It’s not your fault. Depression is not a choice and you can’t just “choose to be happy.”
One of the more powerful statements I make to my clients regarding depression or any strong emotion is: “You cannot control your feelings.” You’ve tried that, right? How many times have we heard, “Stop being depressed!” “Stop being angry!” “Stop being anxious!” “Stop being so insecure!” How well did it work for you? It didn’t, right?
We can control our actions, our responses. We can change our thinking patterns over time, with lots of practice. But we cannot control our feelings.
The symptoms of depression make depression worse. What that means is: depression makes your feelings and thoughts lie to you. Depression says, “You are alone.” “No one cares.” “You’re not important.” “You have no right to feel this way.” Depression encourages you to isolate, stay in bed, or lash out at those around you. Naturally, doing these things makes you feel worse, separates you from loved ones, and reinforces the dark thoughts and despair.
When we give in to the symptoms, we become more depressed. We cannot choose our feelings, but we can choose our actions. We can begin to change what we believe about ourselves and our symptoms. We celebrate the little things in depression recovery, because I know how much harder the little things become. Getting up, showering, exercising, talking to a loved one, sharing, engaging in a hobby, volunteering, petting a dog, getting outside, scheduling a counseling session… we celebrate these victories! They are a start.
There is an expression used in DBT (a therapy used to treat depression, among other things) that says, “Just don’t make it worse!” And since those actions are ways of not giving into the things that make depression worse, it is a huge step in the right direction. Getting started is often the hardest part. I would be honored to partner with you in dealing with your depression. You are not alone, and there is help!