Why I Will No Longer Hide My Depression

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Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Note: I use the word “depressive” in this article to refer to anyone suffering from clinical depression, whether it is diagnosed or not.

Like many depressives, I have a secret.

It terrifies me to do this, but I’m going to share that secret with all of you now.

My secret is that I’m depressive.

Of course, this isn’t news. The fact that I’ve battled depression is all over my website and the internet.

But you don’t know the whole story. I hid some of it.

I’m done hiding.

Why Depressives Hide

First, I need to talk about why I hid in the first place.

Hiding is how depressives survive in this world.

It’s not that we’re liars. We’re not. It’s not that we want to hide. We don’t.

We hide because 50% of Americans think that clinical depression is a character flaw rather than an illness.

We hide because, statistically, every other person that we meet thinks that we are weak, not sick.

Statistically, many of you reading this probably think that I am weak.

I Am Not Weak

I am depressive, but I am not weak.

Please understand that I am not being arrogant. Not by a long shot.

Arrogance is actually uncharacteristic of depressives. We put on a good show of normalcy, but underneath, we feel worthless most of the time.

And yet, here I am, saying that I am not weak. This is not a show. This is not arrogance.

This is me being raw and honest.

When I say that I’m not weak, it’s because I’ve learned it the hard way. The battles that I have fought, and the scars that I have earned, have forced me to acknowledge my own strength.

If you think that I’m weak, then I’m afraid that you’ll miss my message about depression.

I hope you don’t miss it because you definitely know people who are depressive. And I want you to help them, not hurt them.

Depression is Invisible

Most people don’t realize that depression is invisible.

I’m certain that you know people who are depressive — friends, family, colleagues.

But unless they’ve told you, then you don’t know who they are.

I run a support group for my qigong and tai chi students who are also depressive. Out of curiosity, I asked them how many people had ever witnessed one of their depressive episodes.

For most of them, the answer was 1-5 people.

My answer was the same.

Depression is an illness that has shaped, influenced, and scarred me deeply, and yet only a handful of people have ever seen me in an episode.

You may have seen me depressed. That’s what normal people experience. But you haven’t seen me during an episode.

And those episodes are what depression is really about.

Feeling Like A Failure

Since starting this support group for depressives, I’ve learned that some of my students feel guilty that they haven’t yet cured their depression with qigong and tai chi.

As a result, they feel weak. They feel like a failure.

This is heartbreaking for me. I desperately want them to understand that they are not weak.

Some of this misunderstanding is my fault.

For years, I spoke about my depression in the past tense. I have even been guilty of using the word “cure”.

I simply cannot abide the idea that I might be causing my fellow depressives any additional suffering.

I’m here to relieve suffering, not add to it.

And that is why I’m done hiding.

The Back Story

For those who are new to Flowing Zen, you need to know some of the back story.

My former teacher, Sifu Wong, is all about “curing the incurable”. It’s his core message. It should be no surprise that this message sells well. Sick people are desperate to believe in something.

I was one of those people.

This isn’t why I left Sifu Wong. I broke with him in December 2014 because of a sexual abuse scandal, perpetrated by one of his certified instructors. I believe that Sifu Wong’s behavior was unethical, and that his leadership perpetuates an environment where abuse is condoned.

I left because I do not condone abuse. Period.

Distancing myself from his “curing the incurable” message was never my reason for leaving. In fact, I had already been distancing myself from that message for years.

Ten years before I left him, I was in acupuncture college. Getting real medical training is what first showed me that his message was problematic.

A big problem with his message is that it hurts depressives.

Setting the Record Straight

Many of my depressive students were also students of Sifu Wong who sided with me during the “divorce”. So it’s understandable that they might still have vestiges of his message.

My teaching on this issue changed gradually over time, but I regret that I never made a public statement.

I would like to set the record straight now.

To the depressives reading this — If I led you to believe that you had to fully cure your depression in order to be a success, then I’m sorry.

Truly. I apologize from the deepest part of my spirit.

Let me be clear: I am not cured of depression, and I don’t believe I ever will be.

I’m Not Cured, But I’m Still Alive

Now that I’ve set the record straight, I need to straighten it even further.

Qigong and tai chi haven’t cured my depression, but they saved my life.

These arts are my medicine. They not only saved my life back in my 20s, but have kept me alive — and healthy — into my mid 40s.

When I say that these arts saved my life, I mean it literally, not figuratively. Depression is the 10th leading cause of death in America. It would have killed me had I not found qigong and tai chi.

The Odds are Against Me

Apparently, I have a 99% chance of having another depressive episode in my life.

This is because people who’ve had 3 or more episodes of major depression have a 99% rate of recurrence.

Well shit, I had 3 episodes before I even hit 30! So the odds are definitely against me.

