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Our brains can be assholes.
When you're suffering from depression or a related illness, your brain is basically stuck in asshole-mode. It defaults to telling you all sorts of lies about how you can't do anything, how you're a failure, this, that, the other thing.
You can conquer that.
The Bad and the Ugly
We're all familiar with negative self-talk, right?
That nagging voice in the back of your mind that tells you you're a failure, you're ugly, you're a terrible friend. All those negative thoughts about yourself that bounce around day-to-day that you just can't seem to dislodge.
I have good news.
You actually can get rid of them.
When we've fallen into certain patterns over a long period of time, it can be hard to get out of them. Our brains follow the path of least resistance. It's kind of like a habit. You get used to doing something a certain way and that's the way you keep doing it. You get used to thinking a certain way, it takes effort to stop thinking like that.
So what can you do?
Counter negative thoughts with positive.
I used to live on my own. Things happened, I had to move back in with my parents, and my brain started getting used to the idea that I'd never be on my own again.
As I fell into the pattern of "I'm going to be here for the rest of my life", "I'm never going to have my own place ever again," I started feeling worse, and worse, and worse. It was bad! So very bad! And then, with help from a professional, I learned.
Every time your brain tries to tell you something bad, correct it.
I'm never going to live on my own again. Hey, you did this twice before, you'll do it again. Things happen in threes. You will get there, you just have to work for it.
I am an unlikable person. No, I am a fantastic person. I know this, and the people close to me know this, too.
My life sucks. Hey, I'm in a bit of a rut, but this is temporary. I will get better.
It's important to do this every time. Every time. If you give in, it's fine! It takes time to change thought patterns. Just keep at it, eventually, you will get there and you will feel better.
Writing Exercises to Rehabilitate the Brain
There are things that you can physically do, too.
Start your day with a list of things you're grateful for. End your day with that list. Add something to it every morning and every night. Writing it out by hand is most effective — it forces you to focus. By starting your day and ending your day concentrating on good things, you're flexing your brain's muscles and getting it ready to change.
In enough of a rut that you can't figure out things to be grateful for? No problem. Write down lists of positive words, inspirational phrases or quotes, even things you like.
And remember: you can do it.
Movement is important.
A short walk, some yoga, taking the stairs instead of the elevator — if you're able to do any of these things, movement is good for your body and brain.
Even five minutes is better than nothing.
There are videos on the internet that show you alternative ways of getting exercise. Find something you enjoy, that's within your abilities, and reap the rewards. You'll feel better for it.
We're creatures of habit. We tend to get caught up in the bad, we tend to linger on it and seek it out. We tend to expect the worst of people.
That's not a great way to be.
In your day-to-day life, concentrate on the good. It is hard. It can feel impossible. You can do it. When you feel like you're focusing on the problem, look at solutions. When you're feeling hopeless, consider what brings you hope.
Changing the brain takes work, it takes time, and it's important to be patient with yourself. You can do this. I believe in you.