The foundation for change

Guest Author: Carsten

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

It’s a boys dream: having a car, a beautiful girl to love, kids, a well-paid and enjoyable job, a house, a tree, a dog, lot’s of friends and adventures in life that come like road movies. Being the son of a German family where the parents were the “war-generation,” born in the weird 70’s and being raised in the prosperous 80’s, that clearly was my dream.

My parents being kids have survived WW2, then later contributed to Germany’s economic miracle and democracy from scratch. So compared with their circumstances back then, I should be able to make way, right? I mean, heck, I even had the beautiful and loving lady when I laid my foundations for this dream. Part of my upbringing however was some perpetual motion machine that made me an incarnated VW Bug – I ran and ran and ran ….

See, nobody stands a chance to win this.

That machine was designed by mom in one simple sentence: “Other boys at your age … [do this and that].”And when she said that, I was wondrously one year older than I really was. Kept me running – though I hated it each and every time. See, nobody stands a chance to win this. And for that reason, I began to oppose my parents. The motor however revved up …

I stumbled through life chasing after my dream like a donkey after its carrot.  I worked, built some humble career, lost it, fell in debt, crawled out of misery by working even harder, built a very humble career, fell in debt again …. you get the idea. Relationship-wise, it was pretty much the same. I dated, fell in love, lost, dated, lost …

So whilst on the “surface,” life appeared to be enjoyable. What made me “submerge” were job circumstances that began to be stressful beyond limits, girls whom I loved began to be more demanding – putting my “freedom” at stake. Whatever I thought that ought to be.

However I put on the mask of being a committed adult who just received bad cards. Every loss felt like a defeat, every woman turning me down hurt so much that it took double the time we were together to get over it. And I kept chewing it over and over, wondering about when, where and what I did wrong. I took it all and knew the world of failure very well. By talking about it, it granted the acceptance I was longing for. This kept on going until spring 2015 when I wound up having a nervous breakdown in a parking lot close to my office. I finally accepted I had to change.

I kept chewing it over and over, wondering about when, where and what I did wrong.

Oh, wait, I almost forgot: I had been diagnosed with depression in 1997. Had three years of therapy, received EMDR and group sessions. After endless talking and collectively whining I decided that therapists have only one goal: you walk in with one problem and they make sure you walk out with ten. So I meddled with self-help material until that day in 2015.

Today, I am still not good. My anxiety grew into something to what is similar to a deer in the night starring into high beams. My entire life feels like a huge failure. I have the financial potential of a high schooler but having the financial obligations of a family father. I feel like a teenager trapped in the body of a 46-year-old. I am asking myself constantly why or what the heck I am still fighting for.

“Wait, buddy!” you say: “Where is the foundation for change you talk about?” – Glad that you asked, so I have to put myself together now to give you an answer that I can stand for.

See, the answer is what I’ve just said: I am constantly asking myself why or what I am fighting for. Because that’s what I didn’t do my entire life before. And the answers won’t be easy, with all those experiences both joyful – and painful.

I strove for a dream only a few friends have accomplished themselves. They have their financials settled, they have or had their marriage, some of them have kids. But is this still my dream? I have not the foggiest clue anymore.

I believe this is some weird gift by the highest: having now the time and support (yes, I sought for therapy) to finally find the answers to why or what the heck I am fighting for. So I’ll can finally find, love and move myself.

Yes: Depression is hell – but – it is a gift as well.

Yes: Depression is hell – but – it is a gift as well. You recognize your darker side and take it as what it might be: an overcautious friend making clear that you better watch your next steps. And by jangling the nerves, it is his sick way of reminding you to actually TAKE the next steps. Poor communication skills, I know…  he just can’t help it.

My therapist once made a good point: “For being depressive you must be intelligent. You are able to feel, see, worry and reflect on things better than most of us. Perhaps you make this a better place some day.”

This is the foundation I am talking about – accepting depression as a part of yourself and start asking questions where the answers are meaningful enough so that they help living life your very own way.



Love this article. A few months ago, I made the decision to stop fighting depression and instead accept it as part of who I am.. The anger/ inner rage has subsided somewhat and at times I am able to experience inner peace. It has taken over 50 years for me to come to this realization. For the moment, acceptance rather than fighting, is helping to keep me on a path where I am able to focus on all the positive life skills I have learned over the years with positive rather than negative energy.

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