What this statistic doesn’t convey is that depression is highly treatable. A growing body of research shows that mindfulness training is a terrific treatment for depression. (And yes, qigong and tai chi count as mindfulness training.)

When depression is managed well, a recurrence is not such a big deal.

And vice versa — when depression is not managed well, the episodes are a big deal. A huge deal.

Unmanaged depression kills.

I still have episodes, and they suck. But they are manageable, thanks to qigong and tai chi.

Medicine That Works

I believe that talking about “curing” depression only distracts us from a more important conversation. Here’s what we should be talking about, discussing, and celebrating:

When it comes to depression, qigong and tai chi work AT LEAST as well as any medicine or therapy on the planet.

This statement is true for me. It’s true for many of my students. And I believe it could be true for millions of depressives.

The best antidepressant? Qigong and tai chi can compete with that.

The world’s best therapist? Qigong and tai chi can compete with her.

The ultimate, depression-healing environment? Qigong and tai chi can compete with that place.

Sounds pretty good to me!

Isn’t all of this a strong enough selling point? Do we really need to talk about curing depression?

I Am a Success Story

As I said earlier, I need to make it clear that you don’t need to cure depression to be a success.

The same is true for me.

I am still a success story even though I am not cured.

For example, I went over 8 years without a major depressive episode. That is a big deal. That’s a success. A big success.

Instead of feeling like a failure because I had an episode after 8 years, I should feel like a success for having such a good run.

And my good run only ended because of extreme circumstances.

The Year That Could Have Killed Me

Many of you know that 2015 was the year from hell for me and my wife. It wasn’t just stressful: it was the kind of stress that kills people.

Here’s a sampling of some of the major stressors I faced in 2015: Heartbreak over my divorce from Sifu Wong after a 17-year discipleship; hate mail and death threats from Sifu Wong’s followers; a flood in our new house; a cancer scare for my wife; an injury to my psoas muscle that limited my mobility; financial stress connected to leaving Sifu Wong; and the death of my dear, dear grandmother.

And let’s not forget the cumulative stress of running a small business. I’ve been working 60-hour weeks since 2008 to keep the lights on in my studio (and at home). That stress didn’t stop in 2015.

The kind of stress I endured in 2015 was so severe that I know it could spark illness in a normal person.

I am not a normal person. I am a depressive.

The level of stress that I endured in 2015 would have killed many depressives. It certainly would have killed me in 1996, before I learned qigong and tai chi.

And I believe it would have killed me had I not been practicing qigong and tai chi all these years.

Again, let me reiterate that tooting my own horn like this is decidedly uncharacteristic of depressives. I’m mentioning all of this to frame things, and to demonstrate that I am — still — a success story.

In fact, that’s another sign of success – that I can see my own success.

High Functioning Depressive?

“But Sifu, you don’t seem depressive. You get so much done!”

It’s true. I get shit done.

I work like crazy. I’m what is known as a “high-functioning depressive.”

But this term can be misleading.

I am, first and foremost, a depressive. The “high-functioning” part came later, thanks to qigong and tai chi. Before these arts, I was a low-functioning depressive.

My Spiritual Growth

Qigong and tai chi helped me to stay alive, and they also helped me be highly functional.

But these arts also helped me with something far more important.

In spite of my depression — or perhaps even because of it — I have grown spiritually.

It has been said that deep suffering can induce profound spiritual growth. I now know that to be true.

The growth I’ve experienced, especially the last 2 years, is not yet something that I can describe. It’s still too new, too profound. I don’t have the words.

One day, I will write more about it. A book perhaps.

But the important lesson here is this: It was precisely because of qigong and tai chi that I was able to transmute my deep suffering into spiritual growth.

Without these arts, rather than growing spiritually, I would be dead.

I’d say that’s another sign of success, wouldn’t you?

Losing Students

Look, I’m not naive. I know that, in publishing this article, I will lose students.

Some people just don’t want to learn from a person who battles depression.

If that is you, then I wish you well on your journey.

Ironically, I was like that once. I desperately wanted to believe that my teacher, my hero, my leader was perfect. That he was superhuman.

He’s not. He’s human. I learned that the hard way.

Unfortunately, he encourages his students to view him as superhuman.

I won’t do that to my students.

I am not perfect, and I won’t try to hide that fact.

Either I’m enough, warts and all, or you should go find another teacher.

Realistic Expectations

For those who choose to stay with me, I believe it’s important for us to be realistic with our expectations.

Expecting qigong and tai chi to fully and permanently cure clinical depression is setting our expectations too high. We are doomed to failure.

Cure implies 100%. Perfection. And for depressives, perfectionism is the enemy,

But expecting amazing results – results that save lives, results that put many of the orthodox treatments to shame – that’s a realistic expectation.

My mission is to bring these arts into the 21st century.

In these arts,  I see an amazing form of medicine, a viable and affordable option for depressives all over the world, a realistic option for relieving the massive health care burden of depression and anxiety, and a way to turn hopelessness into hope.

