How Depression Lies to You - Part 1
Depression lies to you! Let’s face it head on: Depression is a mean old lying liar! If depression was on TV it would be Tommy Flanagan, the Pathological Liar from SNL. If depression was at a party, you would avoid it like Debby Downer! If depression was a co-worker, you would not believe 98% of what it told you. Depression lies!
I know depression lies! I worked really hard to stop believing the lies depression told me years ago. And I want so badly to help you stop believing depression’s lies too.
The problem with depression is that you don’t believe it is lying to you. You believe what depression tells you. Why? Because depression lies to you about YOU! And because depression may have been lying to you about you for such a very long time, you are so used to what depression tells you that you don’t even question the truthfulness of it.
Sometimes depression lies about other people: “People don’t really care.” But that lie may lead to another lie which is about you: “You’re so unimportant that no one cares.” Or “You’re so boring that no one cares.” Or a bigger lie, “You’re so unlovable that no one cares.”
Even though I could go on and on about all the different lies that depression tells, I am going to zero in on just one lie – although I must admit I am having a hard time figuring out which lie to focus on because all of depression’s lies are so destructive. I promise that in my next blog article I will punch the living daylights out of another of depression’s lies.
One way that depression lies is by using ‘absolutes’ that are not ‘absolutely true.’ An absolute is a word like: always, never, nothing, nobody, everyone, everything… - you get the idea. It is absolutely true if I said, “I have never climbed Mount Everest.” (It’s probably absolutely true to even say, “I will never climb Mount Everest.” But then again, I may surprise myself someday.) It is not absolutely true if I said, “You’ll never get your book published.”
(Notice how different depressed Parts may use different pronouns – a young depressed Part may say, “I’ll never be good enough.” While another older more critical depressed Part may say, “You’ll never be good enough.” But I digress….)
When depression lies to you and says, “You’ll never get your book published” you feel like you are fighting an impossible battle and want to give up. When you give up, that just reinforces the lie that depression just told you. If we say a true statement – try to substitute another word for the absolute – it doesn’t have the same defeating ‘one, two punch’ of the depressed lie: “It’s been hard to find a publisher for my book. I will continue to search until I find one.”
Since depression has been lying to you for such a long time, it may be hard for you to think of a substitute word. I suggest thinking of your best friend, what would you say to him or her. If your friend said, “I’ll never get my book published” would you say, “Yeah, you better give up trying?” No. You would encourage your friend, “Hang in there. I know it’s been hard, but keep trying. It could be right around the corner. You can’t tell when it will happen for you.”
I encourage my clients to make a game out of catching the absolutes that are not absolutely true. Put a glass jar on the counter of your kitchen. Every time anyone in your household uses an absolute that is not absolutely true, put a quarter in the jar. When the jar is full, treat yourself to something fun or pampering – go to a movie, get a massage, buy a new novel.
At first you’ll notice how many absolutes that are not absolutely true you actually use – and depression may even try to lie to you about that, “You’ll never stop doing this. You’ll always be this way.” (Hey, there’s 50 cents towards your massage right there!) After a while you’ll notice that you can catch depression in the middle of a lie, “You’ll nev…. Stop, that’s not absolutely true!” Eventually you’ll get in the habit of speaking the truth to yourself.
I would love to hear from you – what lies does depression tell you? Do you have any depression fighting tools that work for you?
I want to thank Zazzle Insights for permission to use the image above. You can purchase this card and send it to a depressed friend (or buy it for yourself) at http://zazzleinsights.posterous.com/?tag=cards
Amy Grabowski, MA, LCPC is the Founder and Director of The Awakening Center. She has written a book: “Both Halves of Recovery from Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating.”
Does anyone know a publisher? :o)