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"The turning point for me was when I was serving in the US Army in Iraq."

About Bill:bill-profile

After being wrongfully committed to a mental institution for three years as a child and since proving my innocence, I am now on a lifelong quest of learning, discovering, and sharing the best tools for us to truly change our lives for the better. I am grateful to have found success in becoming a bestselling author and international keynote speaker, with talks ranging from the latest advances in technology, to advancing through our lives realizing that we can be the hero of our own story. You can read more about my story and get free chapters from my upcoming memoir Fight Through the Dark.

What was the major turning point in your recovery from depression?

Sometimes when we go through traumatic experiences we can gain positive insights, but there can also be lasting negative effects. I certainly went through some tough times emotionally, spiritually and mentally, due to loneliness and depression. Sometimes it was a debilitating depression lasting a month or more. In the past, this negatively impacted my schoolwork and career.

The turning point for me was when I was serving in the US Army in Iraq. I felt that sense that a bout of depression was coming on, but I wanted to serve to the best of my ability. Instead of pulling away from people and work and commitments, I continued to do my job, focusing on completing my day to day tasks, and even took on more responsibilities. The result for me was that my depression was not as strong, and didn’t last nearly as long. I’ve been out of the military for a while now, but I still use that military mindset, plus a number of other tools I’ve learned along the way.

What are some things that really helped?

Daily Success Habits

  • I spend two hours every morning on my daily success routine which includes: writing in a gratitude journal, breathing exercises, meditation, stretching, cardio, and planning my day. I’ve done this for so long now it has become a habit, so even when feelings of depression set in, I continue on my routine automatically which keeps me playing the game of life at a high level.  

Optimal Nutrition

  • Ever notice when you eat a bunch of junk food you feel like crap? When you eat unhealthy while in a depressed state, it exacerbates the problem. Cut out or limit the junk food and alcohol (a depressant), especially when you feel depression coming on.

Blood Work and Vitamin D 

  • I took a blood test a few years back and the results showed I was deficient in Vitamin D, which is a contributor to our mood levels. Since then, I take a Vitamin D supplement on a daily basis which is a simple and effective preventative measure.

Embrace Physical fitness

  • When we work out, our bodies release endorphins that elevate our mood as well as other hormones that have a long lasting impact on our well-being. Consistently exercising, even as little as a 30 minute walk each day, helps keep the positive cycle going.

Higher Purpose

  • Finding or creating a higher purpose is one of the most effective ways to help get through and overcome depression. Whether that be god, a child, a loved one, work, or, for me, helping empower people to live an extraordinary life –  getting out of our heads and focusing on what we can do for others is one of the best ways to help ourselves as well.

What advice would you give to other guys fighting depression?

One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to remember that your mental health is closely tied with your physical health. The healthier we live our lives and focus on creating a sustainable, habitual, healthy lifestyle, the easier it is to get through the dark times. Also, remember that even though depression is real, the habits we create around depression can keep us in a depressed state longer. Pick one or two new tactics, test them out, find out what works for you, and keep them as part of your lifestyle. And finally, once you figure out what works for you, pay it forward and share your knowledge and experience with others. Good luck!

– Bill Hargenrader, United States Army Veteran, author, public speaker, and mental health advocate based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States.facebook