So let’s stop talking about curing depression, and instead talk about healing from it.

Thanks to these arts, I’m not only alive, but I’ve grown spiritually. I’m also able to help thousands of depressives all around the world to live healthier, happier, and more meaningful lives.

You don’t need to be cured to be successful with these arts.

And neither do I.

Edit: Your response to this article was so heartwarming and inspiring that I created an online course to show you exactly how I beat depression with qigong. Click here to check out the online course. 

 

Mindfully yours,
Sifu Anthony

I’m Anthony Korahais, and I used qigong to heal from clinical depression, low back pain, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. I’ve already taught thousands of people from all over the world to use qigong for their own stubborn health issues. I teach online courses, and also lead in-person retreats and workshops.

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74 Responses to Why I Will No Longer Hide My Depression

  1. Nicholas May 24, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

    Thank you for posting this. I also suffer from depression and anxiety and a lot if this resonates with me. It is because of your honesty and passion that I will continue to learn from you and follow your journey.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais May 25, 2016 at 11:09 am #

      Thank you, Nicholas. I’m glad this was helpful, and I’m happy to continue helping you however I can.

      • Brenda May 25, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

        Thank you, Sifu. I too, am depressive. It took me 7 years to work on self through Tai Chi and Qigong and still working on my depressive self. The journey has been a long ride. Thank you for sharing.

      • Glynda Caldwell June 4, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

        Thank you Anthony for your sensitive sharing of a part of your life that is challenging.

        I am a nurse and worked for part of my career as an adolescent psych nurse. I thought I understood clinical depression and many other psychiatric conditions and I’m sorry to say was in the “all you need to do is think happier thoughts and pull yourself up by the boot straps” bunch.

        That is I was until I underwent a medication regime to cure a medical ailment in the early 2000’s that required that I take a protocol of medications that had several severe side effects one of which was commonly acute depression.

        I was confident that if I did evidence depressive symptoms I could handle them by following my own inner conviction that knowing it was medication driven and hopefully temporary I could just think my way through it.

        Wow what an eye opening experience I was gifted with. I refused antidepressants due to the undesirable side effects and proceeded to tumble into a deep profound depression. Feelings of such sadness, despair and grief overwhelmed me and my self pep talks did little to nothing.

        I was depressed at being depressed and felt such guilt realizing that I had been so sorely lacking in understanding,empathy and compassion previously for others suffering, and it is suffering, what can be debilitating symptoms.

        I was told at the time that the symptom of depression could linger after the removal of the meds and I lived in dread of that possibility for months.
        Fortunately after treatment the symptoms did retreat almost immediately.

        I was left though with the realization in realtime that just because I think something does not make it so and I had not up to that point known squat about what depression actually felt like.

        What a gift in retrospect.

        The author Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his book “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” states “How can you expect a man who’s warm to understand a man who’s cold”? I had read that decades before and once again assumed that I got the basic premise of that short statement. Evidently not.

        Well it was a life changing experience in many ways. I now realize that I will never completely grasp how another person lives in their skin, and that’s OK, but I will be less free with snap judgements and I will remind myself to pause and reflect about that when faced with others behaviors, ones I feel either positive or negative about at first glance.

        I hope that no one who has up to now valued your gifts would change their mind because you have generously shared thoughts that might help and support others dealing with similar circumstances.

        “Be who you are…Say what you feel…Those who mind don’t matter…and those who matter don’t mind. Dr. Seuss

        Namaste

        • Sifu Anthony Korahais June 4, 2016 at 8:39 pm #

          Thank you for sharing, Glynda. And thank you for reminding me of that Solzhenitsyn quote. It’s a good one for depressives.

          Unfortunately, I’ve already lost students as a result of this post. I am sad, but undaunted. I will continue to follow Dr. Seuss’ advice.

  2. Luis May 24, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

    Thanks a lot Sifu… It Is all I am going to say about this, thanks a lot… 👍

  3. Teresa Woods May 24, 2016 at 3:48 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Honest, raw dialogue is so vital for all of us suffering, keeping it real. <3 I am so thankful to have happened upon your Facebook. You are a true gift Sifu Anthony. <3. Peace be with you <3

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais May 25, 2016 at 11:08 am #

      Teresa, I totally agree about honest and raw dialogue. Also, I do my best to keep it real. 🙂

  4. Robert Waelder May 24, 2016 at 3:55 pm #

    Man… good stuff.

  5. Michael May 24, 2016 at 4:06 pm #

    Hello Anthony,
    trank you for writting this. I am 100 % with you and your words because something very similar happens to me and without tai chi, Qi gong and in my case Reiki, I would not be here to read your words. So yes it’s true – working with Qi or Ki (Japanese) is a form of medicine for depression.

