Does “Looking on the Bright Side” Matter If You’re Depressed?
One of the things you shouldn’t say to someone with bipolar depression is, “just look on the bright side.” This includes saying things like, “at least you’re not starving to death,” or, “there are many people worse off than you,” or, “just think positively.”
We would all thank you to stop saying these things.
But if you are suffering from bipolar depression, does looking on the bright side help or, indeed, matter at all?
Looking at the Bright Side
So, what is looking at the bright side? I’ll simply define it as seeing the positive side of things – the metaphorical “glass half-full” way of viewing life. It’s not rainy and gloomy; it’s a day when the flowers are receiving needed refreshment. Oh, I'm not on fire; I'm just toasty warm. You know, that sort of thing.
In one respect it’s just a game. It’s just a game of reframing. How can we rearrange reality such that it resembles something shiny instead of something dull?
Yes, I Can Still Play the Bright Side Game When I’m Depressed
And yes, I’m perfectly capable of playing that game, even through bipolar depression.
The problem is, the game doesn’t mean a hill of beans. The game doesn’t make me feel any better. Realizing that the plants are receiving nourishment through the grey winter doesn’t make seasonal affective disorder (SAD) any less seasonally affected. Trust me.
In fact, sometimes looking on the bright side can actually make depression worse. It goes something like this: So many people have it worse off than me. Those people aren’t depressed. What’s wrong with me? (This, of course, is just another depressed thought that you have to fight. It’s drawing a false conclusion. But that’s another post.)
The One Good Thing about Looking on the Bright Side when Depressed
The one good thing I can say about looking on the bright side when depressed is this: at least you’re not looking on the dark side – which is to say that you’re fighting the nasty, dark, evil thoughts that your depressed brain is sending out. Because dwelling in these thoughts, the thoughts of depression, won’t make you feel better either. In fact, they tend to breed other thoughts just like them, taking your further down the rabbit hole.
So, does looking on the bright side matter if you’re depressed? Well, sort of. It may not make you feel any better, but it has the chance of not making you feel any worse. And that’s an improvement over the alternative.
Tracy, N. (2014, March 4). Does “Looking on the Bright Side” Matter If You’re Depressed?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2014/03/looking-bright-side-matter-depressed
Author: Natasha Tracy
Positivity, will it always work? No. But it's always worth trying.
For the record, all I managed to do yesterday was a have a bath and get changed into some clean clothes... It was my big accomplishment for the whole weekend. I really wanted to go outside. The sunshine and fresh air always has a way of making me feel a little better. Even if I just fall asleep in a chair outside or on a beach somewhere. But instead all I managed to do was draw back the drapes, open the door and let in some fresh air while parked my butt on the couch again. Baby steps
I'm not a religious person. I truly am afraid of the dark and I liken it to depression. I'm afraid of letting it take me down another dark alley where I can't find my way home so to speak. I am petrified of ending up in hospital again. The light is just a metaphor for the necessay steps I have to take to help myself
I live alone so I don't have a husband or kids to do things for me. I have to fight like hell to keep my head above the water. I have to work for a living to pay my bills. I'm considered a high functioning bipolar but in all honesty I really don't feel like it by the time I get home or on most weekends or "holidays"
I have a tendancy to draw the drapes, turn off the phone, tv, etc and hibernate under the covers for days at a time when I'm depressed. I could care less about personal hygiene or anything else for that matter. Many times I cry myself to sleep. But like I said I don't have the luxury to stay that way. And no it's not just sadnes I'm bleeping depressed more days than I care to mention. If I didn't fight for myself I'd surely have ended up homeless by now. I'm not kidding.
Chunking activities way, way down into smaller more manageable activities is the only thing that has ever really helped me get things done when I'm like that.
And trying my best to be positive and hopeful is a daily chore but at least I give it an honest try. It helps to keep me from sinking into a deeper depression. Obviously some days I'm more successful at this game than others..
It's a beautiful warm sun shiney spring day today but I wouldn't have known that if I didn't throw back the curtains and open the sliding glass door to let in some fresh air.
It's time to pick myself up off this damn couch, have myself a bath, get dressed in some clean clothes, maybe put on a little makeup and go for a nice walk while the sun is still shining and before darkness falls once again...
If i am just feeling down because I dropped an ice cream on the ground telling me thats its OK because because of.... is OK but not when I'm in depression.
The tricky part I guess is for family and friends to be able to know where my head is at and act accordingly
I exercise and eat right and that helps but, it's still there. I have a lot of strategies to keep me going however 1/2 my days feel like I'm slogging through mud. So, I am grateful for those other days
I don't feel deep depression because their not illusions. They're the real thing...
Being in a better place currently, I do try to remind myself of the good things when I'm having a difficult time and it helps.
For a person who is in a seriously depressed state and feeling nothing but despair, it just doesn't help.