Wow! My last blog article “How Depression Lies to You – Part 1” http://awakeningcenter.blogspot.com/2012/02/how-depression-lies-to-you-part-1.html generated a lot of comments both on line and in my sessions with clients. Depression tells us so many lies!
My friend Gerald Stein who writes “Blogging about Psychotherapy from Chicago” (http://drgeraldstein.wordpress.com/) reminded me of another lie depression tells us, “You’re always going to feel this way. You’ll never feel any better.” Of course, as I pointed out in Part 1, you know those are absolutes which are not absolutely true – so go put 2 quarters in your jar. :o)
That’s how depression keeps itself going. By telling you that you are never going to feel any better, you give up and sink back down into the depression – thus proving depression’s lie.
Unfortunately there are some therapists who believe this lie as well. Way back when I was struggling with my own pit of depression, the therapist I was seeing told me, “Maybe you should just admit to yourself that you’re always going to be this way. Maybe this is just who you are. You are just a depressed person.” (At the time I didn’t know you were allowed to switch therapists if it just wasn’t working. But again I digress…)
The truth is that every emotion we have, even depression, comes and goes. An emotion is like a wave: it rises, crests and fades. If we step back and notice our emotion, without becoming attached to it, we can allow it to rise, crest and fade.
But noticing that you’re in the beginning of a depression, usually just starts up depression’s lies: “OMG, I feel down in the dumps. Today’s going to be horrible! You’re not going to feel any better. You might as well just stay in bed all day.” And you know what happens with that – you get more depressed. And when you get more depressed, depression just tells you more lies – and you get more depressed – which generates more lies – and you get more depressed.
By this time usually clients point out to me, “But don’t I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. Isn’t it a fact that my brain causes my depression?”
Well, yes and no. When I was depressed I took antidepressants because I was told that I had a chemical imbalance in my brain. I didn’t find that it was that helpful. I worked hard with various therapists over a course of years, and I found my way back to the “person I was meant to be.” Now, I feel truly different; I don’t even think of myself as a depressed person – and I don’t take medication. And if my depression was truly caused by a chemical imbalance, how could that be?
I do not want to imply that taking medication is bad or wrong. Antidepressants are much better now than they were in the 1980’s when I was struggling. Some of my clients find that medication is like a light switch – it makes a huge difference in how they feel and think.
No one really knows what causes depression. I always wonder, “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” Do the lies that depression tells you cause the chemical imbalance or does the chemical imbalance cause the lies that depression tells you?
If you ask a friend to think of the saddest day of their life, they will feel a physical change in their mind and body: a feeling of heaviness comes over them, an ache in the chest, a pressure behind their eyes, a sapping of energy. Now if we were able to test their brain, there would be a chemical change – simply by thinking a sad thought. If we asked the same friend to now think of the happiest day of their life, they would experience different physical, mental and emotional sensations – again, simply by thinking a happy thought.
Ugh! That last sentence made me think of the movie Pollyanna: “Let’s play the glad game. Let’s be glad we don’t need the crutches!” I don’t want this blog to be, “All you have to do is just think happy thoughts and you won’t be depressed!” But we know that listening to the lies of depression fuels the depression. And the deeper we sink into the depression, the harder it is to do the things we know will help lift us out of the depression. But just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it is impossible. And it doesn’t mean that you will always be this way, forever.
I would love to hear your questions, comments, suggestions, feedback about this – both positive and negative. I’ll write more in my next blog.
Amy Grabowski, MA, LCPC is a psychotherapist who truly enjoys helping others find the person they were meant to be! She dedicates this blog to someone she loves who struggles with depression.
I found the image “Don’t Believe The Lies” on a blog by “Alizah Grace” – you may want to read her post: “Pants on Fire” - http://alizah-deathtolife.blogspot.com/2011/01/pants-on-fire-monday-january-17-2011.html
You can buy the “Don’t Believe The Lies” t-shirt at: http://www.redmolotov.com/catalogue/tshirts/all/dont-believe-the-lies-tshirt/blacktshirt.html