  6. Robin May 24, 2016 at 4:47 pm #

    Exactly what I needed to hear. (sniffle) I have a deep gratitude for your bravery.

  7. Shannon G May 24, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

    Heck yeah, good on you! Very encouraging for us who have, do and will struggle as martial arts practitioners with anxiety and depression (which includes me!) Thanks for example of how more of us can be leaders who have faults that, whaddya know, don’t just get “cured” and that ain’t our message.

    Better tools and daily practices, help. A lot.

  8. David Burch May 24, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

    Thank you!

  9. Jane Van Rsen May 24, 2016 at 9:21 pm #

    Sharing your struggles with such candidness and honesty only confirms that you are the teacher to help guide me in this needed journey. One that I too believe will be vital to my physical, mental and spiritual self.

    The most important attribute in any relationship is TRUST – -within teacher/student it is critical for protecting against potential abuse or damage. Trust is the preamble to Hope. -A Hope, that I too might find relief and comfort in my own struggles and pain. Faith proceeds trust and hope: through consistent allegiance, affirmation, and practice. The ability you have had to remain trustworthy, hopeful, and faithful reflects a very successful man.

    I as “student” will mutually respect your wisdom and knowledge and give you my best as well. I am comforted and have no doubt that I can entrust you with my well being. This is my contract with you

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais May 25, 2016 at 11:04 am #

      Thank you, Jane.

      I totally agree with you about trust. That is a big reason why I left my former Sifu. The trust was broken.

  10. Wendy Elicati May 24, 2016 at 11:31 pm #

    Love it!

  11. Phillip McGaugh May 25, 2016 at 8:24 am #

    Enduring prolonged suffering over many years, and especially losing everything is a very effective method of spiritual growth. I gained the strength to deal with a group of “psychopaths” because of my practice. What I went through would have easily driven a person without a spiritual practice to lose their sanity. In fact one of their former victims has been permanently institutionalized. I know..TMI…but I wanted to affirm the truth of your message.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais May 25, 2016 at 11:03 am #

      Sorry to hear about your suffering, but thank you for affirming my message. I can also relate to your experience. I feel that my experiences the last few years would have driven a sane person mad. Maybe it’s because I was already “mad” that I was able to maintain my mental health. 🙂

  12. Mike May 25, 2016 at 8:35 am #

    Thank you for sharing more of your story, and I am on board with you in this. Tai Chi and QiGong certainly have a critical role in being able to allow people with depression and anxiety to live a wholesome life. I agree, it can’t really “cure” them but I would say these arts are far more valuable and effective compared to the usual treatments. Simply because they don’t carry side effects, like you would get with medication. Behavioral therapy and coaching doesn’t really seem to help in my experience as much either, simply because it’s too “mental” if that makes sense. Tai Chi and QiGong on the other hand give you something you can actually use, a tool to fight and battle depression and anxiety.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais May 25, 2016 at 11:02 am #

      Personally, I really like the metaphor of using tai chi to “battle” depression and anxiety. That’s what it has felt like these last 20 years — a battle.

      • Mike May 26, 2016 at 10:41 am #

        Yes! It is a battle. That’s exactly how I feel about my own anxiety. Thank goodness we have things like Tai Chi.

  13. Kathy Bowering May 25, 2016 at 8:57 am #

    Thank you Anthony for being so honest and brave. You are my inspiration and you rock!!

  14. mikah257 May 25, 2016 at 9:47 am #

    This was so honest and inspiring for people who face depression, like me. I read all the way through, ready to cringe when the article turned into a victory march, but instead, you invited us all into your circle. Thank you.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais May 25, 2016 at 11:01 am #

      Thank you, Mikah. I’m glad it didn’t come across as a victory march. That certainly wasn’t my goal!

  15. gman May 25, 2016 at 10:02 am #

    i disagree that high level chi kung cannot cure depression 100%. my perception is that if you maintain practice you should be fine. how can you be zen AND depressed? impossible! the problem is staying in zen mode. now THAT would be a super helpful future article: how to stay zen all day, all week, all month and all year.

    ZEN > depression, hands down. just my 2 cents.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais May 25, 2016 at 10:58 am #

      Gman, a quote might help:

      “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” – Yogi Berra

      You said that if one can maintain a practice, they should be fine. It depends on how we define “fine”. I maintained my practice, and on some level, I was “fine”. But I was also depressive, and had episodes.

      If your definition of “fine” means no depressive episodes, then it doesn’t fit for me (or dozens of my students).

      When I say I practiced, I mean more than most people. I have had a steady practice for many years, I’m a skilled practitioner, and I have practiced more hours than most people.

      In theory, it should have been more than enough qigong to keep depression away.

      And yet, it wasn’t enough. And if that level of practice wasn’t enough, then what hope is there for the average qigong practitioner?

      By the way, I know many qigong practitioners who are depressive who share a similar experience to mine, including some people who are more advanced than I am.

