When you’re depressed you don’t always see things accurately. Depression can feel like being smothered in a blanket: cut off from the rest of the world, disoriented and alone. When you’re depressed it’s easy to start believing things that you’d never believe when you’re well. It’s as if depression is sitting in your mind, telling you things that just aren’t true. Here are five of the lies that depression tells you.
1. You’re all alone. Depression thrives when you believe you’re by yourself. Sometimes this lie is phrased as “nobody cares” or “nobody understands” or “I have to cope with this by myself.” However this lie is presented, it tries to convince you that you’re completely isolated. What’s the truth? Unless you’re a hermit living in a cave in the middle of the desert, you’re not alone. You’re part of something larger. That might be your family, or an online community, or the people who live in your town or your country. This doesn’t mean that everyone is concerned about your mental health; you might not even know everyone who’s in that network. But simply being human means that you’re part of something bigger and that you’re connected.
2. Things will never change. Depression doesn’t like to be challenged, and it stops you from doing so by telling you there’s no point and that your life is going to be miserable forever. What’s the truth? Everything changes. Life is about change. Sometimes it’s slow, like a river eroding a mountain; sometimes it’s as fast as the sun coming out from behind a cloud. You weren’t born depressed, so you know that your mood has changed in the past. And the fact that you have really bad days means that some days are marginally less bad. Everything changes, and that includes you and your mood.
3. It’s all your fault. This is a classic depression lie. Not only are you feeling miserable, you should also feel guilty. What’s the truth? People become depressed for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it’s in response to loss, or because the world seems overwhelming. Sometimes it’s because the chemicals in your brain are out of balance. Maybe you did something which has led to your current low mood. Maybe you made a bad choice and now you’re stuck in a cycle of misery and guilt. But “cause” isn’t the same as “fault”. Even if you caused a situation – and most things in life have more than one simple cause – that doesn’t mean your depression is your fault. Depression would love you to blame yourself, because then you won’t challenge it. Don’t fall for this lie.
4.You’re not really depressed, you’re just lazy. This is a lie that enables depression to take over your life. Why would you seek help or treatment if you’re not really depressed? Depression wants you to believe that your problem is a character flaw, not an illness. What’s the truth? Having no energy is not the same as being lazy. Having no motivation is not the same as being lazy. Having no hope for the future is not the same as being lazy. Even if you’re normally someone who likes the easy life, that doesn’t make it OK for you to feel unhappy every day.
5. You need to be depressed. Sometimes this lie is phrased as “You’ve been depressed for so long that you have no other identity.” It’s a gross misrepresentation of the idea that depression is a coping mechanism. What’s the truth? Sometimes it’s helpful to understand depression as a way of coping with overwhelming circumstances. But that’s not the same as “needing” depression. If you have an infection, your body might give you a fever: the high temperature helps to kill off the infection. But you wouldn’t deliberately give yourself a fever just in case you caught an infection. And believing that you’ve been depressed for so long that it’s now your only available identity is just another version of the “things never change” lie. You won’t always feel this way, and you certainly don’t “need” to feel this way.
It can be difficult to challenge negative thoughts when you are suffering from depression. When you are depressed it’s hard to believe that anything could possibly help you. It feels like everything is hopeless, and that therapy will probably be a waste of time too. One of the most insidious and destructive aspects of depression is that it tricks people into believing that there is no hope and no help.
Even though it might seem impossible to believe right now, the truth is that there are effective treatments for depression. Our Scottsdale counselors at Pathways Counseling Services can teach you how to make day-to-day changes that will empower you and make you less vulnerable to depression; as well as help you build the kind of life that you can feel happy about. If you are battling depression we encourage you to schedule an appointment online or call our office at 480-235-1682 with any questions. You are not alone in your depression and we can help you to live an authentic and more meaningful life – a life that you deserve.