Recently, when I thought I was doing nothing important, I heard my mind whispering, when I was younger I could and before I started working full time I did, and even before I was diagnosed I used to. I think these things and wonder if I did it then, why can’t I do it now?
The depression gets worse. It doesn’t take much for the depression to worsen, but I’m beginning to wonder if what I think exacerbates the depression, or if the depression directs my self-talk?
Either way, instead of trying, because I have told myself I can’t, I do nothing. Today I realized these thoughts are limiting me. My thoughts of the past are limiting my future.
To me, it sounds much like if I can’t be the best, then I’m not going to try. Or alternately, If I can’t win, I don’t want to play.
I’ve always thought I could do anything I want to do and often did, sometimes successful, sometimes not. But I tried and enjoyed the journey.
So why is it that my self-talk now seems defeatist?
I believe I’m an intelligent person who can discern fact from fiction – most of the time. If I can’t I know how to google things and which sites are accurate and which ones spew untruths. I’ve been at this a long time.
If anyone else spoke to me the way I speak to myself, I’d run them off for being negative. Then I’d do exactly what they said I couldn’t do full of my I’ll show you attitude.
So again, I ask, why do I listen to myself?
Dr. Asa Don Brown says, “Self-talk reflects your innermost feelings.” Does this mean I’m not an optimist? Does this mean I don’t believe in myself anymore?
Can I be untrained or perhaps retrained?
Anne Lamott, in her book Bird by Bird says, “Learn to be more compassionate company, as if you were somebody you are fond of and wish to encourage. “
And yet the thoughts persist, or should I say I still talk to myself.
I don’t expect me to accomplish miracles, but would cleaning the floor be too much to ask? Or putting order to some rooms in my house.
The problem is, I know that shortly after beginning, the pain will move into my back, and I will stop. I won’t be able to work through the pain, so instead of doing a little each day, I just don’t bother with the things easy to let go – for now.
I know I will eventually complete each task. But it will take a lot of self-talk to kill the voices that begin with I used to be able to and replace them with you can. I know I can find new ways of doing old things.
I still need to learn what the necessities are that need to be done today, and what I can do a little at a time.
Then I need to slap my self-talking mind and tell it to behave.
© 2021 Wanda M. Argersinger
All Rights Reserved
From How An Optimist Deals With Depression (a work in progress)