Ever been told just to “think positive” or “positive thoughts lead to positive feelings?” It would be great if it worked. But, you can’t think yourself out of Diabetes or Asthma, so it’s kind of insulting to be told to “think” your way out of Depression. Not possible. No way, no how. Nice try. How’s that for negative?!?
Not that a depressed person is able to concentrate all that well. At my worst, I’m lucky I can think my way through a grocery list. And putting a whole meal together is a major accomplishment. Please don’t ask me to make any decisions, big or small. I’ll be absolutely paralyzed. As in, I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not sure.
So, it’s not just about feeling bad and sad, but so many other synapses that have gone awry too. You can’t even be the judge of how well you are thinking either. Then the stigma of mental illness inhibits you from talking to anyone about how your thinking may be coming across in interactions with others. So you tend to withdraw, keeping to yourself as a means of protection and also to avoid saying anything negative that might offend someone.
Current treatment in therapy focuses on realistic thinking instead of positive thinking. Realistic thinking isn’t sugar-coated, and is simply fact/reality based. Being realistic decreases the potential risk of failure and disappointment. Positive thinking may set unrealistic expectations or goals that remain out of reach and reinforce negative outcomes. This suits me soooo much better than trying so hard to be something I’m not. I can’t force myself to feel a certain way, I don’t think anyone is capable of that. I just don’t believe in “fake it til you make it” as a philosophy of care for Depression. Now I just have to deal with the reality that drags me down to the dark places, so I can stay on the surface, and enjoy the sun with everyone else.