Depression and Success

We all want to be successful. Go places. Reach high.
Give it all we’ve got and shine our most awesome self.

But then it happens: the work is too demanding, the hours are suddenly too long, you didn’t expect commuting to be so tiring, it’s hard to find people you can relate to, your boss clearly despises you for no reason… And ironing your shirt is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

And so it happens. You inadvertently begin the slow descend into the Dark Hole of Misery known as “Depression”.

I should know that place. I spent years in it.
You could say I was never properly “out”. I would rise my head for a moment or two, only to go back down again.

I’ve learnt a thing or two about depression. And about success.

(My monsters would like to clarify that I haven’t succeeded at anything as of yet. To which I say: never mind! Because what I have learned about depression and success is pretty universal anyway.)

What I’ve learned is this:

You need to build up your resilience in order to get to success.


You need to get good at surviving the crap in order to get to the awesome.


Your tolerance for “bliss” is linked to your tolerance for “crapness”.

And now I have to explain what this whole thing means…

Here’s what I don’t mean.

  • You gotta suffer if you wanna succeed. No pain, no gain.”

I don’t believe in this. Sometimes you suffer and you succeed… Sometimes you suffer and you most certainly don’t succeed. Ideally we wanna reach a place where we succeed without suffering first. (Havi calls this: “learning to make changes through love” as opposed to pain)

I also don’t mean:

  • “The path to success is filled with bumps. So you gotta get good at getting past them if you wanna reach success”.

This may be true, but still: isn’t it like another version of the previous one?

Here’s why it seems that everyone who reaches success has had terrible times:

It’s not because a terrible time makes you successful. Is because a terrible time is just about the best wake up call you can imagine.

You can lollop through life “meaning to get started on this whole self-help deal, any day now I’ll get onto it, I promise, it’s just that I’m busy right now”.

But when you find yourself unemployed, poor, and sleeping on your friends’ sofa because you have left your abusive boyfriend, you get serious. You grab onto meditation and yoga for dear life and you trust them with your future because something has got to change. And fast.
It’s the consistency with the practice that leads to Big Changes. And the people who “keep at it” are usually those who have touched rock bottom.

But really? There’s no reason why everyone couldn’t do it. It’s just that most people don’t. The motivation isn’t there. Why would you put up with discomfort day after day after day, under the promise of becoming a wiser, calmer person? Exactly.
But I digress.
Tragedy is not necessary for success. But it tends to be because tragedy is a great motivator for learning the Big Lessons.

And one of the Big Lessons is: learning how to get past the bumps.

And the reason why you need to get better at getting past the bumps is this:

If you reach success, and you don’t know how to live without it, you are going to hurt a lot.

Here’s what I mean: you could never, will never, reach a “Success” milestone so safe that you are guaranteed to stay there forever and ever.
If you become a famous writer, you could become unfamous. One bad book, nay, one crappy tweet and down you come!

If you get married… of course, you could get divorced.

If you bought a gorgeous house, you could lose it.

If you got to be CEO (and why on EARTH would you want to be CEO anyway…) you could be cut to size.

Not to mention that at any point you could face illness, and any number of unpredictable and less-than-desirable things.

Sorry, not to bring you down, but… well, we were talking about depression, weren’t we?

We GOT to learn how to live with the ups and downs because they are just not going away.

You already know all this

The thing is, you know all this stuff already. You know it “instinctively” or “subconsciously”.

That’s why you are always panicking.

And the way you learn how to stop panicking isn’t to reach some magical, mythical land where you are Successful and Safe. But to learn to cope with the ups and downs.

There’s no tricking your subconscious. You can’t shut it up. It will carry on making you panic until you learn to cope.

That’s the lesson hiding in Depression and Anxiety: “learn to cope with me, ‘cuz you just have to”.

Only then you can proceed to reach for success with ease.
Because, ironically, it won’t matter so much.


Pst! Check out my favourite online yoga teacher and her videos on yoga and depression.