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The Role 'Debby Downer' Plays in My Mental Health

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Negativity holds power. But we think it’s bad by it’s very nature. What if — for a second — we thought about negative thoughts as a sort of subconscious way of protecting us? I’ve decided I’m going to start calling my negative thinking side Debby Downer. It kind of gives me a chuckle and could spark me into remembering to twist my thoughts into something more positive. My positive and strong side is now called Resilient Rachael. I discovered this before 7 am this morning as I laid in bed.

Because my brain said “we’re gonna have a bad day today.”

And I responded with “no, we’re not. We’re gonna have a good day and get out of this rut we’ve been in.”

So Debby Downer and Resilient Rachael were born.

Debby Downer likes to believe that nobody will ever love her as more than a friend. Debby doesn’t realize what she’s trying to say is that she’s afraid of rejection.

Resilient Rachael comes in and says “Someone will love us. We have to feel the fear and go for it anyway.”

Debby Downer isn’t really negative at all. She only appears so on the surface. She’s really trying to protect us from more hurt because Debby’s the one that feels it the most. She’s the sulker. The one who will lay in bed for hours and think “we got rejected again. We’re not any good to anyone. Nobody’s ever gonna love us. Let’s stop trying and throw in the towel.” Debby doesn’t like feeling that way.

So Resilient Rachael needs to come in and tell her “Hey, look, I know this place feels familiar and it’s easy to get stuck. It’s easy to stop trying in an attempt to protect ourselves from the pain. But we’re not gonna get anywhere if we sit here and let a sad experience take us over.”

Even as I write, Debby is saying “you’re full of shit.”

Resilient Rachael says “just give it time and you will see that we will be just fine. We love ourselves. We are worthy. That means we are worthy of love. Our friends and our family love us. Why wouldn’t a female be able to love us one day too?”

And I write this as “us” because frankly everyone’s got a negative side and a positive side. One sometimes outweighs the other. But it’s important to me to find someone that’s going to love all of me. She needs to realize I can get negative sometimes and learn to be OK with it and support me or help me to get out of it. She needs to love every part of me. In fact, I need to love every part of me.

So I’ll end this with saying to Debby Downer: Debby Downer, I love you. You’re a part of me. You’re only trying to protect me. We will get through this life together.

Getty image by Ian Ross Pettigrew

Originally published: March 14, 2023
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