One thing I struggled with a lot during the worst of my first battle with depression was mixing feelings with facts. I meshed them together thinking that my emotions dictated what was true and what was false. One of my patients asked me about this recently, to clarify an exercise she did in one of her therapy groups. It involved being read various short paragraphs and identifying what the facts were, however; she couldn’t quite figure out what a fact actually is. I defined it for her as this: an indisputable truth. In just about every circumstance and situation, this statement is true. There is no weight of feelings that drives this truth. Humans must breathe oxygen to sustain life. Dogs wag their tails as a means of communication. Five plus five equals ten. You are so much stronger than you feel.
Sometimes when my mind is crowded with too many emotions and I feel like I’m tangled in a thousand tugs of war, I fact check. Then I write a list down for safekeeping, for a bad day or a bad week or a bad month. I go back to it and I add more. It helps me stay strong and it helps me identify and understand the intense emotions I may be feeling. Here is part of my list. For me and now, for you.
Things I Know to Be True:
- You are powerful.
- Asking for help is a sign of strength.
- Taking obstacles as personal challenges makes them feel a lot more surmountable. And they are.
- To be able to let go of something, you have to face it first.
- You are not a victim.
- Learning to take the blame for one’s actions is hard; learning to free oneself of the blame is even harder.
- Nothing has control over you unless you let it.
- It’s hard to be strong all the time, and that’s okay. However, this fact is not permission to give up.
- If someone isn’t supporting your recovery, they don’t have to be part of it.
- You never deserved pain.
- There is no reason to feel ashamed for feeling.
- Your mistakes do not define you. They say nothing about you as a person besides that you are human.
- Self-discipline does not mean cutting your skin over every disappointment.
- Anxiety leads to procrastination, and procrastination leads to more anxiety. Do it now.
- Food does not equal emotions.
- Find the beauty in everything. It is always there.
- There is no such thing as a small victory. Celebrate every accomplishment. You deserve it.
- When in doubt, be kind.
- You’re not the only one who feels this.
- Basing your self-esteem on every tiny mistake is a mistake.
- Just because you had a bad morning doesn’t mean it has to be a bad day.
- It is okay to say no and you do not need an excuse.
- This fight is worth it.
Now I challenge you to make up your own list – and keep it going!