As in my previous blog on anxiety, there are also common thoughts that arise from a state of depression. These thoughts, simply put, are lies. It is important to know that it’s a lie, because when they arise, one can consciously question the validity or at least have the awareness that the thought is caused by depression. The depression lies are as follows:
1. I’m not good enough or I’m worthless. The problem with this thought is that it often comes after a mistake or even worse, a correction. Someone tells you that you made an error, and the first thought in your mind is that you are worthless and/or not good enough and never will be. THAT IS A LIE! People make mistake, and no one is perfect, but everyone is suited for something. Everyone’s life has a path in which they can feel valued, important, and worthwhile. Beyond what a person does, we have value because of who we are at our core. Our life is not just the sum of our behavior. It is often important how we make people feel, and the way we add to other people’s existence that matters.
2. Everyone sucks. It is true that everyone disappoints, and there is no deep relationship that doesn’t involve disappointment. But the truth is: there are levels of disappointment. There are people who will consistently disappoint and are toxic to us, and with those people we have a responsibility to create distance (for our own health). The world can seem crazy, because people behave outside of their own norm sometimes. However, there are many people who overall contribute a lot of good to our lives but will occasionally disappoint. Not everyone is awful and undeserving of our time. There is a such thing as healthy relationships.
3. Everything sucks. There are people who have experienced a lot of negatives in life, and sometimes depressed people like to focus on the bad in the world. As a therapist I believe I have heard some of the worst life experiences that exist out there, and here’s what I can tell you. Yes it affects people, but every person has a choice to make good come from those bad experiences and many people choose to do that. Sometimes bad things can even be helpful in people’s lives. I know I can look back dark times in my life and see a lot of purpose. The point is, it is difficult for us to say what needs to happen in a person’s life, because we cannot see the big picture. I learned that even more so working in addiction, because “rock bottom” is different for everyone.
4. I have bad luck. Sometimes with depression, others will try to point out positives to a depressed person, the depression’s response is “Yeah but…” Depression causes people to only see the negatives in their lives, but that does not mean that in reality there are no positives. It means that everything FEELS awful, but feelings lie. When you’re in a less depressed state, it’s typically easier to consider the positive. During those moments, it’s often helpful to make a list of the positives in order to review in those low moments.
Bottom line is that always/never/everyone, those are way too dramatic words to be realistic. Reality is harsh at times, but there are always positives around the corner if we choose to keep going. Also, medication often helps change these thoughts significantly without much effort on the depressed person’s part. Not that you won’t ever have to put in effort to feel good, which is where therapy can come in, but it is true that chemical make up is a factor in how intensely we feel.