      So while your theory isn’t wrong per se (Zen > depression), it doesn’t work in reality. And that’s really one of the major points of this article.

  16. Cichon Kendall May 25, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    Sifu Anthony, your story about being a depressive makes me think more of you, not less. You’re honest, successful, brave, strong and a fighter. I’m so impressed and thrilled to have you as a teacher. Each one of us has our battles so you’re only human. Thank you for sharing your story. It will encourage many. <3

  17. Rachel May 25, 2016 at 10:59 am #

    I really appreciate you writing this! It’s extremely helpful to me, thank you! 😀

  18. Jane DeLong May 25, 2016 at 11:00 am #

    Thanks for this deep sharing Sifu. Your words and insights ring true to me not only for qi gong and tai chi for all forms of true healing. I can definitely relate to “trying to be perfect” and “wanting my teacher/healer to be a superhuman”. Thanks for pulling the curtain aside on those common mistakes on the path. And for describing the power of realistic goals and true success. Many blessings.

  19. n syed kaleem May 25, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    Dear brother this is syed kaleem from chennai india iI m deeply touched by your honest nature i m still strugling with that your story is very inspiring divine blessing brother.

  20. Sharon May 25, 2016 at 11:59 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing this. We need more people like you sharing their stories like you have, with such honesty. This has really helped me, and I’m sure will help many others who suffer from depression and anxiety.

  21. Randi Redmon May 25, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

    Dear Sifu, though I have not studied directly from you recently, I continue my daily practices and follow your blogs. Thank you for sharing your journey and evolution in awareness. I too have anxiety and depression. I have learned the price payed when I believe in perfectionism and allow the critical inner voice to badger me with judgement to the edge of no return. I feel even closer to you now as you come further out of the shadows It has been my experience that suffering can be reduced and minimized. We can move into acceptance and allow our perceptions and beliefs to shift and change. The fabric of Life continues to flow, bringing joy and challenge, these days I can respond with courage in the face of fear and self-doubt and embrace the power of the moment. It means a great deal that you are pulling back the veil and exposing the human condition. With affection and respect, Randi

  22. william May 25, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

    Thank you Sifu, thanks for taking the risk to share with us. I too, am a depressive. I have done an extraordinary amount of spiritual work; meditate for an hour daily; but I am helpless when I know a depression is coming on. The best I can do is use my meditation skills to simply allow the experience, recognize when I am in it, and honor the feelings that come up. Being generous and caring for others seems to help a lot. Taking stock in what I love helps.

    I do wonder, if for many, is depression manifested by personal choices and attitudes. Some may be caught in a loop where their choices bring on depression and their depression causes certain choices.

    I also wonder, if we are not simply picking up on the collective depression that exists in an insane world such as ours. In this case, we may also be empaths.

  23. Kathleen May 25, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

    Sifu Anthony…that is profound writing and obviously from your depth.I can see where that will help so many who also deal with depression.I would like to make one suggestion, that you not say, “I am a depressive” but that I have depression.Someone who has cancer is not cancer but has that condition. I see you as an amazing human doing what makes sense to do, working hard, moving forward following your passions, and at times, taking time off to take care of yourself as needed by the body.The body has a chemical imbalance like someone with diabetes.At times they have to take time for the body to find a balance again. You inspire others. That is beautiful. If I can be of assistance, I am moving away.I offered at one point to do a free session, no promises of cure, but whatever I can do…you have my contact information.Keep following your light and passion and pass that on as you have done and take time to get through the imbalances as you need….that is going with the flow, the flow of zen.

  24. Mira Manni May 25, 2016 at 1:47 pm #

    This gives me more faith in you, Sifu. And finding out about you literally saved my life. And that is no exaggeration. I had severe Adrenal exhaustion and my prognosis was bad. I couldn’t get out of bed for days on end. I was told that there was no cure and that if the treatment I was on didn’t work, I would require cortisol injections that were difficult to moderate (since they are still learning about cortisol levels and aren’t as advanced as they are with insulin) and that my life would be shortened by decades. In the midst of this, I still had to figure out how to get to UF to teach my classes and be the guide my students needed me to be. And I confronted suicidal thoughts and severe depression for the first time in my life. I prayed for help. And I found out about Flowing Zen. Within 3 months I was able to function, able to sleep, able to think. I lost weight, had better digestive function and above all, I was able to reconnect with HOPE. I still struggle with depression in moments- it hits me like a train, out of nowhere. But thanks to your honest, your guidance as well as your wife’s, I know that those thoughts aren’t mine. I know that depression is affecting me and that I can go to Qigong for help in reconnecting with LIFE. It may not be a “cure” but it’s a welcome and effective treatment. It is also really helpful to be reminded that my inability at times to be consistent isn’t a failure and that my effort is worthwhile. Having the support of the Academy and group has been really wonderful. In my mind, anyone who could consider a depressed person weak simply doesn’t comprehend the strength required to live with depression. And maybe I am glad for them.
    I am very glad for you- for your honesty, humility and your guidance. Thank you, Sifu. From my heart. You changed my life and I can never thank you enough. I only hope to someday be of service to you and your family as you have been for me and mine.

