“They would be better off without me.”

“I’m worthless, no wonder nobody loves me. “

“I don’t deserve to be happy anyway.”

“Why go on?”

Have you ever had destructive thoughts like this? You are not alone. If we are honest, most of us have, but we find the strength to work through it.

Some don’t. They give up. They leave those who love them forever wondering why. If you’ve ever lost a loved one to suicide, the emotional pain is nearly unbearable. To know that, had they just hung in there, life would have gotten better…and it be too late? The sting just doesn’t go away.

That’s why I have to write things like this. If it can help just one person hang in there another day and feel a bit of hope, then it is worth the time it takes me to write it. That one person matters. YOU matter.

If you have had destructive thoughts, please don’t give up. If you can just keep breathing, keep hanging on, it will get better. I have a few things I’d like for you to ponder. I hope they help you find ways to persevere. Know that they are said with ever-so-much love.

First, I want you to realize that you are not in some way lacking, weak, or unique in having these thoughts or the feelings they produce.

Most of the time, negativity sneaks up on us after a lifetime of letting our minds run rampant, believing whatever flits through them.

We’re programmed to think negatively without even realizing it. Negative messages come at us from every direction…. television, the internet, even from those we love, or family. Unchecked, we begin to internalize these messages…and the downward spiral begins.

We begin to see the down side of everything. We expect the worst. We believe every negative thing we have ever heard about ourselves…. while forgetting our value. We will start becoming what we believe about ourselves. Seeing that happening reaffirms the lies we’ve been allowing to soak in.

The sun quits shining as brightly, the small joys disappear, and the clouds begin to darken. Some of us try to escape our nightmares with drugs, alcohol, sex, sleeping endlessly…or the opposite, staying too busy to think or feel.

All that does is make it worse. When we wake up, the situation is still there, and likely worse, due to our lack of taking any action towards fixing it. Ah ha! Yet another thing to beat ourselves up with…. we feel helpless, weak, and hopeless. Despair and depression have set in. We see no way out and when we look forward, all we can imagine is more of the same.

BUT… your story doesn’t have to take that turn because you are the author.

You might not feel like it right now, but you have complete and total authority over your thoughts. You have the power to decide what thoughts you entertain and which ones get tossed out as garbage. That is the key to freedom from despair.

Hang in there. I am going to teach you some strategies to help you feel hope again. You will learn to think in ways that make you strong enough to walk out of the mire you’re in and into your dreams.

In case you have not figured it out already, I can describe how you are feeling right now because I have been there. Repeatedly. Gee, I was temporarily there just last week. The difference is… now, when I find my mind in the sewer, I know how to fight it, and I do the mental work. I can crash and burn, then recover and be flying again in a day. But it was not always that way. It took wallowing in the mess of my mind for years before I applied myself to fixing my stinkin’ thinkin’.

To bounce back I apply my little five-step quick recovery plan:

  • Get real.
  • Develop an attitude of gratitude.
  • Work affirmations.
  • Create a plan.
  • Help others.

Let’s look at each one in detail….

Get Real.

Do you remember the negative thoughts I shared at the beginning of this post? This is the step where you diffuse them and take away their power by getting real.

For example, if you are thinking, “They would be better off without me.”, you examine the truth of it, honestly. Would all “them” truly be better off? Chances are, honestly, not. Then think about those who do appreciate you. Then there are those who appreciate you and you don’t even know it!

You think they aren’t out there? Think again. There have been times I have felt as if there wasn’t a soul that appreciates me… and I’ll get a random message from somebody saying how much they look forward to my FB posts. They’ve never commented or liked a thing. I never knew. They helped me keep on.

One never knows whose life you touch, even in a small way. Your smile, a kind word, or even just being who you are…. these things can have big impact and you never know. Most of us are not overly gushy with sincere compliments. We suck at telling others how much we appreciate them. Well, the others are just as human as we are. They neglect to tell us. So, please, don’t ever think they aren’t there. I know they are.

Now, back to diffusing the lies you are telling yourself….

Similarly, take some time to honestly look at each negative thought that screams at you, and diffuse it with raw truth. It may feel like it is the end of the world, but if you look closely, and are honest, it isn’t. You might feel worthless, but if you allow yourself to see it, you have mad skills and talents that nobody else on this earth has. You are special!

Start making it a habit to hold each negative thought up against the TRUTH. Reveal the lies and stop believing them. Don’t toy with them or give them space in your head anymore. We are then going to fill that space with one of the most powerful things I know of.

Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

Once you have evaluated the thoughts running wild in your mind and begun to wrangle them, you are ready to tap into the closest thing to magic I know of… the power of gratitude. Nothing helps you snap out of destructive thought patterns like developing a grateful attitude.

Years ago, when I was in a very dark place in life and began seeking solutions, one of the first lessons I felt my spirit teaching me was to be grateful.

Honestly, I laughed. My rebound thought was “yeah, right….be grateful for what?”. I was still stuck in feeling sorry for myself.

