The Destructive Lies Depression Tells You
Depression is a beast.
It’s an illness so insidious sometimes you don’t realize the scope of its life-threatening power until you’re drowning under its wave. It attacks your mind, body and soul by seizing your neurochemistry, weakening your neural pathways, distorting your thoughts, exhausting your body and leaving you emotionally vulnerable.
As depression rails against you, it challenges everything you know, trust and believe. It deceives and mangles in ways that makes it one of the most lethal of mental illnesses. I know this beast. I lived with it as a child and as a teenager. Its corrosive effects pitched me into a devastating depression and suicidal state I barely escaped. I was lucky though. I got treatment and emerged from my depression with a keen awareness of what damage it can do, what lies it tells.
Here are but a few of the big, stupid, destructive lies depression tells you.
1. “You’re not trying hard enough.”
Depression will tell you that you are weak and lazy. It will con you into believing you’re not medically ill. It will make you believe if you’d just only work harder at things, then you’d feel better.
Truth: Depression is a real illness that affects emotional, social, behavioral and physical health. You cannot will it away or readily snap out of it.
2. “You’re broken and unfixable.”
Depression has a way of making you feel useless, worthless and utterly unlovable. When you’re depressed, you’ll believe no one wants to hear about your sadness or troubles. You’ll be convinced you‘re undeserving of love, tenderness and attention from others. Depression will decimate your confidence and invalidate your sense of worth.
Truth: Research shows negative thinking is responsible for low self-esteem. So, learning how to use positive self-talk is vital to combat depression. Psychotherapy is a great way to retrain your mindset. Treatments will help you ground yourself with realistic truths about who you are, the strengths and talents you possess, as well as owning your flaws and weaknesses. You can learn to love yourself, as well as allowing others to love you, not in spite of your depression, but with acceptance of it.
3. “Nothing matters.”
Depression will coax you into believing people and things no longer hold value to you. Dread and apathy reign supreme where happiness and meaningfulness once ruled. You become less and less connected to things in your life. Depression crushes your world until it becomes a space of infinite emptiness. You don’t care anymore. You don’t try anymore. It’s all futile.
Truth: Depression creates this helplessness by overriding your ability to control aspects of your life. Without direction and a sense of purpose, you slowly become powerless. Again, talk therapy offers ways to offset these self-defeating thoughts. It’ll take practice and patience, but when you change your thoughts, you change your world.
4.“Being alone is better.”
Depression isolates. It wants you to believe being alone is safer and it’s more comfortable to dwell in a solitary place than be connected and supported with others.
Truth: Studies show depression worsens when we isolate ourselves from others. You will likely have to push yourself to be with others or allow others to pull you out of the black hole of depression. It will be worth it. Social attachment, interpersonal connections, even hugs and affectionate touch raise levels of oxytocin, a natural pain reliever and feel-good hormone. The truth is being with others who support you and believe in your recovery exponentially reduces depressive symptoms.
5. “There’s no hope.”
Depression doesn’t want you to feel hope or believe any real kind of change can take place. It will shrug off any motivating beliefs you have, squash suggestions from others and debunk treatment as a way to get better.
Truth: Like helplessness, hopelessness is grounded in pessimistic thinking. The negative thoughts that exaggerate hopelessness often lead depressed individuals toward self-destructive thoughts. This is why seeking psychotherapy or medical attention is so important. While you may not want to go to therapy (because you’ve lost all hope), you may find others “forcing” you to get help. In the short run, you may be angry when others intervene, but in the long run, you may thank them for caring so deeply for you.
6. “You’ll never amount to anything.”
Depression convinces you even if you can feel better, you’ll never be or have anything of value. Depression will deform your positive beliefs and strike down your dreams. It’ll leave you empty and vacant. Depression decays any optimism for greater things.
Truth: Many who have struggled with depression can live full, productive lives. In fact, many high profile people, including President Abraham Lincoln, writer J.K. Rowling, artist Michelangelo, actor Harrison Ford, choreographer Alvin Ailey, actress Courteney Cox, entrepreneur Richard Branson, prime minister Winston Churchill, rocker Bruce Springsteen and baseball player Ken Griffey, Jr. have been successful in their chosen professions.
7. “Suicide is the way out.”
Depression, at its worst, corrodes your ability to think and reason. It keeps your focus rigid, narrow and dangerously limited to the belief that dying by suicide can relieve you from your emotional and physical pain.
Truth: Getting immediate intervention will diminish depression’s lethal hold on you. With psychotherapy and/or medication, your symptoms of depression may lessen. As you recover, you will likely be surprised you ever thought of dying by suicide because possibility, promise and hope have emerged in your life again.
Depression is a serious but treatable illness. Don’t let the lies depression tells you make you think it isn’t. There is always help. There is always hope.