In the beginning of my journey through depression, we moved several times, so I ended up seeing different therapists. Sometimes I would try to explain how I felt, and the therapist would say, "Why don't you think about it this way?" My reaction would be, "This person just doesn't understand."
What I didn't understand was that the therapist was asking me to use my intellect and I was wrapped up in my feelings. Eventually I came to realize that there is a big difference between feeling and thinking. Depression is all about how you feel, but how you feel is a result of how you think, and if your reasoning is faulty, your feelings are, too. If that sounds confusing, let present a true example.
A young man I know had become pretty depressed because he was in his thirties and every romantic relationship he'd had had gone badly. "I'm no good with women," he moaned. "And now, all the good ones are taken."
Consider that statement carefully. Was he expressing his thoughts or his feelings?
Now this was a man with a big heart who was willing to try to help anyone who had a problem. When he looked at his past relationships, he realized that he attracted needy women who expected him to fix their problems. After reflecting on this fact, he set out to make two lists: one that contained the elements he absolutely needed in a relationship, and one that listed things he absolutely could not live with. When he saw that the purpose of dating was to find a partner, not a project, it became clear that no matter how much he liked a young woman, she could not be a suitable partner if she didn't meet his needs. At this point he began looking at his dates with his intellect instead of his emotions. He also learned an important fact: people very seldom change. What you see is what you get. Red flags began to appear.
"She's pretty, she's fun, but she isn't the least interested in my work. Her eye glaze over when I start talking about what I do."
"She's generous, she's intelligent, but she's careless about money. I see a future of being hounded by bill collectors."
The young man realized that as soon as there was a "BUT," there was no sense in pursuing the relationship.
Interestingly, it was only a few months before he met a lovely woman who fit all his criteria. They have been happily married for several years.
Stephanie Kay Bendel is the author of EXIT THE LABYRINTH: A Memoir of Early Childhood Depression – Its Onset and Aftermath, MAKING CRIME PAY: A Practical Guide to Mystery Writing, and A SCREAM AWAY, a romantic thriller published under the house name, Andrea Harris. She has also written numerous short stories and articles on writing.