The problem with depression is that there is this voice in your head that keeps on discouraging you and accuses you. Even worse, when it becomes a continuous tape-recording playing over and over again, it becomes strangling and unproductive ruminations.
How do we deal with it?
Marty Seligman provides the ABC's and the DE of fighting this:
A: Adversity - The adversity is the trigger.
B: Beliefs - The thoughts that are triggered.
C: Consequences - What happens because of your beliefs.
Adversity: I borrowed a pair of really expensive earrings from my friend, and I lost one of them while I was out dancing.
Belief: I am so irresponsible. They were Kay's favourite earrings, and of course I go and lose one. She is going to be so absolutely furious at me. Not that she doesn't have every reason. If I were her, I'd hate me too. I just can't believe how much of a klutz I am. I wouldn't be surprised if she told me she didn't want to have anything to do with me anymore.
Consequences: I felt totally sick. I was ashamed and embarrased, and I didn't want to call and tell her what happened. Basically, I just sat around feeling stupid for a while, trying to muster up the guts to call her.
There are several D's that are provided to help you fight this:
- Distract Yourself. - Remember, saying "I will not think of Pink Elephants" only causes it to be enhanced. Start thinking of "Purple Alligators". Or look at an object and start describing it to yourself.
- Dispute Yourself. - Use:
- EVIDENCE. Fight "My grades are the worst!" (Check are you sure? Find out anyone else who has worse grades.)
- ALTERNATIVES. Does he really hate me? Perhaps he's just busy. Maybe he's stressed out from other things.
- IMPLICATIONS. Just because I broke my diet once doesn't mean I'm a glutton or have no self-control.
- USEFULNESS. What use is it to believe this accusation? Distract, or delay yourself and concentrate on your task now.
- Delay Yourself - Kill ruminations by writing your thoughts down and saying you will deal with it later. Often case, when you come back to it, it wasn't a big monster as you thought.
Disputation: Well, it is really unfortunate that I lost the earring. They were Kay's favourites [evidence] and she probably will be very disappointed [implication]. However she will realize it was an accident [alternative], and I seriously doubt she will hate me because of this [implication]. I don't think it's accurate to label myself as totally irresponsible just because I lost and earring [implication].
Write a diary of your thoughts and categorise your thoughts into ABC then apply the D which leads to the E which is to Energize! and react with positive action or positive inaction.
Energize: I still felt bad about losing her earring, but I didn't nearly feel nearly ashamed, and I wasn't worried that she would end the friendship over it. I was able to relax and call her to explain.