Every second I don’t spend caught up in thought is a victory for me. It means for that one second, I am truly alive and experiencing the world around me. It’s a simple thing, but these periods of not thinking are a treasure I never knew I had.
When I was 17 years old, a guy in a pub back in Dublin made the following observation about me -‘you think too much’. I’ve spent the last 24 years listening to gurus, following the advice of experts, doing spiritual practices, participating in recovery programs, and reading the self-help books, but none of it has improved upon that observation by a guy in a bar who was most likely drunk when he gave it. If anyone is deserving of the title of ‘my guru’, he has to be it.
The persistent thought that something important is missing from my life can drive me into the pits of depression. This experience of scarcity means my current life feels incomplete, and I yearn for a day when I can be happy. This lack of gratitude means most of the good in my life gets ignored.
I find it harder to talk about my experiences with depression than I do my battle with alcohol addiction. This is because I know my alcoholism is behind me, but I don’t yet feel the same confidence when it comes to declaring victory over depression. I’ve definitely become better at managing the dark cloud when it arrives, but I would prefer if it never visited at all.
I fear depression, but it has also been my greatest teacher. Here are six of the important lessons it has taught me: