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This One Musician's Depression Cage and And How I Got Free.

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With Some Resources That Helped Along The Way.


I was asked to give some resources for depression and anxiety on the Unstarving Musician Podcast. I always feel like I need to disclaim my ideas about bipolar, anxiety, and depression. Mainly, because the path I found to genuine freedom in my own life was not rooted in mainstream prescriptions and therapies. I put away all the pills and most of the ideas of the medical industry and took a different route altogether.

I suffered greatly from the worst symptoms of what is called "Bipolar 1". For over a decade I was in 'treatment', and my life was a whirlwind of mania, painful depression, panic attacks and an unsettling misery that never ceased.

My family has been profoundly affected by my own suicide attempts, and also by close family and friends who have taken their own lives; so It is very difficult for me to think of this problem being helped by any 'resource' list. The best I can offer is some books and ideas that helped my perceptions.

The depths that depression can travel are far deeper than anything I can solve. Ultimately, I found there was no magic pill, no book, and no system that, in itself, was a solution. I found that it took a great deal of effort and honesty with myself. In fact, it took more effort than I ever imagined I was capable of to finally find a life that is mostly happy, meaningful, and even serene. 

I found that path and I'm no genius and I'm no saintly angel. I make some songs, but really, there is nothing special about me. So I believe it is possible for others to escape into a better life also.

In my story, there was one big thing at the root of my despair and depression and that was my view of reality and life. My 'beliefs' changed a lot through life, from Christian to atheist to agnostic, to 'spiritual'... but always, hidden from view, was a belief that I was ultimately alone and there was little true purpose, if any at all, to my life.

There was another really big thing that I had been hiding from myself and others and that was the fact that I was dependent on alcohol or drugs (depending on the year). I could hide this from myself and others because there were large sections, even years, where I did not use any alcohol or chemicals. But, even when I was sober or clean, these addictions had a hold of my very perceptions of what it meant to feel good and be normal.

Through my healing from alcoholism, I also found healing for depression, bipolar etc. So I can not really untangle the two things personally.

I still had panic attacks regally while sober. But what this new sober/spiritual path did is make life so much more bearable and meaningful for me that I found it easy to start tackling these more problematic symptoms in my life.

I let go of all the medical/pharmaceutical solutions before I found something that worked but I am not against all medical directions. It just did not work for me. Where I found healing was on the spiritual/religious/philosophical path and the 12 step journey. 

Resources For Bipolar, Anxiety & Depression

These resources are from my own personal actions. Books I read, people I listened to, and since I found help in a 12 step program; I'm including some 12 step resources that are meant for people who want to try the 12 steps, but are not alcoholics/drug addicts.

I'm also including one Bipolar resource that looks at bipolar from a different direction than most pharmaceutical solutions. Though I have not taken the Bipolar Advantage courses, It certainly looks like something I would have taken hold of in those early days .

I don't get into too many details about my alcoholism recovery in public, so, If you would like specifics on how I recovered from alcoholism you can contact me personally. Contact me, but know that I am by no means a therapist. I don't know how to help anyone. I can only point you to where I went and what I did. 

My Preferred Meditation Technique  

I am not the most constant meditator. But on the good months, I get up around 5:30 and meditate using one of my goto methods, my favorite is the technique taught by Eknath Easwaran. Make sure and read the introduction for the technique, or one of his method books which I'll post below. 
Book on Thriftbooks

Man's Search for Meaning

The meaning of our life matters. When my dominant view was that pale blue dot in the big empty cosmos; my life was nothing more than lived-out emptiness. Finding the purpose and living in a purpose that is much bigger than me is one of the most important things that I must do to be free from the dominance of depression. This book is a good start. 
Book on Thriftbooks

Recovery : Freedom from Our Addictions

Another disclaimer, I'm not a big fan of Russel Brand. He makes me re-live the torchers of childhood when parents would bring home Musicals from the VHS rental store rather than real movies. His voice reminds me of all those damn English musicals. But, he has written a book about the 12 steps that I think is one of the better ones for people who are not alcoholics that want to try these spiritual tools for habitual depressions and anxieties. 
Book on Thriftbooks

IN ORDER Bipolar Advantage

This is a web course that I suggest looking into if you are wanting to escape the pure pharmaceutical paradigm. I have not used this course but I became aware of it from this article called why I am against bipolar meds . He's actually not against them, and neither am I in certain stages of getting Bipolar IN ORDER. I like that term because I deny that it is only a disorder, it can be disordered, but as they teach, it can also be IN ORDER. It is an aspect of my personality and I must learn how to make the most of my life with all of its existing proclivities. That is my thought at least. There is no magic bullets.. but, this might be worth looking into. 
The Bipolar Advantage Course 

