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How Depression Filters Your Reality

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When you have depression, your mind filters things in a different way, a way that tries to leave a stain on everything. Not only are the innocuous or neutral affected, but the positive as well. Things get filtered and translated by depression into something that is totally twisted around and almost unrecognizably different.

A terrific example is the idea of hope. To most people, hope is a terrific thing. It keeps us going. It’s encouraging, constructive. Hope builds people up so they can be more resilient through challenges. They can face adversity and persevere. Hope becomes a survival tool that allows people to endure.

This seems to be the prevailing assessment on hope, what it is and what it means. People with depression, by contrast, approach the idea of hope differently. A person with depression defines hope as a reality that is likely possible, but not in place. Hope, in this case, consists of a better version of what is or what should be.

The everyday reality, in which the person with depression exists, falls short of the idea of what is being hoped for. As a result, every time hope comes into the picture, it is a reminder of the disparity between the real and the ideal. Thus, hope becomes this instrument of taunting torment. Every granular, tiny, nuanced thing that differs from this bastardized picture of hope becomes glaring and intolerable.

If you weren’t, say, hopeful about the rain clearing up, then puddles wouldn’t bother you much. However, when you imagine a beautiful, bright, sunny day with a slight breeze, where you’re on the porch in a rocking chair with some sort of cold drink and everything is perfect, it is then you notice your rainy day has no sun. There is no chair. There is no drink. There is no porch. In fact, the runoff from the roof actually is creating a trench near the side of the house, which may even hamper the ability to have a porch, because it might have cracked the foundation.

This twisted hope serves only to heighten your attention and focus toward what is lacking. Instead of being something to strive for, something that will ultimately allow you to prevail. That’s just one small part of how depression turns around someone’s reality. One thing that makes depression so difficult: Truth is not true. Everything you interpret, see and intake with your senses is interpreted in a depressed way. It’s translated and repackaged into this thing that is totally dissimilar to everyone else’s interpretation. When the tools you use to sense and interpret the world are different or faulty, the results will be as well.

So, let’s imagine a thermometer. Most people would have a thermometer that measures from freezing and above, as well as the degrees below the freezing point. Someone who has depression, however, has a different thermometer. There’s only reads from freezing and below. Let’s say it’s a summer day, and it’s 80 degrees outside. The typical person would be able to go outside with their thermometer and read that it’s 80, maybe 81 degrees. They are able to get a quantified reading produced by the tool they are using.

The depressed person, on the other hand, can’t measure it. They have no ability to know whether it’s 80, whether it’s 60 or whether it’s 110. It’s outside the bounds of what they can measure. They might not even be aware there is the possibility the temperature can even be above freezing, thinking maybe the universe only exists at freezing or below. Hope is not hope. Truth is not true. That is the filter of depression.

Image via Thinkstock.
Originally published: August 25, 2016
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