  25. Cleat Roberts May 25, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

    Thank you Sifu, for your courage. You have such incredible courage in sharing so much of your personal journey out here on the web for all to see. You may never know how many people read your thoughts and articles only to be greatly inspired by them and to perhaps effect personal change in their lives as well.

  26. Vera May 25, 2016 at 3:43 pm #

    Thank you Sifu! Thank you so much! Your teaching comes from the heart, you love it, you love what you are doing. You do carry the message that it can help many people … I am not a beginner in Qi gong or Taichi ( even though they say first 20 years one is a beginner in these arts) and maybe that’s why I could feel the depth of your intention and I stayed with it..I think Qi gong is not a cure, but a healing process ( I have had my share of shedding negativity, criticism, perfection,impatience, chronic pain… for the most part , and I have changed a lot) and as any process it is a journey in time and space internally and physically …I changed in increments and each change was a small joy…victory…success..and lots more to change…
    Thank you!

  27. Eric May 25, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

    Anthony,

    This is a beautiful article, mate.

    I’ve been suffering depression/anxiety my entire life. We all have the support, it’s just difficult for us to accept it sometimes – out of fear of appearing weak or different; so we isolate ourselves during those periods – which is the worst thing that we can do.

    I’m only in my 20’s, so I still have a lot of development/growth to go through, but I will get there. 🙂

    I can personally vouch for Qigong working wonders. I have only scraped the surface by practicing “Lifting The Sky” followed by “Energy Flow”, combined with smiling from the heart. I can cope with a lot more now and am genuinely happier internally.

    Once again, respect for your courage in writing this – keep up the great work!

  28. Alison May 25, 2016 at 7:08 pm #

    Thank you Sifu, you are truly an inspiration and a blessing

  29. John May 25, 2016 at 9:08 pm #

    Thank you for your candid sharing. As a fellow depressive I feel you brother.

  30. Lim Tan May 26, 2016 at 6:06 am #

    Thank you, Sifu Korahais. I suffer from GAD ( General Anxiety Disorder). You may not believe it but your candid sharing save lives. I hope your students will respect you more rather than turn away.

  31. ieounas May 26, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

    Trough my qigong and inner alchemy practice I have found out that depression is related to either loss of jing (mine is normally transmuted upwards) or stagnation of it. Also wrong type of food (almost all food not raw, natural, vegan) also lowers my vibration and make me more prone to passive and depressed states.
    But I think its a common trait of very spiritual people who already tasted something of the divine, and we are cast back here to have to live in linear timespace.. Since I had my “spiritual awakening” around year 2000 I search to come back to that high transmutative state where a great magnetic bliss surrounded me and connected me to everything. Without that state – after you experienced it – most things seems flat and dull, but even so, with discipline, right food and regular meditation and stillness of heartmind I can bear it 😉 Guess you can relate to that too! Good Luck on your path!

  32. cdemmel May 26, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

    So the veil has been lifted and the mystery is revealed: you’re human!! Life happens!! This demonstrates why the ‘secrets of the east’ and other teachings from around the world and time are opening up now, and people like you are learning and sharing – these techniques and skills, etc can benefit all people, and we can equally be enriched (and healed). The era we live in is one in which we can regard all human beings as one family, as the leaves of one tree, as brothers and sisters illuminated in oneness – and the sharing of the arts and skills and teachings etc are a bounty for those living now. to ieounsa above: maybe it’s time to share your bliss experience and go way beyond ‘bearing’ life to loving and compassion; and guess what, that feeling could come back!! It’s a gift and bounty to have this time here, and Sifu Anthony: looks like you’re doing your utmost to live your gift!

  33. Janet Levin May 26, 2016 at 11:23 pm #

    Thank you for demonstrating your human-ness in all its sparkling, stormy imperfection. Two quibbles. First: No reason to say I’m sorry to Robin for making her cry. You didn’t make her cry; I’m not nitpicking language; you didn’t make her cry. She cried because she felt something. Those are her feelings, repeat, her feelings, and her expression of those feelings via tears. Second: Kathleen said it eloquently and I want to reinforce–you are not your condition. You are an imperfect human with a difficult condition that makes itself known in an awful way now and again. Thank you most of all for demonstrating how to be real.

