Depression and Actualism

Guilherme , modified 12 Years ago at 6/30/10 7:13 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 6/30/10 7:10 PM

Depression and Actualism

Posts: 50 Join Date: 6/30/10 Recent Posts
I discovered actualism in 2007. Within the first few days of finding the official website, I had a PCE while reading Richard's writing, and then recalled another PCE that I had had many years before that. I have read almost all of what is available on their website.

Many things happened and one day in 2008 I suddenly became severely depressed. I have been depressed ever since. I call it "permanent depression" because I've had it for a long time, because it is continuous and because it does not "wax and wane".

The actualism method describes going back in time to the last time one felt good and finding out what happened to trigger the loss of felicitous feelings. It is said that "one does not have to trace back into one's childhood ... usually no more than yesterday afternoon at the most". The last time I felt happy was over two years ago. And I have tried various antidepressants with no results.

There are only two documented paths to becoming actually free: through enlightenment or through a virual freedom. And it is mentioned in the literature that a sad person has "no chance whatsoever" of having a PCE. It appears to be the case that actualism is only for happy people.

I must say that I am obsessed with actual freedom, even more so than with enlightenment. But unfortunately I cannot get the method to work.

I would sure appreciate advice from any actually free people on this forum, but I would particularly appreciate advice from someone who has an experience with recalcitrant depression. I believe though, that people who have no personal experience with this kind of depression are probably not able to understand or help someone who suffers from it.

Trent , modified 12 Years ago at 6/30/10 7:48 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 6/30/10 7:47 PM

RE: Depression and Actualism

Posts: 361 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts

Guilherme  :
Many things happened and one day in 2008 I suddenly became severely depressed. I have been depressed ever since. I call it "permanent depression" because I've had it for a long time, because it is continuous and because it does not "wax and wane".

A few things:

Are you aware of the specific thing that happened to one day suddenly cause severe depression? It seems that would be the case since you indicate being aware of the time in which the depression took hold. Is that so? What are the specific feelings of this depression? Fear? Paranoia? Anxiety?

Calling it "permanent depression" sounds like a good way to never let go of are, in essence, creating a self fulfilling prophecy (which is to say that you're basically deciding to feel depressed permanently). You may be depressed right now, and you may have been depressed in the past, and you may well be depressed in times immediately to come...but it is still only now. In other words: if you are able to find and deal with the cause of your depression now, the previous two years depression will not have mattered and the depression also will not have to continue on, not for a single moment more.

Bruno Loff, modified 12 Years ago at 7/1/10 1:57 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 7/1/10 1:54 AM

RE: Depression and Actualism

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
"It appears to be the case that actualism is only for happy people."

This is certainly the case for methods based on self-inquiry. To go back to the moment you where happy, you need to have the ability to invoke such a sensation, and that really isn't possible when you are depressed. It's a bit like playing in the sock market, you need to have some initial money for investment.

Now hear this: although the actualist thing says it's 180º away from buddhism, this is pure nonsense. You just got yourself a case of dark night.

I was depressed and meditation solved this matter. You can look up in this forum and at I have complained about it a number of times over the last 1 1/2 year. Since you are into actualism, and thus seem to have no reservations towards changing your mind in complete and radical ways, I suggest you start doing a form of vipassana meditation. Read Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, by Daniel Ingram. Go to a conveniently located Goenka meditation retreat ( Understand how your mind works, how it generates suffering.

You'll come to the conclusion that depression is simply the result of blocks in your nervous system, caused by tension. Basically, you are just really really tense. But don't be fooled, it doesn't work just to "relax," that's bullshit. You must really massage your whole nervous system with attention in order to get these blocks to solve. That amounts to sitting down half an hour two times a day, and doing some form of vipassana. These blocks are often called "impurities" or "defilements" in the buddhist lingo.

Eventually, as you progress, you might come to understand what the source of all these blocks is, i.e., how they got there in the first place. You will find out that you tense up subtly (or not so subtly) when you get something you want, or when you get something you don't want, and that this tensing up is painful (and the source of your current pain). Then you will be automatically be less prone to tense up.

It should take about a year or two, if you know what you are doing and how to do it, and you do a few 10-day retreats.

Also be careful about what people suggest you should do (including this post), make informed decisions as much as you can. You are in a fragile state, and you are very prone to acritically believe anyone who shouts "I have the cure."

