“I have depression, depression does not have me.”
This has been my mantra for over 15 months. Hospitalized at the end of April last year, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. My hospitalization began my journey to learn all I can about depression. Along the way, I have collected tools that I use daily. Some tools for facing my depression are now so ingrained, that I use them without thinking.
Coping statements for anxiety and depression have been a huge help.
Confronting unhelpful thinking has been one of my biggest challenges. There are 10 statements I have found highly effective in exposing unhelpful thinking. 15 months ago, I hardly knew there was such a thing as unhelpful thinking.
That said, I have always been careful not to “make fun of or disparage myself.”
You won’t hear me muttering “boy I am stupid for doing that,” or “I will never be able to do that.” Can’t is NOT in my vocabulary. And I know the danger of negative self-talk. And the power of positive affirmations. I do not think telling me I cannot do something is a trigger for me to show everyone I can do it. But it very well could be.
Until 15 months ago, it never occurred to me that depression was using unhelpful thinking to win me over to the dark side.
And I would never have suspected that learning coping statements for depression could help give me my life back. For over 43 years, I concealed my depression from myself. And I was adamant that no one else would ever see that I was less than perfect. I felt I had to be strong, so others could count on me. I thought of myself as Evergreen.
This feeling of always being “on” was exhausting.
There was no time for self-care and no recognition that maybe occasionally I should stop and smell the roses. Heck, even today it is hard for me to sit through a half-hour TV show without thinking about what I need to do next. Often, I will forgo the show and get up and do whatever it was I was thinking I needed to do. “No rest for the weary.”
From the hospital handout, here are 10 Unhelpful Thinking Styles:
All or Nothing Thinking – Sometimes called “black and white thinking.”
Mental Filter – Only paying attention to certain types of evidence.
Jumping to Conclusions – There are two types; Mind-Reading (imagining we know what others are thinking) and Fortune-Telling (predicting the future).
Emotional Reasoning – Assuming that because we feel a certain way, what we think must be true.
Labeling – Assigning labels to ourselves or other people.
Over-generalizing – Seeing a pattern based upon a single event or being overly broad in the conclusions we draw.
Disqualifying the Positive – Discounting the good things that have happened or that you have done for some reason or another.
Magnification (catastrophizing) & Minimizing – Blowing things out of proportion.
Critical Words (should and must) – Using critical words like “should,” “must,” or “ought” can make us feel guilty or like we have already failed.
Personalization – Blaming yourself or taking responsibility for something that wasn’t completely your fault. Conversely, blaming other people for something that was your fault.
Reviewing the list, I can think of many examples for each unhelpful thinking style.
With years of experience using these, I could teach the class in their effectiveness in keeping me from seeing the truth about situations. In the end, these styles have been a key tool in depression’s ability to keep me from seeing there are other ways to live. Other ways, that are not secretive, and do not involve unhelpful thinking.
I challenge each with coping statements.
22 Coping Statements for Dealing with Anxiety
- I don’t have to make myself anxious about anything or put myself down if I stupidly and foolishly do make myself anxious.
- My anxiety is bad, but I’m not bad.
- I don’t always have to feel comfortable, and it isn’t awful when I don’t.
- I can bear-and bear with-anxiety: it won’t kill me.
- It is not necessary to be in perfect control of my anxious moments. To demand that I be in control only multiplies my symptoms.
- Others are not required to treat me with kid gloves when I feel uncomfortable.
- The world doesn’t have to make it easy for me to get a handle on my anxiety.
- Anxiety is a part of life; it is not bigger than life.
- My over-reactive nervous system is a part of my life, but it’s not bigger than life.
- I can take my anxiety with me when going places and doing things that I am reluctant to do (or stay isolated).
- Controlling my anxiety is important, but hardly urgent.
- Comfort is nice, but not necessary.
- I don’t have to be the one person in the universe to feel comfortable all the time.
- I’d better not feel calm, relaxed, and serene all the time because if I did, I’d have one dickens of a time motivating myself.
- Anxiety and panic are burrs in my saddle: highly inconvenient and uncomfortable, but hardly awful.
- I don’t have to hassle myself or put myself down for not coping better with my anxiety.
- This, too, will likely pass.
- I can blend in with the flow of my anxiety; I don’t have to go tooth-and-nail, head-on with it.
- If I feel anxious, I feel anxious… tough!
- I may have my anxiety, but I am not my anxiety.
- I don’t have to shame or demean myself for anything-including creating tight knots in my gut.
- Feelings of awkwardness, nervousness, or queasiness may interfere with my projects, but they do not have to ruin them.
15 months later, I am understanding more about depression and what I can do to live a balanced life.
I see a future, rather than a wall that I cannot get past. This feeling of hope I have had before. The past 43 years have not been one interminable stretch of dullness and lack of interest. I have ebbed and flowed just like everyone does. Yes, my highs have sometimes been higher, and my lows have been “circle the drain” at times. But asking for help for my depression from a professional has made all of the difference.
Depression is always looking for new ways to draw me over to its side of the room.
Yet here I am. It can be done. I am living with depression but am living more on my terms. The many tools I have learned. Including coping statements, have been a welcome addition to my skill set when it comes to depression.
Understanding Unhelpful Thinking has been a colossal step forward.
Seeing how depression was casually lobbing unhelpful thinking into my head, I am better equipped to recognize it early and address it. Facing depression in all it’s forms has been the hallmark of my recovery. Finally letting myself see what is going on, I am better equipped to work on it and learn better ways to handle all of my depression antics.
My concealed depression is written under the alias “Depression is not my boss.” I have certifications in SMART Recovery and am a Global Career Development Facilitator.
Diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder last year, I am sharing what I learn.
If you know someone who might benefit from reading this, please share.
I very much appreciate your comments. I learn from them and respond to everyone.