A Letter of Encouragement From My 'Not So Depressed Self'

Sheila Hageman
A woman stands posing and looking into the camera.
A woman stands posing and looking into the camera.

There are a few words of wisdom I want you to remember when you feel depressed, overwhelmed and unable to function. You need to trust me on this. This is your not-so-depressed-sister-self talking.

Yes, you actually have a twin who sometimes feels moments of happiness.

In fact, that is where I am writing from today. I’m feeling excited about the possibilities in my life. I’m not replaying the old scratchy record that tells me everything is hopeless and helpless. And the record that tells me I am not valuable or my life isn’t worth living? I just smashed that old staple into the garbage can.

Yes, yes — I know it’s likely you went out and bought another copy of that album, or perhaps the other popular hit “20 Reasons Why You Suck.” And you are probably even playing it right now as I speak.

This brings us to my first pearl of wisdom: Don’t listen to what you are saying. That doesn’t mean not to listen to me because I am categorically not the same person you are. What I mean to say is…stop believing what those ancient songs keep purporting to know about you. They are wrong.

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You will have to trust me on this. I know right now you are probably rolling your eyes and telling me to shut up. But who knows you better than…me?

If a thought you entertain in your head sounds negative (and I know those awful mantras do sound bad because even though I just said I’m not you, I actually kind of am, too), tell them to get the hell out of your head.

Dispel ugly mantras like evil beings. Command them away. Denounce them.

Come on…do you really think that anyone is valueless? You can rationalize with yourself if you have to because I know even when you are depressed, you still think other people are valuable. Does it make any sense that everyone in the world is valuable except for you?!

That’s kind of ludicrous, right?

OK, now that I have your attention and you’re doubting the validity of your thoughts (even just a little bit is fine), let’s say the same thing for your feelings.

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Feelings are overrated. Am I right or am I right? Don’t be so attached to those fleeting moods you experience. You know they are just as unreal as your thoughts.

Just let those thoughts and feelings go. Just watch them waft away on a breeze like a passing cloud.

Now, while all those crappy little jerks are floating off into space, bring something good in to fill the gaps.

How?

You feel bubbly and inspired when you hear certain songs, so turn on some of your favorite tunes and dance, even though right now I know you don’t think it will help.

I’m asking a lot here and I know it. There’s nothing you feel like doing less when depressed than moving, but you also know that it is a game changer.

If you’ve read this far, I have to believe you actually want to feel better and have a slight belief in my truth-telling. So…trust me on this.

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Movement works. If you are grumbling and pissed off at the thought of shaking your booty, at least practice a few simple yoga stretches. You always feel more motivated and positive when you get your asana on, so if you haven’t already, roll out your mat and do five minutes of sun salutations.

OK, have you done all the things I prescribed? If yes, continue reading. If not, keep reading anyway.

You feel valuable when you write, so grab a pen and start scribbling words down on paper.

Not for you today?

You feel loved when you are surrounded by friends, so reach out to someone just to say hi.

Can’t muster up the strength to speak?

Try texting or Facebook messaging, Instagramming or whatever the latest and greatest social media platform is.

You feel grateful when you help others, so shift the focus from you to someone else around you who could use some assistance.

Do me, and you, a favor: Try one of these things, just one.

And know that I am here, in the past and future, rooting you on and believing in you.

With great love, affection and understanding,

Your Slightly Happier Other Self

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