The Depression Voice
What our inner voice tells us about ourselves.
By David A. Morris, LCSW
Sylvia Plath, famous writer, once described her depression as, “I could not sleep, although tired. And lay feeling my nerves shaved to pain and the groaning inner voice: oh, you can’t teach, can’t do anything. Can’t write, can’t think…”
Depression has a message for you. It wants to deliver a set of distorted ideas so it can maintain its power over you. The “groaning inner voice” Ms. Plath refers to appears inaccurate and harsh to outsiders. But someone struggling with depression may start to respond to the unhelpful, inaccurate, and negative messages. “Stay home.” “Protect yourself.” “You can’t do it right”. “Go back to sleep.”
To combat your depression, means to start to separate yourself from the depressive voice. Its goal is to take you down, criticize you for being down, and then hold you there for as long as possible. But, this isn’t you and this isn’t your message. The voice is a collection of the messages told to you growing up and negative self-talk our brain is designed to filter out but isn’t.
Of course, life events produce emotions such as sadness, anxiety and grief. We have these emotions as a way to express ourselves. Death, job loss, relationship tension, illness, injury, etc. all cause distress and activate our emotions. But it is the way we think of ourselves and others and the way we make sense of these negative events that determines the ongoing effect on us.
Here are some important steps to take to slowly silence the depressive inner voice:
- Identify the voice. Notice its tone. Observe its message
- Nickname the voice and write down the messages in 2nd person. E.g. “You can’t handle the situation!”
- Develop your message in response. Use a tone that represents who you are without the pressure of the depressive voice. E.g. “I can try and handle it the best I can.”
- Share with a family member or close friend your depressive voice experience and response. Be open and receive an outside perspective.
There are times when the inner voice’s negative messages are difficult to handle on your own. If you need someone to partner with you in this journey, contact New Directions Counseling Services. Call us at 724.934.3905