Yesterday reached the bottom of lake melancholy. It wasn't a precipitous drop, just a slow, controlled descent into darkness. I didn't fight against it because I knew it was futile, it was better to wait until I reached the floor so that I would use it to propel myself upwards.

My definition of "rock bottom" is a realization that life can't get any worse than it is, barring tragedy. Strictly speaking, my life could be worse but I'm speaking from the point of view of a local minima: given my current situation (which is OK), I'm in the worst mood possible. I had been making commitments to improve my mood, things like cleaning my room, getting work done, meeting up with friends, quit smoking again, but these commitments would quickly vanish as I didn't have enough energy to execute them.

When you fail to fulfill your own commitments you must understand it's not because of any personal fault. Depression is more akin to sickness in this regard, it's like exercising without knowing you are sick. Things which you could perform with ease before now become difficult, and you may think you are lazy or weak but you really are in an altered state of mental health.

Yesterday I realized: if my will is dysfunctional, I must address this before trying to do anything because I am trying to do some heavy lifting feeding from an almost dead battery. But how?

A clue was provided a couple of days ago, at a yoga event. We submerged in ice. I practiced before the event by attempting a couple of cold showers, but it was intolerable. I've had plenty of cold showers before without much suffering, so I ascribed this to my emotional state. At the event I was unsure about taking the plunge, but they made us perform some breathing exercises, I slipped into the icy water without hesitating, and after a couple of seconds of gasping, I took control of my breath and then the ice felt mild, I could have stayed there several minutes.

So I came to this realization: any time I try to force my way through something, I withhold my breath. This is true in exercise as it is in daily life. By observing and calming my breath I avoid some the aversion response, in part because it distracts you from your thoughts, and physiologically because it short-circuits the flight response. You can remain longer in discomfort.

Today, as I'm working through my day in observation of my breath, I am becoming much more optimistic about my future.