Correct Negative Thoughts and Self-Talk with Positive Truths
Negative thoughts and self-talk are the most frequent symptoms of depression I've experienced. Sometimes, it would take one seemingly small comment or event to propel me back down into the despair of an endless cycle of negative thoughts and self-talk from which it could take weeks or sometimes even months to fully recover. I got so tired of other people, situations, and depression having that kind of power over me. I asked my therapist for some depression coping skills and tools that would allow me to be better equipped to fight this battle. And they're working.
Truth Silences Negative Thoughts and Self-Talk
I struggle with negative self-talk. I tend to blame myself if my children make a bad decision, if the house is not clean, or if dinner is canned or frozen. I feel like I'm not good enough, and then I feel as if my family needs someone better than I am. That's when my depression kicks into high gear, and my thoughts get darker and more irrational.
My therapist talked to me about remembering all the good things I do for my family. She reminded me that those things I'm blaming myself for are either out of my control (my children's decisions) or nothing I should feel guilty about anyway, such as in the case of not having a perfectly spotless house or not making every meal completely from scratch.
My therapist also told me to counteract the negative with the positive. In order to do that, I write down positive things about myself when I'm having good days. This way, when the difficult days come, I have reminders to help me counteract the negative thoughts and self-talk that depression throws at me since it can be nearly impossible to think logically during the lowest points of a major depressive episode.
Crises Happen: Negative Thoughts Don't Have to Follow
In therapy, I'm also learning to view certain situations in a new light. Rather than calling them "difficult" or "major crises," I'm trying to see them as "learning opportunities" and "educational experiences." For example, for Thanksgiving, tomorrow, I was supposed to cook a vegetable casserole and a dessert. Then, last night, my stove went completely out of commission. I had all the ingredients and no way to cook them.
Instead of allowing my negative thoughts and self-talk to take over, I saw this as an opportunity to tweak the recipes a little and use my two slow cookers to save the day. I'm fairly certain that, several months ago, my reaction would have been quite different. I probably would have felt like everything was ruined, that I was going to look like a failure, or I would have just sat on my couch and done nothing and then not shown up at the family Thanksgiving dinner at all. So, I can see that therapy is proving to be an effective treatment for my depression, and the skills I am learning are helping me use positive thoughts to override negative thoughts in my brain.
Let Go of What Causes Negative Thoughts
Another thing I'm learning to do is to let go of certain people. I've realized that some people cannot handle my depression, and while that used to be fuel for my negative thoughts and self-talk, I now realize that it's not my fault. It's been a hard road, but I've found the courage to forge ahead and take risks and trust again, and I've made new friends. I wouldn't have been able to do that if I'd been holding on to the hurt and negativity of the past.
I've also had to let go of dreams and expectations. My youngest child is adopted from China. She's been with us for almost eight years, and we had many plans and visions of who and what she would be. The reality, though, is very different from what we expected. She has significant special needs, and we were not prepared for that.
I have had to let go of the expectations I had for her and embrace who she is; otherwise, my depression will grow deeper, and negative thoughts will take over. I have to look for the positive sides of who my daughter is and what she brings to our family. Learning to do this has been a big part of helping me in the healing process.
Focusing on the positive in order to counteract the negative thoughts and self-talk of depression is an ongoing process. There will be days that are harder than others and we will struggle at times. Yet, it is worth the effort to continue looking for the positive parts of ourselves and those around us.
Smith, J. (2017, November 22). Correct Negative Thoughts and Self-Talk with Positive Truths, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2017/11/retraining-your-brain-as-part-of-depression-management