The Meaning Of Anxiety

Yet another Existentialist on my list. I don't adhere to any one philosophy so far, but once again, these are just steps on the path that helped me. Rollo May has helped me so much in dealing with anxiety, and really in the end, relating it to creativity and producing productive outcomes. You might want to also look into the book , the courage to create. 
Book on Thriftbooks

The Way Of The Superior Man

Once again, why is this in a resource list for anxiety, depression etc? Well, in short, our roles in sex and relationships and in the world play big time into so much of our perceptions of our self, God, and those around us. To me, depression, anxiety, and bipolar issues all stemmed in issues of a misperceived others, God, and self. This book is sometimes shocking to the modern mentality, and though he says this book is not just for men, It certainly feels like it is. On his site, he has very good resources also solely for women (I hear from friends its good stuff.)
Book on Thriftbooks

Get the fuck outside

Get the fuck outdoors. Get the fuck away from people. Start to learn to love nature again. Try to identify butterflies in your nearest wildlife area. If there is an app for identifying butterflies, delete that fucking app, and get a fucking book. When I say get the fuck back in nature; I mean out of the city. Away from people. Away from caressing our digital slabs. Go where all you hear is the wind and the trees. It may take effort, depending on where you live, but an effort is what it takes to find a more fulfilling life. Love nature, know nature, make it apart of your life in some way, oh, and leave the fucking phone in the car. And if you can't find some nature, go start a garden and grow some fucking Lemmon Basil. 
Look For Fucking Nature Near You

Alan Watts

Part of the problem for me and others when it comes to depression is that our perspective is very limited in scope. Our reality is small. We leave out the ideas of the soul and wonder why we feel so conflicted, empty and depressed. If you don't know who Alan Watts is, then you've probably never been on Youtube. This is maybe too personal to my own specific needs, but for me, I needed a spiritual foundation again and an idea of God. I had lost it. Or, more honestly, thrown it away. Alan Watts was kind of a tinder guide back into the world of spirit. I since moved on, and back into a Christ-centric worldview. But man, he was such a help. And, maybe for those who have just completely thrown religion and the idea of anything greater than this material existence in the trash; Alan and Eknath Easwaran will be a good re-introduction to something bigger than your self.
AlanWatts.Org

Passage Meditation - A Complete Spiritual Practice

Once again, there are no magic bullets. Each of these teachers was a stone on my path to a more serene and successful life. I take the notion of 'Take what I need and leave the rest' with all the books and teachers I take hold of. This one though; I cherish. I don't even utilize all the 'folds' of the path presented... but I do utilize some of them, and I love them in my life. The practices laid out in this book, have been very-helpful in overcoming anxiety and depressions in my early days and still help. There is a book-book of this, but I have only used the audio version. See also God Makes The Rivers Flow.
Audio Book on Audible 

Meditations

Did I mention know thyself? How about know thyself. And don't forget to know thyself. But remember, to thine own self be true. It is so important to get honest with my self. With my own self at least; I needed to learn to be honest. and I'm still learning, I actually started with the Stoic, Seneca years ago. Then all of a sudden stoic stuff was everywhere. And I found this book, Meditations by a pretty badass dude, Marcus Aurelius. Seneca is still my favorite, but this book is easier to jump into and have by the bedside.
Book on Thriftbooks 

The Courage To Be Disliked 

You may be asking at this point, where are the depression and anxiety resources? You keep giving self-help books. That is part of the problem with anxiety and depression treatment these days. Like the old song says: the leg bone connected to the hip bone, the hip bone connected to the backbone etc. In my view, the deeper foundations of our spiritual and phycological life are the issues and sickness, the anxieties and depressions are the symptoms. This is a book of psychology that blurs the lines with the beginnings of spirituality.
Book On Thriftbooks

The Golden Key

I have not looked at this in a long time. I think they call this type of thing 'new thought'. I don't embrace the philosophies completely in this school of thought, never the less, this was a tool in my spiritual growth. And a big one I would say. I used this little book many times in helping with anxieties and worries and ordeals that were heavy on my life. For me, so much of healing from all that ailed me was starting to trust that power above all else. In the early days of overcoming my alcoholism, depression and bipolar symptoms, I read Emmet Fox a lot. And also guys like Robert A. Russell

Book On Amazon
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