Out-Thinking Your Depression

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You can’t fight depression with your fists, but you can fight it with your wits.

The worst thing about living with clinical depression is that depression is a thinking entity. It knows what hurts you, what you’re afraid of, what you’re ashamed of, and it will never hesitate to blindside you with those things. However, there’s a fatal flaw in depression’s modus operandi: its tendency to exaggerate. Depression gets you down on yourself and starts pelting you with metaphorical rocks in an effort to drag you down further. However, with a bit of critical thinking, you suck the life right out of its barbs, leaving it as nothing but a whiny gremlin on your shoulder.

Let me give you a personal example: I have numerous instances of events in my childhood that I am ashamed of for one reason or another, and if there’s one thing my depression loves, it’s to randomly dredge them up when I least expect it. I’m just brushing my teeth in the morning, and suddenly it’s “hey, remember that time you disappointed your parents? That sure was something!” And of course, it hurts. It always hurts. But the nice thing about being an adult versus being a kid is that you can look back on those instances with a critical eye.

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That’s how I declaw my depression’s attacks; I ask myself “was it actually that bad?” “Is that actually how it happened?” “Does anyone else even remember this event?” And the answer is almost always no. By stopping the depressive line of thought, you give yourself a chance to recover and fire back. “I made a mistake and learned from it.” “I’m remembering this event incorrectly, and I can prove it.” “Nobody else is harboring intense feelings on this, so why should I?” And suddenly, you’re the one in control again. Depression relies on pummeling you with distorted feelings, but you can right your train of thought with the power of facts.

Naturally, this isn’t a permanent solution. There are no permanent solutions to depression. But, in an odd sort of way, it’s rather empowering to smack down that little gremlin on your shoulder the same way it tried to smack you down. If depression is going to try and hurt you, then you have every right to hurt it right back.