To be completely honest, I haven’t been thinking about depression that much lately. The more time that passes, the more my dark days are becoming a vague and distant memory.
But then, within a span of a couple of days, I heard from a few readers who were clearly stuck in that darkness and the memory of the sinking hopeless feeling came rushing back to me.
The feeling that it’s dark all around and there’s no way out. And you just know – with such certainty – that there never will be a way out. That life will always feel as bad as it does in that moment.
And yet… Many of us do find a way out. Many of us have sunk all the way to the bottom, but have eventually been able to swim up for air.
The big question is how?
How does that happen? How do you find your way out of the dark place? How do you turn that certainty into hope? And eventually into feeling well again?
Well, in my experience at least, you don’t just snap your fingers and “start thinking positive”. Although this post is about how to think positive when depressed, I’d like to make a couple of recommendations regarding how NOT to think positive.
Because when I was depressed myself, the following lines of positive thinking were most definitely NOT helpful:
- Trying to convince myself that I wasn’t feeling bad when I was, in fact, feeling bad.
- Trying to convince myself that things could be so much worse and I really had nothing to complain about.
- Trying to stuff my bad feelings and ignore them.
For me, it was a much more subtle transformation – slowly nudging a life that felt bad into a direction that was better suited for who I am as a person.
And although the kind of positive thinking I described above had nothing to do with it, making it happen did require a different kind of positive thinking.
There were three positive thoughts, in particular, that I had to cultivate. And at first, I didn’t actually, deep down, believe that these thoughts were true. But even though I was filled with doubt, I had to act AS IF I believed these thoughts to be true.
For when I acted AS IF these thoughts were true, they eventually became the truth.
Here are the three positive thoughts.
How To Think Positive When Depressed
Positive Thought #1: It’s possible to feel well.
In order to find my way out of depression, I had to act AS IF I believed that it was possible to feel well.
This is a tough concept to buy into if you’ve been struggling for a long time, and especially, if you’ve already tried some potential depression remedies and they didn’t work. If you’ve been feeling bad for a long time and nothing you have tried has helped, you will learn from your experience and let go of hope. Of course you will! It only makes sense.
But in order to keep seeking wellness, you have to believe it’s possible to feel well, or at least, act AS IF you believe it.
Countless other depressed people have recovered.
Therefore, it’s possible to recover from depression.
Positive Thought #2: In order to feel different, I have to do something different.
In order to find my way out of depression, I had to believe that in order to feel different, I had to do something different. In other words, I had to take some kind of action in order to feel better. Whatever I was doing wasn’t working, so change was required.
This is obviously easier said than done when you are depressed. You’re exhausted. Unmotivated. Hopeless. Stuck.
But there is no magic wand to wipe out the pain. As long as you do nothing different, nothing will change. In order to find wellness, there is no choice but to take action.
And sometimes it takes a lot of action.
Positive Thought #3: There are many potential paths out of the darkness and I need to keep looking until I find the right path for me.
In order to find my way out of depression, I had to believe that there was another way out that I had not yet discovered.
This thought can be difficult to arrive at, because there are many voices out there arguing that there is only ONE path. Most “experts” specialize and then they wrongly present their specialty as the only viable way out, be it medications or a specific type of therapy.
However, the truth is that depression is a very complicated condition, with many potential causes, and therefore, many potential cures. Just because you have tried one, two, or three paths that didn’t work doesn’t mean that your case is hopeless and there isn’t yet another path to try.
There are SO many potential avenues to pursue. There are more than 50 different types of talk therapy. There is sleep and nutrition and exercise. There is stress reduction. There is positive psychology. There is learning life skills and coping skills. There are hundreds of self help books with different approaches. There is addressing medical conditions that have been misdiagnosed as depression and addressing medical conditions that are contributing to depression. There are supplements and medications. There are viable solutions to most of life’s problems or at least ways to cope with them. And there are even all those people who recover spontaneously – with time.
And you know what? Every single one of these remedies is potentially helpful. Someone, somewhere, has recovered from depression because they tried one of these remedies.
And you know what else? We are complicated beings with complicated lives. Some of us need to attack the depression beast from multiple angles in order to achieve wellness.
So if you haven’t yet found your path out of the darkness, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
If you don’t yet know what you need and how to give it to yourself, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn.