A part of us keeps thriving to convince us that everything is alright -- even when our amount of sleep is not eight but 18 hours, when we don't even feel like getting out of bed, we disregard phone calls, ignore our friends and seeing our emails makes us feel imprisoned and so we don't answer them. Total isolation, burnout and depression. We feel imprisoned when in fact we were the ones who erected the rails around ourselves. Fortunately, there is something deep inside us which still requires attention, cries for help and won't let itself be suppressed.
Looking around, I can see dozens of youths living as the mere shadows of their former selves. Having achieved their great dreams either they're drifting with the current or they're frozen into the moment or they might be addictively chasing the feeling that once kept them alive. They can't find balance or the way out. Only a few of them replace drugs, alcohol, workaholism or harmful habits with a psychologist or a coach; few of them dare to ask for help even when it's the most obvious that there's trouble. Even fewer struggle soberly and experience their most terrible pain.
Unless I'd started Arianna Huffington's course (#ThriveOCourse) a couple of weeks ago, I would have realised only months later that there was something wrong. I'll never forget the video where Arianna says make sure there are eight hours of sleep guaranteed for you a day. I smiled because my daily amount wasn't eight but sometimes even sixteen hours. I wanted to know what I'm trying to escape.
The busiest two years of my life have passed: We published five bestsellers in two years, visits to my blog rocketed sky high, my lectures were sold out throughout the country and I won a scholarship to the USA. One moment I was interviewing Penn Badgley in San Francisco, the other my plane was landing in Budapest. A sharp contrast. I had no idea where to move on. My life has changed. Totally. Then I completed my new book, the one I'd been longing to write for seven years. I'd become ready for it then. It was an overnight success and I had a lecture tour of the country again. The moment I could finally catch my breath coincided with the day Arianna's course started. I realized then that I was free; I achieved what'd been possible; that my life had changed and the world had opened for me and yes; after two years I could breathe again and I could feel there's something wrong. I was exhausted, no surprise. I'd lived my life at an unbelievable pace; it'd changed from one day to the other. I panicked. I didn't know what could replenish me. At the end, I managed to shock my body so hard with my emotions that I ended up in hospital.
That was when I started to work on getting my former self back again. My aim was to banish every negative thought from my mind and start a new life with a clean slate. Here are some things that might help you too.
1. Too much denial
How do you know something's not OK? Too many 'no's, 'can't's, 'don't know where to go on's, 'nobody can help's or 'don't know what I want's flood your thoughts. There's one thing you need to know: there's nothing wrong, you're just in a certain situation of your past where you used to have these fears. Let's suppose this: you've realized yourself and you're perfectly aware of facing new tasks. Of course you don't know where to move on, which might activate the state of mind before choosing a career when you were full of doubts and now these emotions take you over again.
HINT: Don't lie to yourself. Observe the processes you're going through and you'll realise problems earlier. The moment your inner voice switches, immediately sit down and see where the block is. A friend of mine used a metaphor for the above situation.
'Image having a calculator which operates perfectly. The next time you use it you fail to notice that key 7 is gummed down. You want to use it and input the right information but you don't stand a chance of getting the correct results.'
Realise when your key 7 is gummed down.
2. Look for positive memories
I know it will be difficult since suddenly your brain won't remember anything. If I recall my last summer in San Francisco I can evoke only few of the million memorable moments but many more of the worst ones. Whether it is getting lost, an earthquake, a cancelled flight they all emerge easily. Be persistent.
HINT: Look for photos from the period mentioned. Facebook is a perfect platform for this since we share our most wonderful memories there. Scan the memory card of your camera, your notes, seek out everything and summarise: list what made you happy, what was a special experience for you and why. Thus, you can get closer to yourself and understand what really makes you happy and will help you see where to move on.
3. Fix your memories consciously
During my spring trip to NY, after a hard day I didn't feel like taking notes of the events so much that I started making voice memos on my way home. Anytime I need positive images, I just travel back in time. Voice memos are good because besides being able to hear even street noises, your voice will perfectly deliver the emotion which you might exactly be missing from your life at the moment. Sometimes such memos can be lifesavers.
4. Open up
You must move yourself out of this state of mind. You may start whirling down a negative spiral but it'll lead to no good. The moment you keep repeating 'nobody can help', you're in trouble. It's time to go out, socialise and talk about what you feel. You will be amazed how many of your friends will talk about being or having been in the same life situation. They'll tell you what they experienced and you'll immediately have the gleam of the way out. As Shawn Achor said at Arianna Huffington's course:
depression is just a status, it's not permanent.
5. Take your time
By no means take a decision about your future until it is clear what you want. Know your fears, your beliefs ("you always need to hustle yourself", "you only deserve it, if you work hard"), write them down, face them and find a solution for them. These fears probably derive from your past and you cannot let them negatively affect your present. Having tongue-tie at the age of three resulting in feeling excluded and neglected because nobody could understand my speech doesn't necessarily mean that I'll have to carry this burden of emotion for a lifetime and revive it every single time I'm together with people.
HINT: Recognise the patterns you're in. Be conscious that you don't need to face them anymore and just because at the age of three and the years after you had bad experience, it doesn't mean that it'll have to be so again. Clear your emotions, eliminate chaos and find the new destination. You may only have to keep an eye open to see the solutions.
No stress. You've been waiting for this change so long - why would you give it up? Just because you feel "it's too good to be true"? Get rid of these thoughts, and stop saying you don't deserve it - because it's not true.
6. Help others
It's been three years since I started the Karma project on my blog, which is about readers sending in their desires and I make the ones I can come true and everybody can follow the process on the blog. It channels boundless energies and besides brightening me up, life hands me just the presents I need to take the next step.
A single smile, an act of kindness can make others' day nicer and surely what you give is what you get back many times.
You can help others even if you feel you have nothing.
It's worth doing a big cleaning at home and delivering all your clothes you'll never wear to charity or books to libraries where there's a great need for every single copy. Every object you don't need and is still kept at home ties you to the past and you actually live within boundaries (just think: you'd like to lose weight but you can't while your wardrobe is filled with size XXL clothes. Donate them and start exercising hard. Remove every setback from your environment.)
I know that you're perfectly aware of the above steps but chaos might be so utter that you're unable to take the first step alone. We might as well take it together; you'll always find me here: firstname.lastname@example.org