  34. John May 27, 2016 at 10:46 am #

    Dear Sifu Anthony,
    I was very curious when I read the title to your piece on depressives.
    I had periods of depression for many years. Several years ago, I heard a woman in my church speak publicly to the entire church (during a church service) about her son’s suicide. This was during a suicide prevention campaign. I talked with my wife about my depression. She suggested that I go see one of the older women here in Gainesville who is a rather famous psychologist. When I went to see the psychologist, she asked me to tell my story. After telling her my story, she asked about mental illness in my family. I told her how my grandmother had undergone electric shock therapy in an institution after she had her third child. (She was probably suffering from postpartum depression.) I also told her that my father became very ill and almost died when I was about 6 or 7 years old. He had a lung disease that he had contracted in Europe during WW2. He lost his business and pretty much was not able to do anything strenuous for the rest of his life. He was very depressed for the fifty years that I knew him. I told her about my mother’s struggles with depression and mental illness. I told her about my nephew who suffers from schizophrenia. And, I told her about my brother’s loss of his ability to perform surgeries. Prior to his “episode”, he had been a famous surgeon for about 40 years.
    The famous psychologist commented that I had a lot of mental illness in my family. She suggested that I see a psychiatrist. About this same time, my very closest friend developed a fatal form of liver cancer and died. I cried almost every day for a year. When I went to see the psychiatrist, he gave me a script for a drug that is often prescribed for depression. After I started taking the anti-depression drug, it was like a dark curtain was lifted and I stopped crying daily. I still cried occasionally about the loss of my best friend. However, the crying and mourning became manageable.
    In April of 2009, my wife was diagnosed with ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease. She died in January 2010. I continued to see the psychiatrist. it took me seeing about four psychiatrists before I found a psychiatrist who was truly gifted. I was also seeing a psychologist who specializes in counseling people who have had a close person die. During the time that my late wife was dying, my psychiatrist told me that I needed to shift my priorities from taking care of my dying wife to taking care of me. He also told me that I needed to spend time every day with our 12 year old daughter. He told me that I had recruited an army of people to take care of my wife and that I needed to let go of her and take care of myself. He said that if I did not shift my priorities to taking care of myself, that he thought that I would suffer a mental breakdown. It was very hard for me to shift my priorities FROM being totally consumed with taking care of my wife TO taking care of me and spending quality time every day with my 12 year old daughter. My wife died in January 2010. The next two years felt like a fog. I slowly came out of the fog. About two years after my late wife’s death, I met a wonderful woman who is one of your students. I came to the Saturday teaching session that you led. I see how your practice has helped my friend so much in her life.
    I have learned that I need to take time to be good to myself. I have taken up gardening, welding, blacksmithing, fishing, building things and continue to travel. I have been in a partnership with my beautiful lady for almost four years. Just being around her is wonderful. She is very beautiful and she is a very wonderful person.
    I really admire you for writing about your story and sort of coming out of the closet regarding your dark times.
    I have come to see my times of depression as times of quiet solitude that will not overwhelm me or take control of my life. Getting out of the elevator over and over on the basement floor is a bit like my depression. I know that eventually, the elevator door will open and I will not be in the basement.
    I also have taken much solace from a passage from a psalm. “Even though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil for thou are with me.” I know that when I am in the Valley of the Shadow of Death that I will not be there forever, that I am just passing through the valley and that eventually, I will come out of the valley. I find great comfort in the outside world. I live next to several thousand acres of native woodlands that are in a state and county park. I love living next to so much wildlife.
    You are a very wonderful person. I really really admire you for coming out and talking about your times of being in a depressive state. I believe that when we are open about our fears and shortcomings, and tell others about our fears, depression, things that we are ashamed of, etc, that those things (fear, depression, shame, etc) lose their power over us. When we sort of shine the light on things in our life that are in the dark, things that we are ashamed of, those things lose their power over us.
    You are a marvelous teacher. I love you and admire you very much. Reading your story about your journey was very life-affirming for me.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are a hero. You told us all about something in your life that was in the darkness.
    You are a wonderful role model for all of us.
    Thank you. John
    ps- If my “piece” is too long to post, I understand.

  35. FreeJazzTony May 31, 2016 at 8:04 pm #

    Love the share. I think what you have shared gives the true essence of Chinese Medicine. Everyone has a low but it is about working out of our low that defines us.

  36. Susan B. June 4, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have had similar times of major depression, and currently it ebs and flows. At times I do feel so much like a failure, especially to those close to me. Your honestly has uplifted me today. My deepest thanks.

  37. Julia June 26, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

    Thank you for your courage and openness. Maybe one day the horrible stigma will end. I felt so alone and ashamed about my anxiety and depression. Thankfully through the past few years I learned that I am so NOT alone in some of my struggles and experiences. The more open and honest I have been with family and friends through – the more judged I feel. So it’s helpful to see others pushing through that and on toward healing. You have given so much hope to so many (more than you know) so thank you again for being REAL ✌️💕

  38. Alex July 9, 2016 at 12:14 am #

    I am floored by this post. At first the way you spoke about depression robbed me of hope. It made me think that managing depression is like managing an HVAC system in a building. It is an essential part of the building you cannot get rid of. You have to constantly manage it. Then I read your infamous line, “It has been said that deep suffering can induce profound spiritual growth. I now know that to be true.” Depression exists so we can grow.

