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Wordplay, personal resilience

Wordplay might seem a bit lighthearted to be associated with depression, but it’s not. If you suffer from depression, think about the words ‘suffer’ and ‘depression’, for example.

We bandy such concepts about without thinking. That’s careless, but more importantly, it can limit you in subtle yet powerful ways. Words have meanings and they influence you ‘behind the scenes’. When you change the words you can begin to change your experience,

(Warning: Some people get twitchy about this idea. They say it’s ‘just semantics’ or ‘playing with words’ in an effort to invalidate the well-proven concept that words affect how we think and feel.
That’s like saying that Beethoven is ‘just music’ or ‘playing with notes’ as a reason for not listening. It gives an opinion, but not a reason so reject Beethoven).

As I was saying… There’s no doubt that depression can make you suffer. But you can get some control over the degree of suffering by experimenting with the words you use to describe your experience. Choosing to be ‘inconvenienced by…’, ‘distressed’ or ‘annoyed by’… is in all probability less powerful that ‘suffering’ (this has to do with what are called ‘affective connotations’, trust me).

Likewise, ‘depression’ is a powerful term but one that doesn’t mean much. It’s a concept which has different ways of appearing in different people. It’s handy shorthand, but that’s all. No two examples are the same; some experts talk about ‘depressions’ for this reason.

That’s why it’s a good idea to find different words for your depression, ones which describe the experience more accurately but also in a less damaging way. Once you’ve done that, start experimenting with other words which are even more benign, and see how you feel.

PS: If you get stuck, refer to a theasaurus:

Ideas for words to replace ‘depression’.
Ideas for words to replace ‘suffering’.

 

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