When you are struggling and suffering from depression, it can be hard to gain a different perspective and see alternatives – you can often feel trapped and helpless.
But one thing that can help is reading/listening to how other people in your position have overcome depression and rebuilt their lives.
Here’s an interview with Nick Screeton, a successful personal trainer in Sheffield and the founder of the ‘Life Enrichment Program‘, to ask him how he overcame his depression and built up a successful business.
Can you tell us about your background of depression?
I remember first feeling depressed back in primary school when my mum and dad split up. It was a tough period, we lived on an isolated farm, and my mum was trying to raise two children (me (9) and my sister (4)).
I remember being afraid to leave the house, and for two years, I shut off at school. I couldn’t articulate my feelings back then, and I isolated myself from everyone. I got into trouble with the police and directed my anger towards other children and myself.
How has depression affected your life?
After my initial two-year stint of depression as a child, I rebuilt my life to a certain degree, we moved to a new area, and I had a chance to start again. My mum was managing to cope, and I had rebuilt a relationship with my dad.
But it was very shaky. One moment I would be fine, but then something would happen, and it would knock me off track, and I would press the self-destruct button.
During my teenage years, I used ‘food’ as a coping mechanism. I would buy 5-10 chocolate bars from the local shop and devour chocolate until I felt sick. Then I’d pass out in a food coma and stay in the house for days on end.
I would go backward and forward between feeling normal and then depressed for most of my teenage years, and even during my four years at University. At University, I would often use food, drink, smoking, and illegal substances to either numb the pain or distract me from my painful feelings.
How have you overcome your depression?
It’s not been an overnight thing. It’s taken years of working on personal development. I remember when I hit an all-time low at University, I was smoking 40 cigarettes a day when all of a sudden, I had an asthma attack that nearly took my life. Waking up the next day, tired and exhausted, was the moment I knew something had to change.
I was given a book called ‘Awaken the Giant Within’ by Tony Robbins. I read it from cover to cover, and it changed my life. The book gave me a new perspective on life, one I hadn’t even considered beforehand. After reading this book, I read lots more ‘personal development books,’ which helped me rebuild my life.
As well as reading hundreds of books, here are some other things that have helped me:
- Meditation – I usually meditate for 10 minutes each day using an app called Headspace.
- Journaling – writing down my thoughts, feelings. I also keep a gratitude diary (writing down three things I’m grateful for each day).
- Communicating – not letting things build up and talking about how I feel with people I trust
- Getting Support – from hiring private coaches to support from Doctors, NHS, and community initiatives similar to Sheffield Flourish.
Do you still get depressed?
It’s funny because I don’t call it depression anymore, it’s just a passing emotion that I don’t like. While I still have bad days, the feelings don’t last as long, and I bounce back much more quickly.
I have strategies to use and have worked through lots of mental demons. I feel I can cope, whereas, in the past, I felt helpless.
I’m grateful for my previous depressions because they’ve allowed me to rebuild and learn about myself. Thanks to the lessons I’ve learned, I now help other people rebuild their lives through fitness sessions, nutritional advice, and helping people to overcome mindset issues. I do 35 coaching sessions per week and love the work I do helping people in Sheffield.
What would you say to anyone that’s depressed?
You may feel like you’re alone, but you’re not. There are people who can help, and there’s always an alternative. Reach out for help and commit to trying to make yourself feel better. As I’ve mentioned, I would also recommend reading four books that I recommend:
- Mindset – Carol Dweck
- Chimp Paradox – Dr. Steve Peters
- Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life – Wayne Dyer
- Awaken the Giant Within – Tony Robbins