When I had depression, the downward spiral had a starring role in my life. This is before I even knew I was suffering from depression. It didn’t matter what the event was, if I could mount the top of the spiral, I would do it, automatically and keep going down and down and down until I was literally on the floor hugging myself in tears – sometimes even scratching myself with the sheer anger and heart-wrenching sadness that was filling every inch of me.

Fast forward about seven years since I was diagnosed with depression and I manage that downward spiral very differently. I still have bouts of mounting it but I only ever get to a certain point and then I break free from it. This has taken years of practice. This has taken days of focussing my intentions on what I want rather than what I don’t want. This has taken serious mindset work, spiritual work, talking-therapy work and most of all CHOOSING to get better. I am shouting this.

Here’s an example of a recent downward spiral that could have easily got out of hand:

I’m hosting a retreat – one of my favourite parts of my business because I get to spend 247 with a group of incredible human beings who have chosen to live life on their terms. I plan these retreats almost a year in advance so there’s a lot of work that goes into them. I spend every single day leading up to selling out, selling the retreat. Along the way there will be moments of despair, fear of failure, stress, anxiety – you name it, I’ll have it. Then, it will sell. There will also be things that come up (due to fear) that make me question whether I’m on the right path, whether this really is what I’m supposed to be doing etc etc.

A week before my Spain retreat, I have sold out and have 1 room available. I have written the itinerary, I have shopped for my outfits, I’ve started packing, I’ve bought the contents of my gift bags, I have been having my 1:1’s and I’m excited. One evening (about a week before the retreat), I receive an email from British Airways letting me know that my return flight has been cancelled due to strikes. Pissed. I’m now going to walk you through every moment from receiving that email until the next morning which shows how it is possible to avoid depressions’ downward spiral. [In these brackets] I’m sharing my internal feelings:

  • I read the email about 3 times just to make sure what I was reading was real [Heart is racing, mind cannot keep up with what I’m reading as it’s simultaneously trying to find the solution]

  • I tell my husband in a very calm voice that my flight has been cancelled and he tells me “yeh I heard about the strikes” (but he managed not to tell me about them) [I am furious with husband. Have decided he’s useless and wondering why am I married to such a useless man.]

  • I then take a deep breath and start understanding my options (cancel, get a refund, rebook etc etc) [Forget him, he knows I’ve got this and that I don’t need him, which is probably something we should work on but for now, I’m just pleased that I can get a refund and a new flight – literally there is no other option because I’m the one hosting the trip!]

  • I check to see if there are other flights available and their prices (thankfully there are but of course at a considerably higher cost) [Worried about how I’m going to pay for this but then grateful I have space on credit cards and we both work, so we’ll work it out.]

  • Husband continues to eat dinner, oblivious to the fact that I’m having an internal breakdown [I am staring at him in disgust. In the 2 minutes that I am just staring at him, I have confirmed that you really are only responsible for yourself in life and that is that.]

  • I get annoyed with him and leave the room to sort out my situation [He continues to eat but I’m moving away and right now, the most important thing for me is to sort out new flights.]

  • Turns out that my best option is to cancel the entire booking, get the refund and rebook ASAP with another airline. [I feel relieved and close the laptop. Husband comes in to ask what I’m going to do and I don’t even look at him and tell him to leave me – still a bit pissed at him and I don’t want to have a projecting unnecessary fight with him – best for me to sleep on it.]

  • I go and sit outside for a few minutes to digest what has just happened. [I think, should I laugh or cry? What is the universe trying to tell me? Is there something in my gut that I ignored? Am I supposed to be doing this with my life? And at that point, I pick up my internal tennis racquet and lob all those negative thoughts right out of my head – because I do not have the time to entertain this BS when I have 8 people counting on me to be in Spain to deliver my coaching.]

  • Before I book new flights, I choose to sleep on it just in case something else comes to me in the morning.

  • In the morning, after coffee, I go to view my options again and decide to pay the extra £200 and have a flight. [I am calm, annoyed but calm. I have found a solution, it’s not what I wanted but it is a solution and ultimately, it’s only money. I am relieved I have flights booked and I now get to travel with the Pilates teacher on the same flights. I don’t even think about husband’s behaviour the night before, as he has spent all morning making it up to me by managing the kid so I can focus on the flight situation. I love him again, he is not useless, stupid sometimes, but not useless.]

I guess I do believe that it is possible to avoid depressions’ downward spiral. I still don’t know why this has happened to me but I am letting it go because I have a funny feeling it will all manifest shortly and I believe in the importance of trusting in the process.

For most of us, depression and its symptoms can be avoided. It can be something we are able to manage without taking the medicated route. I understand how overwhelming the information available to us about mental health is but if you can read a few of those how-tos and tips and can implement them, you’re starting the journey back to self and out of depression’s harm. Of course there are those who have battled with depression from birth or for many years and in those cases, the battle is going to be longer but I do believe, it can change. The most sure-fire way to do this is to CHOOSE to change. Choose to take control of yourself and your decisions. It sounds simple but it takes dedication every single day to keep choosing to be free from it.

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