Is ignorance actually bliss?
Ruminations: intensely thinking about and dwelling on problems while breaking them down into smaller components for analysis.
When you are depressed, you tend to think… a lot… by yourself… and you avoid things that make you happy or keep you from your constant overthinking. A study I cannot find anywhere, but I swear I read (maybe this was in a book I read somewhere? Ugh…) claimed that participants who were asked to do a repetitive activity reported they were happier than those who sat in silence.
Granted, an activity is always probably a bit more enjoyable than doing nothing, but I wasn’t asked to do this possibly imagined study, so I tested it on myself.
For all of April, I promised to distract myself with other thoughts/activities if I ever started to feel depressed.
Basically, my brain would be like, “If you died, no one would probably care, so you might as well end it.” At other times, it would say, “It seems like no one has reached out to you in quite some time. All your friends probably just hang out with you because they feel bad.” Or maybe, my all-time favorite, “You are a bad person and only bad things ever happen to you. Why are you still alive?”
So that’s what it’s like on top of this constant pit of dread sitting inside of me, seeping into all of my daily interactions… so I stopped it.
I ignored the bad guy in my mind telling me these totally untrue things (sometimes I would check the Daylio app to see that I had actually been happy the entire past week or I would look at my phone and see 5 texts from different people just from that day). Some days were more difficult than others, but letting those thoughts go and letting my rational mind take over was very freeing.
As much as I have tackled my depression over the years and learned to live with it, I still struggle with depressing and/or suicidal thoughts.
They pop up out of nowhere and they’re like your biggest fear making you believe it has already come true. I am very guilty of ruminating over my depressing thoughts and letting them snowball into gigantic, furry monsters who live in my psyche day-in and day-out. It’s traumatizing!
Luckily, the experiment worked. If I let those thoughts go and chose to think about something else or I chose to distract myself by lifting weights with my brother or hitting up a friend to go hiking… many times those distractions are enough.
Next time you have a depressing thought, try ignoring it and keep ignoring it until it goes away forever. Those thoughts are not real or true and although we’re still not sure why we get depressed, it does seem like these mindful tactics can quell the symptoms for now. It sounds counterintuitive, but from my experience, it works.
Have you tried to ignore depressive/suicidal thoughts? Did it work for you?
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Featured Photo Credit: Hunter Kotlinski (this is gorgeous)