I know depression sucks, and I sincerely hope you get better.
Luciano de Noeme Imoto, modified 12 Years ago at 7/1/10 10:05 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 7/1/10 10:05 AM

RE: Depression and Actualism

Posts: 75 Join Date: 6/2/10 Recent Posts
Olá Guilherme,

sorry my bad english, but lets go:
1 - Invest in physical exercises (sex include). Go to one gym, make your subscription in some martial art or intensive/radical sport. And sweat. No train, no gain...
2 - Take your pills. Chemical dysfuntions could be equalized with chemicals too.
3 - Go to some video store and rent a lot of comedy movies. If even a grin smile could help, why not to watch "Borat" for example?
4 - Leave the nest.
And you have a fellow near you.
Steph , modified 12 Years ago at 7/1/10 1:00 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 7/1/10 1:00 PM

RE: Depression and Actualism

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Guilherme  :

Actually, previously to discovering actualism I was heavily interested in buddhism and meditation and I still have some interest. I read Daniel's book, Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, a long time ago, or at least a large part of it, I'm not sure I finished it, and although I found it very extensive and detailed I had some difficulty following it as it describes many experiences and states that I am not familiar with. Unfortunately, I currently live with family, most of whom are Catholic, and meditation is not well regarded by them. That is one reason why I do not meditate, and another one would be that I have heard that on the Goenka retreats they tend not to accept people with a history of mental illness and I have previously been hospitalised (in a psychiatric hospital).

Hi Guilherme,

I don't have any experience with actualism, so I can't speak to that. But, if you're finding it too difficult to get into actualism and you do still have some interest in Buddhism... how about following that interest at the moment? Even if it is slow going and you only notice very slight change, at least that small, small change might be better than where you're at now. Is there anywhere you can go to practice in peace? Do you have your own room? You can quite literally meditate anywhere. And hey, speaking of Catholicisim... On my way home from work I have at times slipped into this one particular Catholic church that's really architecturally beautiful to me.. sat in a pew, closed my eyes and practiced Vipassana noting. Mostly because I just didn't feel like sitting in traffic and thought it would be a peaceful, quiet place to go practice until traffic cleared. No one knows what you're doing, and quite frankly they're probably not paying attention (in my experiences everyone else had their eyes closed and were praying) and it's none of their business even if they did happen to look your way.

Trent , modified 12 Years ago at 7/1/10 8:25 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 7/1/10 8:25 PM

RE: Depression and Actualism

Posts: 361 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Yes, I am actually aware of the specific thing that happened on the day. In fact, I can see the silliness or even the madness of my reaction at the event but that does nothing to make me feel better.

There may be other "things" that are supporting the "specific thing" that happened on that day, which may be standing in the way of you letting go of the "specific thing." When you sincerely (crucial in and of itself) attempt to let go of, accept or otherwise rid yourself of the emotional attachment you currently have, you may find it helpful to pay attention to your automatic response to that attempt. For example, if you are dwelling over the silliness and say to yourself "I am now going to let this go, it's done, it's over, it's silly" and immediately after intending so, a response comes to you which says "but its' wrong, that was wrong, I can't do that, they'll get away with it then and that's wrong," then you have to take care of what you think was wrong and sincerely change your mind. My point is: try not to ignore those repetitious, automatic responses that come when investigating these matters-- they are clear signs at what is in the way. Sometimes you can see an issue you want to resolve, but can't get there until you clear the path leading up to it.

I was actually expecting some kind of comment like that. However, I should like to note that even though enlightenment is taken to be a permanent condition by many, it has been demonstrated by a few actually free people that it was not, at least for them. Another example I could give is the fact that if you live in a certain country for a certain number of years you may officially become a "permanent" resident, even though you may decide to leave that country later on. I think the word "permanent" can be a useful word to describe a condition like mine.

Okay, that makes sense.

I suspect that you do not have experience with a bad case of depression that does not go away. There are different cases of depression, some worse than others. I am not "depressed in times" (not intermittently), I do not stop being depressed and then become depressed again at another time, I am not depressed often, I am not depressed most of the time, I am depressed always, continuously. I particularly emphasise, perhaps controversially, what I consider the "permanent" aspect of this condition because I had previously experienced other kinds of depression, even long lasting depression, and I had never imagined that it was possible to be in a state like this. Put differently, I am always depressed "now", and I have been depressed "now" for over two years.

Despite your suspicion, I was depressed for 2-3 years in a manner which seems similar to what you describe here. It nearly ended in suicide, but instead ended another way. My depression then, just like your depression now, is only now; despite how many times the earth circles the sun while one is that way. This is important, you need not worry about how long you've been depressed-- only figuring out why you are depressed now. You may want to carefully look for beliefs you ascribe to yourself specifically, as these are the ones that are most likely to not wax / wane. (That is because your self is always around, which means if you feel a certain way toward it, the feeling will always be there too.) For instance: afraid of yourself, distrustful of yourself, hateful of yourself, guilty of yourself, jealous or resentful of your self prior to depression, and on and on. These parts of the identity can be extremely cunning if the event has something to do with actualism specifically...for instance, for nearly a month, 'I' was afraid of this body's will. 'I' must have realized that the will itself was what would end / was ending 'me.' This was incredibly tough to figure out, to say the least.

