Greg de la Cruz works in the tech industry and is the author of two published titles on Amazon.
Four Steps to Get Your Life Back on Track
Depression is poorly understood, and is a condition best diagnosed as early as possible by a qualified professional. There used to be stigma surrounding any topic that involved mental health, but thankfully, society has now adapted to a point where getting care is considered normal.
But care is only available to those who seek it. And getting over depression is simpler than just reading an inspiring blog late at night and then waking up the next day suddenly enthusiastic. You may start the day full of energy, but end it all the way back to your cycle, reading another self-help article.
Putting your life back together after a seriously negative turn of events is not simple. Going through a breakup, a loss of a loved one, a lost job, a failed subject, dropping out of school—these are all terrible circumstances—but these are experienced everywhere, by almost everyone.
I don't mean to oversimplify how to get back on your feet after a series of unfortunate events, but I've broken down the redemption process into four major steps:
1. Completely losing it.
2. Breaking routine.
3. Taking the leap.
4. Forming new habits.
1. Completely Losing It
Completely losing your shit is the phase which nobody can ever overdo. In fact, it is highly encouraged that this stage of putting your life back together be the part where you just go for it. The only limit seems to be your own survival. It is a reality that some people, after going through a very rough patch, completely lose it and never get back on their feet - until they wither and die. It is also another sad reality that this phase can be the one that lasts the longest.
But if you were to wake up one day and you had the conscious choice to lose yourself completely and not give a damn about anything, you have to take it to the maximum. If you can't afford that many alcoholic drinks to get you so drunk that you forget your own name, then don't get drunk. The bottle isn't the only tool you can utilize to lose your shit. Be it marathon gaming, or procrastinating for an entire day or leaving a big pile of mess around your home - there are several alternatives to succumbing to booze. Simple guidelines for your choice of activity would be: 1) try not get yourself killed and 2) don't let anyone else get hurt in the process.
Completely losing it is so underrated because many people think it's a complete waste of time to skip this part when going through tough times. It is the opposite. Elon Musk himself used to do marathon gaming back when he was still a student. But this doesn't mean that he was in a rough patch (he was probably just a gaming nerd). Seeing how far you can go before waving the flag and deciding to get back up is very crucial before actually getting back up. Losing your shit presumes you forego any logic, sometimes breaking commitments, and changing up your routine, which is the next stage.
2. Breaking Routine
If you're on this stage now, congratulations on surviving the first stage. This is the part like in the movie 500 Days of Summer where Tom starts bouncing a small ball while lying in bed until the repetitive bounce creates a rhythm and the movie bursts into a song. Tom would reinvigorate his passion for architecture and eventually realize that life is more than just being with a girl named Summer.
Breaking routine is that stage where your realize that what you've been doing all these years hasn't really given you the happiness and the fulfillment that you deserve. It's that stage where you plan. It's when you're most optimistic. You start to flash back when you just graduated high school and thought you could do and be anything in life. Maybe you're in this scenario where you're dreading your job and waking up at 7 in the morning looking at the mirror where you keep asking yourself, 'What am I doing all this for?' Breaking routine in this scenario could mean getting back to your bed and just lying there. And then you let time pass until you miss your bus or train and make sure that you're late for work. It could then escalate to not going to work at all and receving all these texts and emails from co-workers wondering whatever happened to you on this very important presentation day. And it could all go as far as getting out of your work clothes and making that internal decision which would sound like, 'I'm not doing this anymore.'
There are many ways to break routine without losing your job. Breaking routine doesn't always have to be so drastic, because it somehow works like a diet. Go full on and all at once will usually lead to relapsing and failing on the diet. But done gradually and day by day, you will realize that it wasn't so hard to change your habits and routine.
Before taking 'the leap,' more often than not, you want to transform yourself into a person you barely know. Because the person taking the leap shouldn't be the person you were yesterday - otherwise, you won't take the leap at all.
3. Taking the Leap
And now, you're in the life-changing moment. The moment where you lay all your cards in the table and just go for it. This is the scariest stage of putting your life back together because of the risk. And the risk is that if you fail miserably at this stage, you could wind back up at Stage One - completely losing it.
But that is is why this is the most important stage of them all. Not knowing whether you'll make it to the other side gives this stage of your life its meaning. Not knowing when we'll die gives all of our lives meaning. Knowing that just one moment could make one person lose his life is scary, and in the same vein, knowing that just one moment could let the same person make his life a life worth living is terrifying.
But as Nike says in all its ads, Just Do It. For some people, they prepare for the big moment where they take the leap. Usually these people take the fun out of it but are more confident because of all the preparations they made. But for others who go blind and just go for it, they get the most excitement in not knowing whether they'll make it or not. Whichever is the outcome, what matters is that you take the leap. Just doing it, or starting it, means that you are going for it and not looking back. The person on the other side of the cliff won't be the same person as you were, just a moment ago.
4. Forming New Habits
If you've made it to the other side, congratulations! Being on this stage means you were courageous enough to face your fears and make whatever high-risk decision you decided on taking - applying for a job you're obviously unqualified for, asking a person out who's way out of your league, literally leaping over to the other side knowing it's a longer jump than you've ever made in your entire life - these are the figurative and literal leaps we make in life that change it.
But if you think that you're done and that you've repaired your life by making that big step, you better stop to think otherwise. This is the last and crucial stage to rebuilding yourself. When a contractor renovates a building it usually means that it adopts a whole new design completely different from the way things looked for so long. Renovation could mean a new owner, a new idea, or just boredom. A person's life undergoes renovation by forming new habits.
Now that you know you're capable of anything because you made that leap, in order to stay on the right path you have to make new habits. Habits your old self would have been too uncomfortable to make. Because this is a new you, this is a time to make a new to-do. This doesn't mean you have to be more productive than you ever were before, but it just means building a routine pursuant to the things you value the most in life.
Forget that loser who binge-watched all those Netflix shows every Friday night. Sure, you can still do things that give you relaxation time, but how about instead spending Friday nights binge-reading a book? This shouldn't encourage you to be a bookworm, but if you value keeping your mind engaged over passable relax time, then you would most certainly go for the books than for the passable shows on Netflix.
And perhaps at this stage of forming new habits, you would come to realize that doing chores or maintenance tasks aren't that bad. In Chris Bailey's book 'The Productivity Project' he suggests one maintenance day a week to save up time on the weekdays to do your highest-impact tasks. However, what you lose in return is the stimulation and encouragement that you get when you get the task done. Chris Bailey makes a very good distinction of 'keeping busy' versus 'being productive' and I agree that it's definitely not how your brain feels but what you actually accomplish that's the measuring stick for productivity.
Whichever way you choose on how to form new habits, just remember that when you're on this stage, the end goal is not to be back at Stage 1 and going full circle.
© 2019 Greg de la Cruz