Two effective ways to fight off depression

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Depression has a remarkable way of making you feel like everything about yourself, your life, and this world is horribly beyond repair.

Waves of depression can completely shift your thinking into a negative, heavy, and hopeless state of mind where no solutions to your problems can be seen anymore.

Besides trying to take care of my physical health, I have found these two strategies to be very effective in not letting depression get to me as intensely:

1) Don’t believe your thoughts. I had this realization one day that I am not my depression. But this is something that can be difficult to believe when you’re in the thick of it. I mean, how are you not your thoughts?

I separate myself from my depressive thoughts by personifying depression as an unwanted guest in my home, who proceeds to give me unasked-for advice and opinions, and he won’t stop even if I ask him to.

What I’ve learned to do is to not take him seriously anymore. He’s going to come. He’s going to talk. He’s going to spread dark smoke all over my living room. He’ll make me feel like the sun stopped shining, and that colours don’t exist anymore. That’s what he’s supposed to do.

But I don’t have to believe in what he says or shows me. I don’t even have to fight him off with counter-arguments to convince him why he’s wrong. I just need to wait till he leaves.

In practice, this looks like me recognizing that my thoughts are suddenly becoming very gloomy. Even if I feel sad, I tell myself that my thoughts are extremely biased towards gloom and doom at this time, therefore I need to wait till I feel better again to be able to give weight to my thoughts again. I can simply choose to ignore the hopeless chatter in my mind.

If you’re standing in the middle of a dark tunnel, you won’t be able to see the light. Therefore, you must strengthen the belief in your mind, that even if you can’t see the light, it does exist, and you will soon experience it too. This brings me to my next point:

2) Deliberately choose hope. One thing I’ve realized about depression is that the things it will tell you might be true to some degree, but the information about your reality that your mind will give you will be extremely biased and exaggerated towards pessimism and despair.

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When you’re depressed, your mind won’t offer you good data to make a more accurate assessment of your reality or current situation. While it’s true that negative possibilities exist in this lifetime, you must also admit that positive possibilities exist too. Otherwise, you’re making a very biased judgement.

I think that life is a combination of both good and bad, light and dark, night and day. In the history of humanity, there’s been much cruelty, but we also have many tales of genuine kindness and love. Tragedies occur, and so do progressive milestones. Both negative and positive data are available for us to look at.

I made the deliberate decision to focus on the positive because I realized that if I focused on seeing more and more good, eventually I would get better at doing so, and I would also feel energized and inspired to make positive contributions to the lives of people around me. Even smiling at someone and showing goodwill towards them helps.

Positivity or at least a more optimistic mindset gives you the strength to keep going. It fuels your resilience. Although pessimism can be helpful in taking precautionary measures etc., when it stems from depression, it can paralyze you in fear and despair. All it takes is a mental switch that can help you keep going.

In the darkest of times, hope is something you give yourself. That is the meaning of inner strength.

Uncle Iroh

In practice, for me, this looks like sitting in front of that uninvited guest in my mind, who tells me to give up, stop trying, stop believing – and tell him – “No, I choose hope. That is my final decision”.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning


1 Comment

  1. joyudokwu says:

    Thanks dear. For real depression is a very bad omen. But I thank God for the power of Hope!

    Liked by 1 person

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