When we are struggling to muddle through a depressive state, activities that once where full of joy and peace, are now arduous chores that drain our energy and may even exacerbate our depression. This puts us between the proverbial rock and a hard place. A cure for our depression (spending time outside, with others, involved in activities that have meaning and purpose), become our poison as well.
So, how do we get out of this bind?
One answer is to try “acting in spite of”. “Acting in spite of” employs both a mindfulness and behavioral approach. Essentially, we become aware of our depressive thoughts and emotions. We do not judge them and we do not engage them. We acknowledge them and accept them as part of our momentary experience.
We then determine to take action and behave “in spite” of those depressive thoughts and emotions. We behave as if our choices were not being controlled by our depressive feelings and thinking. We think to ourselves, “If I felt ‘normal’, what would I be doing?” And then we begin to do it. Notice that we are not denying or trying to change our thoughts or emotions. We are simply acting in a manner that is not guided by them.
Sometimes it’s helpful to just try it as an experiment. Choose an activity or period of time that you will “act in spite of” your depressive thoughts and feelings. Be mindful and aware of your thoughts and emotions. Notice them, and let them pass (like words scrolling through a news ticker on T.V.), and continue to engage in the activities that you find value in.
Remember, the purpose of “acting in spite of” is not to change our thoughts or emotions, but to get us back engaged in purposeful living.
Thanks for reading, and be well!