“I don’t know … I just wonder if I might be depressed.” As a counselor and ministry leader, I’m often the one who hears about how people are “really” doing. And for every 10 times I’ve been consulted about a bleak mood, only two or three of my 20-something friends actually has diagnosable and clinical depression.
The rest of them are experiencing a tough spell, a general malaise, a “meh” mood, and most were even contributing to that mood with their own life choices. How about you? Here’s 10 quick ways to find yourself down and deflated:
1) Nurse Resentments
Assume the worst in people. When you feel ignored, misunderstood or mistreated, assume it’s because the person really hates you and is disgusted by your presence. Enter a cycle of hating yourself and hating other people. Repeat this script to yourself all day and night, and subject yourself to the mental equivalent of grabbing a shovel and digging your own grave.
2) Live in the Past
While you are busy nursing resentments, go ahead and let yourself think of all the other times the same thing has happened. Make sure you color a rosy glow over everything from the past you wish you still had, and a black cloud of doom over everything from the past that was painful. Create a story of extremes, and look for ways to repeat the cycle in your current life.
3) Ignore Your Body
Don’t listen to your body. If you feel tired, don’t rest. If you have an erratic sleep schedule, keep at it. Also, eat a lot of processed junk food that will shoot your blood sugar to the stratosphere and then send you crashing down without a parachute. Eat when you are stressed, stock up on caffeine when you are tired, and keep at it for more than three days in a row. When you feel run down, don’t listen. When you need to relieve stress by exercise, have a Red Bull instead.
4) Ignore Your Soul
Pretend you are a machine. Don’t think too hard about the junk you are feeding your soul, just assume that it all filters out and you aren’t affected by wasted time, sad love songs, boredom, stupid YouTube videos or sarcastic, misogynistic movies. Don’t take your soul seriously. Make sure you don’t read or listen to anything edifying throughout your day. Just go about this world as if you can be healthy without working at it at all.
5) Believe the Lie That Everyone Has It All Together … Except You
Believe TV. Believe romantic comedies. Look around at your acquaintances and believe that their life is so much better than yours.
6) Become a Cynic
Start to believe the following things: people don’t change, life generally sucks and avoiding pain is more important than risking love.
7) Never Cry
Don’t ever show weakness. Don’t be sad. Don’t cry. If you ever think the dam is about to break, hold back the tears with all the strength you can muster. Completely ignore any reason why you might be crying, and if you do think about it for a few minutes, make sure you tell yourself that whatever loss or pain is causing you to be upset is definitely stupid and unimportant.
8) Never Apologize
Don’t ever admit to being wrong. Even when you know you are wrong, justify your reasons. Let your self-defense keep you puffed up and protected. Choose to guard yourself over loving the people around you who need to know that you are, in fact, human and make mistakes. Tell yourself that they’ll get over it, and carry on.
9) Maintain an Impossible Standard for Yourself and Everyone Else
Set yourself up for failure. Make sure you believe that everything you ever attempt must be a stellar success, that failure is not an option. Listen to the part of you that’s terrified at failing and will prevent you from ever trying anything, or listen to the part of you that believes you’ll always do it right, and try, fail and hate yourself. Expect the same from everyone around you. Expect those you love to always know what to say and to do to make you feel better. When they don’t, use the same self-loathing voices that you beat yourself with to push back.
I believe we all have our 10th way to get depressed, but it’s unique to you. Perhaps its about being with an unhealthy friendship that brings you down. Maybe it’s stalking someone on Facebook that you need to unfriend. Maybe it’s a phone number you need to delete from your phone.
Maybe you read through these steps and none of them sound good to you. In that case, take all 10 steps, reverse, and be healthy.
Free depression inventories can be a helpful tool to evaluate the severity of your mood. You can take this one developed by the Mayo Clinic for more information.