I know that already. But I still fail to find and deal with the real cause.

Is not the "real cause" the specific event you allude to above?

Luciano de Noeme Imoto, modified 12 Years ago at 7/2/10 7:42 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 7/2/10 7:42 AM

RE: Depression and Actualism

Posts: 75 Join Date: 6/2/10 Recent Posts
Unfortunately, the sort of advice that you offer is merely prescriptive and not helpful. The sort of advice most people give.

Of course a prescriptive* advice, because I´m not attempting to convince you about the "silliness" of your depressive state or send you to meditate in some ashram. Your chronic condition is probably a neurochemical unbalance sustained by an ego and a rudimentary self, you know the theory behind this...
If, and only "if", you - in your actual depressive condition - try the actualism method without some previous adjustments like physical exercises routines, medicaments, leisure/hobbies and emotional/economic independence (the "leave the nest") from your parents, so you probably will fail. So, first search for the commom "normosis", another pathological state by the way, and next for the virtual and actual freedom.
That´s why Richard also make a sort of prescriptive advices regard to this:

"...Thus, from these experiences and through discussions with relatives and friends of those mentally disturbed – and from my reading on the subject of mental disorders and discussions with psychologists and psychiatrists – I have adopted a sensible policy of making it clear that the person reading or listening to actualism words is a sensible human being who understands what a word means, has learned to function in society with all its legal laws and social protocols, and is a reasonably ‘well-adjusted’ personality seeking to find ultimate fulfilment and complete satisfaction. Actualism is of no use to one who is harbouring a neurotic or psychotic condition or who is an uneducated social misfit with a chip on their shoulder. Such a person is well-advised to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist or an educator or attend classes on citizenship and cultural etiquette before even bothering to try to unravel the mess that is the Human Condition.
I say and do this because when a ‘normal’ person becomes ‘psychotic’ it is because they have found the pressures of life too much to handle and have chosen for psychosis as their way out. As strange as it may sound to normal people, they are comfortable with their modus operandi and have no interest in budging one iota from their position ... despite their pleas for help (a part of their strategy). It may initially sound like ‘hard nails’ on my account ... but counsellors and therapists and psychologists and psychiatrists are the best people for the job of managing their condition.
Let us first get sensible peoples free of the human condition ... then normal people may become interested. When normal people are free of the human condition then peoples genetically prone to mental disorders will not be subject to the ‘status quo of the conditioning which is undoubtedly contributing to the problem’ that makes them choose for psychosis as a way out."


Luciano de Noeme Imoto, modified 12 Years ago at 7/2/10 1:18 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 7/2/10 1:18 PM

RE: Depression and Actualism

Posts: 75 Join Date: 6/2/10 Recent Posts
That´s right Guilherme, it´s in your own hands follow or not whatever prescription. Literally.

About the exercise issue, what is unhealthy to the body is the "stressor" that cause stress - emotional stress - not physical stress.

We are a species that has evolved through challenge, physical and mental.
Again, my personal advice is search first for what is called "sanity", and next to the actualism práxis if you want.
To avoid more parroting/quotation, please re-read this link:

I know it is your life but I care about you, not because we exchanged e-mails before, but because that four prescriptions had help another depressive people around me.
Why not try to engage in some gym (or walk in savage trails) and/or work with some fun activity in your area?
Try it. See how many ways you can do/adapt that prescriptions, and if you feel a lack of motivation, put you on the corner, take this like a challenger, put guts and go ahead. Prove I´m wrong and you are right in sustain and cultivate your depression.
Sooner or later, you've got to start some cognitive behavioral therapy at some level. Any prescriptions to work can't remain academic: go for it!
My best wishes,

P.S.: I´m not writing only to you, but also to another fellows here, newcomers to the actualism´s radical and iconoclastic paradigmas. Hence all this links to, because until today that place in internet still being the best reference for those genuinely interested.
Tom Tom, modified 12 Years ago at 7/3/10 1:02 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 7/3/10 12:39 AM

RE: Depression and Actualism

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts

I have been (officially) diagnosed with bipolar disorder (and have taken medications for it) for 6 years. I am 25. Like you, I have also been hospitalized on three occasions. Your condition seems different than mine in that your depression is continuously sustained. This suggests, to me, clinical major depression (which can also manifest psychotic features) and not bipolar disorder. It doesn't sound like bipolar depression (a different type of depression, and the type that I experience). I have not experienced pervasive depression in a little less than 3 years.

