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When you’re suffering from depression, you feel like your own worst enemy. It’s not just your body that is taken over; it’s your mind as well. Your mind can often run away with you, implanting dark thoughts buried so deep that you don’t think they’ll ever go away.
My inner monologue is so much more than a Debbie Downer when I have depression. It’s like Debbie Downer, in the rain, crying, having just found out everyone and everything she knows has been wiped out. I don’t know about you, but I have such a hard time silencing my inner monologue when she’s a Debbie x10. I have a constant stream of negative thoughts, all of which I find incredibly challenging to shake off. Deep down, I know they’re unrealistic and untrue, but it’s so difficult not to succumb to them when your mind is weak and vulnerable.
You have to find comfort in the fact that we all struggle with this, so you’re not alone. To help you win your fight against depression, here are five common negative thoughts you may have during your depressive episode and how to combat them.
This thought is often the first to enter my head when I’m on the edge of depression. Quickly following that thought are ones that are equally unfair. I’m sure you may have thought, ‘I’ve got it again how weak am I?’ Or maybe you think, ‘I can’t believe I wasn’t strong enough to nip this in the bud before it got worse.’
The most important thing to remember is that depression is not something we can control. It is a mental illness. Just as randomly as you can come down with the flu, you can come down with depression.
Many who fight depression blame themselves for it happening to them at some point and beat themselves up mentally, as they’ve struggled to understand why God chose them to deal with this illness. The automatic reaction is to look within yourself when depression strikes, and assume it’s something you’re doing wrong. Just for your information, it’s not! It’s not your fault at all! Please don’t let those irrational thoughts make you feel this way. Do not let your inner Debbie blame you just because she is unreasonable.
What depression feels like to me on a day to day basis is a heavy weight on my chest. I feel it every time I breathe in and every time I breathe out. It never alters. It doesn’t get worse; it doesn’t get better. It doesn’t necessarily hurt. It’s just there, which is what makes it uncomfortable, like a foreign body inside of me. It’s a dark cloud raining over your entire body and state of mind. You feel like you will never laugh or smile again. It sucks you into its abyss, and it’s tough to get out.
Every time I get a bout of depression, I feel like I have never felt as bad as I do at that moment. But the truth is that there was that time I had depression before. And all the times before that. When depression keeps returning, and you think it’s more painful than the previous one, it’s easy to believe that it’s getting worse, which makes you panic further. But, the truth is, you always forget how bad you felt the time before. For example, I put my whole previous depression period in a box inside my mind and lock it up tight because I don’t want to recall the pain and sorrow. It doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen.
The unfortunate truth about depression is that, when you have it, it doesn’t feel better or worse. The only variable is how long it lasts each time. So, yes, you have felt this bad before. And you know what? You came out the other side last time you felt this way, and you will come out the other side again. Just keep fighting. It’s only a matter of time.
Before I know it, when I have a bout of depression, my inner Debbie tries to dictate to me what I can and can’t do. You will have some days where you don’t want to human. Perhaps you prefer to lie in bed all day, or not leave the house, or even refuse to get dressed. That’s perfectly normal.
Depression affects the body as well as the mind. It’s an illness that sucks energy from you, so expect that you’re not going to be up for some of your daily tasks. Don’t give up though, just take everything at your own pace. Sometimes you don’t want to eat, but sometimes all you want to do is eat. Everybody and every day is different. That’s why we all have different ways of dealing with depression.
Just, please, don’t let your inner Debbie tell you what to do. Ain’t nobody going to tell you what you’re gonna do! You’re not five years old anymore. Debbie isn’t your Mother. You get to be the one that decides what you want to do. And there’s no such thing as ‘can’t.’ You physically can do it, even if you’re not feeling up to it.
Remember that and Debbie might just give you a break.
A classic, this thought is one of inner Debbie’s all-time favorite digs. The number of times I’ve thought this during an episode of depression is countless. I always feel bad for my friends and family. I think to myself ‘what have they done to deserve me putting on them like this’ and ‘everybody’s got their own stuff going on, without me adding to their troubles.’ When you think these thoughts, that is Debbie being super irrational at her finest. She wants you to feel as worse as you possibly can at that moment.
Well, don’t listen! No matter what your family has got going on in their lives, they love you very much, and they would never want you to feel like you are burdening them. They want to be there for you and see you through this tough time. They do not want you to feel like you have to cope with it all on your own.
I hate to break it to you, but if you try to deal with it on your own, then you’re going to find it even more challenging. You need your family and friends around you, the people who love you the most and will be there for you no matter what. Part and parcel of being a friend or family member is that they’re there with you during the good times and the bad. Don’t forget that you can lean on other people, and they wouldn’t want it any other way.
If you’re really struggling with this one, then talk to your loved ones. Tell them that you’re having these thoughts. I guarantee that they won’t be able to say to you fast enough that you’re absolutely, unequivocally, NOT a burden.
If you’re having suicidal thoughts, then it is imperative to get help. NOW. Tell your loved ones, visit your doctor, or even call a mental health charity helpline.
Sure, the outlook might look bleak now, but you will get through this.
In the meantime, you need the support of your friends and family, as well as a trained professional. Think of all the times you’ve had depression before and remember that you got through every time. It was tough, and there was often a long road ahead, but you did it. You didn’t let your inner Debbie win. In fact, you kicked her ass!
If this is your first time experiencing depression, take me for example. I have had several bouts of depression in my lifetime, and I’m still living to tell the tales. I don’t have any special skills; I’m just an average girl. If thousands of other people in the world can combat depression, as well as me, then why can’t you? Don’t give up. There is always a way out of the darkness.
It’s true that everybody deals with depression differently. If you’re not seeking comfort through food, then you’re seeking support through others, desperately hoping that they’ll say something to make you feel better and within a blink, a flash, the depression cloud will be gone. But it doesn’t work like that. Words have no force of attack against depression’s strong armor. Depression lasts as long as it wants to, and it’s out of your control.
All you can do is go through the motions of your day, eat when you’re supposed to eat and sleep when you’re supposed to sleep. Then hope to God that, when you wake up, the dark cloud lifts.
With depression, you never know whether it’s going to rain or pour. But it’s up to you to fight it. You must look to yourself. Keep holding on for those sunshiny days, where the dark cloud is nowhere in sight. And keep fighting and battling through, as so many other people have done before you, because you refuse to give up.
And even though the sunshiny days can be few and far between, depending on the severity of your depression, when the sun does eventually shine on those clear days, oh my goodness, it feels glorious. You feel human again. You feel like YOU again. And you feel the urge to savor every last ray of sunshine because you never know if, or when, depression will rear its ugly head again. Just like you never know if, or when, your inner Debbie Downer will return with those negative thoughts.
But always remember that you don’t have to listen to her. She doesn’t control you, she’s temporary, and you can defeat her and your depression. Here’s to those sunshiny days!