11 Lies Depression Tells You, And How To Stop Believing Them
Depression is the most convincing liar you’ll ever meet.
I once had a chronically depressed friend who refused to seek treatment because, as he put it, “only stupid people are happy.”
He believed the world was awful, people were terrible, and the future was bleak – and anyone who couldn’t see that was an idiot. He felt his “depression” (in quotes because, unsurprisingly, he didn’t believe he was depressed) was simply evidence of his superior intellect. He was perfectly content to sit in his misery, comforted by the knowledge that he was smarter than everyone else.
When I’m depressed, my inner narrative is a little different. Rather than thinking the world is terrible and hopeless, I think I’m terrible and hopeless. (Also stupid, lazy, ugly, unloved, etc.) It’s the same toxic bullshit, only turned inward, rather than outward.
People who’ve never been depressed might not understand the expression “depression lies.” But if you’ve struggled with depression, chances are you know exactly what it means – unless you are still in the grip of those lies, unable to see them for what they are, like my friend was.
The thing is, even when we’ve been through countless bouts of the blues, even when we know without a doubt that depression is a pants-on-fire liar, and even when we know from experience that we’ll come out the other side eventually, it’s easy to keep believing depression’s lies. We have to keep reminding ourselves that this stuff just isn’t true, no matter how hard our brains try to convince us that it is.
Here are some of depression’s favorite lies, and how to shut them down.
1. No one cares about me.
Millions of people worldwide are affected by depression. The ironic thing is, most of us feel alone. Depression likes to isolate you and make you think no one cares about your problems. It’s hard to reach out and be honest about feeling shitty. But when you do reach out, you’ll find that in fact, plenty of people care very much about you. Try it and see.
2. Talking about it won’t help.
This one gets me every time. When I’m feeling the very worst is when I’m most likely to cancel my appointment with my therapist. Talk therapy has helped me enormously, and I still have to drag myself there, mentally kicking and screaming, convinced it’s not going to help. Even if you think it’s pointless, pick up the phone. Talk to someone. You don’t have to believe it will help for it to help.
3. There’s something wrong with me.
No, it’s not just depression. It’s not a chemical imbalance. It’s something else. I’m a bad person, a really sick person – not sick with mental illness, just sick and wrong. That’s what depression tells me. Reading other people’s stories about dealing with depression is a great way to remind myself that no, there’s nothing wrong with me – except that I’m depressed.
4. Taking medication means I’m broken.
If you’ve got a thyroid deficiency, you take synthetic hormones. If you’ve got diabetes, you take insulin. If you have migraines, you take pain relievers. And if you have depression, you might need to take medication to control it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. So take your meds and feel better. No big deal.
5. I deserve to feel this way.
Don’t we all have a laundry list of things we’ve done wrong in our lives? Mistakes we’ve made, things we regret, things we’re ashamed of? It doesn’t mean you deserve to feel terrible. Depression doesn’t work like that. No matter what depression tells you, you deserve to live a life free of mental illness – and not just that. You deserve to live an amazing, magical life. We all do.
6. I’m a burden on everyone around me.
A few weeks after I broke up with him, one of my exes bitterly told me that “you should really consider cutting everyone who loves you out of your life.” He said that after the initial shock, they’d probably feel just as relieved as he did. “You drain everyone around you of every resource they ever had.” My depression loved that one so much, it added it to its Greatest Hits playlist. But it’s bullshit. I’m not a burden, and neither are you.
7. Everything is my fault.
One symptom of my sickness is my need to control everything – and everyone – around me. Guess what? If you think you’re in control of everything, then when things go wrong, it’s always your fault. Depression is happy to tell you that everything is your fault, especially other people’s feelings and actions. Not your fault. Shut up, depression.
8. I’m not sick, I’m just lazy and stupid.
I absolutely, completely, 100 percent believe that depression is a real illness, and it’s terrible, and it’s no one’s fault, and no one wants to be depressed. But sometimes I don’t really truly believe that depression is what’s wrong with me. I think I’m just lazy. I think I’m stupid and pathetic and desperate for attention. Other people are genuinely ill and deserving of compassion, my depression tells me. I’m just a fake and a loser. You know what? Those “other people” are probably thinking the same thing.
9. The people I love would be better off without me.
This is a pretty obvious lie. Of course your partner, your parents, your children, and your friends would miss you if you weren’t around. Even the guy you buy your coffee from every morning would miss you. But depression has no problem telling you huge, ridiculous lies. If you start truly believing this one, please know that it is not true, and then call a depression hotline, your therapist, your best friend – anyone who can reassure you that no one would be better off without you.
10. There’s no point trying to change anything.
Depression likes it when you stay in bed all day, pinned underneath its sticky, heavy hand. It doesn’t want you to get up and fight. It wants you to believe there’s no hope, that nothing will change, and that you’re powerless. Don’t fall for it. There’s always hope, and you absolutely have the power to change your life, and to change how you feel. Take baby steps if you have to – get up and take a shower. Step outside and feel the wind on your face. Things are already changing.
11. I’m never going to feel better.
Sometimes I don’t even try to fight this one. “Okay,” I say to my depression, “you’re right. I’m never going to feel better. Meanwhile, I’ll go for run. And then I’ll take a hot shower, and then I’ll get dressed up and go meet a friend for dinner.” The only way to feel better is to keep moving. Depression can say whatever it wants. You can even believe it – just don’t let it stop you.
Image via weheartit.com.
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