Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Not-such-bullshit around depression

  There are some ideas around helping with depression that just stink of bullshit, or that seem like they can't apply, or otherwise seemed worthy of being blown off. Over the years I've had to accept that some of that thinking isn't very conducive to my well being.

          1. You can't argue yourself out of needing help. For a long time I convinced myself that seeing a shrink was pointless in my case. What I usually hear is that it "doesn't make you weak." That's not the problem though, at least it wasn't for me. I'd convinced myself that I was intelligent and self-observant, so what could they offer me? But here's the thing: intelligence and reflection doesn't go very far when the thinking is distorted, and that thinking generally doesn't feel distorted at the time. It's not about intelligence. Therapy offers help identifying and dealing with those distortions. What I still struggle with is finding a therapist who is good at their job, but in theory...

          2. Sometimes, yeah, you need to pull yourself up. You can't just will yourself out of depression, but the simple things you can will yourself to do can have an impact. It's way to easy to dwell in depression and ignore the fact that you could probably make yourself at least go hug a puppy, or step out to the patio. At least file down the edge a little. And then from there maybe you can go for a walk or do some writing... It doesn't solve the problem. But the more you do, the more accomplished you're able to feel and the more happy-making things you do, the better things are. Letting yourself stay in the doldrums does nothing good, as tempting as it may be.

          3. Smile! As fucking annoying as it is when I'm told this by other people (usually strangers who make it sound like I owe them a smile), well, smiling is a good thing. You smile, your brain thinks you must be happy. There's chemical feedback. In a mirror, it gives a mental image of you as a happier person. And of course, people like people who are happy, and social isolation does nothing to help depression. Faking is a good skill on all fronts, at least a little bit.
              I'm still trying to figure out where the happy balance point is where I'm owning my faults (not being ashamed) without letting them consume me.

           4. Self-love/belief isn't pure bull. If you expect to fail, you don't honestly try. You can't honestly push past depression if part of you thinks you deserve it (I suspect this may be where "you just like being depressed"-type accusations come from). This is the piece where I largely want to call "bullshit." How the fuck am I supposed to love myself as I am?? I hate myself for a reason. Many, actually. And yet...
             I can understand in an academic sense how this is a decent hypothesis. I would be a different person if I believed that I could do what I set my mind to. I would probably be more loving if I could believe that I was lovable in return. We have a tendency to prove ourselves right when we say we can or can't do something. Maybe the person I am right now doesn't deserve to be loved, or to be happy. Maybe. But it doesn't matter. Let's try testing the hypothesis that the version of me that loves and believes in herself is a better person, and then I can better handle the flaws that remain.


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