That’s the number of times I suffered of depression in my life.
The first time, it lasted 3 years, the 2nd time 3 days and the last time 3 weeks.
In simple words, depression comes from two things. Never mind how you slice it, it comes down to two things. Either:
a) Something positive disappeared from your life.
b) Something negative appeared in your life.
The first time, a new professional stress appeared. The second time, a new relationship stress came in. The third time, I lost my love for something. At that time, I obviously didn’t know how to handle depression and people around me didn’t either.
But today, in retrospect, I realize that each time, I overcame depression the same way.
The solution to overcome depression is not easy to apply because it requires courage and self awareness, but it’s easy to understand and it can give you hope.
Step 1: When something negative appears.
It’s not always obvious to realize what negative thing is causing depression. My second time it was obvious. Somebody’s words broke my self-confidence in pieces. But the first and the third time, it wasn’t. That’s when you must be self-aware and listen to your heart and your intuition and make a short-list of what might be the cause and what is not.
My first time, I thought that my job, my diet or the weather might be the cause and I knew 100% that my girlfriend at that time wasn’t. This is pure self-awareness. You might not know for sure but at least you have a strong hint.
At that time, I tried everything I could to improve those negative things: I bought a solar lamp to improve seasonal affective disorders. I bought some very expensive detox products and I don’t remember what I did to improve my professional stress.
Therefore, I could simply advise you to identify the potential causes and just try to solve them anyway you can!
That would be the weakest advice I could give you. But if you like “weak”, do that, try and try and try again After a few years of suffering, you’ll tell me “Okay, I am done, what is the strong solution?”.
The strong solution is the following:
You have to be a hero or a heroine for a day and QUIT that negative thing.
No more tries. No experiment. No waiting for any feedback. You quit!
You quit OR you find out HOW you’re going to quit that negative thing.
This is a very important distinction.
If I had quit my job at any time, depression would have disappeared in one second. But the reality of my story is that depression flew away instantly, not when I actually quit it but the very second my heart and my mind believed in my plan to quit my job.
Do you understand?
The crazy thing about depression is that, as dark as it is, it can disappear in one second! It actually doesn’t matter how dramatic or not your circumstances are. All you need is a plan to escape. The very second you find an inspiring plan to quit your circumstances, depression is gone!
It doesn’t matter when you’re going to quit your situation, be it next week, next month or next year. What is crucial is that you find TODAY a plan to quit it next week, next month or next year.
Don’t test. Don’t try. Don’t wait. You quit.
Each time, a magic thought came into my mind and each time, I fell in love with that thought. Of course, in reality, it took months for my outside circumstances to chance but because my mindset changed and because I loved my plan, depression flew away in one second.
Someone wrote an article about me one day and I thought that the introduction was just perfect:
“Professional athletes never quit
but for Gregory,
his athletic dreams started after he quit his medical career”
In our society, especially today, quitting is the least admirable thing you can do. But there are times when you just gotta scream f*** you to everybody and run away.
My mother knew about my depression and my professional stress but when I told her that I wanted to quit my job, she said, “If you do this, you’re stupid”.
A few years later, with a new job and a stable income on my side, she told me, “The day you decided to quit your job, you were a hero”.
Do you get it?
When you are at the bottom of a dark hole, you don’t try, you don’t wait, you don’t experiment, you don’t ask, you don’t wait for a f*****’ feedback, you RUN, you QUIT!
Step 2: When something positive disappears.
This one is a lot more subtle. Unless you do something wrong, Love doesn’t usually evaporates in a day. It fades away little by little.
At 39 years old, I realized that I didn’t feel the same love for my sport. I was still training but my mind was like “Why do you do this?” I was in pain because I didn’t want to quit. I knew this would be a mistake. Love is the sport of my life and I knew that if I quit today, I would come back to it a couple years later.
But doing something you’re supposed to love and tell yourself “Why do I do this?” at the same time is a very troubling experience.
I don’t exactly know why my love for the sport faded away. But if I were to be honest with you, here’s my guess:
As an athlete, my ultimate dream had always been to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. I have a very particular relationship with the city of Tokyo. I always said that if the Olympic Games had been in Madrid or Istanbul, I wouldn’t have started triathlon. So yes, you can say, if you want, that my love for Tokyo is bigger than my love for triathlon.
My last season, I had the opportunity to spend some time in Tokyo, train there and race there.
I think that in that moment, my heart understood I didn’t have to train 30 hours a week and race across the world to be in Tokyo. A few weeks before deciding to retire, a friend told me “You lost your why. That’s it”
I think that’s it too. Something positive disappears. Your why disappears. It’s the same thing.
Women are depressed after giving birth. Athletes are depressed after the Olympic games or after retiring. People are depressed when they lose their why.
Today, I live happily in Tokyo now and this is one of the biggest success of my life. Coming to Tokyo on holiday is easy. Coming here with a work visa is easy. But being happy in a society that was not designed for you is worth all the gold medals in the world! 🙂
When I lost my why, I felt the same way as 10 years earlier, during my first battle with depression.
Here is how I overcame it:
I listened to my heart and wrote down every goal I wanted to pursue now. Nothing clicked until one day, I wrote something down, a new project, and this lit my heart on fire.
Once again depression flew away in a second. I had something else to go after. I had a new why. I had a new reason to wake up and work hard every day.
A woman suffers from depression after giving birth. A professional athlete suffers from depression after the Olympic Games or after retiring.
When a woman loses her reason to live, when a man loses his why, that’s when depression strikes.
Michael Phelps suffered from depression after becoming the most decorated Olympian of all time. Myself, my first episode was also very paradoxical because it happened at a time when I had everything I wanted: the dream job, the dream girl in the dream location.
But once a woman or a man have achieved what they’re supposed to, there is a void, and that’s when depression strikes.
Around the end of my first episode of depression, which lasted three years, I met a therapist. She wasn’t a psychologist or a doctor. She was more like a spiritual guide. She told me the following and I had a breakthrough:
“You were born to chase,
you were born to build,
you were born to achieve,
you were not born to take care of things
once they’re accomplished”
If you’re a chaser or an achiever suffering from depression, there’s only one thing you need to do:
CHASE SOMETHING NEW!
And there is nothing wrong about it. There are some people around you who are not good at chasing. They will tell you that you’ll never be happy because you’re always running away from things or always chasing something new. They will tell you you’re unstable because you’re doing so many things, you’re all over the place.
You know what?
Some people are very good at taking care of things. Some others are very good at chasing.
Be who you are and you won’t suffer from depression.
Did you notice?
The relief comes from taking action (quitting or chasing).
It doesn’t come from talking, analysing or taking medications.
If you or someone you love suffer from depression, here’s what you do:
“You quit or you chase”
That’s the number of times this advice saved me.
Watch below the full 4 video series on how to overcome depression >