much of reason to live another day, other than not wanting to hurt my loved ones.
Again, I was very fortunate to be seeing a relationship counselor who recognized and pointed out that I might need help. I consulted with a general practice physician, discovered a thyroid condition and began taking an anti-depressant. It wasn’t the first time in my life an anti-depressant was suggested, but it was the first time I agreed to try that option.
At the same time, I started reading a book I had purchased a decade prior and I found two powerful pieces of advice. I needed to develop a meditation practice and I needed to look at how I was perceiving my life situation, including the voices in my head and of those of the people around me.
I remembered back to the first time I changed how I looked at things and how powerful that experience had proven to be. I began examining everything I was telling myself and asking if it was true or if maybe I was seeing a skewed reality. I realized I was looking at everything through a dirty and clouded window. I was placing the worst possible spin onto all that I told myself about my situation. None of it needed to be true. So much of what I was suffering f