Oftentimes when people are depressed, it's because they carry a story around their current circumstances. Their present moment isn't inherently bad, but rather the psychological story they've wrapped around it.
Let's say you're feeling completely, utterly lost in life. No direction, unsure where to go and what to do next, and scared that you have absolutely no clue about the grand purpose of your life.
You're consumed by all of this energy while you're sitting on your couch at home, alone, with the lights off, taking a break between scrolling through your social media feeds, unaware of the occasional car alarm outside or birds chirping nearby.
In this moment, you have two things you could pay attention to: 1) The feeling of no direction in life, or 2) The present moment, which is just you alone on a couch, breathing, simply being.
When you pay attention to the first thing - your story, your thoughts, your emotions - you completely lose yourself and forget the reality of the moment. You might say, "the reality is that I'm freaking lost in life!" The truth is, that's what's going on in your mind, not in you. You are simply watching those thoughts. You are not them. You are choosing (albeit by habit now) to get lost in all of that junk, rather than focusing on reality.
Reality is the second option - it's your surroundings, as well as your thoughts and emotions, but these are no more important, no more worth paying attention to, than the bird chirping outside or the car alarm going off. They come, they go, and that's that. There's no need to get attached to them, or to get lost in them.
When you ditch the story, you realize all you're left with is the present moment, which contains all the power to change, to grow, to move forward, to get unstuck.
Realize that by wrapping a disempowering story around your circumstances, you're essentially supergluing your feet to the ground. I understand it might feel wrong to ditch the story, because you've identified with it for so long. But that feeling of "wrongness" is also just your mind wanting to cling to what it's known for so long. That's not you.
Not only have you been aware of your story for quite some time, but you've been lost in it.
An experiment to ditch your story
My challenge to you is the following - from now on, every time you feel yourself getting down, stuck, or even depressed, just watch it like you'd watch a bird fly by. Watch where the thoughts take themselves. Notice what emotions follow after each thought, and then which emotions produce new thoughts.
You could start by doing it for just one minute, just like you watch TV. Try not to identify or attach any emotion to the thoughts. Give yourself space to think and feel. Give your mind and your heart space to do what they need to do. Thoughts and feelings will bubble up, but they'll pass by if you let them.
It's okay if you fall. It's okay if you forget and realize you've been lost in your thoughts for five hours. The important thing is you came back up. Keep trying to bring awareness to the present moment, and not to the story.
After one minute of doing this, you can go back to getting lost. For now, just observe. What do you notice? Does it feel any different? Do you see how less of you gets involved in the story?
Alternatively, you could also spend just one minute focusing on what's going on around you. Bring your awareness to the sensations in your body, and to the sounds around you. If you catch yourself drifting back into thoughts of depression, that's okay - you caught yourself. Just go back to observing. Again, just one minute.
How does this feel? Do you feel yourself getting a bit calmer?
The only way you're going to actually move forward is if you stop gluing yourself to the ground. And the only way to do that is to ditch your story.
When you see a bird fly by, you don't follow it for the next five hours, do you? You'd be running around, jumping through bushes, hopping over fences, dodging cars, all just to keep your attention on the unpredictable flight of the bird. That would be ludicrous! But this is what you do with your thoughts and your emotions.
Your thoughts and emotions are no different than that bird flying by. But for some reason, you choose to chase them to great length. You follow them through every dark tunnel, down every sketchy alleyway, over every tall mountain and across any vast sea. You completely lose yourself in the chase.
Once you realize that you're doing the chasing, you feel a sense of liberation. You realize you can simply let go, if you choose.
A final message
Over the course of your life, little has remained the same. Your outside environment has changed. Your thoughts have changed (God knows they do every second). Your emotions have changed. Most, if not all of what you've experienced has changed and will continue to change over the course of your life.
But there's one thing that hasn't changed one iota - and that's you, the one inside aware of all these changes.
Isn't that something? Wow. You that's in there, the consciousness aware of everything, doesn't change.
That's the real you, and that can't be depressed. That can only be.
At the end of the day, your feeling of lostness is no different than the birds going by, if you learn to treat the two the same.
Live with substance!