Prisoner of Depression

currysparadox transcribed this Say That quote. Proving once again that Say That listeners are the best!:

“Being depressed is like being a prisoner of war, and the reason I say that is because you’re being lied to all day every day. You’re being lied to so much in your own head that at a certain point you can’t tell what’s true and what’s a lie anymore. And one of the things that they do when they have prisoners of war is they just lie to them – every day, they make stuff up, they say they are coming for you, they are not coming for you, the war is over, the war is not over, before long you don’t know what’s true, what’s a fiction, and you’re just a mess. Well, depression does the same thing.

One of the things that we need to be able to do is anchor ourselves on the things that are true, whether we feel they are true or not. See, the goal of people who are engaged in a psychological warfare in a wartime setting, is trying to kill all sense of what’s real and what’s factual and what’s true.

And you know what POWs do to fight against that? They do simple things, like marking every day on a piece of wood, so they know what day it is. You wouldn’t think it would make a difference – it actually does. If you stop knowing what day it is – it will severely mess with your head, right? Well, it’s a similar thing here. We need to know what’s real and what’s true no matter what, and we need to discipline ourselves to act according to those things, no matter how we feel on a given day.

One of the truths that I promise true and essential and you must cling to no matter how you feel is: “this depression will lift”. “This will go away”. “This is not the final word in your life”. And, in fact, the truth (and if you’ve struggled with depression before, you know this to be the case) – even you’re going to make no changes, this depression is going to life at some point. Now, it’s going to come back later if we’re not making any changes, but it’s going to lift at some point. And that is essential. We MUST cling to that, no matter what. As an act of will. As an act of discipline. “This is true no matter how I feel about it”.

The next thing is – “there are things to be done about my situation”. That is a truth we must decide as an act of will, as an act of discipline, to cling to no matter what. Because what you and I, the person who asked this question, what we both know is one of the key lies depression whispers in your ear is “It doesn’t matter what you do. None of this is going to make any difference, you’re just fooling yourself. It’s ALWAYS gonna be just like this.” And we have to cling, as a matter of will, we have to cling to the fact that there is a way forward, that there are things that we can do that will make a change. Maybe we don’t know what those things are, but we have to cling, as an act of will, to the idea that those things exist, and we can find out what they are.

Here’s what that means: what it means is we need to go and get some wisdom from people who’ve been through this stuff before, who know the terrain, and then we need to choose to act on that wisdom whether we feel like it or not. When you’re not depressed, you’re used to going to people and saying “I’ve got this situation, what do you think about it?” and they say “Eeh, maybe this, maybe that” and you judge it based on your emotions. “This sounds about right, this doesn’t sound as right” and that’s the way you’re used to living – that’s the way everybody lives. When you’re depressed, you’re trying to do the same thing, except your barometer is broken. So you go to a person, and you say “Here’s my situation, what do you think?” and they say “Well, here are 4 things I’d take a look at and act on” and you go “Yeah, I don’t think so. None of that sounds right”. If you go by your emotions in this moment, nothing will sound like a solution. Nothing will sound like a possibility.

The only thing that will sound good is putting on sweatpants and being in bed and watching Jerry Springsteen reruns for the next 12 hours. That’s it! That’s the only thing that will sound good. So, it’s about deciding, again, as an act of will – not as an emotional thing, and not exactly as a spiritual thing – but as an act of will: “this will lift. There are things I can do about it. I may not know what they are, but I’m going to go find a person who can help me figure out what they are and I’m going to act on what they tell me.

My emotions do not get a vote in this situation. There are things I can do, this person can instruct me on what those things are, I am choosing to commit myself to acting on those things as part of the way forward”. If you do that, darling, and I’m sorry you are at where you’re at today, but if you do what we’re describing here, you will start to see some progress.”

— – Jed Brewer on Episode 68 of “Say That”


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