Sometimes it seems like half the people I know are on antidepressants. It’s an epidemic with no end in sight. I’ve learned a lot about clinical depression over the years but I gained an even deeper insight into the subject when I interviewed Dr. Dean Ornish for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything.
Ornish is the author of five best-selling books, including his tour de force, Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, which I can’t recommend highly enough. (Don’t let the title fool you; it should be required reading for anyone who wants to enjoy a healthy, happy life.)
Ornish is a giant in his field. He was recognized as “one of the most interesting people of 1996” by People magazine, featured in the Time 100 issue on alternative medicine, and chosen by LIFE magazine as “one of the 50 most influential members of his generation.”
Here is the start of his story in my book. It’s the fourth, bolded paragraph that I found especially insightful.
After finishing high school in Dallas, I began studying at Rice University, a small, extremely competitive university in Houston. Over half the students there had graduated either first or second from their high school, and most of them acted as though academic success would define their net worth. It did for me. It’s no surprise that Rice also had the highest suicide rate per capita of any school in the country.
From the beginning, I worried that I wouldn’t do well enough to be accepted to medical school. I got into a vicious cycle—the more I worried, the harder it became to study; the harder it was to study, the more I worried. My mind was racing so fast that I couldn’t sleep. I would lie down and watch the hands of the clock go around and around until morning. At one point, this went on for about ten days in a row.
Becoming that sleep-deprived is enough to make anyone a little crazy, and I got to the point where I couldn’t function at all. I became deeply depressed for two reasons. One was that I thought I was stupid and a fraud, that I had somehow managed to fool people into thinking that I was smart, and now that I was in a school with a lot of really smart people, it was just a matter of time before they figured out what a mistake they had made by letting me in. And the other reason, which was even more painful, was that I had a spiritual vision before I was really ready to handle it. And that vision was: Nothing can bring lasting happiness. The combination of those—feeling like I was never going to amount to anything, and even if I did, it wouldn’t matter—was profoundly depressing.
The worst thing about being depressed, as opposed to just being sad or blue, is that you really feel like you’re seeing the world clearly for the first time, that all the other times you ever thought you’d be happy, you were just deluding yourself. And that’s where that hopelessness and helplessness come from. Because it’s not that you just feel bad today, you feel like you’re always going to feel bad and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. That’s true depression and it’s a lot more common in our culture than most people realize.
I remember one day very clearly—I was sitting in my organic chemistry class when it occurred to me, I’m in so much emotional pain, I’m so tired, I’ll just kill myself and be done with it. Then I can sleep and be at peace forever. It seemed so logical and clear, I couldn’t imagine why I hadn’t thought of it before. And in the twisted logic of the moment, some part of me replied, “Because you’re stupid, that’s why!”
What struck me was Ornish’s explanation that a depressed person feels like they’re seeing the world clearly for the first time. I hadn’t realized that and I found it both unsettling and tremendously sad. My heart goes out to those suffering from this horrible affliction. May they recover as Ornish did so that they once again welcome each day instead of dreading it.
ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Phil is the author of Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, a comprehensive guide to living a spiritual life. Who will benefit from reading it?
Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to
Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happier
Here is a two-minute video introduction to Through God’s Eyes.
• an overview of the book
• the complete table of contents
• the Foreword by Caroline Myss
• my Introduction
• chapter excerpts
• a sample end-of-chapter story
• endorsements from authors and thought leaders
Just click on the link below to download your free PDF sampler!
THROUGH GOD’S EYES PDF SAMPLER
Schedule a Mastery Mentoring phone session with Phil to learn how to apply principles of spiritual living more effortlessly and effectively. Priced affordably! Click here to e-mail Phil for details.
Phil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent people he interviewed, including Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, acclaimed sportswriter Frank Deford, Dr. Larry Dossey, Wayne Dyer, Dan Millman, Caroline Myss, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, Dr. Bernie Siegel, James Van Praagh, singer Billy Vera, Doreen Virtue, Neale Donald Walsch, and bassist Victor Wooten.
Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories. Click here to read unsolicited testimonials from readers. Learn more by visiting the official Sixty Seconds website.
Sixty Seconds was one of three finalists in the General Interest/How-To category at the 12th annual Visionary Awards presented by COVR (Coalition of Visionary Resources) in Denver on June 27, 2009.