I came out of my depression(s) when I started meditating, but not insight meditation. Sustained samatha (concentration) meditation is what did it (over the course of a couple years). I have tried intensive insight meditation on one occasion for ten days at about ten hours a day (I was by myself, not on retreat). Unfortunately, I had also decided to stop my medications and became floridly manic/psychotic. What parts of this psychosis was the siddhis, and what was psychosis I don't know, or if there even is a difference. This was the reason for the third hospitalization. Therefore, I cannot suggest insight meditation until I get some experience with it while I'm on my meds on a supervised retreat. However, fortunately, I have absolutely no history of violence/aggression in episodes or not. So I feel it is less risky for me to take on these endeavors.

However, I have found absolutely no psychological side-effects caused from concentration practices. None. They only improve my condition. In fact, I don't know where I would be if I had never started meditating. I had hit rock bottom and it was a final resort that I thought would never work. I started shortly after my second hospitalization. Today, I live a (mostly) happy productive life.

As far as that quote about how psychosis is cause by those who can't cope with life, It's also the other way around. People can't cope with life because of their depression/mania/psychosis (obviously).

Another thing I have found extremely helpful is to make sure I'm putting the entire eightfold path into practice. Of course, with the exception of intensive sustained insight practice on retreat (until I am sure I can do it safely in a safe environment). view, thought, speech, action, livelihood, energy, mindfulness, concentration (morality, wisdom, concentration) . Read up on it, internalize it, and practice it always. I have found if I am functioning well, I can still do short sits of insight practice (up to 90min) without a problem.

I am not that knowledgeable with the AF stuff, so I can't help you as much there.
This Good Self, modified 12 Years ago at 7/3/10 2:28 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 7/3/10 1:38 AM

RE: Depression and Actualism

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
Get stable first using meds is my advice. Meds won't make you feel 'comfortable and normal', but they will stop you feeling horrible and hurting yourself or others.

Some forms of recalcitrant mono-polar depression respond well to mood stabilizers and/or sedatives. Mood stabilizers are normally reserved for people with bipolar and schizo-affective disorders, but can be used 'off label'. Seek a shrink who is willing to experiment with lithium, anti-epileptics, anti-psychotics, sedatives (but not benzos since they are addictive). Fish oil and krill oil are also good mood stabilizers (not as potent as synthetic meds but worth a shot). If there's a strong anxiety component, valerian works if you take enough of it. It's a herb.

I believe depression is the body's adaptive response to chronic severe anxiety. There's lots of theories - that's the one I subscribe to. If it's correct, then you really need to treat the anxiety rather than the depression, and that's what I try to do. So far I'm reasonably satisfied with my progress, however I'm a long way from cured, so keep that in mind. My practice is to relax enough to allow the fear to emerge. When you fully relax your tense areas (especially around chest, throat and solar plexus), the fears locked down in those areas get released. If you're on meds all the time, or carry massive muscular tension, you will be kept arm's length distance from the fear, so reducing med intake is one option you can take (only to be done under close medical supervision in case you 'lose it' and don't know what to do). Encourage the fear in any way you can. Then attend to it, at the 'bare sensate' level. Label it 'that sensation', if you think that helps - it doesn't for me btw. Initially my fears hit me like a truck, so hard and fast I didn't know where i was. The darkest, loneliest most horrific fear I could imagine. I learnt to modify the meds up/down to allow a workable (small) amount of fear to emerge without overwhelming me. For me, it was more important to 'up' the meds because the fear was too strong. Then work them back down as the fear drops away, over a number of days/weeks/months. It's a work in progress for me. As I said, not cured yet. More work to do before deciding whether it can take me all the way or just part way.

I also like the idea of facing your fears in everyday life, using the same process. Any circumstance, situation, event or task that creates anxiety or depression, treat the same way. Sometimes it takes most guts to simply 'be yourself'. "Be who you be if you're comin' with me" as Gallagher said. What this amounts to is self acceptance, warts and all.

It's not so much a matter of your parents being against meditation, more that they are scared you'll go psychotic again and really you should be able to understand that they care about you and don't want those episodes to repeat. That's normal and caring behaviour. The psych doctors may well have warned against meditating and if they did, that's quite a reasonable bit of advice IMO. Maybe try explaining what you're going to try, and give your parents/doctors a time frame in order to test whether it's going to help. Then everyone knows what's going on. Tell them if a months worth of practice doesn't help, that you will write it off. Leave it. Try something else. But be upfront.

"carried away by the police while sitting in a lotus position trying to meditate". Humour is a great short term stress reliever. I'm not making light of your suffering at all, but there is a funny side to it. emoticon See if you can see it!