3. Get high by knowing how low you are.
The holy grail, the forbidden fruit, the last Highlander of our mental health, is Know Thyself. Well, I still don’t know who I am, but I know where I am: at the bottom. The moment I am in my lowest state is also when I can see my naked self. Ground zero is where everything starts.
Do this: Narrate your actions and emotions in third person point of view as you wade through your shitty days: “Isao ate a six-pack of Toblerone chocolate and played Doom II for 5 hours and hated himself for not changing at all from 1990.”
Advanced level: Really, really want to know who you are? Make this list: 10 reasons why I hate (name someone). Then change his or her name into yours. There you are.
4. Leave the problem alone, but never lose sight of it.
Do this: Push the issue at hand to the peripheral of your mental space until your feet get numb and your stomach gets 20% heavier than usual; you can always feel the issue, but it does not hamper your ability to move.
Advanced level: Finish a small task before the end of the day so that you can say “At least I have done this.” Then go home, eat tasty (=unhealthy) food and go to bed early in a good mood. Your internal oompa-loompa will keep working on the problem and when you wake up, you’ll get a hint at how to tackle the issue at hand (without getting bitten).
5. When your trusted lieutenant says “Nobody move,” it’s time to move.
Depression is resistance to change. My body enters hibernation by ridding power from my limbs so that I won’t move around, and provides me with an abundance of mental food—I toy with my worries in endless loops. I know that my body is doing what it thinks it’s best for me from past experience, which means my childhood. But that’s older than Windows 1.0. And I am worried that my Windows XP at my work is too outdated to do my job? Look who’s talking.
Do this: Get up and talk with other people. But hold on—focus on clarifying what the issue is about, not solving it. Knowing what the issue is about is 80% of the battle.
Advanced level: Make sure that your hobby—your escape zone—does not completely consist of solitary or immobile affairs. Go to an event, watch movies with your friend, or go to a yoga class. What you need is to reach out, and it’s easier to do in your leisure time.
6. Screw the list.
Writing things down is about moving old information out of my head to create room for the new. Now that I have created this list, it’s likely that I won’t remember these lessons anymore, unless I become desperate and look them up. So there is nothing left in my head? I think it’s easy if there’s only one. Here it is: breathe (courtesy of Sasha Cobra). It’s not the unconscious oxygen intake movement I do to survive, or the S.O.S breathing technique I practice for 5 minutes before entering a tough meeting with my boss. It’s somewhere in the middle: a natural yet deep breath that pushes my diaphragm down and my belly out when inhaling and clears my entire intestine and lets go of tension when exhaling. It’s a habit that should stick with you regardless of your emotional or physical state to help you sync with your core self at any time.
Do this: What, do I need to say it again?
Advanced level: Legend has it that once you master breathing you’ll become enlightened.
That’s it. What’s astonishing about this list is that it took nearly four decades to compile. Damn, I am slow.