the logic of depression

However difficult it has been in the past, you can learn to sleep well in the future.

I came across this comment on a blog I was led to. It was a comment about depression. Since it’s in the public domain I have reprinted it here. It illustrates so well what I have called the Logic of Depression.

I’ve underlined some key phrases, and given my explanations to show the circular and self-defeating nature of depressive self-talk:

“Sometimes I wish I could just feel normal and be normal like so many other people I see. I always wonder why I can’t be happy. I try. I try and look at things as a learning experience and think positive but sometimes it’s just too hard.”

The logic of depression

Look at the language. This is what the logic of depression does, it lies to you.

Sometimes I wish I could just feel normal”.

Only sometimes? That is promising, what about the other times? Does that mean that sometimes you feel OK, in which case how can you do more of that and increase the amount of time that you feel OK? What is normal? If normal is average then we are already part of that, all of us, so ‘normal’ is within your range of abilities. The problem is often that we compare ourselves with others and, surprise surprise, we always fall short. Naturally, if you are suffering from depression, you won’t feel or act in the same way as many other people. Wishing and hoping, especially when done using the logic that depression dictates to us, is a guarantee of self-criticism and feeling isolated.

“Like so many other people I see”

Depressive thinking isolates us with its faulty logic. It says things like “Why me? Why am I so different?” Leaving aside that these are pointless and unanswerable questions, they also increase the sense of isolation through distorted thinking, like making untested assumptions (other people don’t get depressed) and over-generalisation (so many other people).

“I always wonder why I can’t be happy”

It may have something to do with the way depression has you always asking yourself this question. It’s also an assumption (how do you know you can’t be happy one day in the future, do you have predictive powers?). It’s also based on one of depression’s many lies. You have been happy at some time in your life, even if it was only fleeting. Everybody has. Sure, some people are happier than others, but we are born with the ability to be happy, and we’re not born depressed.

And what does happiness feel like? Would you recognise it if it happened? Another problem with depressive feelings is that they overwhelm us and stop us from recognising other parts of our experience.

“I try. I try”

Stop trying, that’s my advice. Whenever we ‘try’ we are predicting that the likelihood is failure. Strike ‘try’ from your vocabulary. One of the significant things about depression is that it promotes a struggle, “Try to feel OK…”, “Try to get up in the morning…” etc. I always recommend that people stop trying because the struggle is with yourself, it’s evenly balanced and there won’t be a winner!

Instead of trying, just do what you do. Use a different approach. If you are having a bad day, accept it and then get on and do something. However bad you feel, they are just feelings. You can feel bad and think “time for a shower” or, “I feel terrible, better go for a walk.” You don’t have to feel good about something to do it. That’s how so-called ‘normal’ people function. They may feel bad but they get on with things anyway. If you want to be like a normal person (as you said above), you can start by acting like one (and ignoring what depression tells you).

“Sometimes it’s just too hard”

That’s true, and one thing that people often miss is that they survive the hard bits and eventually it stops being hard…, until the next time.

Depression ruins life and creates tributaries that seep into other areas of our lives; it threatens work and relationships for example. I know this and I’m not saying that changing one’s style of thinking and speaking is easy, but it can be done.

The simplest way to go about it is to spot the kind of statements that depression persuades us to use, and to change them. That will break the cycle. You don’t have to believe it or feel you want to, but as you start to do it, you can begin to reclaim your thinking and challenge the logic of depression.

I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.


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