    The next line was even more important to understanding the purpose of depression, “It was precisely because of qigong and tai chi that I was able to transmute my deep suffering into spiritual growth.”

    That line stunned me because I had a similar experience where I transmuted my pain into losing over 40lbs in 9 months.

    You final Dr. Seus line hit me hard. After going to a dance festival I realized that is so true. Dance like no one is watching.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais July 9, 2016 at 7:58 am #

      Hi Alex. I didn’t realize my lines were infamous already. 🙂

      I’m starting to agree with this idea that summed up as “Depression exists so we can grow.”

      I certainly didn’t mean to rob you or anyone of hope. The opposite. However, I may have robbed a few people of their delusions.

  39. Kelly paulsen July 11, 2016 at 6:58 pm #

    I was on the fence about purchasing your new course…….until I read this. Somehow realizing that I don’t have to completely cure my depression makes me feel relieved. I’m so excited to start your program
    Thank you for your honesty
    With much gratitude,
    Kel

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais July 11, 2016 at 7:11 pm #

      Thank you so much for your feedback, Kel. I’m all about the honest, as you’ll see. Welcome aboard!

  40. Gila Cohen July 21, 2016 at 10:10 pm #

    Thankyou for sharing this post. I just found your website today and feel like I have stumbled on gold! I’m sorry to hear that some of your followers have left but know you have won over others with your humanity, honesty and ability to be vulnerable. I am also depressive and spent a number of weeks in a psychiatric ward last year after a 8 month bout of chronic depression which eventually flipped into psychosis. If depressives get a bad rap try psychotic! I now feel like I’m on the other side but am aware now that as it has happened before it could happen again, and how I manage stress, perceived failure etc is critical. Thankyou for your helpful practical posts, meditations and exercises, and the generosity of spirit you so obviously have.

  41. Dominic Kwan July 26, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

    Hi Sifu,

    Thanks for the article. I am an exactly 3 week old infant in QiGong. It was shocking at first to read that you still call yourself and you still are a “depressive”.

    But reading on, it just makes you a “real” deal. I am happy to have found you by karma, the very first morning that you offered this course online, I just happened to surf the web and found you.

    You’ve been an inspiration and a great teacher.

    Dee

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais July 27, 2016 at 8:17 am #

      Thank you for the kind words, Dominic. You just made my day. And congratulations on your good karma! 🙂

  42. Janice September 15, 2016 at 9:39 am #

    You are enough, you are more than enough and I can’t wait to learn from you.
    I hardly know you and felt your authenticity from the start.
    I found you while I was searching on the web for QiGong advice and when I did, I right away knew that you would be my teacher…my husband is getting tired of me talking about “sifu Anthony this or sifu Anthony that.” I am waiting for your beginner course later this year,
    in the mean time I will read everything on your site and practice the moves that I know.
    Thanks for sharing..

    Janice~

  43. Diane November 5, 2016 at 11:05 pm #

    I don’t understand what you mean by the term episodes. My depression is always with me, I may have a few better moments, but the depression is always lurking just below the surface. I don’t know anything about qigong and I’m sure I can’t afford your program but it sounds good.I am trying to practice mindfulness but it is tough.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais November 6, 2016 at 7:25 am #

      Diane, many people with depression experience it episodically. My episodes were far more intense than my “everyday” depression. During episodes, I could not function normally.

      I recommend the book “Undoing Depression” by Richard O’Connor. I think it might really help you.

      My new program will launch after Thanksgiving. It’s not on depression specifically, but it will still help tremendously. It will be priced at $39 per month: https://flowingzen.mykajabi.com/p/priority-list-for-qmp

  44. Melanie November 11, 2016 at 2:55 pm #

    Wow…First and Foremost thank you with sincere gratitude for this informative article. I am 40 and have been struggling with depression for as far back as I can remember. Finally due to a very traumatic episode of depression at the age of 20 I was diagnosed with Bi Polar disorder. Long story short after numerous years of switching medications to find rhe right “fit” for Me…I am happy to say My episodes are fewer and far between but like you stated, I like Most Depressive’s still struggle with My mental illness on a daily! Thanks again for putting your story out there for the millions of Us who feel alone and isolated by society and Our invisible illness more often then not! #TakingLifeDayByDay

  45. sharonnepe268@msn.com June 17, 2017 at 9:20 pm #

    One of the things that drew me to you as a teacher was you lived experience of depression and also back pain. A teacher who has walked the journey and who can be honest about it is the teacher for me. Genuine, honest, resilient and a great teacher. An awesome combination.

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