But, I was old enough by then to have learned to not argue with that voice inside, so I determined to do it, grumpy-assed attitude and all. I went huffing outside in a snit. I left my well-equipped home office, walked through the gorgeous Victorian home I lived in, past the fully stocked kitchen, past the children I took for granted, ignoring the beautiful day…. I went to sit on a bench in my rose garden.

“Be thankful. Ugh. For what?”

Starting small, I chose a rose. For about the next ten minutes, I learned to revel in that rose and appreciate it fully. The miracle of its beauty was holding me spellbound by the time I was done. I’ve not been the same person since.

I began noticing all the little things that make up this beautiful life. The more I noticed them and expressed gratitude, the more I’d see to be grateful for. Don’t ask me to explain it, because I can’t…. but I have learned the principle is as true as gravity. The more grateful you are, the more you will receive to be grateful for. It just is, so use it. And enjoy!

Work Your Affirmations

Now that you are being realistic, and developing gratitude, it’s time to give the negative thoughts the old one-two punch. Knock them out with positive affirmations.

Don’t have any? Oh my. That’s not good, but it is also an easy fix. I prefer to write my own, but if you simply google “positive affirmations”, you will have more than enough to get you started. You can develop your own later.

The point is to work them. By that, I mean you need to read them, write them, say them out loud, sing them, whatever helps make them a part of you…. just do it and do it often. It might feel silly at first, but persevere. Just as all the negative messages about yourself crept in and had an impact, these positive affirmations will too.

Some examples of affirmations you could use are:

  • “I am an overcomer. I am not defeated by situations, but take charge and overcome obstacles in my way.”
  • “I am precious, unique in my talents and there is nobody else quite like me. I am a gift to the world around me and I shine.”
  • “I have within me all I need to thrive, prosper, and be happy.”

Find or create affirmations that resonate with you, then use them, daily. When the doubts start coming at you, whip them out and use them again. They are a weapon against depression. Use them.

Create a plan

Next step in regaining control over depression is to create a plan of steps you can do that start you moving towards your goals. This is a place where baby steps are always okay. The point is to find something to do that moves you forward and just do it, no matter how tiny it might seem.

Some examples might be:

Your problem is financial, so you think of a list of small things you can do now to either save money or create a little extra. Maybe the first step is to simply research ways to do either. Do it and feel empowered. You are taking back control over your life. You are no longer reacting to life, but responding with intention of making it better.

Your problem is a relationship. Perhaps you are trapped in a toxic relationship and don’t know how to get free of it. A first step might be to talk to a counselor that specializes in such things. Domestic abuse is not just for women and married heterosexual couples. There is no shame in being in a situation like that. A counselor trained to help those trapped in abusive relationships can help you create a workable plan for getting away and recovering.

Perhaps your struggle is physical. Chronic or serious illness or injury can create such a mess in our heads. It wears at you day after day and seems it will always be that way. You feel a lack of control over your body. But, there are always steps you can take to see improvement. Make a commitment to eating better. Drink more water. If you haven’t moved off of the sofa in years, start with determining to simply move more, walk further, do a few extra steps here and there. Use a fitness tracker…that’s a fun way to see how random steps add up. The point is to take control of aspects of your health. It’s empowering.

This process of finding, then doing, actionable steps will empower you. You will start to feel like you are regaining control over your life. You are being the author of your story.

Help Others

Determining to help others, despite your own hardships, is another powerful tool against despair. It does a couple of things for you. First, it gets you off of your own woes and focused on another with troubles of their own. We can get quite egocentric when we are stuck in a dark place. Being reminded that others suffer and have unmet needs as well helps you to keep it all in perspective.

The other thing helping others will do for you is sow the seeds you get to reap later. The fact is, whether you call it the law of reaping and sowing, karma, or simply energy transfers…. you will get back what you give out. Always. All the time. Whether you believe in it or not.

So, in your need, love more. When you are down, cheer another. Do not grow weary of doing good for others, because it surely will come back to you in the perfect time. Besides, it makes you feel good! Isn’t that the effect you are after?

Need help? Look for ways to help others.

I hope you are feeling more optimistic now. The things I most want you to take from this are:

  • You are not weak, weird, or alone
  • You can regain control over depression, and your life. I understand how that can seem so impossible to you now. I get it. But if you will take charge by applying these simple five steps, it will start to pull you out of it.

What if this is not enough?

If you are still feeling hopeless, please, talk to somebody about it. Talk to a friend or family member. Admit that you feel out of control over your depression and feel you need help. There is no shame in that. Quite the contrary, it shows strength of character. Yeah, you!

Better yet, talk to a professional at a suicide hotline. Sometimes it is so much easier to talk frankly with a stranger. They are very well trained and care about you. They have tips and tools they can share with you that I don’t know. I’m simply sharing what has worked well for me. If these tips aren’t helping you, you should consider reaching out to a professional.

If you are unsure about where to turn, there is the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. It is full of resources to help you. You can also call the National Suicide prevention Hotline,  24/7, at 1-800-273-8255.

Please remember, it is darkest before the dawn.
Your breakthrough could be just around the corner.
You are not alone and you deserve happiness.
Hang in there.
Keep breathing.
It will get easier.
You have it in you to overcome this.
Tomorrow will be a better day.
Believe it and know you are loved. <3